Uttarakhand is the Land of Gods and undoubtedly temples as well. This sacred state has been the earthly refuge for many Hindu Gods whose famous and infamous legends have stayed intact with the history of Uttarakhand. Most of these places where the presence of God was felt were converted into temples and to our amazement, we’d find temples at every hairpin bend we take and SUCH is the majesty of this land!.
Chitai Golu Temple, Almora
Situated somewhere about 8kms from Almora, Chitai Golu is quite a famous temple in Uttarakhand. Presided by the deity of Golu Ji, an incarnation of Lord Shiva in the form of Gaur Bhairav, Chitai Temple is easily recognised by the amount of copper bells hung in its premises. Golu Ji is reckoned to be the God of Justice and it is a common belief that when someone worships him in one of his temples in Uttarakhand, Golu Devta provides justice and makes wishes of his devotees come true.
Devidhura Bagwal, Champawat
Devidhura is a beautiful town situated 45kms from Lohaghat. This small town is famed amongst locals for its Barahi Temples, where an annual fair takes place. The fair is called Bagwal and it has a specific ritual, which makes it a must-see event in Uttarakhand. During this fair, two groups of people indulge in stone pelting, singing and dancing is also the part of this ritual. It is believed that no life has ever been lost during this bizarre stone pelting event.
Jhoola Devi Temple, Ranikhet
Blessing Ranikhet and the area around it is Jhoola Devi Temple. The holy shrine is dedicated to Goddess Durga and has been named as Jhoola Devi because the presiding deity is seen seated on a cradle. According to locals this temple is 700 years old and the original deity was stolen in 1959. Like Chitai Golu Temple, this temple is also recognized by the number of bells hanging in its premises. It believed that Jhoola Devi fulfils the wishes of her devotees and after the completion of the wishes; the devotees come here to offer the copper bell. The temple has found great fame amongst Hindu believers, thus it is a place to atleast visit once in Uttarakhand.
Purnagiri Temple, Champawat
Believed to be one of the 108 Siddha Peethas, Purnagiri Temple is another jewel on the crown of Uttarakhand. Surrounded by pristine nature’s beauty, Purnagiri Temple is one of the important pilgrimage destinations in the state. During the Chaitra Navratri (March-April) this temple see a large swarm of devotees coming from all parts of the country. The highlight of the temple apart from its immense peace and wish fulfilment is the view of the distance Nepalese villages and the township of Tanakpur. Amidst the utter peace and serenity, Purnagiri Temple invite devotees and explorers to have a different experience altogether.
Kainchi Dham Temple
Baba Neem Karoli is perhaps the most known figure in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. The temple dedicated to him stands on the bank of River Shipra on Bhowali-Almora road and is known as Kainchi Dham. It is believed that Baba Neem Karoli visited this place in the year 1962 and ever since it has become a sanctified place. After the establishment of the deity of Lord Hanuman on June 15, 1964, the temple has started to organize an annual fair. Therefore, each year on June 15, the followers and devotees of Neem Karoli Baba visit this shrine. To witness such immense faith is rare and that is why visiting Kainchi Dham seems like a good idea.
Patal Bhuvneshwar Cave, Pithoragarh
Patal Bhuvneshwar Cave is an interesting Hindu shrine that always grabs the attention of both devotees and adventurists. Situated in the Pithoragarh district, Patal Bhuvneshwar Cave has been mentioned in the Hindu scripture called Skanda Purana. The shrine has been dubbed as the only place where 33 crores Hindu God and Goddesses are present together. It is also believed that a visit to Patal Bhuvneshwar is equal to the pilgrimage to Chhota Char Dham in Uttarakhand. It is one of those spiritual destinations in the state that demand adventure instincts as it is a limestone cave which is 160m long and 90ft deep. An interesting place to be, this cave open a lot of untold chapter of Hindu mythology and thus a must visit place in Uttarakhand.
Jageshwar Dham Temples, Almora
One of the finest examples of architecture in Uttarakhand, Jageshwar Dham is a group of temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are 124 big and small temples that look simply beautiful with a gorgeous backdrop of rolling green mountains and a gurgling Jata Ganga stream. As per ASI (Archaeology Survey of India), the temple dates back to post Gupta and pre-medieval era and said to be 2500 years old. Stone lingams, stone sculptures and carving on altars are the highlight of the temple. The temple’s location is ideal for meditation as well.
Binsar Mahadev Temple, Ranikhet
Amidst the thick deodar is situated the holy temple of Binsar Mahadev. Along with its divinity and spiritual ambiance, this place is famed for its impeccable nature’s beauty. Binsar Mahadev is said to have been built in 9/10th Century and thus has been an important religious place in Uttarakhand since ages. With idols of Ganesh, Har Gauri and Maheshmardini, this temple is known for its architectural finesse. The idol of Maheshmardini is engraved with texts in ‘Nagarilipi ‘ that dates back to 9th century. The shrine is believed to be built by King Pithu in memory of his father Bindu and it is also known as Bindeshwar temple. Overlooking a small stream and surrounded by forest of deodar, pine and oak, this temple makes quite a place to visit in the state.
