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Temples in Almora

Binsar Mahadev

Nestled on one side of the Kumaon range, Binsar is an idyllic hamlet for those who is looking quite and calm holiday with natural beauty. There are many temples around Binsar and among them, the most famous is Bineshwar Mahadev Temple. The manifestation of Shiva worshipped in the temple was called Bineshwar, a name which the British later corrupted to Binsar. It is a unique place for meditation and picnic.

Bineswar Temple or Binsar Mahadev Temple is situated at a distance of 19 kms from Ranikhet district of Uttarakhand State. Built in 10th century, the temple is known for its fine architecture. The temple was built by King Pithu in memory of his father Bindu, hence this temple is also known as Bindeshwar temple.

Binsar Mahadev

Located at an elevation of 2480 meters above ocean level, its surroundings compresses with natural fresh water springs and thick deodar forests giving the visitor an experience of peace and serenity.

The temple also has a ashram nearby, dedicated to Binsar Mahadev. According to the legend of the temple, it was built in a single day. Women come here on the day of Vaikunth chaturdashi and it is belevied that desire of a child is fulfill here if they pray all night with lamps in their hands.

Every year on Vaikunth Chaturdashi and Kartik Purnima, a two days Binsar Mela is organized at this temple which occurs in the months of June. Lots of people mainly from Pauri, Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Almora districts come in this fair. Lots of rituals and cultural programmes are followed by the locals during the occasion which includes Pandav and Chaufula dances, Mangal and Khuded songs etc. are performed.

Binsar is also a trekker’s paradise. The holy place can be reached after a long trekking through dense forests of Oak, Deodar and Rhododendrons. The trek starts from Chounda, near Jagatpuri which is nearly 6km steep climb. Alternative route is via Thailisain-Peersain which is 11km.

Chitai Golu Devata

Chitai or Jethai is a village on the Almora-Pithoragarh highway, 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from Almora in Uttarakhand state, India. It is known for the temple of Golu Devata. The Golu Devta Chitai, temple is about 4 km (2.5 mi) from the main gate of Binsar wildlife sanctuary & about 10 km (6.2 mi) from Almora.

Origin
Golu Devata is thought to be as an incarnation of Gaur Bhairav (Shiva), and is worshipped all over the region and regarded as the dispenser of justice by the devotees with extreme faith.

Golu Devta, Hawalbagh, near Almora
Golu Devta, Hawalbagh, near Almora

Historically, he is considered as the brave son and General of Katyuri king, Jhal Rai and his mother was Kalinka, and his grandfather was Hal Rai and great-grandfather was Hal Rai. Historically the origin of Golu Devata is accepted at Champawat. His mother Kalinka is believed to be the sister of two other local deities Harishchand Devjyun (the divine spirit of Raja Harish of the Chands) and Sem Devjyun and both these deities are regarded as uncles of Lord Golu.

Another legend suggests that he was a General in the army of Chand king, Baz Bahadur (1638–78), and died displaying exemplary valour at war, the temple at Chitai was erected in his honour, 8 km (5.0 mi) from Almora city.

Another legend says that Golu Devta was killed by the king of Binsar due to some false doubt, and he was beheaded by the king and his body fell at Gairad at Dana Golu and his head fell at Kaparkhan, near modern-day Binsar, a few km from Almora. At Dana Golu, there is the original and most ancient temple of Golu Devta. The most popular story about Golu talks of a local king who, while hunting, sent his servants to look for water. The servants disturbed a woman who was praying. The woman, in a fit of anger, taunted the king that he could not separate two fighting bulls and proceeded to do so herself. The king was very impressed by this deed and he married the lady. When this queen got a son, the other queens, who were jealous of her, placed a stone in its place and the child in a cage and put the cage into the river. The child was brought up by a fisherman. When the boy grew up he took a wooden horse to the river and on being questioned by the queens he replied that if women can give birth to stone then wooden horses can drink water. When the king heard about this, he punished the guilty queens and crowned the boy, who went on to be known as Golu devta.

