A Hindu temple reflects a synthesis of arts, the ideals of dharma, beliefs, values, and the way of life cherished under Hinduism. It is a link between man, deities, and the Universal Purusha in a sacred space.

In ancient Indian texts, a temple is a place for pilgrimage. It is a sacred site whose ambience and design attempts to symbolically condense the ideal tenets of Hindu way of life. All the cosmic elements that create and sustain life are present in a Hindu temple – from fire to water, from images of nature to deities, from the feminine to the masculine, from the fleeting sounds and incense smells to the eternal nothingness yet universality at the core of the temple.

Susan Lewandowski states that the underlying principle in a Hindu temple is built around the belief that all things are one, everything is connected. The pilgrim is welcomed through a mathematically structured spaces, a network of art, pillars with carvings and statues that display and celebrate the four important and necessary principles of human life – the pursuit of artha (prosperity, wealth), the pursuit of kama (pleasure, sex), the pursuit of dharma (virtues, ethical life) and the pursuit of moksha (release, self-knowledge). At the center of the temple, typically below and sometimes above or next to the deity, is mere hollow space with no decoration, symbolically representing Purusha, the Supreme Principle, the sacred Universal, one without form, which is present everywhere, connects everything, and is the essence of everyone. A Hindu temple is meant to encourage reflection, facilitate purification of one’s mind, and trigger the process of inner realization within the devotee. The specific process is left to the devotee’s school of belief. The primary deity of different Hindu temples varies to reflect this spiritual spectrum.

In Hindu tradition, there is no dividing line between the secular and the sacred. In the same spirit, Hindu temples are not just sacred spaces, they are also secular spaces. Their meaning and purpose have extended beyond spiritual life to social rituals and daily life, offering thus a social meaning. Some temples have served as a venue to mark festivals, to celebrate arts through dance and music, to get married or commemorate marriages, commemorate the birth of a child, other significant life events, or mark the death of a loved one. In political and economic life, Hindu temples have served as a venue for the succession within dynasties and landmarks around which economic activity thrived.

Temples Of Kumaon Himalayas

The essence of Himalayas symbolizes eternal wisdom and elegance of Mother Nature. This, in turn, helps in unfolding the spirit of man through acquaintance with the perennial cosmic Reality. The temples of the Kumaon Himalayas make you experience unique serenity, tranquillity, deep peace and radiant joy. Some of the most important temples of Kumaon are listed here.

Naina Devi Temple, Nainital

Perched at an elevation of 6837 ft. and located near the beautiful Naini Lake in Nainital, Naina Devi Temple is one of the best temples of Kumaon Himalayas in the northern state of Uttarakhand. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Sati and is believed to be a popular Shakti Peethas of India. According to myths, when Sati’s father Dakshaprajapati insulted her husband, Lord Shiva, during a Yajnya, she committed suicide by jumping into the sacrificial fire. While Shiva was carrying Sati’s mortal body away, her eye fell down at somewhere near the temple of Pashan Devi in Nainital and is now Naina Devi Temple, and a popular pilgrim centre in the Kumaon. The idol of the deity is immersed annually on Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtami in the month of September amid sheer grandeur and joy. The festival attracts devotees from around the country.

How to reach:Chandigarh is the nearest airport and is located at a distance of 100 km. The nearest railway station is in Anandpur Sahib (30 km.). The temple is also connected via National Highway 21. There are regular bus and care services available from Delhi, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

The Baijnath Temple Compound

Baijnath Mandir are said to be built by the Kumaon’s Katyuri dynasty king in around 1150 A.D. Baijnath was the capital of Katyuri Kings, who ruled the region from 7th to 11th century AD. It was known as Kartikeyapura and is situated at the centre of Katyur valley. According to the Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva and Parvati were married at the confluence of River Gomati and Garur Ganga. The main temple is a host to a beautiful idol of Goddess Parvati standing astute in its glory in the black stone. The temple can be reached from across the riverside by the steps made of stones constructed on the orders of a queen from Katyuri dynasty.

