Last year in June, 2010, I have been to one of the most powerful temples of Lord Shiva, in temple town Jageshwar, 36 KM northeast of Almora in Kumaun region of Himalaya. I spend almost a week in meditation, chanting mantra, performing rituals and trekking to visit old temples around the hills. The powerful spiritual energy, that is in the environment around this temple city, has made this journey one of my most memorable times in the presence of Lord Shiva. So join me in my journey of peace and blissfulness through my impressions captured in those days. Hopefully, it will also connect you with a sense of peace and harmony that these images give me, every time I view them. May you all enjoy the serenity and the beauty of the place and be blessed with the spiritual energy that this place has in abundance.
The Mahamrityunjay temple is the largest and oldest temple in the Jageshwar temple complex. This temple of Shiva is eastern facing and the Linga is worshipped as the saviour from death - महामृत्युंजय. The unique linga has an eye shaped opening. Pilgrims believe that reciting the Mahamritunjaya Mantra (महामृत्युंजय मंत्र) is a fruitful, auspicious and powerful method of self realisation, removal of evil effects, and freedom from all kinds of fears, illness and negativity. The Mahamritunjaya Mantra is attested in the Sukla Yajurveda Samhita III/60 -
| || |ॐ त्रयंबकं यजामहे सुगन्धिम् पुष्टिवधर्नम् उर्वारूकमिव बन्धनान्मृत्यॊर्मुक्षीय मामृतात् | |(We pray Lord Shiva, the All-Seeing One,three eyed,who bears grace of all-pervading divine fragrance and enricher of all kinds of powers and viguour by His enormous prosperous bestowals. May He release me from the grip of premature untimely death,but not from immortality like pumpkin or watermelon separates after ripening from its vine.)
|My journey started with catching a train from Delhi...|
The journey of train in India is always full of surprises and an experience in itself. By the time you settled down in your own birth in over crowded coupe, sharing parts of your space to the travelers who had to get off on the way, makes it a very uncomfortable night... but then the mornings in the trains are a beautiful sight if you can discount the endless open toilets that abound the country side...
|Then from Kathgodam to Jageshwar by road....|
After getting down at Kathgodam and ensuring that all the luggage you have had brought with you to make your stay comfortable, is actually on the top of the bus that you are travelling and at every stop you also ensure that it still is there ... on the top. But the views are exhilerating and if you in the front seat, then nothing can beat the experience of you being on top of a valley as the bus takes a hairpin bend.... priceless.
|Along the way, many temples dot the road side...|
Here the Monkey God Hanuman gives us His blessings
The roads sides some times present awesome sites like this tall statue with colorful decoration and in the back ground an ashram... full of devotees that you can think of..
|Elephant God Ganesha - Son of Lord Shiva|
Known as remover of all obstacle, ensured that we reach Jageshwar
without any obstacles on the way
One of the most beautifully done statues of Lord Ganesha greets you before you hit the town Almora on the way....
TEXT CURTSY: Wikipedia Click here to read more...
Jageshwar is a Hindu pilgrimage town in Almora district, Uttarakhand, dedicated to Lord Shiva, located 36 km northeast of Almora, in Kumaun region. The temple city comprises a cluster of 124 large and small stone temples, dating 9th to 13th century AD, with many preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which include Dandeshwar Temple, Chandi-ka-Temple, Jageshwar Temple, Kuber Temple, Mritunjaya Temple, Nanda Devi or Nau Durga, Nava-grah temple, a Pyramidal shrine, and Surya Temple amongst which the oldest shrine is the 'Mrityunjaya Temple' and the biggest shrine is the ' Dandeshwar Temple'. Once the centre of Lakulish Shaivism, Jageshwar is located at an altitude of 1870 mts, in the Jataganga river valley near a Deodar forest (Cedrus deodara) starting from Artola village on Almora–Pithoragarh highway, where two streams Nandini and Surabhi flow down the hills in the narrow valley and meet near the sacred spot.
