Surrounded by the sea…
Koteshwar is tiny village set in the west Kutch. In the village on the banks of the Kori Creek is the famous Koteshwar Mahadev temple. When the high tide comes in the temple, it gets cut off from the mainland. But with the roads being developed in the region, the temple is now accessible all through the year.
.. set on a hillock.
The temple is set upon a sandstone hillock and fortified against the sea by a wall. The inscription at the entrance bears the year of construction, 1820, and the Sethjis who constructed it, Sundarji and Jetha Shivji. Set in a big courtyard fortified by a battle wall and three ancient cannons, stands a stone structure dedicated to Mahadev. The temple has three domes, and houses a carved brass Nandi presented by the Rao Deshalji I of Kutch State. The shrine also has images of Lords Ganapati and Hanuman and the image of Parvati. The temple has a ‘self-born’ Linga (svayambhu linga) which is considered the incarnation of Mahadev. There are some nails on the linga believed to have been driven in by Allaudin Khilji in the thirteenth century.
Designs altered over time
The temple has seen several renovations over the years, which have left the original structure and design altered considerably. There are several other temples in the area surrounding the Koteshwar Mahadev.
A little distance away is the Narayan Sarovar, which is said to be filled by the Mythical River Saraswati, and is one of the blessed lake according to Hindu Mythology. There is a temple complex around the sarovar, devoted to Lord Vishnu.
When the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsiang passed through the region, he mentioned the Koteshwar port and the temple in his travel diaries.
There are several legends associated with the temple. One of them states that Ravana, after a long meditation, was granted a boon by Lord Shiva. He was given a Shiva linga with immense spiritual power. But the other gods, not wanting to let Ravana grow all powerful, conspired and stole the Linga and installed it in Koteshwar. This is known as the Kotilingeshwar temple too.
This spot were the temple is built is also presumed to be the place where Lord Shiva, during his journey of the earth, stopped for mediation on his way to Kedarnath.
Legend also has it that The Koteshwar Shiva is said to be the Shiva avatar Bhairava of the Hinglaj Mata, whose temple is in Hinglaj, of Lasbela district in Balochistan of Pakistan. It is said that visiting both the temples gives the pilgrims ultimate blessings.