Golu Devta is seen in form of Lord Shiva, his brother Kalva Devta is in form on Bhairava and Garh Devi is form of Shakti. Golu Devta is also prayed as key deity(Ista/ Kula Devta) in many villages Kumaon and Garhwal regions of Uttarakhand. Normally three days pooja or 9 days pooja is performed to worship Lord Golu Devta also known as Goreel Devta in Chamoli District. Golu Devta is offered Ghee, Milk, Curd, Halwa, Poori, Pakauri and head of Goat sacrificed. Two Male Goat sacrifice ( Bali) is performed. Preferred black in colour. One in the temple of Golu devta and the other outside temple in remote location. The sacrificed goat is received as Prasada of pooja. Golu devta is known as God of justice and prayed with great pride and enthusiasm. Golu Devta is offered with White Cloths, white pagari and white shaal.

There are many temples of Golu Devata in Kumaun, and the most popular are at Chitai, Champawat, Ghorakhal, Chamarkhan (Tehsil Tarikhet, District Almora). It is popular belief that Golu Devta dispenses quick justice to the devotee.

Devotees in turn offer bells and sacrifice animals after the fulfillment of their wishes. Thousands of bells of every size can be seen hanging over the temple premises. Many devotees file a lot of written petitions daily, which are received by the temple.

Haidakhan Babaji

Haidakhan Babaji, simply called “Babaji” or Bhole Baba by his students and devotees, was a teacher who appeared near the village of Haidakhan in northern India (Uttarakhand) and taught publicly from 1970 to 1984.

According to “The Teachings of Babaji,” Haidakhan Babaji “appeared” in June 1970 in a cave at the foot of the Kumaon Mount Kailash, across the river Gautama Ganga, near a remote village called Hairakhan, in the Nainital District of Uttrakhand, India.His followers maintain that Haidakhan Babaji is a Mahavatar – “a human manifestation of God, not born from woman.

It is reported that starting in late September 1970 Haidakhan Babaji spent forty-five days meditating in a small temple on the top of the Kumaon Mount Kailash “without leaving his seat.”In September 1971, Haidakhan Babaji, in a sworn testimony, convinced the judge of the court in Haldwani that he was the “Old Hairakhan Baba,” thought to be active in that region in the years 1860–1922, and that he had the right to use the ashrams in Kathgaria and Haidakhan.In 1971 Haidakhan Babaji started travelling across India, proclaiming his Message, performing sacred ceremonies, such as yagna, and attracting more devotees. This included celebrities, such as Shammi Kapoor,and gradually more Westerners.

Though some of his followers believed he was immortal, Haidakhan Babaji died on 14 February 1984, of what appeared to be a heart failure. He was buried in Haidakhan Ashram. This is how Babaji foretold and explained his death:

My body is meant to dry up one day. This body is nothing; it is here only to serve people. (…) Even my own body has come only to perform a duty to serve all human and all living things.

Haidakhan Babaji Died 14 February 1984 Nationality Indian

Jageshwar Temples

Jageshwar Temples, also referred to as Jageswar Temples or Jageshwar valley temples, are a group of over 100 Hindu temples dated between 7th and 12th century near Almora, in the Himalayan Indian state of Uttarakhand.The valley has a number of temple clusters such as the Dandeshwar and Jageshwar sites. Some locations have attracted construction of new temples through the 20th-century. Together these clusters over the valley consist of over 200 structural temples built from cut stone. Many are small, while a few are substantial. They predominantly illustrate North Indian Nagara style of architecture with a few exceptions that show South and Central Indian style designs, many are dedicated to god Shiva, while others in immediate vicinity are dedicated to god Vishnu, Shakti goddesses and Surya traditions of Hinduism.

