To Jageshwar and back

This myrtle and many others like it stood out among the greens and browns and the horrendouses.
This myrtle and many others like it stood out among the greens and browns and the horrendouses.
The river Kosi provides water to towns and villages far and near. Hills have a water problem, usually. Either the water source is too far, or it is too riddled with minerals for direct, everyday consumption. Municipal boards normally treat it and then supply it for domestic consumption.
The river Kosi provides water to towns and villages far and near. Hills have a water problem, usually. Either the water source is too far, or it is too riddled with minerals for direct, everyday consumption. Municipal boards normally treat it and then supply it for domestic consumption.
I found this house a perfect place to sit, and sit. And perhaps get out of, if you so wish.
I found this house a perfect place to sit, and sit. And perhaps get out of, if you so wish.
It was time to leave. Very soon, these deodars would be a thing of a memory that fills you up with something divine.
It was time to leave. Very soon, these deodars would be a thing of a memory that fills you up with something divine.
Shiva temples are usually made next to a river or a stream. This stream is next to Dandeshwar. By the time it reaches Jageshwar, the temple we've just visited, it gets laced with burnt cloth and puja discards. The taxi driver told us that the stream-side was the cremation ground for the area. Everyday, there needs to be pyre (don't ask me why). So when there are no deaths, the pujaris burn a token cloth. Poor stream. Poor God. Poor Us.
Shiva temples are usually made next to a river or a stream. This stream is next to Dandeshwar. By the time it reaches Jageshwar, the temple we’ve just visited, it gets laced with burnt cloth and puja discards. The taxi driver told us that the stream-side was the cremation ground for the area. Everyday, there needs to be pyre (don’t ask me why). So when there are no deaths, the pujaris burn a token cloth. Poor stream. Poor God. Poor Us.
These roofs of slate are fast vanishing. Is there nothing good we wish to retain?
These roofs of slate are fast vanishing. Is there nothing good we wish to retain?
This gentleman isn't a woodcutter. He's the gardener for Dandeshwar. This wood is to support the dahlia plants that are bowing under the weight of the huge blooms. He asked me, "Should I keep down the wood?" I said, "No!" He said, "Will I look good like this?" I said, "Certainly." Don't you agree?
This gentleman isn’t a woodcutter. He’s the gardener for Dandeshwar. This wood is to support the dahlia plants that are bowing under the weight of the huge blooms. He asked me, “Should I keep down the wood?” I said, “No!” He said, “Will I look good like this?” I said, “Certainly.” Don’t you agree?
What do you think? Should we all come forward? :)
What do you think? Should we all come forward? πŸ™‚
This temple housed a statue of the local king. The statue is in the archaeological museum a stone's throw away. The prasad (the food used in prayers, considered to be blessed by the god) is given to the local villagers everyday.
This temple housed a statue of the local king. The statue is in the archaeological museum a stone’s throw away. The prasad (the food used in prayers, considered to be blessed by the god) is given to the local villagers everyday.
Here's some more information
Here’s some more information
I thought these houses looked really nice. How much does one need, really, to live well?
I thought these houses looked really nice. How much does one need, really, to live well?
I thought I'll show you what deodar leaves look like. I did not take the pains of searching for an English name for it. Is it found outside of India? I do not know.
I thought I’ll show you what deodar leaves look like. I did not take the pains of searching for an English name for it. Is it found outside of India? I do not know.
Kuber was the richest of all the divine beings. This temple of his overlooks Jageshwar compound a few 100 meters away. It was closed at the time we were there. Pity, he is the one who's to be pleased to get oodles of money.  I could've tried my luck..
Kuber was the richest of all the divine beings. This temple of his overlooks Jageshwar compound a few 100 meters away. It was closed at the time we were there. Pity, he is the one who’s to be pleased to get oodles of money. I could’ve tried my luck..
This eating place serves the best aloo ki sabzi, arhar ki dal, roti and chawal in the entire universe (except my mother's place). Do not forget to go here if you go to Jageshwar.
This eating place serves the best aloo ki sabzi, arhar ki dal, roti and chawal in the entire universe (except my mother’s place). Do not forget to go here if you go to Jageshwar.
Would I like to look out of this window, or would I like to look at it?
Would I like to look out of this window, or would I like to look at it?
What about this one?
What about this one?
And he suddenly turns to look at me, knowing I was taking his picture.
And he suddenly turns to look at me, knowing I was taking his picture.
I was happy to get this picture, thankful that he wasn't aware I was trying to take his photo.
I was happy to get this picture, thankful that he wasn’t aware I was trying to take his photo.
Almost the entire view of the temple premises.