Chandrabadni Temple, Tehri
Perched on Chandrabadni Mountain, Chandrabadni temple is said to be the place where the torso of sati fell along with her weapons. Chandrabadni Mountain is situated on the border of Devprayag and Pratapnagar Tehsil and from the top of it beautiful view of the Surkanda, Kedarnath and Badrinath peaks can be witnessed. The shrine is very small and contains a Shri-yantra which is carved out on a flat stone. The ritual here is to tie a cloth canopy to the ceiling over Shri-yantra once a year and the priest doing so has to be blind-folded. In the month of April each year a fair is organized in the temple and thus it is an ideal time to be here.
Kandoliya Temple, Pauri
Showering blessing on Pauri from atop the hill, Kandoliya Temple is one of the important pilgrimage destinations in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. It is due to the temple that the hills around are named as Kandoliya. The temple is 2kms walk from the main town of Pauri and is visited by locals regularly. The walk upto Kandoliya is quite scenic and this is what makes the highlight of visiting the temple. A stunning view of Himalayan peaks and the Gangwarsyun Valley, dense oaks, swaying pines and deodars, orchards of rhododendrons, shrubs and a variety of flowers are what one can look forward to during their visit to this Kandoliya Temple.
Jwalpa Devi Temple, Pauri
Situated on the left bank of Navalika River in Pauri, Jwalpa Devi is a highly revered temple in the region. Considered to be one of the Siddh Peethas, this temple is known for fulfilling the wishes and bringing prosperity. According to a legend, the demon king Pulom’s daughter, Sachi wanted to marry the king of heaven-Indra. She then prayed to Jwalpa Devi who appeared to her in the form of ‘Deptiman Jwaleshwari’ and made her wish come true. Even today, hundreds of people throng to this temple, as it is believed that all wishes are granted by the Goddess.
Koteshwar Mahadev Temple, Rudraprayag
Around 3kms trek from Rudraprayag takes you to Koteshwar Mahadev Temple. It is a cave temple and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Situated at such a peaceful location, this holy shrine is a must see in Uttarakhand. The legend has it that when Lord Shiva was hiding himself from Pandavas (As the Pandavas were seeking repentance from Lord Shiva after killing Kauravas) and was heading towards Kedarnath, he chose to stay and meditate for sometime in Koteshwar. Another legend attached to the temple is that Lord Shiva hid himself here from Bhasmasur Demon. It is said Lord Shiva meditated here and found favour by Lord Vishnu, who in turn killed Bhasmasur in his Mohini Avatar. This temple thus is an important religious destination for Hindus and being close to the river Alaknanada, it makes a great place for explorers as well.
Swami Temple, Rudraprayag
Standing on the edge of the cliff, Kartik Swami Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva’s son. The temple is at an elevation of 3050m above sea level and is famed for the breathtaking panoramic view of the mountains. On a clear sky day, one can see mountain peaks like Bandarpoonch, Kedarnath, Sumeru, Chaukhamba, Neelkanth, Dronagiri and Nanda Devi. There is a naturally carved idol of Lord Kartik on a marble type rock. To reach here, one has to trek 2kms from Kanak Chauri via a dense forest. It is a less frequented temple but visiting it is one of its kinds of experience.
Hariyali Devi Temple, Rudraprayag
Hariyali Devi is a Siddha Peetha temple, situated at an elevation of 1400m above sea level. According to Hindu mythology when Kansa threw Mahamaya violently on the ground; several body parts of her were scattered all over the earth. It is believed that a hand fell at Haryali Devi, Jasholi and that is why this place is revered high as a Siddh Peetha. The temple houses a bejewelled idol of Hariyali Devi riding on lion’s back. During Janamastimi and Deepawali this place is visited by thousands of devotees. The temple also has idols of Kshatrapal and Heet Devi.
Kamleshwar Temple, Srinagar Garhwal
Kamleshwar is the most prominent temples in Srinagar, Garhwal. The legend has it that Lord Rama had worshipped Lord Shiva here with a thousand lotus flowers. It is said that when Rama realized that he was one flower leaf short, he compensated this by offering one of his eyes. That is the reason why he is also known as ‘Kamal Nayan’ (lotus eyed). Every year on the occasion of ‘Vaikunth Chaturdashi’, women come here to worship Lord Shiva and worship is done for an entire night with lighted lamps.
Umra Narayan Temple, Rudraprayag
Lord Umra Narayan temple is reckoned to be the holy abode of Lord Vishnu. The temple is situated in the proximity of Alaknanda River. It is believed that this temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya when he was on his way to Badri Dhaam. Lord Umra is said to be the clan deity of Gairola Clan of Gram Sann. After every harvest, the first groups of crops are offered to the Goddess who is believed to endow blessings and prosperity.
Kalimath Temple, Rudraprayag
Amongst the 108 Shakti Peethas in India, Kalimath Temple is a famous temple in Uttarakhand. The temple is situated close to Guptkashi and Ukhimath and is visited by a large number of Goddess Kali devotees. Kalimath is only the place where the goddess Kali is worshipped along with her sisters Laxmi and Saraswati. One thing that makes this temple stand apart from the other temples that there is no idol instead, the Sri Yantra, is the object of devotion. The legend has it that after killing demon Raktbeej, Goddess Kali went underneath the earth from this point.