Jageshwar Dham thirty-six kilometers northeast of Almora in the Kumaun region of Himalayas, Uttarakhand, is an important centre of pilgrimage of the Hindus. A group of temples more than a hundred in number forms the core of this circuit. These temples were built in 7th century to 12thcentury by sculpting stones mostly in North Indian Nagara tradition although, some of them bear influences of the South Indian sculpting tradition. New temples have been constructed side by side as recently as the past century. If these new temples are included the count shoots up to more than two hundred.Shiva is the deity who is predominantly worshipped here though temples dedicated to Vishnu, Shakti, and Surya are also to be found. Archaeological Survey of India is in charge of maintenance of law and order and management of this site. Besides Jageshwar Temple, Chandi-ka-Temple, Navagraha Temple, Mrityunjaya Temple, Dandeshwar Temple, Nanda Devi or Nau Durga and Surya Temple are some of the important shrines of this cluster of temples. During the Hindu calendar month Shravan which coincides with mid-July to mid-August, Monsoon festival is observed here. Shivratri is celebrated here in February with the Maha Shivratri Mela.The Jageshwar valley is crisscrossed by two Himalayan streams Nandini and Surabhi which facilitate human habitation which in turn facilitate service to tourists and pilgrims. The confluence of the two streams is believed to have contributed to the holiness of this place in the lap of Himalayas.The Archaeological Survey of India is of opinion that some of the temples were built in the post Gupta period, after 500 AD, while others were built in the second millennium. The Britishers were of the opinion that the constructions of these temples are to be attributed to Katyuri or Chand dynasty. Another school of historians holds that these shrines were erected under the inspiration of Adi Shankara but there is no one single reliable source or a means to corroborate these theories. Jageshwar used to be one of the capital seats of Lakulish Shaivism, saints and pilgrims from the north and central India used to gather here owing to the natural beauty and moderately cold weather of the region.The temples reflect a range of architectural styles which includes Valabhi Nagara style and Latina Nagar style among others. The basic architectural style that is predominant in Indian temples is loosely followed in these ancient Himalayan shrines. The deities worshipped are various variants of Shiva like Shiva with lute or Vinadhara Shiva and the Shiva Linga or phallus of Lord Shiva which deserves foremost mention. Pilgrims come from all parts of India and abroad to this Himalayan pilgrimage to be a part of this millennium-old religious experience. The Shravan Mela is a month-long festival where devotion and decent merry making reaches its highest point. In spite of the predominance of Lord Shiva and Shaivism in the dham other deities of Vishnu, Ganesha, Shakti and Surya are in no way insignificant and many pilgrims come here with exclusive devotion towards them making the entire complex a confluence of various Hindu sects in the heart of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Jageshwar is believed to be the site of first of the twelve Jyotirlingas, Nageshvara Jyotirlinga. 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 (देवदारू वन), 8th among the Dwadasa Jyotirlingas: the twelve resplendent lingas of Lord Shiva established by Lord Vishnu. There is no definite dating of the construction of Jageshwar group of temples but according to the ASI, they belong to the post-Gupta and pre-medieval eras and are estimated to be about 4500 yrs old. It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya visited Jageshwar and renovated and re-established many temples before leaving for Kedarnath. 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.
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