Almost the entire view of the temple premises.
It almost seems like the one is making the other that much more elegant -- the trees and the temples.
It almost seems like the one is making the other that much more elegant — the trees and the temples.
The puja was done, it was time to stand up and chant the final invocations.
The puja was done, it was time to stand up and chant the final invocations.
A couple had arranged for this puja. I do not know how the chants will sound to you, but the repetition of "Swaha" of havan and the "Shanti" at the end of the havan make me feel all is all right. It must be my belief that things are all right, when people are 'burning the bad, consuming the good (hence, making an offering of my own self to myself)' and then calling for 'peace'.
A couple had arranged for this puja. I do not know how the chants will sound to you, but the repetition of “Swaha” of havan and the “Shanti” at the end of the havan make me feel all is all right. It must be my belief that things are all right, when people are ‘burning the bad, consuming the good (hence, making an offering of my own self to myself)’ and then calling for ‘peace’.
Entrance to the main temple. I like the gatekeepers, but not the horrendous yellow electricity cable. Or the dried mala of marigold.
Entrance to the main temple. I like the gatekeepers, but not the horrendous yellow electricity cable. Or the dried mala of marigold.
Pigeon, just so.
Pigeon, just so.
And back to the gate and the gate keepers, just because I feel like it.
And back to the gate and the gate keepers, just because I feel like it.
It was slightly foggy when we reached. I marvel at the mortar-less construction. With all the rains and earthquakes since 7th century AD, how are these constructions still standing?
It was slightly foggy when we reached. I marvel at the mortar-less construction. With all the rains and earthquakes since 7th century AD, how are these constructions still standing?
There was just one flower in the central kunda -- water square.
There was just one flower in the central kunda — water square.
He was posing amidst the temples for the longest time. I thought he looked quite stylish with the temples, and the lamp post.
He was posing amidst the temples for the longest time. I thought he looked quite stylish with the temples, and the lamp post.
How many will have sat on this bench since it was first installed here? It puts my life in perspective.
How many will have sat on this bench since it was first installed here? It puts my life in perspective.
I could keep looking at these and not get tired. I hope you feel the same, otherwise you might have to bail out right now!
I could keep looking at these and not get tired. I hope you feel the same, otherwise you might have to bail out right now!
Here's some useful information, courtesy Archaeological Survey of India.
Here’s some useful information, courtesy Archaeological Survey of India.
It is said that mainly woman work in the fields in the hills. Men like to smoke, drink, buy vegetables, and be merry. Oh! Did you even see the farmer woman wearing a pink saree? She's just a tiny dot, isn't she?
It is said that mainly woman work in the fields in the hills. Men like to smoke, drink, buy vegetables, and be merry. Oh! Did you even see the farmer woman wearing a pink saree? She’s just a tiny dot, isn’t she?
Do not ask what this bridge connects, or who made it. I just liked it. And please ignore its placement in the frame. I was trying to avoid the electricity cables.
Do not ask what this bridge connects, or who made it. I just liked it. And please ignore its placement in the frame. I was trying to avoid the electricity cables.
I like that he is sitting on a horse - the king of Champavat, now called Golu Devta by his devotees. He was a noble, charitable king. It must be this nobility that granted the supposed divinity that made him heal lives. Or so believers say. I like his name.
I like that he is sitting on a horse – the king of Champavat, now called Golu Devta by his devotees. He was a noble, charitable king. It must be this nobility that granted the supposed divinity that made him heal lives. Or so believers say. I like his name.
It is said an English commissioner had to believe in this sage after a series of mishaps following his derision of the holy man. He wrote a letter, which is still preserved somewhere among these millions.
It is said an English commissioner had to believe in this sage after a series of mishaps following his derision of the holy man. He wrote a letter, which is still preserved somewhere among these millions.
Corridor of prayers.
Corridor of prayers.
Almora, the town of the educated and learned. That's how it was known in the years gone by. It found itself in news last year for less than happy reasons. The rains devastated the region with cloudbursts and landslides. People were stranded, houses swept away. The entire area is still trembling with the rage of Indra, the rain god.
Almora, the town of the educated and learned. That’s how it was known in the years gone by. It found itself in news last year for less than happy reasons. The rains devastated the region with cloudbursts and landslides. People were stranded, houses swept away. The entire area is still trembling with the rage of Indra, the rain god.
