The name Ambarnath means Sky-Lord. Ambarnath is the site of an old Shiva temple. The Shiv Mandir of Ambarnath is also called the Ambreshwar Shiva Temple. It is also called Ambreshwar Shiva Temple. It is situated 2 km away from Ambarnath (East) railway station in Maharashtra, India. The temple is on the bank of the Vadavan (Waldhuni) river. The temple is Hemadpanthi-styled and beautifully carved on stones. This Temple has its own unique identity of architecture. The Ambernath Shiv Temple was built during the 1060 AD in classical style by Chittaraja, King of Shi’erahala. Later on, the work was completed by his son Mumunni. The temple is truly an out-of-this-world marvel because it was built by carving a single large boulder. The Ambarnath Shiva Temple is a great example of the amazing work that builders and architects did in the 10th century.  

Ambreshwar Shiva Temple, Ambernath-Sheet1
Shiva Temple, Ambernath, Maharashtra_ www.ambernath-shiv-mandir-timings-history-travel-guide-and-how-to-reach.Com

Historical Importance of Shiva Temple 

The Shiva temple structure is a very old Historical Structure. About 1000 years ago, this Shiv temple was built. Based on the writings on the door that faces north, this Temple was built by King Chittaraja of the Silhara Dynasty. This temple holds sacred value and interesting facts from the Mahabharata timeline. it is said that the Pandavas built this Temple. It is said that Pandavas spent a few years in Ambernath during their exile, and then they built this Ambernath Shiv temple in just one night in a huge single mass of stone. Then they left this place due to fear of being continuously chased by Kaur as. Due to this work of the temple could not be completed. This temple which has been facing weather for years is still standing. This temple is also known as the Pandava Temple.

Social and Political Importance of Royal Heritage 

The temple has its own royal heritage identity because UNESCO has also said that Shiva mandir is an important cultural site. It is one of 218 cultural heritages in the world, declared by UNESCO. Of these 218, India has 25 and Maharashtra has 4. This temple is one of the highlighted representative structures of Maharashtra’s cultural and heritage vastus. And because of that it holds important social heritage importance. Politically it’s already under the UNESCO so there is a large level of government involved in restoring and conserving this type of gem’s historical structure. 

 For Restoration – The temple was also set to be restored as the state government had sanctioned Rs. 43 corers for its restoration and beautification, back in 2020. This major makeover would see the creation of several world-class facilities for devotees and tourists. The revamp would see a new amphitheatre, parking space, a children’s area, a garden, and a bus stop. The Waldhuni river bank would also see a revamp. The temple comes under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

This temple and its surrounding area have intrigued archaeologists and historians for centuries. There is a kund close to the temple which has a hot water stream whose origin has not been found. There is a mile-long geological cave whose opening has now been closed which leads to the ancient forest of Panchavati. The Waldhuni River that flows nearby swells up during the monsoon and rushes into this complex that is surrounded by tamarind and mango trees. Thus, not only built structure but the temple has very strong and interesting historical surroundings which convey the importance of the royal heritage of Shiva temple. The historical temple site holds a lot of spiritual potency which can be spread all over the temple complex. This temple will be restored by UNESCO so it will be involved in the former glory of the heritage cluster of Mumbai, Maharashtra.  

Ambreshwar Shiva Temple, Ambernath-Sheet2
Shiva Temple, Ambernath, Maharashtra _www.wikipediaShivMandirAmbernath,SideView.jpg.Com

Architecture of Temple, Design Style, Material and Construction 

The Architecture of Shiva Temple is the most important and considerable factor it’s the unique and historical identity of the whole structure. The architecture of this temple is Hemadpanti style. This category of the temple is a subset of the Vesara style, a combination of Nagara – North Indian and Dravidian – South Indian style building temples architecture from Central India, thus it represents both north and south sides temple architecture styles. The temple is locally known as ‘Puratana Shivalaya’. 

Materials – The temple is built of locally available black basalt stone, which is intricately carved and polished perfection. The outer walls are carved intricately in black rock. The outer side of the wall of the temple has lot lots of carving, ornamentation, and decoration patterns.

