Among the many shrines dedicated to Shiva, the Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple is particularly unique. For one, unlike most of the important shrines dedicated to Shiva that are in the hills, the Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple is in the sea. You read that right; this temple isn’t by the sea, it’s in the sea.
Where is the Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple located?
The Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple is located in the Kavi Kamboi village in Jambusar, some 175 km from Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat. On a good day, the drive shouldn’t take you more than four hours, though it’s advisable that you stay overnight in or near the village to be able to witness the uniqueness of the temple.
What is the story behind the Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple?
The Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple is said to have been founded by Kartikeya, the son of Shiva and brother of Ganesha. In fact the temple finds a mention in the Skanda Purana, which refers to a pillar called the Vishwanandak Stambh to the west of which Kartikya installed his father’s lingam.
According to the legend, the demon Tarakasura, who was a devotee of Shiva, prayed to him to grant him a boon. Pleased by his penance, Shiva asks what it is that he wished for. Tarkasura, like most people who worshipped the gods in exchange for a boon, asked for immortality. However since no god had control over the cycle of birth and death, Shiva granted him the next best thing: no one, Shiva said, would be able to kill Tarakasura, except a son of Shiva.
Armed with this immortality-adjacent boon, Tarakasura went about creating havoc in all the worlds. Death and destruction followed everywhere that Tarakasura went and there was no stopping him. Realising it was time to bring an end to Tarakasura’s tyrrany, Shiva created Kartikeya from the flame of his third eye and sent him to battle the demon. As per the boon, Tarakasura fell to Kartikeya and his reign of terror came to an end.
Even though he slayed Tarakasura, Kartikeya couldn’t help but be humbled and impressed by the demon’s dedication to his father. And so, to mark the end of his reign, Kartikeya installed a lingam at the spot where he assassinated Tarakasura.
What is so unique about the Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple?
Even though India has shrines inside the sea – Mumbai’s Haji Ali is a classic case in point – none of them get submerged completely under water. Which is what makes the Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple so unique. During every high tide, the temple is all but submerged into the sea: the sanctum sanctorum and the pathway leading to it disappear underwater with just the temple’s pinnacle remaining visible. Come low tide, the temple appears again and devotees are able to walk over and offer their prayers.
You can watch this spectacle right here: