India the land of the gods has several ancient and mysterious temples that defy the known and conspires the unknown. While there are temples like Kamakhya Devi Temple or Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple known for their idiosyncratic ideologies, there lay another temple whose uniqueness is much tough to define. Located between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Cambay in Kavi-Kamboi, Jambusar, Gujarat, the Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple, is a 150 years old Shiva known as the vanishing temple of India. The temple mysteriously vanishes and reappears twice a day and is among one of the most prestigious temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Are you wondering where does it disappear and how? Let’s take a tour of the history of Gayab Mandir. (Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple)
The unique Stambheshwar Temple gets totally submerged into the sea during the high tides and starts emerging again during the low tides unveiling the 4 feet high Shiva lingam. The Shiva lingam is believed to be installed by the Devas headed by Lord Kartikeya after killing the demon Tarakasur.
The demon Tarakasur was a great devotee to Lord Shiva and did intense penance to please him and Lord Brahma. He ate nothing, for some days he survived only on water, and on other days he ate only leaves. Every day he would slice a small flesh from his body offered it as a token for his devotion. Impressed by his penance, the Lord Brahma offered the demon any boon he wanted. Tarakasur wished for a boon that shielded him from death, but as death was inevitable, Lord Brahma told him to ask for something else. Cunning Tarakasur then wished that except the six days old of Lord Shiva none else could ever kill him. The pleased god accepted the request and bestowed him the desired boon.
After the wish was granted, Tarakasur created havoc on the three worlds. He first began to rule the demons and created an army of like-minded demons. He then waged war on the paradise (Savargam) threatening everyone. When the Gods asked Brahma for help, he told them that none other than the unborn child of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati could kill the demon. When Kartikeya the son of Lord Shiva was finally born- the gods armed him with diverse weapons and arranged for the battle. Kartikeya’s spear pierced Tarakasur’s chest and killed him.
Though all the deities were happy with the event, Kartikeya felt sorrow for killing the demon. According to another version of the story, when Kartikeya killed Tarakasur he also appreciated the demon’s devotion for Lord Shiva, and therefore as a gesture of appreciation Kartikeya installed Shiva Lingam at the same site Tarakasur was executed. This way Kartikeya was absolved of his sins. Over the years the site came to be known as Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple.
A Temple where God plays hide and seek-
If you are planning to visit the temple, makes sure that you witness the disappearing and reappearing of the temple. This means you should plan a trip for a complete day to witness the glory of the temple. During the early hours, you can meditate peacefully amid the exceptional noisy yet calm environment. During the noon you can dine in several restaurants near the parking area and nearby. Also, an ashram located across the temple serves free food for the devotees. After lunch, you can watch the spectacular moment of the temple getting submerged into the sea and showing its full glory. By the evening you can watch it emerging again during the low tides unveiling the 4 feet high Shiva lingam. After that, you can enjoy the scenic beauty of the union of the Mahi Sagar and the Sabarmati River- and an extra token of takeaway!
Where to visit? By train, Bharuch is the nearest railway station and by air, the closest airport is at Vadodara. From there you can either board a bus or a tax directly for their temple.