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Ajgaibinath at Sultanganj


Sultanganj is a village in Bhagalpur district of Bihar, 109 km away from Babadham. It is situated close to the Ganges, near a railway station by the same name. Sultanganj is conspicuous for two great rocks of granite, one of which on the river bank is crowned by Musalman mosque. The second and larger one is occupied by a temple of Ghaibinath Siva, and is a place of great holiness in the eyes of Hindus. The river here impinges on a stone cliff and this is believed to be the scene of the love of River Nymph and Lord Shiva.

Close to Sultanganj railway station are extensive remains of Buddhist monasteries, where a number of figures have been exhumed, and nearby is a fine old Stupa.

The tradition runs that a devotee or sanyasi named Harinath, who had forsaken the pleasures of the world, dwelt here at one time. He used to make pilgrimages to the shrine of Baidyanath at Babadham until, at last, God informed him in a dream that he would have no further occasion to go so far, as on his return to this island rock he would find an image there to which he may address his prayers. He found the promised idol awaiting him at Sultanganj and founding a convent of devotees. He became its first mahant. Almost everyone who comes to bathe at Sultanganj visits the place, and carries up a vessel of water to pour over the image.

It is said that in ancient times Sultanganj being the abode of the sage Jahnu, was a very famous place. Being the Ashram of a sage, it must have been a popular seat of learning and students must have received learning and erudition under the guidance of the learned sage.

The hill that contained the Ashram of Jahnu Muni is still existing in the mid stream of the Ganga and at present the famous Shiva temple of Ajgaivinath is situated at its summit. The origin of the temple is shrouded in mystery. According to the legend lord Shiva took here a bow known as Ajgav and so the place came to be known as Ajgaivinath. It is commonly said that Kalapahar failed to demolish Ajgaivinath temple but he could destroy the Parvati temple on the neighbouring hill and built a mosque there. Formerly, this hill must have been bigger and spacious. The high floods and the constant strong currents of the Ganga must have worn away the decaying granite rocks of the hill. he present village Jahangira to the west of Sultangang still keeps alive the memory of the Ashram of Jahnu Muni. The name of Jahangira appears to be the distorted form of Jahnugiri (the hill of Jahnu) or Jahnu griha (the abode of Jahnu).

During the rule of the Mauryas, Guptas and Palas many works of art and architecture were raised at Sultanganj. The area has yielded ancient relicks like stupas, seals, coins, terracotta and Hindu and Buddha images. Many carvings can still be seen in the Sultanganj hills. A number of small images along with a copper image of Lord Buddha about seven feet high were excavated here. A Buddha image found in Sultanganj is now in Birmingham Museum.

A large number of antiquities covered from krishnagarh at Sultanganj have been preserved in Patna Museum. They indicate a very high standard of Hindu religiosity and culture. The fact that some of the images and other antiquities are Buddhistic reiterates that the area was very important from Buddhistic point of view as well. Most of the antiquities have been identified with the medieval period.

Through various vicissitudes Sultanganj continued in importance in the later centuries. It is peculiar that a place which has the famous Shiva temple known as Ajgaivinath, which is quite old, should have a name which has a clear muslim impress. It is all the more so when it is remembered that Ajgaivinath temple is one of the three famous Shiva temples in Bihar & Jharkhand, the two other being Basukinath and Baidyanath temples.

 

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