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As the Mahabharata war ended, the Pandavas were in grief as they had sinned by killing their own relatives and earned divine displeasure. They decided to meet Lord Krishna to find a solution for this who in turn, handed over a black flag and a black cow to the Pandavas and asked them to follow it. He told the Pandavas that when the cow and the flag turn white, they will get pardoned. In addition to this, Krishna also advised them to perform penance to Lord Shiva. The Pandavas then followed the cow wherever it went carrying the flag along and when they reached Koliyak beach in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, both cow and the flag changed colour. They prayed to Lord Shiva there and Shiva after being impressed by the Pandavas’ devotion, appeared in lingam form for each brother. Five Swayumbhu lingams showed up in front of the brothers and this is what is known as the Nishkalank Mahadev.
Nishkalank stands for clean, pure and guiltless. It is believed that the Pandavas established this temple on the Amavasya or the new moon night in the month of Bhadra and annually, a famous fair known as Bhadarvi is held at this temple. This temple is situated on an island, which is about 3 km to the east of Koliyak. There is a Nandi bull facing each lingam. There is also a pond where the devotees wash their hands and feet before worshipping Lord Shiva. One of the most interesting things about this temple is that the tides are very active here as this temple is located in the middle of the sea and the devotees wait for the sea water to recede to enter the temple. The sea water recedes only for a few hours and that is the time when devotees reach Nishkalank Mahadev. It is said that after 7 pm, the temple again gets covered under the tides.
People believe that immersing the ashes of their loved ones in these waters helps those departed souls attain moksha. Another interesting bit about this temple is that the flag which is hoisted at the beginning of the temple festival remains for 364 days and is only changed during the next temple festival; it is said that the flag has never fallen down or got washed away by the tides. Well, this temple is certainly a marvel.