Rajinder Chand Anthal
Benisangam is a serene evergreen valley at a distance of six kilometres from Chenani towards Mantalai. Legends say that the “Barat” of Lord Shiva stayed for a night at this place and the ‘Nandi’ was tied to old ‘Kharak’ tree near the temple. At Benisangam three Holy rivers meet each other and the place was called ‘Trivenisangam’ in the ancient times. These rivers are, Holy Devika coming from Sudhmahadev, Surya Putri Tawi from Kailash Kund and Bharathari Rivulet from Kulasar area of Jug Dhar. A Baisakhi Mela is held at this place on the bank of Holy Devika. The fascinating agriculture fields, low line Pine forests, snow clad mountain peaks of Dharshivgarh and Jug Dhar mixed with Holy Vibrations absorb us in the lap of nature at this place.
Benisangam is an important Tirath in the group of Panjtirthi in this region. It is believed that a dip in the Holy waters of three rivers at ‘Sangam’ will absolve human body and soul from all worldly sins. It is also believed that if cremation is held at this place the soul will attain salvation and there is no need to immerse the ashes in Ganga at Haridwar. At Benisangam there is a galaxy of old and new temples on both sides of Holy Devika Rivulet. The temple of Lord Shiva, Thakurdwara, and temple of Hanuman are the oldest constructions of medieval times, whereas the temples of Vishavkarma, Sita Ram Ji and Ganga Mata along with many others are new constructions. As per local faith and Purans Benisangam has been visited by great saints and kings of the past. Raja Karan of Mahabharata period had visited Benisangam for a Holy Bath at Benisangam and Sudhmahadev in connection with conduct of Panjtirthi ritual. Great saints like Guru Ved Vyasa and Kashyap Rishi are also said to be regular visitors of Trivenisangam. Bhagat Praladh has also visited this place during his pilgrimage to Sudhmahadev area.
The temple of LORD SHIVA is believed to have been constructed some five hundred years ago by some Rajas of Chenani. Legends say that a farmer was ploughing his field in the nearby village Kharwa. Suddenly the Iron tip of the plough struck with some solid object and the bullocks stopped. On digging, the farmer found stone made idol of Lord Shiv Parvati buried in the soil and blood was coming out from the idol where the plough had struck. The farmer took out the idol and washed it with water. The blood stopped. He thought to present the idol to the king by carrying it on his back.
After covering some distance he reached Benisangam he was tired enough and decided to take rest. He placed the idol under a shady tree at the Sangam of Holy Rivers. After some time, he tried to lift the idol for onward journey towards Chenani. Surprisingly the idol got struck in the ground and could not be lifted again. Leaving the idol under the custody of some locals, the farmer went to Chenani and narrated the story to the king.
The king ordered to build a temple at the place where the idol is lying at present. So a beautiful temple was constructed near the sangam of Holy Devika and Tawi Rivers.
With the passage of time, more constructions were added and the place got wide publicity. Pertinent to mention that there are very few Shiv temples with full ‘Parikarma’ and the Benisangam temple is one among the few. Thousands of litres of water poured over the Shiv-Lingam is absorbed in the ground with no outlet visible anywhere. Even the earthquakes, large scale floods and natural upheavals from the centuries could not damage the smooth flow of water from the temple straightaway down to earth. It is a live miracle of Lord Shiva.
Shiv Temple of Benisangam and other temples are regularly visited by thousands of pilgrims every year. There remains great rush in these temples during Baisakhi Mela, Sudhmahadev Mela, Shiv Ratri, Makar Sakranti, etc. But during Amarnath Yatra majority of the Sadhus visit this place.
The temple of Lord Shiva is being looked after by a Mahant of Nath Panth. Present Mahant of the temple is Narad Gir. On the eastern side of the temple there are Samadhis of the Mahants.
Chenani Kings have donated hundred kanals of land to this temple in Village Bain and Kharwa.
Mahant Jamna Gir father of the present Mahant told a very interesting story of magical powers of the souls of great saints buried in two Samadhis in the temple Complex. These Samadhis are considered as pious and daily Pooja of these Samadhis is held. The story goes that during the Amarnath yatra, some sadhus came to Benisangam and stayed in the temple complex. The Mahant of that time told the Sadhus that these are not the ordinary Samadhis but these are Alive Samadhis of great saints who had attained spiritual powers during their lifetime. The mahant told that he has learnt this from his forefathers that these Sadhus are alive and he has personally felt holy vibrations around these Samadhis. The ignorant Sadhus stuck to his word and challenged the Mahant to prove his word or leave the ‘seat’. Lot of people were invited to the temple. The Mahant after brief worship placed a Chilam (Burning Tobacco pipe) on the Samadhis and stood up with folded hands. After some time all were astonished to see dark smoke coming out of the Chilam as if someone is sucking it. The sadhus realised their mistake and prayed before the Samadhis. Everything was calm thereafter.
On the other side of Holy Devika, the temple called Thakurdwara and the Shila of Hanumanji is worth seeing. Previously Thakurdwara was inside a small heritage temple, but it has been now shifted to a newly constructed room. In the Thakurdwara complex, there are many stone carved idols of Gods but the Narsingh Avtar stone carved idol is unique. Benisangam is well connected with Haridwar, Sudhmahadev, and Mantalai by centuries old bridle path and now PMGSY road to link these Tiraths is under progress. Benisangam to Sudhmahadev and Mantalai can also be the excellent track routes for adventure tourism. Benisangam and all adjoining areas have tremendous tourism potential which needs to be explored. This place is linked by a pacca road and residential accommodation is available in temple complex and private houses nearby. It is said that Holy Bath in Sangam at Benisangam and Pooja in Shiv Temple and Thakurdwara will bring prosperity in mankind by the blessing of Supreme God.
(The author is former Zonal Education Officer, Chenani)
Rajinder Chand Anthal