En route to the main temple, just below the house of the Mahanta, is the temple of Bamani. Just outside the temple complex, there is a beautiful lake "Golden Mahaseer" which is full of fishes. The fishing is strictly restricted as it is a major tourist attraction. Visitors and pilgrims can offer wheat and chick peas to fishes.

The temple complex comprises of the temples that are dedicated to Siva Vaidyanatha, the Lord of Physicians, the Baijnath temple is actually a temple complex built by the Katyuri kings with the idols of Shiva, Ganesh, Parvati, Chandika, Kuber, Surya and Brahma. Legends iterates that the temple was built by a Brahmin woman and dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Bhramri Devi Temple

Bhramri Devi Temple is also located at a distance of 2 km from Baijnath. The temple of Bhagwati Mata KotBhramri Devi Temple or (KotKaMandir) was once was a fort owned by the Katyuri dynasty Kings. Also there is a myth that AdiguruShankaracharya stayed on this temple overnight while en route to Badrinath.

Bhadrakali Temple, Bageshwar

Bhadrakali Temple is an ancient shrine, dedicated to Goddess Kali. The temple is situated at close proximity to Kanda and at a distance of 25 km. from Bageshwar in Kumaon Himalayas. It is known for its religious significance and attracts pilgrims from around the region. The temple is tucked amidst picturesque beauty of nature, overlooking the magnificent views of the Himalayas.

Nanda Devi Temple, Almora

Not for opulence, but the unwavering beliefs and traditions associated with Nanda Devi make it one of the top temples of Kumaon. It is situated in Almora district of Uttarakhand and is dedicated to Nanda Devi which is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga. She was the patron goddess of the Chand dynasty and is believed to be the saviour of the residents of Kumaon and other parts of Uttarakhand. The major attraction of the temple is Nanda Devi Raj Jat (Yatra) that is held once in every 12 years. During the festival, the deity which is in the form of a sheep is beautifully decorated with jewellery, and food & clothing is offered to her. She is then sent to her other home at Trishul Peak followed by a grand procession, melodious folk songs and dances.

Kot Bhramari Temple, Kausani

The temple is located at a distance of 5 km. from Kausani and is also known as Kote-ke-Mai and Bhramari Devi Temple. It is one of the top temples of Kumaon Himalayas and attracts heavy footfall during the month of August, when Nanda Ashtamior Nanda Raj Jatfair is organized and a big procession is carried out taking the idol through all surrounding regions.

Baghnath Temple, Bageshwar

At the heart of the holy town of Bageshwar lies the ancient temple of Lord Shiva that attracts devotees from around the country during the occasion of Shiva Ratri. The literal meaning of Baghnath is the Master of Tiger. As Lord Shiva is believed to be seated on a tiger skin, he is also known as Baghnath. The popular temple stands on the confluence Sarayu and Gomti Rivers at a distance of 90 km. from Almora, a picturesque hill station in Uttarakhand. There are several temples around the Baghnath Temple like Ganga Mai Temple, Durga Temple, Hanuman Temple, DattatreyaMaharaj, Kalika Temple, Vaneswar Temple and ThingalBhairav Temple.

Jageshwar Temple, Almora

Jageshwar Temple is a conglomeration of a number of large and small temples and one of the Swayambhu (JyotirLinga) Lingas found in India. It is a 2500 years old temple complex nestled amid spectacular scenic vistas of the Himalayas and is an ideal retreat to unwind, rejuvenate and seek solace. The temple is a beautiful example of sheer architectural grandeur and houses other temples dedicated to Surya, MritunjayMahadev, NauDurga, Chandika, NavGraha and other Hindu deities. The complex comprises of 124 temples, hundreds of statues and the famous SwayambhuLinga named Nagesh.

