A Short Discovery Trip to Jageshwar and Nainital, while It Rained the Night

We left from Haldwani at about 10:00am. In a short while we were at Bhowali Chowk from where we took the Highway to Almora. The highways in Uttarakhand are really well laid and well maintained, now. Fluorescent markers and posts are installed on all the main highways. Driving by self would have been a breeze and it was a loss that we were being driven, in a bursting-at-seams-Scorpio.

We were going to Nainital from Bareilly, from where a day trip is usually sufficient to let one have most that Nainital usually offers. My parents-in-law (it was also the occasion of my PIL’s marriage anniversary) had to make some offerings at Jageshwar, so we were straightaway hitting the highway to Almora from Bareilly. We reached Haldwani via Bahedi-Kichcha-Pantanagar. The road was in a good condition against our expectations. So reaching here was a zip as we left Bareilly at about 6:00am against our scheduled 4:00.

At Haldwani we had our Breakfast at the decently faring Nanak Hotel. The place is recommended for a quick stopover, despite lying in the heart of the town. The helpful guard outside the shop resembled so much Retd. Gen BC Khanduri, who incidentally had stepped down as the CM of Uttarakhand a couple of days before, that we felt like shaking hands with him while handing over a tip for all the help that he provided in our vehicle being prominently parked and then driven off. It just did not click to click a photo of him! Btw, In case someone is interested in “Pahadi Ghee” the same is available in a shop a little away, prominently claiming a display to that effect. This “Pahadi Ghi” remained a topic for curious and speculative discussions in the MAV for awhile.

As we moved ahead from Kathgodam, the sudden respite from heat was conspicuous by its pleasance. The May-June had been scorching in NCR and Bareilly as well as rest of the UP. We, otherwise conservative users of power had been running electricity bills to the tune of Rs.5000/- a month, including the DG backup cost. So this drop in temperature was like the most material payback for this trip. Spiritual Nirvana lied ahead.

After Bhowali we passed by the impressive Kainchi Baba shrine. This is the place where the Neem Karori Baba rests in his Divinity. People familiar with Lucknow would recall the temple of Baba Neem Karori near Hanuman Setu.

After a drive of about 2 hours on the road full of hair pins, we reached the northern side bypass of Almora town. This is a place where many vehicles halt as lot of dhabas and shops selling the famous ‘bal mithai’ are located. We also bought some ‘bal mithai’ and some also bought some water for my toddler niece for top-end and bottom-end usage as the nappies had to be changed here, while we earned our passage through this bottleneck.

The road here is full of Golu Devata temples. My curiosity about these would be satiated later in a rediscovery trip.

The effect of change in height was evident in vegetation as we were moving towards a higher altitude. The conifers were all the more visible now. The pines dotting slopping lands with a red-ish undergrowth were providing for a mystical sight. We tempted to stop at a few places but then it was some chore getting off from a packed Scorpio. Why can they not standard-fit all such 7+ seaters with bench seats like a 9 seater Qualis?

Suddenly the pines started giving way to Cedar (Devdar) and I sighted a really small -only about 4 ft high-temple, apparently un-worshipped and uninhabited, bearing architecture similar to the Gopeshwar temple of the eponymous town in Chamoli District of Garhwal. Then one more, only bigger. Also, suddenly on all the sides we could see only the dark green Cedar Trees. A barrier later, we saw a cluster of about 25-30 temples of various sizes, but very similar architecture, surrounded by some really towering and ancient Cedar trees. This was the Jageshwar Temple complex. The sight was mesmerizing, probably because it was not at all crowded despite it being the last weekend of June.


The Jageshwar Temple Complex

Jageshwar lies in the Almora District, on Pithoragarh highway, in the valley of Jataganga river. The place is dotted with about 125 (some say 200) temples of Nagar architecture, mostly Shaivite convention of various sizes. The main temple complex houses around 25-30 temples. Most of the temples of this complex are under the ASI conservation. ASI also has a museum where the statues found in other smaller temples around this place are placed.


