Skip to main content

Featured Post

The Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves , located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri, about 11 Km off the coast of the Gateway of India, Mumbai, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to these caves, excavated probably in the 6 th century CE, is awe-inspiring, and also thought-provoking. Over the years, I have visited the caves a number of times, and also attended a number of talks by experts in the fields of art, history and archaeology on the caves. Together, they help me understand these caves, their art, and the people they were created for, just a little bit better. Every new visit, every new talk, every new article I read about the caves, fleshes out the image of what the island and the caves would have been like, at their peak. I last wrote about the caves on this blog, in 2011, almost exactly 11 years ago. Since then, my understanding of the caves has, I would like to think, marginally improved. Hence this attempt to write a new and updated post, trying to bring to life, the caves of Elephan

Binsar - Part 5 - Jageshwar

Of all the temples dedicated to lord Shiva, the twelve Jyotirlingas are said to be the most important. These twelve temples are spread all over the country, and there is even a sloka which names them all. However, as with most things in India, the locations of some of these temples are controversial, with more than one temple claiming to be the original one. For example, there are two temples which claim to be the fifth Jyotirling – the Vaidyanath temple at Parli in Maharashtra, as well as the Baidyanath Dham temple in Jharkhand. However, the most controversial one is surely the eighth one – there are no less than 3 claimants to this temple – one is the temple of Nageshwar at Aundh in Maharashtra, the second is the temple of Nageshwar at Dwaraka, and the third is the temple of Jageshwar in Uttarakhand! The controversy arises from the fact that the temple is described in the scriptures as being located in the ‘Daruka Vanam’. This is translated as ‘Dwaraka’ as some, while others consider the area of the Deccan plateau as the original ‘Daruka van’. The temple of Jageshwar comes into the picture, since it is located in a forest of Deodhar or cedar trees, known as ‘Daruka’ trees too!

Of course, when I heard that Jageshwar was only 65 Kms from Binsar, we decided to make a visit. Considering that we have visited almost all other Jyotirlings (Shankar has visited all of them!), this one would be an extra!

The route from Binsar to Jageshwar was very picturesque, passing as it did, along the sanctuary. The 65 Kms journey took us almost 2 hours, and we were just getting tired of the omnipresent pines and rhododendrons, when suddenly, as if by magic, we entered into a different world – full of Deodars, reaching to the sky! Samhith was all excited – “Amma look, Christmas trees” he yelled! Within a few minutes we were at Jageshwar, and it was easy to understand the reason for its association with the Jyotirlings – after all, the cedar forest extended just about a km around the temple….. There were of course cedars in the other parts of the forest too, but nowhere were they as abundant, or as visible! It was an impressive sight indeed!

The Jageshwar temple is part of a group of around 125 temples of all shapes and sizes, dating from the 7th to the 18th century. The main temples are dedicated to Jageshwar Mahadev, Mrityunjay Mahadev, Nav Durga, Pushti Devi, and the navagrahas.

The temple is located at the confluence of two local streams, and it was a pity to see their condition! The more I see sources of water near temples, the more I wonder at our inclination to abuse the very things we pray to, the very sources which give us life!

The most prominent temple in the complex is that of Mrityunjay Mahadev. This is the first temple we visited in the complex. A family was performing the puja inside, and we waited for a while, soaking in the atmosphere. For once, the priest seemed to be totally dedicated and engrossed in the puja and no one as much as asked us for a penny! Something surprising indeed; and this immediately raised my opinion of the temple!

The next temple was the main one, of Jageshwar Mahadev. The priest there told us that this indeed was the Jyotirling, and the name ‘Nageshwar’ had, sometime in the past, been corrupted by the locals to ‘Jageshwar’ and pointed out the kavach, or covering to the main lingam, which had a snake prominently displayed on it, as proof. However, I absently nodded to his story, fascinated not by the deity, but by two figures next to the deity – these were two figures – a man and a woman – about 4 feet high, made of brass/bronze, holding lamps in their hands. Such female figures are common in the south, and are called ‘Paavai Vilakku’, but I had never seen a male one before. I barely waited for the priest to complete his story before asking him who they were. He answered that they were the king and queen who had commissioned the temple, but had no more details. I was itching to take photographs, but photography was strictly not allowed inside the temples, so I regretfully curbed my temptation and moved ahead.

The temple to the Nav Durga was next in line, and looked very different from the other temples, probably owing to the fact that it contained more deities than any other!

The next shrine was that of Pushti Devi. Pushti literally means nourishment or confirmation, and Pushti Devi refers to the goddess who nourishes or gives us what we need. There is a figure of the goddess inside the sanctum, but just as we entered, another family hailing from this region arrived, and explained that the important thing here was not the idol, but the yantra – the symbol of the goddess. He made the priest take the yantra out and showed it to us, explaining the Sri Yantra etched on it, with the goddess Kali depicted as standing on lord Shiva. According to mythology, when Kali defeated her enemies, she was so drunk with power and blood that she danced all over the battlefield in a frenzy. No one was able to bring her to her senses, and finally, lord Shiva arrived and simply lay down on the ground. As Kali danced all over, she stepped on the lord, and at once, she regained her senses and came to herself. This was supposedly one of the few such instances where the goddess was so depicted on the yantra, and this one was found here during an archaeological survey. Unfortunately, the yantra is slightly chipped off at the corner, something which is believed to lessen its power. “What a pity!” was the main thought in all our minds as we moved on to the other temples.

A small shrine dedicated to Lakulisha caught my eye, especially for the details depicted in the sculptures. I had just recently heard of Lakulisha, thorough a fellow blogger, and was stunned to see his temple here. Apparently, Lakulisha was one of the earliest teachers of Pasupata philosophy, and was considered the last avatar of Lord Shiva. Literally, his name means ‘the lord with a club’ and this is how he is depicted in this temple. Inside, though, is just a small Shiv ling, for nothing much remains of the original deity. 

There were other shrines too, dedicated to some other forms of Shiva, as well as the nine planets or navagrahas.

A bit away from the main complex is the temple complex of Dandeshwar, which is the largest temple here. This temple was closed, and there was no sign of a priest, so we were unable to have a closer look.

Most of the sculptures and idols found in the Jageshwar temple complex have been housed in the Archaeological museum just outside the main temple complex. In all, it houses around 174 sculptures, each of them beautiful beyond words! Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the museum, and photographs of the sculptures are not available either. But if you happen to visit this place, please do visit the museum. It is too wonderful for words. For more details, you can check out their website, which gives a few more details.

Jageshwar is 125 Kms from Kathgodam, 35 Kms from Almora and 88 Kms from Pithorgarh. The temple is on the Kailash – Manasarovar Yatra route. There are a few options for accommodation at Jageshwar itself. There are a couple of small hotels in the town, apart from the KMVN guest house, which seems to be the best option. However, it is quite easy to drive down from Almora/Nainital, as the roads are very good.

There is also another temple about 5 Kms up the hill, known as Vriddha Jageshwar, which is supposed to be even older. We were unable to visit this temple, though apparently, it is now possible to drive there. If anyone has visited the temple, please leave your suggestions about whether it is worth a visit.

Here are some more images from the temple

P.S. I have put up photos taken by Samhith at Binsar on his blog... Check it out here and please leave your comments.


  1. oh! That was a beautiful temple complex! Feeling bad that we gave it a miss when we went to Jwalabhanj last year.

  2. I went there long time ago from Almora. There was not a soul around apart from the two of us and I loved the place. Your pictures brought back fond memories.

  3. Great post, lovely pictures, engrossing narration Anu.

  4. India is really a archeological marvel. Nice write up Anu felt like I was visiting the place. The explanation about the yantra was really interesting.

  5. hmhm.. Awesome pictures.... And reading your post after quite a long time is an experience as it is always...

    cheers.. :)

  6. @Usha: oh yes, you should have gone... but better still, go again and take ur mom! i am sure she will love this place.... and there is one more place for her too... wait for a couple more posts for that:)

    @Mridula: you've been there???? great! and it must have really been great if u were all alone! but there wasnt much of a crowd even this time.... the only other visitors were the family group that i have written about...

    @Chitra: thanks.....

    @Shilpa: absolutely..... there are hundreds of places like this all over india... as they say, a lifetime isnt enough to visit all of them!

    @muthu: thanks so much! but where have u been??? we've missed ur interesting posts....

  7. I see that you have finally fulfilled your dream. Your blog is superb and I am enjoying them immensely. Hopefully I will be able to visit Binsar someday.

  8. You have done a tremendous job showing the path to the sliping hindus of our country, asking them to go and have blessings.I will be there on 21/06/2010 if all goes well to see and have blessings of akhand jyotirlingam .Till then seeyou.

  9. The information and the photos are wonderful. Canyou brief me a little about the location of Parli Baidyanath in Maharastra. We are on a Jyotirling tour from 26th of this month.


  11. It so beutifully explained with pictures. thanks a lot

  12. Wonderful job and descriped in full details .
    Worth visiting if time and sources permites.
    Congratulations for wonderful job and guidance to visitors
    jagdish pande

  13. Great job. nice post thanks for sharing such valuable information...

  14. Hey Anuradha,

    I just went to Jageshwar and Lakhudiyar last month - after 18 years!! Love this post.



Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

The Havelis of Bikaner - A Photo Post

The lanes are narrow , twisting and turning amidst buildings old and new. Crumbling old structures with intricate workmanship stand side by side with art deco buildings, and more modern constructions, which follow no particular style. Autos, bicycles, motorcycles and vans rush past, blowing their horns as loudly as possible, while cows saunter past peacefully, completely unaffected by the noise. In the midst of all this chaos, children play by the side, and women go about their chores, as we explore these by-lanes of Bikaner, and its beautiful Havelis. Facade of one of the Rampuria Havelis

Ladakh - Planning The Trip

Over 2000 Km by road, in around 10 days. Stunning landscapes, wonderful people. That sums up our Ladakh trip. But how did it actually work? How did we make it happen? Read on to find out!  Leh, the capital of Ladakh , is accessible by air and road. Flying into Leh is the easiest, and time-saving option, while the road is the time consuming one, but with the added advantage of driving past some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country. Each option has much to recommend it, and we chose the road for just one reason – altitude sickness. Altitude sickness was one of my biggest concerns, since I suffer from motion-sickness. Yes, I do travel a lot, but that is despite my condition, and, over the years, have learnt how to handle it. I struggled with it when we visited Nathu-La in Sikkim, and wondered if I would be able to manage a week at the even higher altitudes that we would encounter in Ladakh. This was the reason we stuck to a basic plan, of only 9 days in Ladakh, though we

Bhedaghat - Home of the 81 Yoginis

The Narmada flows down the mountains , carving out a path for herself as she makes her way down to the plains of Central India. She cascades from the rocks, her fine spray making it appear as if billows of smoke (dhuan) arise from the flowing streams of water (dhaar), giving it the name Dhuandhar. Dhuandhar Falls The force of her flow creates a gorge , smoothening and carving out the rocks into fantastic shapes, the pure white of the rocks standing starkly against the shades of the water. It is a joy to cruise down the river in a boat, seeing the natural contours created by the river, now famous as the Marble Rocks. We are at Bhedaghat, located on the banks of the Narmada near Jabalpur, where thousands of visitors turn up to see these natural landscapes, creations of the sacred Narmada, and pay obeisance to her. However, to me, the most interesting thing about Bhedaghat, isn’t the falls or the rocks, or even the river. What makes Bhedaghat special is t