Ambreshwar Shiva Temple, Ambernath-Sheet3
Ambernath Shiva temple Plan_www.heritagechronicles.blogspot.Com

The Shiva Temple is a west west-facing temple. The temple consists of a sanctum and mandapa, providing a total length of approximately 20m, with a connecting vestibule and entrance porches to the north, south, and west. Externally this temple plan appears to be made up of two squares set diagonally to each other, but internally these two diagonally square i.e. sanctum and mandapa are separate squares and diagonally aligned side to side. According to temple planning, through a vestibule, the three porches lead to the central hall of the Temple. This part of the Temple carved very straightforwardly, is where the priests sit.

At the entrance, there are two Nandi (lord Shiva’s Vahan) placed. This is a rare feature, that finding two Nandis at the entrance of the temple. It is interesting to note that the sanctum sanctorum (Garbhagriha) is an underground room, where two Shiva Lingas have been built. After climbing 20 steps to reach the main room called Garbh Griha; there is a shivling placed at the canter of Garbh Griha, which is swayambhu or self-manifested. From the outside, the temple looks solid and is an orderly square, with a roof high above it. Temple outer side’s wall has lots of ornamentation and decoration patterns. The tower is made of a stepped pyramid. The rough brownish stone is common in this area and was used to build the whole temple.

The important feature of the Shiva temple is Shikhara. The Shikhara of the temple holds an interesting fact. The shikhara would have been in the bhumija style had it been completed. The temple does not have a roof over the sanctorum! The partial roof of the temple is supported by an array of pillars, also beautifully sculpted. Even the ceiling has richly carved details.

Ambreshwar Shiva Temple, Ambernath-Sheet4
Temple Shikhara design, Shiva Temple Ambernath, Maharashtra_ www. sachinbaikar.com
Ambreshwar Shiva Temple, Ambernath-Sheet5
Repetition pattern on outer side of temple, Shiva Temple Ambernath, Maharashtra_www. alamy.com
Ambreshwar Shiva Temple, Ambernath-Sheet6
Ornamentation, Decorative gods, goddesses sculpture pattern on outer side of temple, Shiva Temple Ambernath, Maharashtra_www. alamy.com

The sculptures of Hindu mythology, most of which are about Shiva, are set at eye level and form a chain around the Temple. Above and below the sculptures, there are fluted edges. On the tower, there is a picture of Shiva dancing. Through a vestibule, the three porches lead to the central hall of the Temple. This part of the Temple carved very straightforwardly, is where the priests sit. Many pillars are holding up the roof. In the middle of the west-facing main porch is an image of Nandi, a bull. One has to go down 20 steps in the main room, Garbhagriha, to get to the inner sanctum (interior of the sanctum Sanctorum). This underground Sanctorum, open to the sky, has one “Swayambhu” (self-made), Shiv Ling, in the middle. 

This temple is very beautifully ornamented, and decorated by various patterns on the outer walls of the temple. The outer walls of the temple are decorated with images of gods and goddesses. Each pillar is individually very beautifully decorated with these gods’ images. Shikhara of the temple is also very beautifully presented with the staggered design concept. The overall temple structure represents the ancient architecture style, the temple holds a very peaceful and spiritual devotional environment inside the area. The Shiva linga inside the temple spreads very high potential spiritual vibes inside the temple.

Ambreshwar Shiva Temple, Ambernath-Sheet7
Top view of Shiva Temple Ambernath, Maharashtra_ www.hindustantimes.com

Today as an Important Tourist Place and Its Cultural Heritage 

The ASI – Archaeological Survey of India department has completely transformed the temple premise with beautiful landscaping designs and kept the area restricted as a tourist place to safeguard the ancient beauty. Today’s time it’s most visited and famous tourist place.  It’s an ancient structure with devotional culture architecture design.

In today’s time, the temple structure plays an important role. The temple is an important place for religion and spiritual devotional practices. During Mahashivatri and Sharvani somavar times temple gets flooded with lots of devotees. Also, there is a huge fair Ambernath on this devotional occasionally around 4 days with prasadam food for all visitors. Lots of new commerce, and new people come up with their talented work at this fair festival. So, it’s an economical source of opportunity for lots of needy people. Thus, the temple is not only a devotional place but also provides new opportunities for people.