Pines were introduced in India by the British (find out the fact for yourself. My information could just be a fairytale). Pine wood makes for an easy to handle timber. Now, these trees and all of the millions of others throughout India, including the hot plains, are living like they never migrated to these lands just a few hundred years ago.
Pines were introduced in India by the British (find out the fact for yourself. My information could just be a fairytale). Pine wood makes for an easy to handle timber. Now, these trees and all of the millions of others throughout India, including the hot plains, are living like they never migrated to these lands just a few hundred years ago.
An army of pine trees against the fog.
An army of pine trees against the fog.
Kainchi temple. The person responsible for making this temple revered by thousands in India and across the world 'merged with the One God', but left behind a legacy of propriety. I like visiting this temple because it is clean, clean, clean. And it doesn't allow photography.
Kainchi temple. The person responsible for making this temple revered by thousands in India and across the world ‘merged with the One God’, but left behind a legacy of propriety. I like visiting this temple because it is clean, clean, clean. And it doesn’t allow photography.
Corn cob roasted on embers. Doused with lemon and salt, and if you want, mint chutney or coriander chutney. Perfect.
Corn cob roasted on embers. Doused with lemon and salt, and if you want, mint chutney or coriander chutney. Perfect.
These were nestled in one corner of the temple compound, but they looked quite happy with their station.
These were nestled in one corner of the temple compound, but they looked quite happy with their station.
This is the detail on top of one of the several smallish temples.
This is the detail on top of one of the several smallish temples.
Another of those innocuous things I cannot help noticing. I hope you'll bear with me.
Another of those innocuous things I cannot help noticing. I hope you’ll bear with me.
This pandit was parked outside of the bigger temple on the left, probably hoping we were of faith.
This pandit was parked outside of the bigger temple on the left, probably hoping we were of faith.
I am not sure why, but these details call upon me to revere. I do not know what. Perhaps it is the strength of belief of the people who got these made.
I am not sure why, but these details call upon me to revere. I do not know what. Perhaps it is the strength of belief of the people who got these made.
This lady was listening intently to the pandit, who is apparently learned and wise enough to deliver her from her troubles.
This lady was listening intently to the pandit, who is apparently learned and wise enough to deliver her from her troubles.
This was taken on the move. As soon as we took a turn, the vegetation all of a sudden changed from oaks and pines to deodars. Such are the wonders of nature. I call it a wonder, because there was no considerable increase in the altitude either. Perhaps it is the majesty of the God we were about to visit. Majestic trees for a very, very powerful God.
This was taken on the move. As soon as we took a turn, the vegetation all of a sudden changed from oaks and pines to deodars. Such are the wonders of nature. I call it a wonder, because there was no considerable increase in the altitude either. Perhaps it is the majesty of the God we were about to visit. Majestic trees for a very, very powerful God.
Or probably succumb to faith and reach out and toll the bell. Does it toll for everyone?
Or probably succumb to faith and reach out and toll the bell. Does it toll for everyone?
The temple is full of goats for sacrifice, too. When a person's wish is fulfilled, he/she treats the villagers to a feast of yummy mutton curry. This goat might think otherwise about all this bunkum.
The temple is full of goats for sacrifice, too. When a person’s wish is fulfilled, he/she treats the villagers to a feast of yummy mutton curry. This goat might think otherwise about all this bunkum.
This bell has the distinction of being the biggest in the temple. It is big, believe me, I couldn't make it move, and they say I am very strong.
This bell has the distinction of being the biggest in the temple. It is big, believe me, I couldn’t make it move, and they say I am very strong.
And if the bells are not enough, you can write to Golu Devta. These letters all reach him in Heaven, it is believed. And he helps.
And if the bells are not enough, you can write to Golu Devta. These letters all reach him in Heaven, it is believed. And he helps.
The corridor of bells begins. Big, small, huge -- depending on the size of the believer's pocket -- the temple has them all.
The corridor of bells begins. Big, small, huge — depending on the size of the believer’s pocket — the temple has them all.
This sacrificial goat knows not where it is headed. Or is it looking up the sky to plead for mercy?
This sacrificial goat knows not where it is headed. Or is it looking up the sky to plead for mercy?
Bells for sale at the gate of the Chitayi temple. Believers of Golu Devta also believe that hanging bells in his temple will help them get his audience, and hence his beneficence.
Bells for sale at the gate of the Chitayi temple. Believers of Golu Devta also believe that hanging bells in his temple will help them get his audience, and hence his beneficence.