The Temple at a height

The main temple in the complex is known as the Mahamritunjay Mahadev temple, which is said to be a Jyotirlingam, standing in the same league as that of Onkareshwar, Somnath, Kedarnath. This temple is under ASI control. There is another temple, which is under services of probably a local trust. Pilgrims usually enter the latter one first and make their offerings there. Wikipedia informs of it, “This is one of the principal temple situated in the temple premises and it is called Tarun Jageshwar. Shiva is worshipped in the form of Nagesh/Yageshwar/Jageshwar. In the sanctum sanctorum of the temple the Shivlinga is divided into two parts. The larger one depicts Shiva and smaller one his consort Parvati. An Akhand Jyoti, keeps on flickering here since time immemorial. There are two Asthadhatu statues of Chand Kings Deepchand and Tripalchand in the standing posture behind the Shivlinga.”

There are temples in this complex also devoted to other deities like Navdurga, Surya, Navgrahas. The place is outstanding for its serenity. The temples date back to various old ages. And a few of the Cedar trees in the complex too are as old as some of the temples, so it is told. One tree stood astoundingly tall and had a huge trunk, like an eternal guard, with weapons in hands.


The Divine Guards

Tall and how

We did our prayers in the temples peacefully. We remained mesmerized too. Tried to complete the circuit of all the temples, but on a day trip, this was one luxury we could not afford. So we stuffed ourselves back into the car and headed back to Nainital. As already written, between Almora and Bhowali the road was first class. Some drizzle was also seen somewhere on the way back. But what was this?

Suddenly, we were engulfed in a thick-ish blanket of cloud. Nothing beyond a few meters was visible. Wow! This sudden turn of weather was pleasant, exciting and a bit scary too. We had to trace the path of the centre marking on the road. Our blinkers were on, some had their headlights on too. We trudged along and as we descended into the valley of Nainital by about 5:00pm, the lake looked resplendent in its true mango glory. No trace of cloud was here. Actually, we had overtaken the clouds.


Tracing the Line

Couples-young, not so young and the elderly, Bengali and non Bengali, fair and unfair, tall and short, Indian and American, north Indian and south Indian, happy and sullen, with kids and with parents – were walking hand in hand by the lakeside. Many were taking a boat-ride too, with the red yellow kayak-ish boats sailing all over the huge, serene and tidy looking green lake. It was a riot of colors, with green plants on the slopes of hills finding a reflection off the serene surface of lake, giving the lake a thick green hue, as if mixing the nectar of their leaves in the water. This was the holidaying at its max. It was the last Saturday of June and it was evening, it was pleasantly cloudy and the clouds had yet to come rolling down onto the surface of the lake, to block most of the lovely sights, but only to add to the experience of the ones really in need of some privacy in the middle of the lake, otherwise so at a premium…..

So this was the mall! We paid the steep toll of Rs100 at mall road entry from Tallital side, and inched ahead towards the Flats, where we had planned to park the vehicle and meet our receptor. The traffic police were in full action, so despite the B to B vehicular traffic rush, deadlocks were not experienced. We were able to park at the parking near the Naina devi temple, despite a no room board initially staring at us at the entry point to parking.

By the time we finished our business at the Naina Devi temple, the clouds those greeted us on the way to Nainital had descended over half of the lake from the eastern side. I found the sight really magical.


Clouds caressing the lake

But the evening was growing even more magical, with throngs of tourists descending towards the Bhootaani market. The multitudes of restaurants offering all kinds of delights were full to capacity. As we moved towards the mall road from the Temple side, the scene was like any Delhi market, sans the heat and rudeness. Hawkers lined up along the tree lined street by the lakeside. While a million were busy haggling with the vendors selling wares like fancy little colorful umbrellas, exotic shoes/chappals, curtains, goggles, toys, shirts, jeans, tops, candles, and what-nots, another mass was idly sitting on the boundary wall of the lake, munching Bhuttas (roasted corns) or sipping piping hot tea or coffee, also hawked at the street side. Talking of Bhuttas, well we feasted on them throughout our stay in Nainital.

