It’s never enough for the heart to just be able to travel, it seeks the will to do it. To be able to walk, run, fly, explore and discover!
And that is exactly what I felt as my cotraveller Kamlesh drove us amidst the dense forests of tall Deodars almost touching the clouds, amazing weather & majestic landscapes. Intrigued by the beauty around, I almost went into a trance, searching deep within myself. I was abruptly brought back as the car took a sharp curve and a huge architectural marvel appeared out of nowhere. The moment my eyes landed on the beautiful creation in front of my eyes, rain god Indra welcomed us with a loud, heart shaking clap of thunder. I was awestruck after looking at this majestic feat of design, but to my surprise, there was a sign board that said: ‘Temple ahead’. The thought that an even grander building lay ahead thrilled and elated me as I wondered about the magnificence of the main building.
We drove down the enticing curves of the valley for around 2 more km and emerged in a small village with tiny houses and shops. As we passed them all we found ourselves right in front of a marvellous wonder of medieval engineering.
The famous Hindu pilgrimage, Jageshwar is the 8th among the 12 Jyotirlingas which are stated to exist in the forest of Deodar and Daruka. It is believed that Lord Shiva resides there. The temple consists of 124 large and small stone temples dating from 8th to 13th century. Many of them are preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India. The oldest Shrine is Mrityunjaya Temple and while the biggest one is Dandeshwar temple.
The main temple has two Dwarpalas (door guardians) in the form of Nandi and Skandi. In the west facing temple of Lord Shiva, he is worshipped in the form of Nagesh or Jageshwar. While in the Santorum of the temple, the Shivalinga is divided into two parts – the larger one which depicts Shiva and the smaller one for his consort Parvati. An immortal flame (called akhand jyoti) burns in the temple that illuminates the whereabouts with its glow.
The huge mega structures of the temple amidst tall deodar trees are living proofs to our medieval engineering and the supremacy of nature in life.
Jageshwar is located at 1870 meters above sea level on the banks of Jataganga river and is around 35kms from Almora.
The Jageshwar monsoon festival takes place from 15th July to 15th Aug which is the month of ‘Shravan’ according to the Hindu calendar. The annual Mahashivratri mela
takes place during spring and is an important event for Hindus and the people of Kumaon region.
History says that the Katyuri kings donated villages to temple priests for better renovations, while the Chand kings of Kumaon were also the patrons of the temple. Two Ashtdhaatu statues of Chand Kings Deepchand and Tripalchand are established in the standing posture behind the Shivlinga. It is also believed that Adi Guru Shankaracharya visited Jageshwar and renovated as well as re-established many temples before leaving for Kedarnath.
Jageshwar is open for visitors throughout the year. One can make this soulful journey via roads as well rail. There are plenty of staying options at Jageshwar. One can easily stay in Almora and enjoy a scenic drive to visit the temple. Kathgodam, the next big city, is about 125 km from Jageshwar.
One must make a visit to Jageshwar even if devoid of religious sentiments for the sheer beauty and sublimity of the place.
Photos & Words by Amit Kakkar
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