Jageshwar is a Hindu pilgrimage town in Almora district, Uttarakhand, believed to carry the Nagesh Jyotirlinga dedicated to Shiva, located 36 km northeast of Almora, in Kumaun region. The temple city comprises a cluster of 124 large and small stone temples, dating 9th to 13th century AD, with many preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which include Dandeshwar Temple, Chandi-ka-Temple, Jageshwar Temple, Kuber Temple, Mritunjaya Temple, Nanda Devi or Nau Durga, Nava-grah temple, a Pyramidal shrine, and Surya Temple, amongst which the oldest shrine is the Mrityunjaya Temple and the biggest shrine is the Dandeshwar Temple.
Once the centre of Lakulish Shaivism, Jageshwar is located at an altitude of 1870 mts, in the Jataganga river valley near a Deodar forest (Cedrus deodara) starting from Artola village on Almora-Pithoragarh highway, where two streams Nandini and Surabhi flow down the hills in the narrow valley and meet near the sacred spot.
The Jageshwar Monsoon Festival, held between 15 July to 15 August takes place at Jageshwar during the Hindu calendar month of Shravan and the annual Maha Shivratri Mela (Shivratri festival), which takes place during spring has an important place in the calendar of the entire Kumaon region.
Many Hindus believe that Jageshwar is the place of Nagesh among the forest of Deodar, 8th among the Dwadasa Jyotirlingas: the twelve resplendent lingas of Lord Shiva established by Lord Vishnu.
The twelve Jyotirlingas are-
- Somnath at Prabhas Patan, Saurashtra, Gujarat.
- Sri Mallikarjun in Srisailam, near Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, on the banks of river Krishna. Adi Sankaracharya composed his Sivanandalahiri here.
- Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain (Avanti), Madhya Pradesh.
- Omkareshwar in Omkareshwar, Madhya Pradesh, this jyotirlinga is situated on an island in the course of the river Narmada.
- Vaidyanath temple at Deogarh, Santal Parganas area of Bihar.
- Bhimashankar in Dakini and located in the Sahyadri hills, near Pune, Maharashtra.
- Ramalingeswarar in Setubandanam, Tamil Nadu. This is situated on vast temple island of Rameswaram. It is the southernmost of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of India.
- One possible location is Nageshwar in Darukavanam, near Dwarka in Gujarat. However, many strongly believe it is in Jageshwar.
- Vishwanath in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
- Tryambakeswar Jyotirlinga shrine is intimately linked with the origin of the river Godavari near Nasik, Maharashtra.
- Kedareswar in Kedarnath in Himalayas, Uttarakhand.
- Ghrishneshwar in Devasrovar, near Ellora, Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
Over 25 inscriptions of different periods are inscribed on the walls and pillars of the Jageshwar temples. Most of these belong to the period between the 7th century AD to 10th century AD. The dialect of inscriptions is Sanskrit and Brahmi. These are studied by D.C. Sarkar in Epigraphica indica.
The main temple in the temple complex at 'Jageshwar Mahadev' is dedicated to ‘Bal Jageshwar’, or the Child Shiva. There is also a temple dedicated to Vridh Jageshwar, or Old Shiva, situated on the higher slopes. According to tradition, Lord Shiva came to meditate here, and when the women of the village came to know of this, they immediately left their household chores to have his darshan. When the men of the village heard of this, they were infuriated and came to see who is this sadhu who has captivated their women. Seeing the commotion, Shiva took the form of a child, which is why he is still worshipped in his child form here Jageshwar Info Govt. of Uttarakhand.
- Jageshwar Mahadev: Tarun Jageshwar is one of the principal temples situated in the temple premises. The temple has two dwarapalas (door guardians) in the form of the armed Nandi and Skandi. This is a west facing temple of Lord Shiva. Here, Shiva is worshipped in the form of Nagesh/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, (an immortal flame) burns in the temple. There are two Asthadhatu statues of Chand Kings Deepchand and Tripalchand in the standing posture behind the Shivlinga.
- Sri Mahamritunjaya Mahadev: The Mahamrityunjay temple is the largest and oldest temple in the Jageshwar temple complex. This temple of Shiva is eastern facing and the Linga is worshipped as the saviour from death. The unique linga has an eye shaped opening. Pilgrims believe that reciting the Mahamritunjaya Mantra is a fruitful, auspicious and powerful method of self-realisation, removal of evil effects, and freedom from all kinds of fears, illness and negativity.
- Dandeshwar Shiv Temple Complex: Situated slightly upstream from the Jageshwar temple complex, the Dandeshwar temple complex is in a dilapidated condition. The stone lingam is a natural rock, and, unlike the lingams of the Jageshwar complex, is not carved.
- Vinayak Kshetra: This place is 200 mts from Artola village from where temples of Jageshwar starts. From this place Vinayak Kshetra or sacred area begins. This place lies between Jhanker Saim temple,Vrudhh jageshwar and Koteshwar temples.
- Jhanker Saim Mahadev: This temple is situated south of Jageshwar. Legend has it that during the Tapasya by Lord Shiva, Demons obstruct His penance. Then God Jhanker Saim come into being as Trinetra and send His Ganas to kill the demons.
- Sri Briddha or Bud Jageshwar: This temple is situated three km north to Jageshwar.This temple is situated at the top of the hill and comes after an uphill trek. It is contemporary to Jageshwar group of temples.
- Pushti Devi or Pushti Bhagawati Maa: It is the temple of Goddess Devi. The temple enshrines the full murti of Goddesses. This temple is situated in the Jageshwar main premises.
The Archeological Museum run by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), houses idols and statuettes removed from Jageshwar shrine dating 9th to 13th century AD.Archeological Museum, Jageshwar Archaeological Survey of India .
Other Places Of Interest:
- The river that flows through the town, Jata Ganga
- A cave, Airavat Gufa
- Brahma Kund
- Other temples such as Sri Kuber Temple and the Batuk Bhairav Temple.
- The temple of Golu Devata at Chitai.
- Patal Bhuvaneshwar Caves Patal Bhuvaneshwar Caves