Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

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Nov 30, 2014

WANDERLUST: A Spiritual Quest in Jageshwar and Kasar Devi


This is my third visit to Jageshwar Dham, along with my Amitabh and Shweta to celebrate their anniversary,  had a special purpose i.e. in search of the answers to some questions that I have had developed in recent times as well as thanks giving for the many blessings Lord Jageshwar has given me over the years. Jageshwar is believed to be the site of first of the twelve Jyotirlingas, Nageshvara Jyotirlinga.The temple city comprises a cluster of 124 large and small stone temples, dating 9th to 13th century AD. And I firmly believe that the spiritual energy of the place can affect one's inner consciousness deeply to unlock energy centres 'Kundalini' to give you a different perspective on life and living...

The Swayambu Jyotirlinga of Jageshwar Shiva.
Adi Shankaracharya meditated here, on the way to Kedarnath
I also had planned to visit Kasar Devi, A place where the Hippy Movement found a firm ground to develop roots and interest many of the prominent personalities. The place first became known when in the 1890s, Swami Vivekananda visited and meditated here and has mentioned his experience in his diaries. Numerous western seeker, Sunyata Baba (Alfred Sorensen and Lama Anagarika Govinda) whose book I was currently reading. It was also visited by personalities of the counter-culture, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Cat Stevens, Western Buddhist Robert Thurman, and writer D. H. Lawrence, who spent two summers here.

Kasar Devi

So here I am sharing my spiritual retreat, through images and some descriptions about the places that I visited. Hope you will all enjoy.

Jageshwar Temple Complex
My journey started from Chennai and I was joined by Ami and the family at Delhi. We took early morning train and reached Kathgodam, from where 6 hours journey by the scenic road through Bhimtal, skirting Nainitaal, Almora we reached Jageshwar, as the sun was setting. The evening aarti at the Temple was with usual rituals and mantra chanting, settled us into our guest house, by the night.

The mountain trails along with the stream is most uplifting in the early
morning walks...
My daily routine was to get up in the early morning and take a walk, after the morning mediation in the temple complex. The Jageshwar temple town has an amazing array of trails that leads you to various peaks that encircle the complex apart from the usual 124, century old shrines that pop up in the walks. 

One of the 10th Century that towers over the confluence of two streams,
the way to Dandeshwar Temple and a mountain path.
Some of these old temple structures are enticing and makes you realise the devotions of the people who made it and more so of the people, who used to worship, meditate and do spiritual practices around the place. The Archeological Society of India (ASI) has removed the idols within these structures to the museum in the town, but still have an aura that invites you to sit down and meditate. My time in the Jageshwar this time, was divided between walking, sitting in places like this for hours together and offering prayers to the temples, where the idols still survive and daily rituals still being performed.

Dandeshwar Templ Complex
In this journey, I have spent a lot of time in this tallest temple structure in Kumaon Region, consisting of 14 shrines from 9-10 Century, as I was discovering more connection to this temple. This temple is supposed to save one from the calamities, discontent and confusion. For me it was more to have clarity of thoughts and found the small garden within, full of blooming flowers a beautiful space of concentration. The mountain rising all around, concentrated the energy in the centre and I could spend hours together just silently sitting and chanting. There's a small tea stall beyond the complex, that anticipated my timings and offered tea in each one of my breaks from the meditation.

Sunrise at Jageshwar Temple
Every day, the sunrise brings its own unique combination of colors, mist and the sound of mantra chantings from the temple, as the priest get Lord Shiva, ready for the daily darshan. Though the visitors are not allowed when the ritual of waking Shiva is performed by the head priest, early in the morning i.e. 4 am, I was happy to be at one of the services one day. The temperature around the complex drops to 1 deg Celsius and walking barefoot on the stones for the long duration is almost impossible, yet the devout priests were able to take a bath in the Jageshwar Ganga stream alongside the complex, run here and there for the necessities for the rituals, barefoot and bare upper half seemed oblivious to the cold november. 

