Ranbireshwar Temple Oldest historical temple of Jammu City

Ravi Rohmetra
Jammu is known as the city of Temple and Shri Ranbireshwar temple is the oldest temple in Jammu city. In the city centre and just opposite to civil secretariat there is a triple storeyed huge temple which is visited by a large number of devotees daily while thousands of people see it daily while passing through the main Shalamar Road in Jammu city.
The ground floor and first floor have the rooms. While the temple stands on the top floor. The temple built in about 1880 AD by Maharaja Ranbir Singh ( 1857AD -1885AD) of Jammu and Kashmir was just a part his attempt to convert Jammu city into the City of Temples on pattern of Kashi (Banaras). He succeeded in his attempt and that is why Jammu is also called as City of Temples in even in present times. He also built many other temples and shrines in and outside the Jammu city which reflects the religious approach of Ranbir Singh. The unique feature of the temple is the fact that the main temple of Lord Shiva is situated on the first floor and a statue of Shri Ranbir Singh with folded hands is seen praying Lord Shiva in front of the temple. The name of the temple was given specially on the name of Shri Ranbir Singh meaning Lord of Ranbir. Ranbir plus Ishwar – Ranbireshwar. However, the statue was installed much later, few decades ago, and not by Ranbir Singh himself. Besides the life size idols of Lord Shiva, his consort Parvati and son Ganesha a huge single stone Shivlingam inside the main temple attracts the devotees. A huge life size metallic Nandi made of brass sits at the entrance of the main temple which faces the main idols. The rare Ekadash Lingams made of Safatik ( a special transparent white stone) is rarely seen in the Shiva temples which were specially brought by Maharaja Ranbir Singh from Banaras. Not only this , Shaligrams in two adjoining halls of the temple were also specially brought from the bed of Narmada river. Shaligrams have special significance for Lord Shiva worshippers. In addition to all this, there are small temples having idols of Mahakali, Lord Panchmukhi Hanuman, Shani Devta, Ganesha and Kartik , the elder son of Lord Shiva just outside the main temple. On one side of Nandi, is a huge metallic bell which weighs over a quintal ( over 100 kg). The place where this temple has been built was a small hill and a saint used to perform meditation at this place whose Samadhi has been built below the temple in the large open land. The Shivlingam was placed at the height which was the top of that hillock on the advise of that saint. The temple has a large space for worshippers who can sit and do meditation inside the temple which is rare in most of the temples. In the memory of Maharani Yasho Rajya Lakshmi 24th May 2012, Late. Smt. Sheila Dikshit Ex – Chief Minister of Delhi inaugurated Yasho – Karn Park at the backside of historic Shri. Ranbireshwar temple accompanied, by Dr. Karn Singh Chairman Trustee, J&K Dharmarth trust council and ex union Minister. In this Ranbireshwar Temple the park by becoming an attracton for tourists as well as citizen of Jammu will always keep the memory of the Late Maharani alive. Dr. Karan Singh is a well – known statesman , philosopher , diplomat and philanthropist across the world.
In the great Shri Ranbireshwar temple also he made important improvements , including adding two murtis in the outer court before entering the temple and replacing the small Nandi with a beautiful large metal Nandi acquired from Mysore. Here again the Utsav Murti of Lord Shiva has been provided for the annual Maha Shivratri Maharaja Ranbir Singh Ji, like his father Maharaja Gulab Singh ji, was equally brave, kind, benevolent , farsighted and able administrator , he was also a great politician and a staunch Hindu but his cherished Dharma was humanism and secularism. He constructed a number of temples in the periphery of Jammu city and at different parts of Jammu and Kashmir, which are worth seeing . Shri Ranbireshwar temple is the pride temple of Jammu city and because of this majestic and magnificent temple Jammu has also acquired the name as “The City of Temples”. Specially in the month of “Sawan” and Mondays of the Sawan’s month thousands of devotees visit Shri Ranbireshwar Temple, where they pay obesisence to Lord Shiva, Mahadev and seek their blessing for them and their near and dear ones.
Shiv Temple of Shri Ranbireshwar Mandir and other temple area regularly visited by thousand of Pilgrims every year. There remains great rush in this temple during the (Sharwan Month- Sawan Month). The Pilgrims perform the Shivlinga worship and the whole atmosphere in and around the temple vibrates with the sound of bells and chants of Jai Shiv Shankar, Om Namo Shiva, Devo ke dev Jai Mahadev, Bham Bham Bhole and seek blessing of Lord Shiva.
All the festivals are celebrated in this temple. The festival of Maha Shivratri is celebrated at grand level.