Kot Ling Mahadev Temple, Almora

Kot Ling Mahadev Temple is situated in the Hindu pilgrimage town of Jageshwar in Almora district, Uttarakhand. It is one of the most important temples in the Kumaons and is located at the “Sangam” of River Sam Ganga and Jata Ganga. According to legends, the place was chosen by Lord Shiva himself for meditation.

Mukteshwar Dham, Nainital

Mukhteshwar Dham is a 350-year old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The sacred shrine is an important religious centre in Uttarakhand, situated atop a hill, overlooking stunning vistas of the Kumaon Himalayas. The Shivling in the temple is surrounded by idols of Vishnu, Brahma, Parvati, Ganesh, Hanuman and Nandi. The trek to this temple, at a height of 2,312 metres, is an experience to cherish forever.

Temples In Chaukori

There are many ancient temples located in and around Chaukori, making it an important tourist centre for holy experience. The popular temples are Arjuneshwara Shiva Temple, Patal Bhubaneshwar, Kapileshwar Mahadev Temple, Ghunsera Devi Temple, Nakuleshwar Temple, Dhaulinag Temple and Kamaksha Temple.

Haat Kalika Mandir, Pithoragarh

Located in Gangolihat in Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand, HaatKalikaMandir is one of the Shakti Peeths, and an important pilgrim centre. The temple is the abode of Goddess Mahakali, who is believed to shift her place from West Bengal to Gangolihat. It is extremely famous across India, especially among the Indian Armed Forces.

Chitai Temple, Almora

The famous temple of GolluDevta at Chitali is one of the most popular temples of Kumaon Himalayas and is located 6 km. from Almora. It is dedicated to local deity Gollu, who is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It was built during the 12th century and is characterised by numerous brass bells of all sizes hanging in the premises. The bells are hung by the devotees as offering to make a wish or as thanksgiving. The presiding deity is also believed to be the God of Justice and therefore, you can find the walls of the temple covered with court stamp papers by devotees who did not get justice in the court. A common ritual is that devotees make petitions to the God of Justice by using stamp papers to seek their desired decree in litigations. Sacrificing goat is also a popular ritual at the temple.

Kalipad Shakti Temple, Bageshwar

Nestled at the foothills of Girechhina in Bageshwar district, Kalipad Temple is remarkably popular for its magical power that attracts devotees from around the country. The mesmerising views of the Himalayas and serene ambience forms the ultimate setting for enlightenment and to get closer to the Supreme Power. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali who is considered as their daughter and therefore, every occasion is celebrated with immense zeal and fervour. It is located at close proximity to the confluence of River Gomti and Saryu.

Gwal Devta Temple, Bageshwar

The popular temple of the Kumaon region is dedicated to Gwal Devta, a deity of immense influence and faith. He is considered to be the God of Justice who when approached by helpless victims of cruelty and injustice, dispenses justice. According to legends, Goril, a Katyuri Prince of Champawat, was a victim of planned conspiracy by his step mother and was thrown into a river locked in an iron cage. The temple was built as an honour to him and over the years, Goril has established as a deity of immense influence and power, attracting pilgrims from around the country.

Jhankar Saim Mahadev Temple, Jageshwar

The temple, located south of Jageshwar, has great religious significance that attracts pilgrims from around the region. According to folklore, when Lord Shiva was meditating (Tapasya), demons came to obstruct his penance. At that time, Lord Jhankar Saim was born from Trinetra, who send his ganas to kill the demons. Legend has it that Lord Sam will again come to Koti Linga Temple and Jageshwar Temple to save humanity in Kalyug.

Patal Bhuvaneshwar

Patal Bhuvaneshwar which is considered as old as the earth itself. It is believed that Lord Shiva resides here along with 33 crore Gods worshipped in Hindu mythology. Accessed through a steep cave passageway, the Patal Bhuvaneshwar Cave is truly fascinating, and made more so by the images of gods and goddesses inside the cave. If time allows, visit other temples like Ambika Dewaal and Shaileshwar Cave. Thereafter. leave for Mayavati Ashram which is about 85 km Further from Gangolihat.

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