Where to go in India: A Town in Uttarakhand that Stops Time

Built between the seventh and 13th centuries, Jageshwar’s 124 stone-cut temples lie deep in the folds of its deodar forests.



Time stops in Jageshwar, a small city close to Almora distict in Uttarakhand. It hides one other secret deep in its deodar forests—a cluster of 124 cut-stone Shiva temples constructed between the seventh and 13th centuries. Photo by: Sambit Dattachaudhuri

It’s nearly meditative, watching fats glistening dewdrops dangle off sharp needles of deodars on a freezing winter morning. At our lodge, my household of 4 and I sip countless cups of ginger-and-spice-flecked pahari chai and suck on a rock of jaggery. We can hear a meandering rivulet gurgle throughout the road. Time stops in Jageshwar, a little-known village in Uttarakhand’s Almora district—however the myths and tales that do the rounds of its streets are alive and kicking.

“That tree you see there,” says Bhuwan Chandra, supervisor and resident storyteller of our lodge Van Serai, pointing at a thick trunk that splits into 5 particular person deodars, “they call it the Panch Pandavas.” A thinner, smaller deodar grows proper beside the tree. “That must be Draupadi,” provides Chandra. Everyone in this languid, spiritual village dotted with historic shrines, is a storyteller and spins their very own model of mythological tales, Chandra says. “If you stay long enough in Jageshwar, around its ancient shrines, with long peaceful hours to while away, you’ll do the same,” he smiles. A few metres from our lodge is a shrine that appears like an eight-foot pile of rocks: The Rin Moksh blesses these with pending money owed. “If you have EMIs, you should pray here,” laughs Chandra.

Jageshwar hides one other secret deep in the folds of its deodars—a cluster of 124 cut-stone Shiva temples constructed between the seventh and 13th centuries. The principal cluster, the Jageshwar Temple Complex, has over 25 huge and small shrines devoted to Shiva and different deities—all hemmed in by the Jataganga river. Little marvel that Chandra has one other story to inform. “A massive deodar stands on the centre of it with thick, snake-like uncovered roots, falling over the river like a Hindu saint’s jata (matted hair). The Pandavas washed their sins right here earlier than heading to the Himalayas.”

At day’s finish, the temperature hovers round 4 levels. The deodars, stoic as ever, forged lengthy shadows at each bend and shrine. We do a fast spherical of a museum hooked up to the temple, which homes 160 uncommon sculptures, some courting again to the eighth century. Back at our lodge, a scorching conventional meal awaits us, soaked in the goodness of elements regionally sourced, maybe simply earlier in the day. Madira bhaat, a coarser model of locally-grown rice, ragi rotis served with jholi (cucumber and black lentil pakodas cooked in buttermilk curry) add to the heat that has encased me in Jageshwar. A bowl of kheer doubles it. In spite of a full stomach and sore toes, we order one other spherical of pahari chai. Because Chandra has new tales to inform.

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