The grand grove of deodar in Jageshwar mirrored my idea of paradise. An undulating turn brought us to the Himalayan valley. Beside the concrete road, I heard a reticent stream trickle. And the ancient deodar trees rose stately from the earth to high skies. I stared at them from a half-opened passenger window of the cab.
Jageshwar, about 35 kilometres away from Almora in Kumaon Uttarakhand, is known for its ancient temples. Jageshwar Dham is a cluster of temples, which go back to the 9th century (probable time period). Among the 125 shrines here, there are sanctums of Mahamrityunjaya, Surya and Durga.
The Archaeological Museum of Jageshwar, under the ASI, may seem negligible for its repute but its collection excels expectations. Sculptures on different types of stone are placed on wooden stands and shielded by clear glass. The earliest among these go back to 8th century. There are panels of Trimurti, statues of Surya, Shiva, Ganga, Durga and a host of other deities. The most spectacular in the exhibition was the stone panel of the Navagraha.
A kilometre ahead of Jageshwar Dham is the quiet and fairly small Dandeshwar. This group was perhaps built in the 9th century and has 14 shrines. Paun Raja, a highly detailed metal figure of a king, is most popular here. It is now a part of the Archaeological Museum, where visitors can study the ornamental statue.
There is magic in the silence of Jageshwar. In the cold chilly evenings sometimes I heard the forest speak with me. Even if I lived on the other side of the world, I would never be too far from this spirited space. Its spiritual beauty haunts me. Every day.
Good to know
-Photography and mobile phones not permitted in the Archeological Museum Jageshwar.
-Entry to the museum is free. It is open from Saturday to Thursday, from 0900hrs to 1700hrs.
-Van Serai is an idyllic place to stay when in Jageshwar. Go here for more details.
-The tall groves of deodar make Jageshwar a degree or two cooler than surrounding hamlets, villages. Go prepared.
Have you experienced the magic of Jageshwar?
Note: This visit to Uttarakhand was made possible by Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board and Lonely Planet Magazine India. Of course, my love for the state is evident.