Jageshwar Dham Temple
Jageshwar Dham Temple is located at a distance of about 35 kilometers from the Almora district of Uttarakhand. The Temple is the largest temple in Uttarakhand. Nestled amidst deodar forests, this beautiful temple is also considered the fifth Dham of Uttarakhand.
Chitai temple (Chitai golu devta mandir Almora) also falls in the middle while going from Almora to Jageshwar. This Dham is 9 km inside from Almor-Pithoragarh Highway. There are about 124 small and big temples in Jageshwar and there are three to four main temples. All the temples of Jageshwar Dham, made of large carved stones, also present a wonderful specimen of architecture.
The Jageshwar Dham Temple complex looked like a small nest amidst thick deodar trees on the banks of the river. Some houses were scattered on the hill, facing the Jageshwar Dham Temple complex. Fine carvings were done on the doors and windows of every house. There was a small market in the street in front of the temple. In a narrow valley, you get to see the whole city – some 124 temples, a village, its market, a river, and a beautiful forest. All are seen in the frame of a picture.
The main temple complex is surrounded on all sides by a high, stone wall. This is called Jageshwar Dham. 124 small and big temples are situated within their limits. The peaks of the temples were visible from afar.
Shiva Temple of Jageshwar
There are 124 temples in the Jageshwar Dham temple complex which are dedicated to Lord Shiva in his Linga form. Although each temple has different names. Some are based on different forms of Shiva and some are dedicated to cosmic bodies like Navagraha. A temple dedicated to Shakti has a beautiful idol of the goddess inside. There is a temple dedicated to Dakshin Mukhi Hanuman and a temple dedicated to Navdurga.
Shivling is installed inside most of the temples. Stone plaques based on the names of the temples have been placed at the entrances of the temples. Like Kuber plaque over Kuber temple, Lakulish plaque over Lakulish temple. Similarly, there is a sculpture of Shiva dancing on the plaque above the entrance of the Tandeshwar temple.
Architect of the Temples
Most of the temples in the Jageshwar Dham Temple complex are built in the North Indian Nagara style, in which the temple structure gives primacy to its high spire. Apart from this, a wooden roof is also installed separately on top of the peak in big temples. This is seen to be a specialty here. In the local language it is called Bijora. This appears to be a Nepalese or Tibetan influence on the temples. Some temples are also built in South Indian style. One is compelled to wonder that before the revolution of the means of transport, how it would have been possible to mix art from one end of the country to the other!
It is said that Jageshwar temple falls on the ancient route of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. Jageshwar is also mentioned by the Chinese traveler Huan Tsang in his travel memoirs.
Who Build The Temple
Most of the temples were built by the rulers of the Katyuri dynasty, who built the temple here in 7th CE. from 14th E.E. Reigned till After that these temples were taken care of by the Chandravanshi rulers who built the 15th century. from 18th Ruled here for a century. Malla kings are also mentioned in temple inscriptions.
Festivals of Jageshwar Dham Temple
Two main festivals related to Lord Shiva are celebrated in the Jageshwar temple. Undoubtedly one is Shivratri and the other is Shravan month which falls between July to August.
History and Fables of Jageshwar Dham Temple
Jageshwar Jyotirlinga has been explained in the Manas Khand of Skanda Purana. According to this 8th. Jyotirlinga is located in Nagesh, Daruk Forest. The name is based on the deodar trees that are spread around this temple. A small river flows from around this temple – Jata Ganga i.e. the Ganges originating from the hair of Shiva.
Fables say that after killing his father-in-law Daksha Prajapati, Lord Shiva adorned his body with the ashes of his wife Sati and sat here for meditation. According to the stories, the wives of the sages who resided here were fascinated by the form of Shiva. Due to this the sages became very angry and cursed Lord Shiva to break the penis. Because of this, there was darkness on the earth. To solve this problem, the sages established a Shiva-like linga and worshiped it. From that time the tradition of linga worship started. It also said that Shiva punished those seven sages to move into the sky for the crime of cursing despite not making a mistake.
According to a legend, Lord Rama’s sons Lava and Kush organized a Yagya here for which they invited the gods. It said that he the first to establish these temples.
