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.

Read: The Bedni and Ali Bugyal Trek, Uttarakhand

Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
The unbelievable deodar forest of Jageshwar.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
Even on a cloudy day, the green cover dominates its landscape.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
Scattered ruins on Dandeshwar-Jageshwar Road.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
Life lessons painted on pillars of a tea stall.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
The tallest temple of Dandeshwar.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
Carvings on stone in the central shrine of Dandeshwar.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
A closed sanctum in Dandeshwar temple complex.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
Beads being sold outside the entrance of Jageshwar Dham.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
Traditional Kumaoni architecture with carved wooden windows.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
Hours of idleness in Jageshwar.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
An incredible stela with a carved doorway and a stone disc at the top.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
Stacked stone slabs and lotus motif discs are a common feature of all shrines.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
Another closed sanctum with detailed carvings of deities and dwar pal (door guards).
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
Inscriptions on subtle relief seen below the canopy at the top.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
Entrance to the Mahamrityunjaya temple.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
The central stretch of the cluster.
Jageshwar Uttarakhand travel blog India
Van Serai Jageshwar delicately fits into the architectural style of Kumaon.

Read: The Kilmora Women of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

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.

Read: People of Kumaon, Uttarakhand (Part 2)

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.

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Amrita Das

Amrita is a freelance travel writer and professional travel blogger. She has been contributing to some of the top publications in India and internationally. She propagates female solo travel and shares her experiences from off-beat, culture and adventure travel through her writing.

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