Madhya Pradesh’s Baijnath Mahadev Temple has a special connection with the British. This Shiva temple in Agar Malwa is India’s only temple to be built by Britishers during colonial rule. And there was a divine reason behind it. Lieutenant Colonel Martin and his wife claimed to have witnessed Lord Shiva’s miraculous powers first-hand.
When British India Went To War Against Afghans
The story dates back to 1879 when the British Indian army was engaged in an intense war against the Afghans. Lieutenant Colonel C Martin left his wife back at home in Agar Malwa to fight the war. During the course of the war, Lt Col Martin and his wife stayed in touch through letters.
He pacified his worried wife about his well-being and the happenings on the battlefield. But over time, his wife stopped receiving his letters. Failing to contact her husband, Mrs Martin feared the worst. Her health started deteriorating.
Colonel’s Wife Visits Shiva Temple To Pray For His Well Being
To calm herself and revive her hope, she spent time horse riding. One day as she rode her horse, she passed by the 15th-century Baijnath Mahadev temple nearby. It was the aarti time. The reverberating sound of conches, mantras and bells drew her in.
Witnessing a despairing Englishwoman in a temple, the priests enquired about her worries. On sharing her story, they told her that Lord Shiva always fulfils the sincere wishes of devotees and saves them from any harm. They advised her to chant the mantra “Om Namah Shivaya” for 11 days.
Saved By Miraculous Encounter With Indian Yogi
On the 10th day, Mrs Martin opened the door to witness a messenger from Afghanistan. He held a letter from her husband. When she opened the letter, Lieutenant Colonel Martin unravelled a hair-raising incident. His letter read that he was embroiled in a fierce battle with the Pathans.
It was so intense that there was no escape. Losing all hope, he prepared for the worst Suddenly, an Indian yogi appeared out of thin air. Dressed in a tiger skin, with long tresses he carried a trident. The powerful being wielded a trident against the Afghans, who were so frightened that they immediately retreated.
Baijnath Mahadev Temple: India’s Only Temple Built By British
The army won a war that they were certain was going to end in defeat. But that’s not all. The Indian yogi turned around and spoke to Colonel Martin. He calmly assured the colonel to leave his worries aside. After all, the powerful being came to the battlefield as he was impressed by his wife’s heartfelt prayers. The couple were taken aback by Lord Shiva’s powers. So much so, that they became his ardent devotees.
In 1880s British Couple Lieutenant Colonel C Martin and His Wife Renovated Baijnath Temple of Lord Shiva In Agar Malwa, Madhya Pradesh ( Photo – https://t.co/D9ENdrnQ5X )@indiahistorypic pic.twitter.com/dzOCXSWpVJ
— Dr Andrew Fleming 🇬🇧 🏴 (@Andrew007Uk) March 5, 2018
In 1883, Mr and Mrs Martin donated ₹15,000 to rebuild Baijnath Mahadev Temple. While the Martins sailed back to England, they promised to continue revering the Hindu God. To date, devotees can find a slab in the temple dedicated to the historic story behind a British couple’s special connection with Lord Shiva.
Cover Image Credits: agarmalwa.mp.gov.in and Subhash Chandra Sawhney