The rain obliged us and stopped for 3 days, giving the hills just enough time to stop sliding the land. Landslides are a big menace in these parts, because some sections are made of loose, gravelly soil, which washes off if the rains are incessant.

So, we decided to go to Jageshwar, a collection of temples dedicated to Shiva. Shiva is The Destroyer in the Hindu Trinity. Some say he is sleeping in this age, the Age of Kali, which is why there is no destruction of the evil and the sinful. I shudder to think what these temples must have seen since the 7th/9th century AD. Archaeological Survey of India says their construction began in the 7th century AD, but Wiki feels it was in the 9th. I am not going to bother with that.

It takes about 3 1/2 hours from Nainital to Jageshwar on a bad road. The roads were bad in patches, still recovering from this and the last monsoon.

Come, let’s see what we saw.

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30 thoughts on “To Jageshwar and back”

  1. Another breathtaking visit, Priya — a look into your beloved country, and within that, a deeper look at what few would notice. I especially like the woman working the fields, the corridor of bells, the stone temples, and of course, the bench and what it made you think about. I love this caption most of all: “It almost seems like the one is making the other that much more elegant β€” the trees and the temples.”

    Thank you, again.

    1. The real beauty of an object is in its congruence with what it’s surrounded with — without ever losing its own individuality. It is such a shame that we hardly get to see it. And such a wonder when we do!

      Thank you, Charles, for the ever-refreshing appreciation.

    1. Wouldn’t you? That’s how I felt, too. In fact, I was telling my sister-in-law that I’d have to go back just to sit and stroll there, taking turns in exploring and letting the whole sensibility seep in. Photography can distract!

      1. It can distract. Funny you should say that. I normally take my camera along with me, especially when we go to the coast, but last time I made sure to leave it behind. It felt great not to have to snap away and just be there fully in the moment, soaking it all in for a change! (but then, I did miss out on some spectacular shots…)

      2. I know what you mean! There are so many things that are worth saving in a picture, that is the time I miss my camera, too! I suppose the solution is to visit each place twice at different times, weathers, seasons. So much travelling to do! πŸ™‚

  2. I may never get to India. I can accept that. But here I am and here you are, Priya, in my life sharing your world through pictures and beautiful words. I’m lucky, not deprived at all. A published guide book with glossy photos wouldn’t nearly be as enticing. Sometimes I wonder why I’m not able to see the different and the exotic in my surroundings the way you see your world. I wouldn’t think of photographing it. I’m lucky,I say again, for meeting you and meeting your world.

    1. Jean, where do you find the words that touch my heart so much? Thank you.
      And you are making a mistake in saying that you are not able to see the different and exotic in your surroundings. If you can find humour and a sense of camaraderie in television watching, you are quite cool!

  3. Beautiful! thank you for the slide show! I watched the photos through several repeats and didn’t get enough.
    Thanks for sharing your country with us Priya. I agree with the previous comments that we’re lucky to be able to travel around India with you.

    I could comment on every single photo: YEs let’s all come forward!
    I love the colours of India (and I’m spelling it with the British spelling because that feels right here)
    Is the woman in the pink sari picking tea? I didn’t know men loafed at home!
    I love the photo of the man coming out of the temple!
    the house in the last photo – is that where you stayed?
    thank you for explaining what the puja was about and what they chanted. It sounds beautiful to me.
    what is: aloo ki sabzi, arhar ki dal, roti and chawal [I only know roti]
    I will definitely take your recommendation to go to this place to eat it – but I’d like to know what I’m eating first.
    loved the photos of the bells and temples
    the story of the letter
    πŸ™‚

