Bhimashankar and especially to Bhimarathi occur In literature dating back to the
thirteenth century. Several passages from the writings of Marathi saints speak of the
importance, of this kshetra. These come from various
sources but all are unanimous on one point. And that point is the great sancity of the
shrine. A very logical inference, there fore, is that the shrine must have been popular
and famous much before it was part of the common religious itinerary of any individual out
for a pilgrimage.
No less a personage, than
Jnyaneshvar seems to have visited this place. His contemporary and fellow traveller,
Namdev states that after having visited and worshipped the source of Godavari at
Tryambakeshvar, Jnyaneshvar visited Bhimashankar, the source of Bhima or Chandrabhaga, as
the river is known at Pandharpur. Namdev himself had visited the place. The inclusion of
the Shiva temple at Bhima-shankar in the list of a dozen most important Shivalings, the
Jyotirlings, shows how sacred the place is.
These twelve Jyotirlings are the Mallikarjuna at
Shri Shaila, Somnath from Saurashtra, Mahan- kala from Ujjain, Mamaleshvar from Omkar
Mandhata, Kedar on the Himalayas, Bhimashankar from the Dakini van forests), Vishveshvar
at Varanashi,Tryambakeshvar on the banks of the Godavari, Vaijnath at Parli, Nagesh from
Darukavana, Ghrishneshvar at Verula and Rameshvar on the Setu- bandha, the extreme south
of the great peninsula. important as a Shaivite centre, Bhimashankar has a greater
significance attached to it as the source of one of the holiest rivers of Maharashtra.