Main Temple of Jageshwar Dham
Jageshwar Dham one of the 12 Jyotrillingas, as well as it believed that it is the first such temple where the tradition of worship in the form of Linga first started. It is on the 8th. Jyotirlinga or Nagesh Jyotirlinga.
The followers of the Hindu religion desire to see these Jyotirlingas in their lifetime. If seen from the geographical point of view, then the darshan of these 12 Jyotirlingas takes you to the four corners of India. These 12 Jyotirlingas are located in different regions of the country and in different landscapes.
The Jyotirlinga located at Jageshwar is in the form of Nagesh, the king of serpents. Certainly, the Shivling here decorated with a serpent.
Jageshwar temple situated at one end of this complex facing west. A life-size idol of the gatekeeper installed on both sides of the entrance. These called Nandi and Skandi. Inside the temple, you reach the sanctum sanctorum through a mandapa.
Several idols of members of the Shiva family like Ganesha and Parvati installed along the route. Signs of daily worship are visible on each of the idols. A big Shivling can be seen on the ground. You can request the priest of the temple to have a darshan of the original Shivling. The real Shivling is a pair of two stones, one form of Shiva and the other Shakti.
It said that the Shivling here manifested itself from the womb of Swayambhu i.e., earth. There probably a living source of water under this Shivling because bubbles of water seen coming out from here.
Jageshwar Dham Temple Aarti
You can participate in the aarti that happens here at sunset. During this 45-minute aarti, this stone temple comes alive with music and chanting. Since there is no crowd, you can sit around the Shivling and enjoy the bathing and adornment of the Shivling done by the priest. You can also do aarti yourself here. This is the daily Aarti available to all.
Apart from this, you can also do special worship like Rudrabhishek. On the reverse side of the Shivling, there is a metal replica of two Chandravanshi rulers, Deepchand and Tripalchand. Deepchand is holding a lamp in his hands. The flame of this lamp an eternal flame that never extinguished. To keep burning continuously, 1.25 kg of desi ghee used daily which devotees offer to the temple as an offering. This seems to be an ancient tradition of Shiva temples of India.
Mahamrityunjay Mahadev Temple
The oldest and largest temple in the Jageshwar temple complex is the Mahamrityunjay Mahadev Temple. It situated in the middle of the complex. You can see this temple on your right side immediately after entering the premises.
It said that this is the first time where the tradition of worshiping Shiva in the form of Linga first started. The priest here will definitely show you the third eye of Shiva carved on the stone linga. The Shivling of this Mahamrityunjay Mahadev temple very huge and the Mahamrityunjaya mantra written in big letters on its walls.
Archaeologists discovered 25 inscriptions on the walls dating back to the 7th. From 10 V. E. told. The inscriptions written in Sanskrit and Brahmi languages. The stone plaque on the top of the temple shows the worship of Lakulish by a royal couple. On top of these three faces of Lord Shiva have been sculpted.
Like other ancient Indian temples, the stone walls here also have signs of good luck and prosperity. Seeing these, it can be guessed that how our ancient temples built. Local Pandits, devotees, and tourists come here and sit around the temples. Here they discuss among themselves, offer prayers in the temple, and help each other. It is a public meeting place for the general public.
Pushti Devi Temple
This temple is located behind the Mahamrityunjaya Mahadev Temple, at the extreme right end of the complex. It is a relatively small temple. It has a small corridor with a slanted slate roof. This is a typical Himalayan terrace. The idol of Goddess Pushti Bhagwati installed inside this temple.
Dakshin Mukhi Hanuman Mandir
There is a life-size idol of Hanuman in this temple. I found this idol relatively new as it does not match with the sculptures of the rest of the temple complex.
It a group of 9 temples dedicated to the 9 planets of the Hindu universe. This temple group includes the temples of Sun God, Lord Shani, etc.
As we all know, Kedarnath Temple in Uttarakhand, situated in the lap of the Himalayas is also a Jyotirlinga. The Shivling in Kedarnath temple is in the shape of an irregular stone. Similar Shivling is also there in the Kedareshwar temple of Jageshwar Dham.
Lakulish considered to be the 28th incarnation of Lord Shiva. Some even consider it an independent sect. Lakulish incarnation of Lord Shiva worshiped in Uttarakhand and Gujarat. In this avatar, a stick seen in the hand of Lord Shiva. In Jageshwar Dham, boulders depicting this incarnation of Lord Shiva on the walls of many temples.