There was a little Pradarshani (Fair-cum-exhibition-cum-sale) going on on the Flats grounds, which, though, was on its way to winding up as the tourist season was coming to an end. We were to be the guests of the Manager of the Show, an acquaintance, for the night.

In the night we had a walk on the mall road. Wind was breezy and drizzle was light. Lights never fade off from this stretch of road. Ice-cream parlours, novelty/candle shops, eateries were living long into the night. The night was something else.

Next day we had to take a trip round touristy spots of the place, before driving back to Bareilly. The next whole day, when the weather was very pleasant, was a rediscovery of Nainital for most of us and a new discovery for a few (the rediscovery for them to be posted later). I am leaving you with a few moments frozen from the next day.



16 Comments

  • Mahes Semwal says:

    thank you for sharing ur experience with nice pictures.

    I had been to kusani & Ranikhet , that time I wanted to visit Jageshwar & pathal bhubneswari also but due to time constrant not able to visit. May be in near future.

    Regards

  • Ram says:

    Rajeev Bhai,

    What a joy seeing you after an interval and that too with an astounding account of the Kumaon Hills, one of my favourite destinations.

    Your very well narrated account made me nostalgic about our visits to Naintal, Kainchi Temple, Saat Taal, Almora, Jageshwar and the other exotic places of the Kumaon Hills. We have have been going regularly ever since our daughters four and two respectively. Since the company I worked for, had a guest house at Nainital, it was all the more convenient for us. We were so much fond of these hills that we used to go there practically every year. With the passage of time, the growing children’s priorities changed and our visits to Nainital became less frequent. Still, we manage to go there sometimes for the love of Kumaon Hills.

    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences, very well supported by some excellent pictures.

    Shall look forward to your next post.

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    Excellent description of an area Jim Corbett spent his lifetime crisscrossing and writing about its natural bounty of fauna and flora and the proud people of Kumaon.

    Well done!

    Jerry

  • Ram Sahib, Thank you so much for you encouraging comment, as ever. It feels great to be back and welcome.

    Yaou say that practicaly every year you visited Nainital on leisure. And here, despite my company having taken rooms in one of the best hotels on time sharing, this was my first visit to the place, as the general feedback was that it is too commonplace a place. But I was so impressed that I made another trip a fortnight later! weather was at its benevolent best in both the trips.

    Mahesh, thank you so much. We too had thought about Patal Bhvaneshwari once. But time was a constraint with us too.

    Jerry, thank yoou so much for the kind words. I shall be soon going through your rich tribute to Sir Jim Corbett.

  • Dr Samit Bali says:

    My father has gone to Dwarahat, a place in Almora district for a 3 day spiritual camp.He says the beauty is mind boggling

  • It is. In fact, it was a conscious decision to not take too many pics as in that case, it would not have been possible to enjoy the scenes fully.

  • nandanjha says:

    Rajeev Tiwari Season 2 –

    1. All 7+ seaters come in two variants. front facing 3rd row seats and side facing 3rd row seats. If its a front facing 3rd row seats then bench is not possible. Lot of people prefer front facing 3rd row. Some of them think they would be more comfortable and someone sitting there would probably feel more like part of cabin than being in a trailer (tractor trailer). This is a Myth.

    Being using one for last 6 years have educated me on the benefits of having a bench and side-facing seats. The act of making that window seat in 2nd row turtle can be avoided, its almost heroic to do it every time someone has to get off.