Ambreshwar Shiva Temple, Ambernath-Sheet8
Ambernath Shiva Temple with Festival Season_ www.ambernath-shiv-mandir-timings-history-travel-guide-and-how-to-reach.Com

Impact of Shiva Temple on the Urban Fabric 

The Shiva temple-related rites and other rituals form a major part of the urban fabric. The temple is not just a worship place of god but also a gathering place. A temple is a place where all ritual activities are done by all types of people. It’s a place of various festival celebrations, so the surrounding urban environment is also affected by the temple as the main important place of daily lifestyle. Reviving the temple complexes will also develop the surrounding subsequent urban infrastructure, which can positively impact to formation of urban fabric. Because the temple is very emotional and people’s hearts close subject at least India, India has been a very spiritual, devotion base country for so long time, India is a very religious spiritual country where ‘Sanatan dharma’ is living in Indian religious people lives, so if there is a temple like shiv temple is built in city like Ambernath area, it will defiantly change the urban fabric according to Shiva spiritual activities which related to temple and Shiva. 

Conclusion

Shiva temple is one of the important heritages as well as a spiritual religious structure that represents the Hindu culture through its design, decorative as well and planning pattern. Ambernath has its own identity because of this Shiva temple. Shiva temple changed its surrounding environment, urban fabric as well and lifestyle of people who are living surrounding the temple area. UNESCO accepted historical architectural religious structures. Architecturally it is the best example of a temple structure that represents strong construction, well-planning temple building, beautifully carved ornamentation on the outer side of the temple, and decorative patterns on the outer side of the temple. Also, it is the best example historical heritage temple structure in Maharashtra.

Image Reference Source:  

tfipost.com [Photograph] Ambernath Shiva Temple. Retrieved wesite: www.tifpost.com

 https://tfipost.com/2023/01/ambernath-shiv-mandir-timings-history-travel-guide-and-how-to-reach/

File Shiva mandir ambernath [Photograph], (n.d.). Retrieved from wikipediaShivmandirambernath.com: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shiv_Mandir_Ambernath_,_Side_View.jpg

Ambernath the earliest dated bhumija temple in maharashtra [Photograph],  shiva temple ambernath plan (n.d.). Retrieved from: www. /kevinstandagephotography.wordpress.com:  https://kevinstandagephotography.wordpress.com/2021/01/10/ambarnath-temple-the-earliest-dated-bhumija-temple-in-maharashtra/

Ambernath Shivalay Temple Article [Photograph], Shiva temple Ambernath, Shikhara design (n.d.). Retrieved from www.sachinbaikar.com: https://sachinbaikar.com/wp/2018/04/29/ambernath-shivalaya-temple/

Shiva mandir Ambernath photos [Photograph], Repetation design pattern on outer side of temple, Retrieved from www.alamy.com: https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/shiv-mandir-ambarnath.html?sortBy=relevant

Shiva mandir Ambernath Article [Photograph], Top view of temple, Retrieved from www.hindustantimes.com: https://www.hindustantimes.com:https//cities/mumbai-news/1382-crore-allotted-to-beautify-963-year-old-shiv-temple-in-ambernath

Shiva mandir Ambernath photos [Photograph], Ornamentation, decorative pattern on outer side of temple, Retrieved from www.alamy.com: https://www.alamy.com/shiv-mandir-ambarnath-maharashtra-india-shiva-in-highly-ornamented-image

tfipost.com [Photograph] Ambernath Shiva Temple. Retrieved wesite: – 

 https://tfipost.com/2023/01/ambernath-shiv-mandir-timings-history-travel-guide-and-how-to-reach/

Author

Rasika is an Architect by profession and Writer by passion. Her passion for writing about literature and spirituality. Her love for these subjects shines through in her writing, which is both informative and engaging. Through her writing she is trying to spread awareness, importance and sacred knowledge about Vedic - spiritual, religious as well as modern architecture. With the heart of an explorer always seeking new experiences that inspire her, she appreciates soaking in the beauty of the world around her. She truly believes that through architecture we can give the right shape to our society, and maintain our culture to make a difference that stands for generations to come.