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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

AJC PART 1

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Home - Kumaon Road Trip - Almora Jageshwar Chaukori Report - Part 1



Day 1 (Almora to Chaukori)

We left from Almora early after breakfast. Since there were many people in this trip, we travelled by two vehicles. Stop one was the Golu Devta temple in Chitai. A small description of the places:

  • Almora (home sweet home): Before this town rose to prominence, the Katyuri king Baichaldev ruled over this region. He gave a lot of land to a Gujarati Brahmin named Shri Chand Tiwari. Later on, when the Chand dynasty was firmly established in Baramandal, the Chand kings separated Shri Chand’s land and constructed their palaces around it. Almora town was mainly constructed since it was in the centre of the Chand kingdom. However, another mythological story states that king Kalyan Chand was hunting in the mountains where current day Almora is based (in 1560 AD). He spotted a rabbit, which turned into a tiger on the land where Almora is based. On hearing about this, the royal astrologers/soothsayers stated that this land is like a lion. It is a powerful place. On establishing a city here, the people will be as afraid of it as they are of a tiger. Hence, the foundation of a city was laid on this spot. The iron nail in the ancient temples of Almora was as big as a person. The intellectuals of the court said that this indicates the stability of the kingdom of Kumaon. However, the king was a disbeliever and one day he ordered the foundation nail to be removed. It was covered with blood stains. On seeing this, the astrologers again predicted, that since the nail has been removed, it will result in instability of the kingdom (which was very much what actually happened during the later years of Kumaon’s history). This episode is also mentioned in Manaskhand. During the reign of Chand rulers, this place was called Rajapur. Many ancient stones are inscribed with this name. This town is based on the back of a mountain. Its height ranges from 5200 feet to 5500 feet. The jail is at a height of 5439 feet, the church at a height of 5464 feet, Kalimati at 6414 feet and Simtola 6066 feet. It has two parts – Tailiphat and seliphat. The main market is more that 1.25 miles long. Before the cantonment was establish, that area was known as Lalmandi. The Chand kings had their palaces over there. The British replaced it with a missionary school and a hospital. The poet Gumani had written on the occupation of Almora by the British-

The temple of Vishnu was uprooted, to make way for a bungalow,

The king’s palace was buried, the place was called Berikhan.

The upper palace was also destroyed; it was also replaced by a colony.

The British have now totally changed the map of this town Almora.

  • Chitai (Golu Devta Temple) – one can get a good view of the peaks, Trishul, Maiktoli, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchchuli from this place. This is a very famous temple among pahari people and they come here from all over the world to pray. It is full of wonderful bells and you can find many applications to lord Golu (who is the God of justice).

  • Jageshwar: we visited this place also while on the way to Chaukori. Took a small detour from the main road. There are may gods in Jageshwar, hence a popular Kumaoni saying:

“Devta dekhan Jageshwar, Ganga nani Bageshwar”

To see the gods, go to Jageshwar. To take a bath in the Ganga, go to Bageshwar.

Jageshwar is the place where lord Shiva himself meditated. After destroying Daksha’s yagna, wrapped in the ashes of Sati, he had prayed at the site knows as Jhankarsaim (as said in the ancient scriptures). Jageshwar has two sites – Vriddh Jageshwar is situated at the top of the mountain. Tarun Jageshwar is situated amongst dense deodar forests. Earlier, these temples had a lot of gold and silver utensils. During the Chand dynasty rule, a stone worth 9 lakhs was kept here. There is a statue of a king, called ‘Paun’. He is supposed to be a very ancient king who ruled over both Kumaon and Garhwal. He is also said to have constructed the Gopeshwar temple in Garhwal. It is not certain if the Paun king was a member of the Katyuri clan. These temples are also said to contain King Deepchand’s statue. The hood over Mritunjay Mahadev’s temple was supposedly put by Shankaracharya. Pushtidev’s temple also contained precious ornaments worth lakhs. The Chand kings spent them and in return, gave the grant of many villages to the temple priests (For example: The village of Danya was granted to the Joshi priests of Jageshwar). The Dandishwar temple is very old and in a broken down condition. Slightly above this, located amidst the deodar forests, lies Jhankarsaim. This was the very place where lord Shiva had meditated. Now, a fair is held here every year. Very often, the bodies of Chand rulers was brought here after their deaths and cremated. Their queens, sometimes numbering eight to ten, also committed Sati with the king. The Shiva temple here is supposedly constructed by the Katyuri emperor Shalivahandev.

There was earlier a castle on the top of a hill named Kshadyarkot. In Kumaoni, Kot means castle (For Ex: Nanda Kot = Castle of Goddess Nanda Devi). A king of the Kshadyar clan ruled over it. Later on the Chand rulers had snatched the whole Chaugarkha area from them. The ‘bhang’ and ‘charas’ (intoxicants) of these regions is famous. The main places in this region are Dhaulchinna, Badechinna, Panuanaula and Jageshwar.





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leaving Almora

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Peaks as seen from chitai

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From Trishul in the left to Maiktoli in the right

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Bells at the entrance of the Golu Devta Temple

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Jageshwar - a bit misty

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The stone temples of Jageshwar

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all of us - Neelakshi, Smira, Babba, Amma n me

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doggie enjoying his snack

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Going for a walk near the temples. It is a lovely path leading to these temples.

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Beautiful forest path






Home - Kumaon Road Trip - Almora Jageshwar Chaukori Report - Part 1

2 Comments:

Blogger Govind S said...

Very Nice...............

Monday, February 4, 2008 at 8:48:00 AM GMT+5:30  
Blogger bijji writes said...

Pics are superb, generated lots of nostalgia, specially of a trip undertaken in 1959, when at least one face in the pic of group at Jageshwar was an infant!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008 at 9:22:00 PM GMT+5:30  

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