Hotels in India »  Pilgrimage Tours India » jageshwar pilgrimage

jageshwar pilgrimage

Jageshwar In Search of Shiva

Set amidst a tranquil and serene atmosphere, are nearly 200 temples built in hours of Shiva Mahadeva. Considered to represent one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India, Jageshwar attracts thousands of devotees during Shivaratri very year.

After traveling through Himachal Pradesh, I decided to visit the Uttar Pradesh hills which are as fascinating as those of Himachal. Also similar is the remarkable temple architectural heritage. This was my purpose of visit-to establish affinities between the temple architectural styles of the two states.

Like numerous early stone temples of Himachal Pradesh, those built in the hilly tracks of Uttar Pradesh in the post-Gupta and medieval periods are unknown. Much less is known about their origins and history which is, no doubt, closely linked with the rise and fall or royal dynasties. All stone temples were commissioned by the royal patrons who wished to earn merit for themselves through this pious act. In very few cases, wealthy merchants got a temple constructed or renovated.

Recently I visited the little known town of Jageshwar situated about 34 kilometres from Almora town on the way to Pithoragarh and Naini. I got down from the bus at Aartola which is three kilometers away from Jageshwar, and decided to walk as I found myself amidst a very tranquil and serene atmosphere. The natural loneliness of the setting is enhanced by the tall deciduous deodar trees standing erect like silent sentinels with outstretched branches as though in protection. A serpentine river called Jata Ganga winds its way below the green forested mountain sloped and by the side of the flat space containing the temple complex. After covering about one and a half kilometers, I found myself in front of a gigantic temples structure known as Dandeshwar temple, dedicated to one of the aspects of Lord Shiva surrounded by some mini shrines. There is no image inside the sanctum sanctorum, but facing this temple is a small temple with a shivalinga. After a brief halt here, I proceeded on towards the tiny Jageshwar village and found a few small wayside shrines in ruin.

During the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., when the Gupta emperors held sway over a vast tract of northern and central India, the Kumaon hills were being goverened by an independent dynasty of Katyur kings. They are credited with having selected this site for building temples. The temples originally constructed during the Gupta period were renovated by the rulers of the Ghand dynasty that overthrew the Katyuris in the 7th century A.D. Numerous temple were constructed or restored during the Gurjara Pratihara era and also in the 15th and 16th centuries A.D.

The continuous chain of snowcapped mountain ranges looms large over this beautiful temple site where hushed silence reigns supreme and not a leaf rustles, as though afraid to disturb the stillness. This is a sacred site where nearly two hundred stone temples were built in honour of Shiva Mahadeva. The mighty force of the cosmic dance begins to work on our minds when we visit one temple after another. Most of them are dedicated to Shiva; he is addressed by diverse names. Jageshwara is only a corruption of Yogisvara (Lord of Yogis), Dandeshavara, Nilakantheshvara, Mahamrityunjaya, etc. These together with other temples dedicated to Surya, the Sun God, Navadurga (nine manifestations of the great goddess Durga), Kalika, Pushtidevi, Kubera etc. inform us that their builders professional Shivism, especially the Lakulish sect. Jageshwar is locally considered to represent one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in India, where thousands of Shiva devotees come to offer prayers during Shivratri, every year.

Of the numerous stone temples in this group, the Mahamrityunjaya temple seems to be the oldest dated approximately the 8th century A.D., while the others mentioned above including a few minor ones belong to the subsequent centuries. The temples of Surya, Navagraha and Neelkantheshvara are of late Katyuri age. It is said that originally four hundred temples existed here of which only about one hundred and eight have survived. Time and vandalism have destroyed the rest.

The temples belong to the simple Nagara style variety-a tall curvilinear spire sikhara surmounted by an amalaka (capstone) and a kalasha crown the square sanctum sanctorum, entrance to which is through a carved doorway. Most of the temples enshrine a stone lingam. Impressive stone images are seen around the altar. Two ashtadhatu(an alloy of eight metals) images are really superb. Particularly mentioned may also be made of a highly impressive image of Ganesha.

The Ekamukhalinga is one of the rarest specimens in northern India. The two lifesized dwarapalas (door guardians) outside the Jagannath temple are another attraction but one of them is badly mutilated which can be repaired, but the authorities seem reluctant to preserve them, despite the fact that all these great monuments are declared protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The local villagers told me that about 20 years ago, one of the three metal statues was stolen from these temples, but fortunately it was recovered. After this incident, the Archaeological Survey of India woke up to the need of preserving these images, but the steps taken were not completely effective. The images lying scattered in the temples were collected and stored in the sanctum sanctorum of a small temple and its door was locked.

¤ Ajmer Sharif ¤ Amarkantak ¤ Amritsar
¤ Bodhgaya ¤ Chidambaram ¤ Chitrakoot
¤ Dargahkaliyarsharif ¤ Dharamsala ¤ Dilwaratemples
¤ Dwarka ¤ Gangasagarmela ¤ Garhwal
¤ Goa ¤ Guruvayur ¤ Hardwar
¤ Jageshwar ¤ Jambukeswaram ¤ Jambukeswaram
¤ Kailashmansarovar ¤ Kamakhya ¤ Maheshwaromkareshwar
¤ Mathura ¤ Parashuramkund ¤ Pilgrimagecenters
¤ Pilgrimagesofsikhs ¤ Rameshwaram ¤ Rishikesh
¤ Sabarimala ¤ Shatrunjayahill ¤ Shivapur
¤ Tawangmonastery ¤ Thirukalikundrum ¤ Tirupati
¤ Travelofgods ¤ Trichur ¤ Tripureshwari
¤ Tungnath ¤ Vaishnodevi ¤ Varanasi
¤ Vrindavan ¤ Yamnotri