Jageshwar Dham is a scenic and quiet place in Almora district. The place is popular for an ancient large group of around 124 Hindu temples. It is 36 kilometers from “the cultural city” of Almora, in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Perched at the height of 1870 meters, Jageshwar Dham is the 8th among the twelve Jyotirlingas and holds great religious value for Hindus.
There is no definite dating history of the construction of Jageshwar group of temples. The early history of these ancient temples dates between the 7th and 12th century. According to the ASI, the temples belong to the post-Gupta and pre-medieval eras. Noticeably, these are one of the oldest temples in India.
The temples were renovated during the period of Katyuri King Shalivahandeva. There is an inscription of Malla Kings on the main temple premises, which indicates their devotion to Jageshwar. The Chand dynasty Kings of Kumaon were also patrons of the Jageshwar temple. Pilgrims used to pass through Jageshwar en-route to Kailash and Mansarovar before the construction of roads.
Jageshwar is popular among Hindu devotees, travel enthusiasts and more noticeably monks and they continue to make efforts to protect the site’s sacredness. The Jageshwar temples are 124 in number, among these, 108 temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva.
It is a part of the Hindu sacred geography, particularly for the central Himalayan region. Many people complete a part of the post-cremation last rites after the death of a person at the Jageshwar temples. Pilgrims combine their pilgrimage to Jageshwar Temples with those at Lake Mansarovar or Badrinath and Kedarnath, or other places in the Himalayas such as Gangotri.
The temples have many stone Shiv Lingam, surrounded by stone sculptures of various deities. The architecture of Jageshwar belongs to the Nagara style, which is characterized by a tall curved spire surmounted by a capstone and a Kalasha crown. There is a huge old deodar tree inside the temple complex. The tree has great significance and which is worshiped by locals. There is a small pond filled with water with stone steps. Just behind the temple complex in a small stream flows known as Jata Ganga river.
It is also believed that Adi Guru Shankaracharya visited Jageshwar and renovated and re-established many. There is a cremation ground inside the entry. The cremation ground may belong to Chand kings. It is believed that Sati, the act of self-immolation, may have been performed here.
Two main festivals are celebrated at Jageshwar temple: “Shivratri” and “Shravan Maas” which falls between July to August.
Aarti at Jageshwar Temple is done for 45 minutes at the time of sunset. During this time, the atmosphere of the temple becomes enchanted by the words of music and shlokas. Shivaling is bathed and anointed is done by the priest of the temple.
Jageshwar Museum exhibits local craft. Most of the artisans displayed here have been brought from Jageshwar or nearby areas. There are frescoes on the rocks like Ganesh, Indra or Lord Vishnu, the goddess Ashta Vasu, the sun in the vertical posture, Uma Maheshwar and Vishnu. The graffiti of Shakti is in the form of Chamunda, Kaumaadi, Kanakdurga, Mahishasuramthini, Lakshmi, Durga etc. Here also some majestic mural can be seen which have also shown the majestic devotees and majestic riders. The pavilions of the museum’s gates are made up of large plaques of inscriptions on which the records are covered. The best artwork of this museum is the life-size replica of the Poon King, which is made in the Astartha. It has been brought by road from Dandeshwar temple. This is a rare statue of the Kumaon area.
This uniquely identified and popular pilgrimage and the scenic destination is only 36 kilometers away from Almora. The place is not just a pilgrimage site. A number of travelers from all around the country and even foreign countries visit this region to seek spirituality and peace, and to explore the architecture of ancient temples. They come to be a part of the evergreen natural beauty of the region. Reaching Jageshwar is not a difficult task. It is quite well connected via rail and road routes. One can also plan to reach Jageshwar by air.
Jageshwar is well connected to all cities of Uttarakhand by well-maintained roads. Regular transport is available from destinations like Haldwani, Pithoragarh, Almora and Bageshwar. Government undertaking buses and private taxis operate on a regular basis.
The closest railway station to reach Jageshwar is Kathgodam Railway Station. The railway station is at a distance of 125 kilometers from Jageshwar town. From Kathgodham it is easy to find a private or shared taxi to Jageshwar and Almora.
Nearest airport to the Jageshwar is Pantnagar airport, which is 150 kilometers away from Jageshwar. Buses, taxis are easily available to Almora and Jageshwar from Pantnagar airport or from Haldwani.