We filled the petrol tank full, as there is no petrol pump on the way to Jageshwar .The drive past the old Almora town, gliding on the long and winding road, was an experience I will remember for a long time .Lush green pine and fur forest on one side and deep enthralling valley with majestic Himalayan ranges as a backdrop lift us spellbound.
The fresh sweet smelling breeze brushing past the trees made a whistling sound, somewhere some bird call could be heard breaking the silence ,the small villages looked painted in rainbow colors ,full of vibrant seasonal flowers and bubbling brooks filled the us with awe.
A slight drizzle had started and the fragrance of the wet soil, mixed with the mountain air was intoxicating.
It took us approximately three hours to reach pilgrimage town of Jageshwar, 5000 ft up in the Kumaon hills .As we approached the little settlement it seemed we have come in some other mythical world . Cluster of 150 Ancient Shiva temples made of gray stone built centuries ago, stood silently surrounded by the mesmerizing natural beauty.
The whole place gave me a feeling of spiritual calm and peace. Embellished with the tall deciduous deodar trees and winding river Jata Ganga, which finds its way to the side of the temple complex.
Jageshwar is the 8th Jyotirling among the twelve and has great religious value. Giant deodar trees stand as guards all across the area .the temples are of archaeological importance and one can spot signs put up by ASI everywhere.
The architecture of these temples especially the mritunjaya and jyotirlinga temples is worth a look the carvings ,the courtyard and ancient things like pots etc. brought out in excavations can kept us hooked for a long time. The archaeological museum has idols and exquisite statues dating 10th century. One can also take an excursion to virddha Jageshwar which is worth a look.
Apart from the religious aspect of the place one finds the old wooden houses pained carefully with vibrant colors and exquisitely carved panels all add to the glory of this place. The people are helpful and ever smiling. We stayed at Jageshwar for four hours and apart from offering prayers at al the temples, enjoyed the slight drizzle,a magnificent rainbow and cool water of the stream flowing nearby. It’s truly a magical experience which captivates you and holds you to the place.
With a heart filled with serenity, peace and calm we started our drive back to Ranikhet, pledging to return and stay longer.
On the way back we encountered a heavy downpour and driving through the rain on the serpent like road was an experience by itself. Visibility was poor but we had to go on to reach our destination before dark. The rain stopped as suddenly as it had started and we managed to reach Almora without any problem. Here we got some famous local mithai packed and had or much needed cup of sweet tea. As there was still a little time on our hand we decided to go down to Koshi River and spend some time enjoying the cool clear water. Children had great time playing with local kids, who were having a swimming competition .The water glittered with the golden rays of the setting sun and the beauty of the place increased manifolds.
We reached Ranikhet at night just in time for a good, home cooked meal, at the army guest house, where we were staying .The night was beautiful and cool and very quite. Here the nature’s beauty overwhelms you with its sheer abundance.
Though a very short trip we really enjoyed every moment of it .I would love to go back and spend a few days there exploring and reliving the enchanting experience.