|Entering the temple town .. by the side of Jata Ganga|
My first impression of the temple town Jageshwar was one of profound peacefulness... the river next to the road makes me feel so full of energy... almost all the days that I stayed there, I had had bath in the river, though here its like a stream, but almost a kilometer away, there is this place covered with tall boulders and offers a pool of cold water where you can splash all you want...
|The main temple complex|
My first steps in this temple filled me with so much of happiness and peace that I spend the entire evening in the premises, searching within, looking within and deep in thoughts, moving to various worship places and within these ancient stone architecture, one finds the devotion of those artisans who gave all the skills that they have had ... in bringing alive the positivity within themselves
|Many temples within the same complex makes this place, very beautiful|Jageshwar is believed to be the site of first of the twelve Jyotirlingas, Nageshvara Jyotirlinga. The 'Jageshwar Monsoon Festival', held between 15 July to 15 August takes place at Jageshwar during the Hindu calendar month of Shravan, and the annual 'Maha Shivratri Mela' (Shivratri festival), which takes place during spring has an important place in the calendar of the entire Kumaon region.
|Jageshwar Mahadev Temple|The main temple in the temple complex at 'Jageshwar Mahadev' is dedicated to ‘Bal Jageshwar’, or the Child Shiva. There is also a temple dedicated to Vridh Jageshwar, or Old Shiva, situated on the higher slopes. According to tradition, Lord Shiva came to meditate here, and when the women of the village came to know of this, they immediately left their household chores to have his darshan. When the men of the village heard of this, they were infuriated and came to see who this sadhu who has captivated their women is. Seeing the commotion, Shiva took the form of a child, which is why he is still worshipped in his child form here
|Goddess Shakti|There is no definite dating of the construction of Jageshwar group of temples but according to the ASI, they belong to the post-Gupta and pre-medieval eras and are estimated to be about 2500 yrs old. These temples range in the period from the 8th century (early Katyuri Dynasty) to the 18th century (Chand Dynasty).
It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya visited Jageshwar and renovated and re-established many temples before leaving for Kedarnath. The Samsan ghat of Jageshwar is also the cremation ground of the erstwhile Chand Kings. It is possible that sati, the act of self-immolation, may have been performed here. The temples architecture belong to the Nagara style, characterized by a tall curved spire surmounted by an amalaka (capstone) and a kalasha crown. Most of the temples enshrine a stone lingam, surrounded by stone sculptures of various deities. The pilgrimage to Jageshwar was considered as sacred as the famous chardham yatra.
|Cremation ground on the banks of Jata ganga|Before the construction of roads, pilgrims passed through Jageshwar en route to Kailash and Mansarovar. Due to the restrictions on pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar in the past, pilgrims were diverted towards Kedarnath; however, this center has re-attained its past glory.
|New dawn at Jageshwar Temple...|
The second day, I was awake by 4AM and went to the temple complex and around the place... waiting for the temple priest to come and open the temple. Sitting on the over hang above on the hill, watching the temple slowly come alive with people was a beautiful experience. As I entered the temple, I found the sun waiting to rise over and bath Lord Shiva, with his morning rays....
|My favorite place in the early morning and late in the night, to meditate,|
some time throughout the night.
As the temple is usually closed till morning, I used to wake up early morning and go to roof top of my guest house where I was staying and meditate for hours together, till the sun rise. With Sunrise, the temple in the front, shakes the mist of night and comes alive in the front of my eyes... Chanting Lord Shiva's name at a place, where Lord Shiva is in his Child form, willing to give all one wants. There is a local story here that, when Adi Shankracharaya (The great sage of recent times who revived Hinduism with his travels and knowledge and spiritual powers) came here, he realised that Lord Shiva is giving what every one is asking for, he Pushed the Shiva Linga more into the deeper ground so that people can not ask more and more...
