Weekend getaway in Jammu – 1200 year old Mahabilvakeshwar Temple
Billawar is a town and a notified area committee in Kathua district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Billawar is also a tehsil. It is also known as Balaur. Billawar was founded by Raja Bhog Pal in 7th century A.D and it remained the capital of Basohli Rajas. The descendants of the Royal family are known as “Billawaria, Baloria, Balouria or Billauria” and chandel all being the modern day spelling variants. The town has some ancient monuments.
One of these is Mahabilvakeshwar Temple, one of the most revered Shiva temples of the area. It was known as Hari Hara Temple.
According to one belief, Pandavas visited Billawar in the last year of their exile and were attracted by Bael or Bilwa trees abundant in the region. The Temple Mahabilwakeshwar was built where Pandavas had worshipped. In Billawar there is an ancient Hanuman’s statue built on a rock in the river Naj . According to Dr Sukhdev Singh Charak, Billawar-Basohli was one of the three parent/ original states of the Duggar Group along with Jammu and Poonch.
The Mahabilvakehwar temple of Billawar is most enchanting and magnificent edifice. The Shiva temple is the landmark in the development of art and architecture of the region. It contains the rare Linga image. Bala Sundri Mata is a holy place for the locals. Famous Sukrala Mata temple is situated just 8 km from Billawar. The temple is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year, mainly from Northern India.