Jageshwar Dham is a pagoda in the form of Jageshwar or Nagesh on a hill full of forests of Uttaranchal. I had earlier seen pictures of temples built in stone in the Kumaon region of Uttaranchal. There was always a strong desire to see him directly. But before its visit, I did not imagine that it is the city of entire temples and thus Shiva is dedicated to temples. While going through the high pine trees, we are 35 km from Almora. Arrived at Jageshwar. As we were approaching the city of Jageshwar, cedar trees were replacing the pine trees and the color of the valley was becoming dark green.
A few kilometers before Jageshwar, we started getting a glimpse of the stone temples here. Across a small river flowing between the mountain and the path, on the mountainside, stood a small group of temples. Applying a distance of about one kilometer, we reached a valley where there were dense forests of tall and dark green cedar trees and we found ourselves surrounded by tall dense trees. On one side of the road was the passenger residence of the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam and on the other side was the Jageshwar Temple Group. And in the middle was a small building with a beautiful doorway. It was the local museum of the Archaeological Survey of India Department. A treasure I was soon to discover.
Dive Into the worship of temples
The Jageshwar temple group looked like a small nest among thick cedar trees towering along the river.Some houses facing the Jageshwar temple complex were scattered on the hill. Every house had fine carvings on the doorways and windows. There was a small market in the street opposite the temple. Apart from these there was nothing else. In a narrow valley, you get to see the entire city – some 130 temples, a village, its market, a river and a beautiful forest. All are seen in the frame of a picture.
Seeing these, we start thinking about what it would be like to live here! Like the travelers who stay away from home for some time between the temples or like the guardians who take care of these ancient temples because life here is centered around these temples. Mind itself started imagining the view that would be visible here after being covered in a layer of snow. My mind started getting lost in the world of fantasies.
Well! Returning to reality, let me give you a glimpse of the oldest surviving temples of North India.
The main temple complex is surrounded by a high, stone wall. This is called Jageshwar Dham. There are 126 small temples within its boundary. The shrines of the temples were visible from a distance. They were attracted to me in such a way that the time I spent in Jageshwar, my eyes were not turning away from these temples.
Shiva Temple of Jageshwar
As I mentioned earlier, there are 126 temples in the Jageshwar Dham temple complex dedicated to Lord Shiva in his linga form. Although each temple has different names. Some are based on various forms of Shiva and some are dedicated to cosmic bodies like Navagraha. A temple is dedicated to Shakti within which is a beautiful idol of the Goddess. There is a temple Dakshinamukhi Hanuman and a temple dedicated to Navadurga.
Shivalingas are installed inside most of the temples. Shilakhand plaques based on the names of the temples are placed at the entrance of the temples. Like Kubera plaque above Kubera temple, Lakulish plaque above Lakulish temple. Similarly, there is the craft of Shiva dancing on the plaque above the entrance of the Tandeshwar temple.
About Shiva Temple
Most of the temples in the Jageshwar temple complex are built in the North Indian civil style, giving priority to its lofty summit in the temple structure. Apart from this, wooden roofs are also installed separately above the summit in big temples. This is seen as a specialty here. In the local language, it is called Bijou. It appears to have Nepalese or Tibetan influence on temples. Some temples are also built in South Indian style. We are forced to think about how the mixing of art from one end of the country to the other would have been possible before the revolution in transport!
The Jageshwar temple is said to fall on the ancient route of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. Jageshwar has also been mentioned by Chinese traveler Huan Tsang in his travel memoirs.
Most of the temples were built by the rulers of the Katyuri dynasty, who built here in the 8th century. From the 14th century Ruled till Subsequently, the Chandravanshi rulers took care of these temples, who were 15th. From 14 V. Ruled here for a century. Malla kings are also mentioned in the inscriptions of the temple.
Celebrations of Jageshwar Dham
Two main festivals related to Lord Shiva are celebrated in the Jageshwar temple. Of course one is Shivaratri and the other is Shravan month which falls between July and August. I was told that in both these festivals a crowd of devotees throng here.
History and legends of Jogeshwari temple
In a booklet of the temple, I read that the Jageshwar Jyotirlinga has been explained in the Manas section of Skanda Purana. According to this book, 8th. Jyotirlinga is located in Nagesh, Daruk forest. The name is based on the cedar tree which is spread around this temple. A small river flows from around this temple – Jata Ganga means Ganga originating from Shiva’s jata.