Jageshwar is a Hindu pilgrimage town and one of the Dhams (pilgrimage region) in the Shaivism tradition. The site is protected under Indian laws, and managed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It includes 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. The site celebrates the Jageshwar Monsoon Festival during the Hindu calendar month of Shravan (overlaps with July-August) and the annual Maha Shivratri Mela (Shivratri festival), which takes place in early spring.

Hindu temples of Jageshwar valley

Location
Jageshwar is located 36 kilometres (22 mi) northeast of Almora, in the Kumaun region. The temples site is on the south of the road, across which is an eponymous village at an altitude of 1870 mts, in the Jataganga river valley near a Deodar forest (Cedrus deodara). The temple clusters begin starting from satellite road branching off east from the Artola village on the Almora–Pithoragarh highway, at the confluence (sangam) of two streams Nandini and Surabhi after they flow down the hills in the narrow valley.The site is about 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) long along the Jataganga rivulet, is a narrow forested valley of oaks, deodara, rhododendrons and pines.Around the valley is human habitation which provide services to the pilgrims and travelers visiting these temples or passing through to other sacred sites in the Uttarkhand region. The resident villages are Mokshadham, Dandeshwar, Jageswar and Koteshwar.

Jageshwar is about 100 kilometres (62 mi) southeast of the historic Baijnath Temple and about 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast from the resort town of Nainital. It is mentioned in Hindu texts dated prior to the 10th-century as a tirtha (pilgrimage) site.

The nearest rail head is Kathgodam 125 km. Jageshwar has direct road links with Almora (35 km), Haldwani (131 km.), Pithoragarh (88 km) and Kathgodam. State transport, and private jeeps and taxis ply from these place for Jageshwar regularly

Kasar Devi Temple

The village is mainly known for the Kasar Devi temple, the shrine dedicated to Kasar Devi. The temple itself, dates back to the 2nd century CE. A winding walkway from gateway on the main road, right the beginning of the village, leads up to the temple.

The area is home to deodar and pine forests. It also provides views not just of Almora and the Hawabagh Valley, but also of the panoramic view of the Himalayas from Bandarpunch peak on the Himachal Pradesh border to Api Himal in Nepal.

A large fair, known as Kasar Devi Fair, is held at the Kasar Devi temple on the occasion of Kartik Poornima in the Hindu calendar, corresponding to November and December.

This temple has been found to be of special importance because the region around this temple has enormous geomagnetic field. This is because this temple comes under the Van Allen Belt. The causes behind the formation of this belt have been researched by NASA for the last two years. Two other famous places which have been found to have similar high magnetic field (Van Allen Belt) are Machu Picchu in Peru and Stone Henge in England.

It is interesting to note that people who have meditated at Kasar Devi have expressed a degree of higher rejuvenation and have attached special importance to it.

Kasar Devi Temple

Surya Temple

Katarmal is known for a relatively rare Surya temple, constructed by the Katyuri Kings in the 9th century CE.Katarmalla, a Katyuri king constructed this temple, which has 44 smaller temples around the main deity of Surya, which called as Burhadita or Vraddhaditya.Other deities like Shiva-Parvathi, Lakshmi-Narayana etc. are also established in this temple complex. The carved wooden doors and panels were transported to the National Museum, Delhi, after an idol from the 10th century was stolen. The temple, which holds other carvings on walls and panels, was declared a monument of national importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958.

Location

Katarmal is located at a distance of 1.5 km from Kosi village and 12 km from the district centre, Almora and 70 km from Nainital.Located at a height of 2116 meters above sea level, it is well connected by a metalled road, 30 km away from Khairna, Garampani (Nainital, Haldwani, Coordinates: 29°29’39″N 79°28’46″E)& 17 km from Ranikhet and Kausani the nearest connecting point being near Kosi village.The G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, established in 1988 serves as a nodal agency for research and development and was established here by Government of India.

Surya The Sun God of Light and Day, wisdom
Katarmal Village Sun Temple, Katarmal