By Swami Harshananda
In all the religions, centers of pilgrimage occupy an important place since they bring peace, solace and spiritual upliftment to the persons that visit them. Such pilgrim centers are innumerable. Sea-beaches, banks of rivers, hills, dales and forests are the most favored places for the location of such centers. They are, almost invariably, associated with some ancient legends concerned with gods or holy persons; or the resorts of saints and sages. And, of course, there must be some temples too.
One of the less known rivers is the Bhīmā. It is has it's origin from the Western Ghats from the summit of the Sahya mountain in Maharashtra. It flows towards the South-East and joins the river Kṛṣṇā situated towards a little North of Raichur in Karnataka. At the origin of this river is situated the famous Jyotirliṅga, Bhīmāśaṅkara. It is one of the twelve such liṅgas mentioned in the ancient and medieval works.
According to one of the legends, Lord Śiva, after vanquishing Tripurāsura, came to this place for rest. At that time, Bhimaka, a king of Ayodhyā, had been doing tapas or penance there to propitiate Śiva. Being pleased by his tapas Śiva revealed himself to the king and offered a boon. The king requested Śiva that the beads of perspiration on his forehead be discharged as a river for the purification of mankind. Thus was born the river Bhīmā.
The river Indrāyaṇī joins Bhīmā near Tulāpur. Phaṇḍarāpura, the well-known place of pilgrimage of Maharashtra is situated on the right bank of Bhimā. The river Bhīmā is also called Bhīma- rathī; and occasionally, as Mahānadī too.
The word Bhimā is sometimes used to denote Durgā.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore