Jaageshwar -Binsar

A little about the name and its origin before moving to the famous temples in this wondrous area called Binsar. Binsar was originally known as Bineshwar and Binsar became the easy pronounceable choice. Most of the temples in this area are dedicated to the local Kumaoni God Gwalla or Golu. There are many temples dedicated to this God in this area, who is most renowned for his sense of justice. At the Chitai temple near Almora , people hang bells with letters to Golu asking for His mediation in legal issues.

Apart for the local Gods Binsar is home to one and only Mrityunjaya temple in the world and also a host of other temples in the Jaageshwar temple complex. These comprise about one hundred and more shrines, large and small, backed by huge deodar trees. There is a vast array of stone temples, all of them magnificently carved but the best are the shrines dedicated to the deities Jageshwar, Mrityunjaya and Pashtidevi, which have some beautifully intricate carving along the outer walls and main doorways. Most of the shrines are located in the main temple complex, but a kilometre away is the Dandeshwar group of temples, seven or eight shrines dominated by a massive temple with a towering spire.

Jaageshwar is believed to be one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of the country and has been an important centre for shaivism in our country. These 12 jyotirlingas are spread across the length and breadth of India but the location of these temples is contorversial too like all else in india. The eight one is the most controversial and has 3 claimants to this position. One is the Naageshwar temple in Aundh , Maharashtra, the second is the Dwaraka Naageshwara and the thirs is this Jaageshwar temple in Uttarakhand! The controversy arises from the fact that the scriptures describe the temple as ‘Daruka Vanam’. This translates to the Deccan plateau for some which originally was daruka vanam, for some others it is the Dwaraka temple. The Jaageshwar for others because it is located amidst dense deodar forests and casinostiver.com deodar is also known as ‘daruka’!

As you reach this 1000 year old temple complex there is a considerable drop in the temperature and it can get very cold under the shade of the lofty deodars trees which surround this beautiful temple complex. Jaageshwar assumes further importance because Saurabhi and Nandini flow down and converge in this holy place. The priest narrates the story that this jyotirling was originally known as ‘Naageshwar’ but changed by the locals over the years to ‘jaageshwar’ the presently known name. Naageshwar is the original name because the lingam inside the temple has a covering or ‘kavach’ which has a snake prominently displayed on it.  Next to the diety are 2 figures, a man and a woman about 4 feet high; the priest informs that they are the king and queen under whose reign this temple complex was constructed in the first place.

The whole temple complex has almost 124 temples and is a magnificent display of craftsmanship popular during that period. The oldest or the first constructed amongst these temples are the Mrityunjaya and the Dindeshwara temples respectively. Jaageshwar temple,or the shiva temple was built somewhere between the 8th and the 18th centuries and is the biggest temple of its kind along with 108 other temples in the same vicinity.

The other temple of interest is the ‘Pushti Devi’ temple. Pushti means nourishment so this is the goddess who gives the people what they need. The locals eagerly ask the visitors to focus not on the idol of the goddess but on the Yantra or the symbol, as present inside the temple and considered to be of real significance. The Sri Yantra has the figure of Goddess Kali etched on it. Story goes that when Kali defeated her enemies she was drunk with power and blood and danced all over the battle field in frenzy. Shiva was the only one who could bring her to her senses and calm her, which he did by lying down on the battlefield. Kali stepped over him in her frenzied state and immediately regained composure and conscious. The Yantra is a bit chipped off but the Goddess is still very visible on it.

Another temple called the Lakushila temple is also worth visiting. Apparently, Lakushila was one of the earliest teachers of the Pashupata philosophy and is considered to be an avatar of Lord Shiva. The name literally means ‘the Lord with a club’ and this is how the idol was inside the temple originally. Now all that is left is the Shivaling and most of the idols are preserved in the museum maintained by the archeological survey of India.

The architecture and superb carvings reflect the cultural efficacy and Buddhist influence. The archeological importance of this temple increases multifold for this exceptional difference and the intricate carvings and their depiction of the rich culture during those times demand a closer look.

In all almost 175 sculptures are housed in the museum and each is a wondrous beauty to behold. Photography is prohibited which makes this museum a must visit. All the details are available on the website and have further details too.

Jaageshwar is about 125kms from Kathgodam, 35kms from Almorah and about 85-90kms from Pittoragarh. The Temple is on the Kailash -Mansorvar yatra route. The accommodation options are very few and numbered and prior booking is advised. Jaageshwar itself has no known places to stay, but Binsar has Club Mahindra resorts and some others also. KMVN guest house is by far the other best option for stay purposes. However, it is quite easy to drive down from Nainital, Almorah and Binsar to this temple site. The roads are good and also offer scenic beauty exemplary flora and fauna and many other delights, local cuisine stalls, the fish lake expedition and the giant frog on the bridge, lastly ‘Vridhha Jaageshwar’ or the older Jaageshwar are all worth seeing along the way.