Next to the Lakulish temple, there is another small temple within which the Shivling also installed. On the boulders of its foreground are the statues of Shiva performing the Tandava dance.
Batuk Bhairav Temple
This is the first temple located on the left side of the temple complex. This temple situated right where you take off your slippers before going inside the temple entrance. The idols which located inside this temple are some form of Bhairav. Devotees visit this temple at the last.
Kuber Temple Complex
The Kubera temple complex situated on top of a hill across the river that flows around the Jageshwar temple complex. From here one has a top view of the Jageshwar temple complex. Like other temples, the Kubera temple also has a Shivalinga as the main deity. The statue of Kubera buried on the rock above the entrance of the temple.
Near the Kubera temple, there is a small Chandika temple within which the Shivalinga installed as the main deity.
Dandeshwar Temple Complex
The Dandeshwar temple complex is located at a distance of about 1 kilometer from the main Jageshwar temple complex. There is a big temple and 14 subordinate temples here. In fact, this big temple is the Dandeshwar temple and is the tallest and largest temple in the region. Some of these temples situated on a platform near the Dandeshwar temple and some scattered around it. In some of these temples, the plain Shivling installed on the vagina, while the Chaturmukhling installed inside some of the temples.
Lord Shiva is here in the form of a rock, without being in the form of a linga. The priest told us about the legend related to this temple that Lord Shiva was in a meditative samadhi in the forest here. Seeing his form and blue limbs, the wives of the sages living in these forests fascinated by him. Enraged at this, the sages converted Shiva into a rock. That’s why Shiva established here in the form of a rock.
It said that the name of the temple derived from the word Dandeshwar Dand. However, there is no authentic record of this fact.
The metal statue of Paun Raja, kept in the museum of the Archaeological Survey Department, used to be a part of these temples. You can see many small temples on both sides of the road between Jageshwar and Dandeshwar.
Archaeological Museum Jageshwar
This is a small but well-maintained museum showcasing local crafts. Most of the craftsmanship displayed here brought from Jageshwar or nearby areas.
You can see here carved frescoes on the rocks such as dancing Ganesha, Ashta Vasu, the protector of Indra or Vishnu, Sun in standing posture, Uma Maheshwara and Vishnu in different postures. The frescoes of Shakti are in the form of Chamunda, Kaumari, Kanakadurga, Mahishasurmathini, Lakshmi, Durga etc. Some majestic frescoes also seen here, on which royal devotees and royal riders also shown. The door frames of the museum also very commendable. These frames made of large slabs of rocks on which inscriptions engraved.
The frescoes and sculptures here may not be included in the best craftsmanship of India, but it definitely the best-maintained craftsmanship. They never attacked, nor they ever harmed. You can see their original colors and skillful workmanship very well. Although the remains of turmeric and kumkum offered are visible to some craftsmen, most of the craftsmen kept clean.
The best artwork in this museum is the life-size replica of Paun Raja which made in Ashtadhatu. It brought by road from Dandeshwar temple. This is a rare statue of the Kumaon region.
During discussions with the museum officials, I came to know that there is always the danger of theft of these artifacts. Photographing strictly prohibited under strict security arrangements on them.
- The nearest major city to reach Jageshwar Dham is Almora, located 35 km away. Jageshwar situated at a distance of 120 km from Haldwani/Kathgodam. In the absence of air and rail facilities, it can be reached only by road. However, the route is very picturesque and natural.
- Time of 3 to 4 hours required to visit the entire temple complex and museum. But for tourists wishing to offer prayers and evening aarti.
- The prescribed fees for various rituals and religious functions of the temple written on the information plaque outside.
- Archaeological Survey Department The museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM every day except Fridays. admission is free.
- One can enjoy the dense deodar forest that surrounds this temple while strolling along the river.
- You can also visit the old Jageshwar temple, 14 km from Jageshwar, but let me warn you that for this you will have to climb a little on foot.
- Near the temple there is a rest house of Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam, from where a beautiful view of the temple is visible. Other hotels and guest houses are located a short distance away.
- Shops located around the temple can provide you with simple food. Most of these shops close at 8 pm.
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