    1. I am happy that you spelled colours with a ‘u’. And the thought behind it.
      The woman in pink saree is sowing corn. About the men: it is remarked quite often that men from the Himalayan foothills depend a lot on their women. Like all presumptions, it may have some substance, but a lot of exaggeration!
      The man was coming out of a home. It is a home. Wow, no? (I am assuming you are talking about the old man with the long white beard).
      No, we did not stay in that house. We just saw it en route. I was a day trip, Rosie. We started at 6 in the morning and were back in approximately 12 hours.
      The Food: Aloo ki sabzi is potatoes cooked either dry or with a little gravy. We ate a gravied one. Both can be yum without much culinary skills. Arhar ki dal is a type of yellow legume, very slightly bitter in taste. It is cooked as a thick soupy thing, and then garnished with onions, cumin seeds and sometimes tomatoes. Chawal is boiled rice. My mouth is watering!
      I feel good when you ask me questions. It feels really good. So thank you, Rosie.

  4. Oh Priya, thank you for this experience. I love these photos – to see what you see and appreciate. It means a great deal to have you share your life like this! I hope the dear gardener knows that he looks very good indeed!

    Your comments are delightful. I can just picture you waving us off to go look up some of these terms on Google! πŸ˜€

    About the deodar – we call it the Cedar tree. I live under canopies of Western Red Cedars in our rain forest. Not only are many of our homes built with cedar – we also have cedar chests and wooden boxes to hold precious items like our wedding dresses or special linens. The aroma from the wood is much appreciated. Interesting that the name “deodar” is the beginning of the word, deodorizer, which is what Cedar does for items that are stored. They do not grow musty.

    On my morning walk yesterday, I was going over (in my mind) some of the photos from the market that you posted earlier. I’m sure I’ll do the same with these.

    1. I finally visited Google to check on deodar. It is Cedrus deodara, for sure. But is apparently different from the other cedar varieties. Whatever the name or the variety, they’re all used for similar things, aren’t they? To enjoy, and to treasure the most precious. I love the wedding dresses of the Christians. They are so ethereal, so reminiscent of a beautiful cloud.
      Amy, if you can take a little of Nainital or Jageshwar or India with you on your walks, the world is indeed a beautiful place!

  5. I loved this journey, Priya. I could see myself sitting on that wet bench for hours. This was lovely. I look forward to taking more journeys with you. Thank you for bringing us along for the ride.

    1. Lenore*, I am glad you enjoyed the ride and found yourself interested in the bench, too! We’d have to wet a lot of tissues to dry it out, though! It’s got weathered out in the middle with all those centuries of sitting-on, and the water collects there quickly.

      Or, we could visit it when the rains have let up. Any which way, Jageshwar would love to have you, I am sure.

      * I love the sound of your name.

  6. Another epic post! for various reasons I love the corn picture…:D
    although sad to see that animal sacrifice is still on… we have the same problem in our side too…

    1. Problems are there everywhere, Jitaditya. Who is free from them? The question is how we deal with our problems!

      I am glad you like this post. It feels good to know. Have you been to these parts? You must if you haven’t.

    1. I like them, too, Linda. I enjoy taking pictures of people, usually without telling them.. And that does put me in trouble at times.

  7. What draws me to read your blog is not just the exquisite photos, but the way you draw us into your mind. We’ve gotten to know how your heart sings – and even breaks from time to time.

    The temples you highlight here are similar in design to the ones we saw when we visited Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The spiritual history of these edifices is extraordinary, and no matter ones personal religious philosophy, you can’t help but understand the journey of a million miles when standing next to these structures. It’s awe-inspiring from so many points of view – how they were constructed, and why, as you said, they still stand, but more importantly, the reason they were built – to being people to peaceful prayer. Their beauty is multi-faceted. Thanks for taking us there.

    1. Yes, EOS, their beauty is multi-faceted and that is what makes them the stuff for such admiration from distant places. What I like best about them is their seemingly nonchalant elegance. I tend to imagine vibes arising from a place, and Jageshwar reminds me of an old, but not bent, king — obviously with a natural grandeur few others can match.

      Thank you for your time, and your interest!

  8. I’ve been missing the Indian hills, I just went back there…I could smell the lightness of the air, hear the tinkle of bells, feel the tautness in my legs as I climbed. Thankyou.

    1. Isn’t it a wonderful experience?! I feel refreshed each time I take such a journey. Thank you for your visit, Damyanti. Good to see you back in the blogging world!

  9. I’ve just spent a very pleasant ten or more minutes (probably more) looking at your photos and reading your words. I love them all! πŸ™‚

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