|Dandeshwar Temple - The tallest Temple in the region|
This is the complex where, Lord Shiva is known to give punishments. Almost a Kilometer away from the main complex, it was my daily ritual to go there every day in the afternoon and be with the Sadhu's there and some times listen to their chants, chant with them or just listen to their varied experience of life....
|Many of the Sadhu's here meditate, under Deodar Trees.|
In discussion with Sadhu, who is praying here for months together
This one sadhu is praying here and collecting money to build another temple on his own for Lord Shiva. He is from other side of India, and living in this area for years together. There is inherent local rivalry among the sadhu's here about each temple premises and who can be the guardian for the same. There is a rotation system for the families of priest, who have traditionally been serving the temples since centuries. ...
|Locally famous Chitai Goluji temple nearby|
Here worshipers hang bells and petitions
The Chitai Goluji is famous for holding out court and giving out wishes in very unique way. People tie bells some times as large as domes and then also write petitions in piece of paper and tie it here so that He can read them at leisure and grant them their wishes... Its one of the very unique system for asking blessings.... which I had not seen elsewhere as yet in India.
|Newly weds come here from nearby villages for blessings....|
The local people believe in this temple so much that every occasion demands a visit to this temple and ask for blessings. Newly wed couples invariably end up here before going home...
|On the way to Bridha (Old) Shiva temple on a mountain peak|
Cave's like this house sadhu's and fakirs
The place of tall deodar trees has had me coming here every day... many times i hang around this place trying to find who lives in this cave but unfortunately could not find him ... Its a really very refreshing to live like this without any attachments or needs (I have myself done it couple of times in and around Rishikesh) ...
|The trek to the temple is full of natural beauty|
This valley has been host to my many sojourns of long meditative walks, sitting in a secluded spot, thinking in deep meditation or just being here with nature... once you are attuned to this nature, you can actually see them come alive with your thoughts reverberating all along... and they some time, give you answers to your deep inner questions... if only you could ask from the depths of your innerself... The valley unfolds its self to your heart...
|At last the temple in sight....|
After a really arduous trek to reach the Vridha Jageshwar (The old Lord Shiva) this sight brings you a sigh of relief and washes you with powerful energy sweep... which I could feel almost here.... Before I entered this temple, I was already attuned to the power of Shiva here... and I could almost feel my body filling up with energy and all the tiredness seeping out... It was one of the most powerful feelings I have had here, just like in Kedar Nath... Om Namah shivaya
|Many Tantrics come here to worship as this is where its believed|
Lord Shiva visits once in while to give Tantric Powers...
The temple in itself is in dillapidated condition but then some who can feel it make sure that they visit this place ... and I do it every time. In the time I was there, I came here almost every day. This temple is also known for its Tantric Powers and most of the Tantrics who know, come here to pray and get their sadhana's perfected. Its believed here that Lord Shiva comes here in the night and leaves in the morning to be with His followers.. the valley nearby is almost a Kilometer deep... and many people claim to have seen Sadhu's Siddhas flying in here at the dead of night to pray... well... its all about faith and your own belief system, for me, I know everything is possible...
|The Priest Daughter's welcome smile, takes away all|
the tiredness from the arduous trek....
This young girl played host to me many times, brought me tea and water and enjoyed playing with my camera... she goes to school nearby and when she is not in school, this temple is her play ground. Her smile was full of energy...
|A view of Himalayan range...|
In good clear days, you can see the 3rd highest Kanchenjga peak from here
Most of the evening, here I used to stand and watch the sun set down.. as it goes down, the nature plays tag with the valleys here... as one gets darkened and the other shines with sun shine... You could almost feel the nature seeping into your soul here.. and fill you with happiness and bliss..
|A well deserved rest...|
At any time, you sit in the lap of nature, you end up realising how close one is really to the nature... its the concrete jungle that dusts our innerself with its business and cuts you off from your own soul... In the perfect silence of the forest, you hear yourself ... reaching out to you in peace.
Hope you have enjoyed this journey with me and may you all be blessed with peace and harmony...
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Jagannath Puri - Krishna's Abode