40 kilometers away from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh India, on the banks of the Ganges river is a village called Shivrajpur. The star attraction of the village is the Khereswar Temple dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of death and destruction. But it’s not just any temple. The temple has a very special visitor; Ashwasthama, an immortal being who is cursed to roam the Earth for thousands of years.
The temple is so old that it is mentioned in the Indian epic Mahabharata (Read more about it here.). Guru Dronacharya was a weapons master who was assigned the task of imparting knowledge on warfare and weaponry to the Pandavas and Kauravas (if you’ve read the Mahabharata you would know that the Pandavas are the heroes and Kauravas are the villain of the story. Read more here). He used to live in the temple premises and worship Lord Shiva there. It was here that he was blessed with a boy, who he named Ashwasthama. Ashwasthama was cursed by Lord Krishna, the Hindu god of love and compassion. During the 18-day battle of the Mahabharata, Ashwasthama had slain all the offspring of the Pandavas at the dead of night. He was cursed to roam the Earth for thousands of years.
Current priest of the temple Aakash Puri Goswami’s family has been conducting all the rites and rituals of the main deity of the temple for 36 generations. The daily proceedings in the temple begin when the priest opens the door at 4 a.m. in the morning and end at 8 p.m. after the final ritual for the day. A miracle happens everyday within this time frame. And that too with the temple locked and secured.
It is believed that the mythical visitor enters the temple within the time after the doors are locked at 8 p.m. and when it opens at 4 a.m. He is the first person everyday to worship the idol. Some witnesses claim to have seen a shadowy with an approximate height of 10 feet, with a wound to his head. The mysterious visitor comes in quietly and leaves before anyone sees him. When the temple is opened each morning by the head priest, fresh flowers and bay leaves are found on the statue of Lord Shiva.
In two other temples located in Liloti, Uttar Pradesh and Aligarh, Madhya Pradesh similar phenomenon occurs. The same mythical figure appears, silently worships, and leaves before the temple doors are opened. The story goes that Ashwasthama was enraged when he learnt that the his father Dronacharya was slain by the Pandavas during the 18 day battle of Mahabharata. Overcome by his fury, he headed over to the Pandava camp during nightfall when the battle ceased for the day and killed all their children. They were fast asleep. When Lord Krishna learnt about this horrific crime, he cursed Ashwasthama. He was to roam the earth for three thousand years bearing the burden of what he had done. Only Lord Shiva had the power to break the curse. Therefore, to free himself from the chains of the spell, it is believed that Ashwasthama goes around worshiping Lord Shiva for repentance.
Amazing but true. If you want to catch a glimpse of this mythical figure, hop on a flight, and visit these unique temples and learn the story they personify!