    2. Jageshwar is splendid. That ASI blue board looks heavenly and its a delight to find these places nestled among hills-n-green without hordes of tourists. Since you didn’t mention so not sure whether someone alerted you but there this is stone-sphere, bigger than a football which is called ‘Bhim Shila’. The legend is that one can’t lift the shila however mighty one is but a set of 9 people can lift it easily by using just using one finger each. We tried it and it worked, probably weight spread of a 9 hands though only a total of 9 fingers were used.

    3. Putting offf Nainital, Mussorrie and Shimla as the crowded tourist destination is a trend which is somehow not dying after many years. When I was young (and stupid), I have also treated a visit to these places as a commoner’s act. Something which only punjus from Delhi do, go there, drink Whiskey and come back.

    Me and my wife found ourselves there in Nov’07 and what a joy it was.

    4. What else – Well welcome to Season 2 of Rajiv Tiwari.

  • Mahes Semwal says:

    Nandan ,If I am not wrong Stone Ball (Bhim Shiela ) is in Baijnath temple near Kusani.

  • nandanjha says:

    You are 100 % right Mahesh. I mixed up.

  • Rajeev says:

    Dear Nandan,
    Thank you so much for receiving this humble post with so much applause.

    1. Exactly. With side facing last row, one can even stretch, or this can serve as the refreshment supply bay.
    2. I will keep this in mind. Coincidentally, today a friend who has been on a trip to Baijnath dham among other places, has send a snap of the ???? you are speaking of.

    http://lh5.ggpht.com/_1T5kTRIAcsg/SoljI6qki1I/AAAAAAAABvM/pgjlVHj95Eo/s288/Photos%20114.jpg

    3. Yes, the place has been bearing the prejudice of being a nice accessible place. And to my surpirse prices were not of the extortion kind. I was so impressed that I made a follow up trip 15 days later.
    4. Well, Thank you once again:) I know this is generosity of Ghumakkar:)

  • Indrani Bose says:

    This write up takes me back to my childhood, innumerable trips to Nainital, Bhimtal in our Maruti800 , long drives from Delhi. It used to be such a welcome break for my exhausted father those days and I can see it is a dream till date! Thanks for sharing the pics as it makes us nostalgic..
    thnx
    warm rgds
    Indrani

  • Rajeev Tivari says:

    Thank you so much.
    I know a couple of my colleagues who are annual visitors to the place and had started way back in their M800.
    Regards
    Rajeev

  • Jageshwar has a mystic aura around it which is rare even in Uttarakhand, the abode of Gods. The deodar trees look ancient and so live as if they are winessing you.

  • rawatgaurav81 says:

    Thanks for the lovely narration. I remember going to Jageshwar last year in June. It was just a case of blessing in disguise for us as we had initially planned to stay at Binsar but due to non-availability of rooms there, we proceeded to Jageshwar. We took a small road towards Jageshwar just after crossing Almora.And I must admit it was heavenly.There was absolute no vehicle in that entire stretch and I remember how our hearts swelled on seeing those small temples which start appearing as you approach Jageshwar.The next morning was even more pleasant with such serene and lush forest across the hotel. I just went for jogging in the forest and it was heavenly.

    • anjali says:

      I was searching for Jageshwar trip to get the blessing of God shiva. and your mail helped me. Please guide me since i ma planning to go from noida, this week end i:e around 15th june 2012 to Jageshwar how much time you need there and where to stay there for comfort living and food and other things and where to go for sight seeing around Jageshwar.

      thanks and hope you will reply me back soon

      • gaurav rawat says:

        Since jageshwar is a very small place, there aren’t many options for a comfort living as such. The best option would be KMVN guest house but its better to have reservation there since its a weekend and it might be full. Also, if you leave Noida by 5 AM in the morning you should be able to reach Jageshwar by 4 -5 PM in the afternoon. I was going to Binsar but due to unavailability there we proceeded to Jageshwar. Also, we had to rent a guest house which wasn’t very good but then we were just too tired to try any other place.Do keep warm clothes as it gets quite cold in the night. Have a happy journey.

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