Kayavarohan is a village in the Vadodara
district of the state of Gujarat
. Kayavarohan is popularly known as Karvan and is situated on the National Highway 8 at a distance of 30 km from Vadodara. Kayavarohan is the birthplace of Lakulish, the 2nd Century C.E. Shaivite revivalist, reformer and propounder of the pashupata doctrine. It is an important religious place on account of its Shiva temple in Lakulish avatar.
Kayavarohan (Karvan) is an ancient town believed to have existed through each of the Four Ages. As per Shaivite mythology, Lord Shiva in the Lakulish manifestation appeared at this place. According to mythology and puranas, from here Lord Shiva transmigrated into the form of a Brahmin child. Thus the place came to be known as Kayavarohan [Kaya (Body) + Avarohan (Descent) = Where the body of the Lord has descended].
It is an ancient town believed to have existed through each of the Four Ages according to the Hindus. According to a popularly held belief it was from here that Lord Shiva in the guise of a child transmigrated after death and his body disappeared. Thus the place came to be known as Kayavarohan. A number of copper coins and a stone quern have been found from here. A beautiful head of Tapas, the image of Kartikeya and an idol of Uma Maheshwara are some of the archaeological specimen discovered from here. Kayavarohan is also famous for its healthy environment.
Kayavarohan is one of the sixty-eight ‘teerthas' (Pilgrimage) of Lord Shiva as mentioned in the Shiva Purana. However, Kayavarohan is not among the 12 Jyotirlingas as mentioned in the Shiva Purana.
It is of great significance to the Pasupatas (Followers of the Pashupati), those in the spiritual following of Lakulish, for it is considered to be the place of Shiva's appearance on earth in that incarnation. Lakulish is considered to be the 28th birth of Shiva. Shiva had come to the earth in the form of Lakulisha through Kayavarohan, literally meaning ‘Descent of the form’.
Kayavarohan harbours the Brahmeshwar Jyotirshivlang temple, claimed to have been founded by Maharshi Vishwamitra. It has been held that the incarnation of Shiva in Lakulish has merged with the linga in Shambavi Mudra. The Kayavarohan lingam represents the "formless" but a unique, exceptional iconic form of Shiva bearing the image of a meditating yogi, who holds parchments in one hand and citron (Matulinga) in the other.
It is believed that Ichhapuri was the main place of pilgrimage in Satyuga, Mayapuri in Treta Yuga, Meghavati in Dwapar Yuga, and Kayavarohan in the present Kali yuga. This temple has a Lingam of Lord Shiva, made up of black stone. It is believed that Maharshi Vishwamitra had installed this Linga of Lord Shiva during the Ramayana period.
The village and its surrounding areas are of great archeological significance. The ruins of a Shiva Temple that was as sacred as the Kashi (Jyotirlingas) during later Vedic times is found here. Ancient sculptures and relics belonging to the 2nd century have been excavated from this place. Later during the Dark Ages of Hinduism (Muslim invasions and subsequent reign from 11th century CE. to 17th century CE), starting with the attacks of barbarian Muslim marauder Mahmud Ghazni, who looted and destroyed the temple of Somnath in Gujarat, all the Shiva temples at Karvan were desecrated and razed by the iconoclast Muslim invaders.
However, the Shiva Lingas of the destroyed temples still survive and remain at the site, without temples around them. The Shivalayas and temples of Karvan were rebuilt and restored during the late Twentieth century by the Great Yogacharya Swamiji Kripaluanandji Maharaj.