On the way to Kasar Devi, with Almora city in the back ground
The way to Kasar Devi is like playing hide and seek with the world's 3rd highest mountain peak, Nanda Devi. It rises above the various smaller peaks during the journey. The temple complex was constructed by a South Indian Shri Rudra in the 6th Century. Vivekananda came here to meditate...

At the Kasar Devi, with perfect view of the mountains in the back...

From the temple, one could clearly see the Himalayan range from the shrine of Kasar Devi, with various peaks like Trishul, Nanda Devi, Pachchuli Mountain groups and Pindari glacier. One of the most beautiful places to sit back and enjoy the beauty of nature and be in touch with your own inner self. No doubt the alternate culture found itself in these surroundings. My favourite restaurant along the road side, further down in the town, gave one of the magnificent views of the Himalayan range. One could site back here or at the Kasar Devi Temple, which provides many secluded spaces around the complex to think, write or meditate.
The view of Himalaya Range from Brihad Jageshwar
One of the most beautiful place around the Temple Town is Brihad Jageshwar temple, high on the mountain towards west, which is accessible by road as well as one of the beautiful treks, through the pine forest and some beautiful villages, once you cross the Jageshwar Temple complex. It's said that this temple is the old Shiva, whereas the one in the town is young shiva, who is very happy to grant boons. There's a story that when Adi Shankaracharya realised that Shiva is giving every one his blessings, whether the person is deserving or not, he requested him to be more selective in granting wishes, and pushed him deeper into the ground. While the Brihad Jageshwar is the one where most of the Tantrics perform sadhana to attain powers and siddhi. The priest told me that in the night, many of the saints fly over to spend some time at this place, on their way to mount Kailash, the adobe of Lord Shiva.

On the steps of Brihad Jageshwar
The serenity of the place is overwhelming and one can just spend all the time here. The temple complex is not very elaborate and old but the Shiva Linga is supposed to be from eternity. As it is not on the tourist circuit, so remains secluded and only very ardent followers and most of the tantrics, who are aware about the importance of this temple, visit here. 
As the sunsets at Brihad Jageshwar, hot tea is a welcome drink...

I have been visiting this place every time I am at Jageshwar, not only because of the peace and vibration that I feel here but also the trek to this temple from the town is one of the most beautiful as well as thought provoking. My afternoons were spend on daily journey to this temple and watch the sun set over the Himalaya - on the impressive face of Nanda Devi Mountain. As you walk down a distance of around 3 KMs from the temple, its almost dark. During my stay here at Jageshwar, a local villager has become a friend and offers a welcome tea in his verandah full of exotic flowers.

The dark night descends with winter chill - temperature coming down to
1 deg celcius. As I dig deeper into my consciousness, the outside mist
envelops the surrounding in silence to facilitate my thought process
The nights have been my perfect haven for thinking and by the time I come back from the daily evening aarti, its dinner time. After spending a lot of time around the fire, set up by the very eager and helpful people of the guest house, along with Ami and the gang; where Anumeha and Saanvi display their oratorial skills with nursery rhymes and improvised stories of Saanvi, we all retire to our respective rooms. My time of writing starts and most of the times it goes till early morning. The perfect silence, the twinkling of stars in the sky and the chill envelops all senses into a perfect calm and the subconsciousness takes hold of you. You fly to different plains of existence and I used the time to put those thoughts on the paper. My book is finally taking shape and I was quite happy about it. Writing this book is like a journey into unknown and unravelling myself. I was stuck in Chennai within my thoughts of existence, how does the consciousness works and what's the reason of existence etc but the place cleared the knots, unravelled the mystery. One does need extra sensory perceptions to understand these things and I was sure that the spiritual energy of the place will give me, the much needed space to dwell deeper within me to understand all these things...

Another morning and another sunrise as my journey was coming to an end..
It was an Himalayan expedition this time in its true sense and I was happy to scale some obstacles on my path of understanding. As I reached back to Chennai, I was able to put my thoughts in perspective... 

Hope you have enjoyed this journey with me, let me know your thoughts...

नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
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Rituals and Meditations in Jageshwar 2012

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