The Bhimashankar temple is a composite of old and new structures in the Nagara style of architecture. It shows the excellency of the skills achieved by ancient Vishwakarma sculptors. It is a modest yet graceful temple and it dates back to the 13th century while the sabhamandap was built in the 18th century by Nana Phadnavis.
Long ago, in the dense forests of Dakini, on the lofty ranges of the Sahyadris lived the evil Asura by the name Bhima with his mother Karkati. Compassion and kindness shivered in the presence of Bhima. The divine and the mortals were scared of him alike. But he was confronted by certain questions about his own existence which continuously tormented him.
When Bhima could no longer sustain his agony and curiosity, he asked his mother to unveil the mysteries of his life. He urged his mother to tell him who his father was and why he had abandoned them in the wilderness of the forest. After much hesitation and with a lingering fear Karkati, his mother revealed to him that he was the son of the mighty Kumbhakarna, the younger brother of the Lankadhishwar, the mighty all powerful King Ravana of Lanka.
Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Lord Rama annihilated Kumbhakarna. Karkati told Bhima, that her husband and his father was killed by Ram in the great war. This infuriated Bhima and he vowed to take revenge against Lord Vishnu. To achieve this, he embarked on a severe penance to please Lord Brahma. The compassionate creator was pleased by the dedicated devotee and granted him immense powers. This was a terrible mistake by Brahma.
The evil tyrant caused havoc in all the three worlds. He defeated King Indra and conquered the heavens. He also defeated a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva - Kamaroopeshwar and put him in the dungeons. He started torturing Rishies and Sadhus. All this angered the Gods. All the Devas, along with Lord Brahma, beseeched Lord Shiva to come to their rescue. Lord Shiva consoled the Gods and agreed to rescue them from the tyrant.
On the other hand, Bhima insists and orders Kamaroopeshwar to worship him instead of Lord Shiva. When Kamaroopeshwar did not do that and refused to do pooja to him, the tyrant Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shiva Linga, to which Kamaroopeshwar was doing abhishekam and pooja. As soon as Bhima managed to raise his sword, Lord Shiva appeared before him in all his magnificence. Then a terrible war began.
Then, the holy sage Narada appeared and requested Lord Shiva to put an end to this war. It was then that Lord Shiva reduced the evil demon to ashes and thus concluded the saga of tyranny. All the Gods and the holy sages present there requested Lord Shiva to make this place his abode. Lord Shiva thus manifested himself in the form of the Bhimashankar Jyotirlingam.
It is believed that the sweat that poured forth from Lord Shiva's body after the battle formed the Bhimarathi River. This temple is closely associated with the legend of Shiva slaying the demon Tripurasura associated with the invincible flying citadels, the "Tripuras". Shiva is said to have made this His abode in the Bhimashankar form, upon the request of the Gods, on the crest of the Sahyadri hills, and the sweat that poured forth from his body after the battle is said to have formed the Bhimarathi river.
Although the structure here is fairly new, the shrine Bh?m?shankaram (and the Bh?m?rathi river) have been referred to in literature dating back to the 13th century CE. Saint Jnaneshwar is said to have visited Tryambakeshwar and Bh?m?shankar. A unique bell (Roman style) can be seen in front of the temple. This bell has an idol of Mother Mary with Jesus.This large bell was presented by Chimaji Appa (Brother of Bajirao Peshwa I and uncle of Nanasaheb Peshwa). On 16 May 1739, Chimaji Appa collected five large bells after he won a war against the Portuguese from the Vasai Fort. He offered one here at Bh?m?shankar and the others at Menavali near Wai in front of a Shiva Temple on the banks of the Krishna river, Banshanker temple (Pune), Omkareshwar Temple (Pune) and Ramlinga temple (Shirur)