Top 10 Heritage Sites in Uttarakhand

It is not without reason that the amazing state of Uttarakhand is known as Devbhoomi. Devbhoomi means Land of the Gods. Uttarakhand is a place where you can come in close contact with divinity through its rich heritage sites and experience the glory of nature in its full bloom. Uttarakhand is blessed with lush greenery of its valleys which are ornamented with exotic flowers. It is home to towering mountains with snowcapped peaks that shine like pure gold under the rays of the Sun God.

Heritage Sites in Uttarakhand

This Land of the Gods is dotted with beautiful and divine temples which date back to the ancient ages and literally transport the visitor to a time in history and fills the senses with the riches of a heritage which is truly at one with the divine. Uttarakhand offers the visitor a fantastic experience that all God's creatures are dear to the Almighty through its preserved range of national parks and sanctuaries which are also close to its heritage sites.

The state of Uttarakhand representative of how a place can be a visitor's delight by being a complete package of entertainment, coexistence with mother nature and preservation of rich cultural heritage. The following is a list of the top ten must see heritage sites in the Land of the Gods, Uttarakhand.

1.The Katarmal Sun Temple in Kumaon Division in Almora District

The Katarmal Sun Temple is one of the rare temples dedicated to Suryadev or The Sun God. It was built between the 9th and the 13th Century by Katyuri King Katramalla. It is the second most important temple for Suryadev or Sun God's devotees after the Konark Sun Temple is Orissa.

It is located in the beautiful and picturesque Almora district of Uttarakhand. This monumental and intricately carved temple is by far one of the most popular tourist attractions in the district of Almora. The temple is situated at a colossal height of about 7000 ft and provides a breathtakingly beautiful view.

The temple faces towards the east and the first rays of the Sun God make the temple shine like pure gold. In addition to the beautiful image of Suryadev or The Sun God, beautifully preserved, ancient Idols of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Lakshmi Narayana also adorn this temple. The temple complex includes 44 intricately carved smaller temples around the main deity, Suryadev.

Timings - The temple remains open from 9 am to 6 pm.

2.The Bagnath Temple in Bageshwar

The town of Bageshwar is known for its exotic mix of natural beauty and the Bagnath temple, which is a piece of history. The Bagnath temple, which is located at the confluence of river Sarayu and river Gomti, is a significant historical site as this is said to be the very place where the sage Markandeya met Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva visited Markandeya in the form of a tiger.

The temple has idols of Lords Shiva and his various forms like Teen Mukhi Shiva, Chaturmukhi Shiva, Panchmukhi Shiva, Sahasra Shivalinga etc. The architecture of the Bagnath temple, which was reportedly beautified by Chand ruler, Laxmi Chand in Nagara style also features idols of Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu, Mahishasura Mardini, Lord Ganesha, Lord Karthikeya, Navagraha, Panchdevapath etc.

The Panchdevpath is a dedication to the Panch Devtas who are the five Gods. The Panch Dev or Five Gods are Lod Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, The Aadishakti and Lord Surya Narayan. The Skanda Purana also mentions this temple.

The city of Bageshwar and the district of Bageshwar are named after the Bagnath temple. You will find beautiful temples, rapidly flowing white water rivers, enchanting glaciers and majestic snow capped mountain peaks all at once at Bageshwar. There other temples in Bageshwar like the Nileshwar MahadevTemple, Golu Devta temple etc. also have unique experiences to offer and are definitely worth a visit.

3. Dwaraghat

The literal meaning of Dwaraghat is way to heaven. Dwaraghat is an ancient town located in the Almora district. Dwaraghat has over 50 temples that are rich in heritage and are a testimony to the skilled engineering and the advanced architectural capability of the ancient rulers of this place.

The temples are constructed mainly of granite masonry blocks with dowels and not mortar, iron clamps used to tie in one block to the other. The temples are divided into 8 groups. The 3 Badrinath group of temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakhshmi.

The Bandeo group of temples is located in the cultivated fields along the banks of the Khiru Ganga river. The Gujjar Deo group of temples are distinguished by their orthogonal shape with a pancharatha plan. The Kacheri group of temples consists of 12 shrines which are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The Maniyan group of temples is a group of nine temples which also have images of The Jain Tirthankara. The Mrityunjaya group of temples is dedicated to Lord Shiva and also his Bhairav form. The Ratandeo group of temples is dedicated to the Tridev or The Three Gods who are Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.

Timings: 9 AM to 6 PM

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4. Baijnath

Baijnath is a heritage rich, ancient town situated on the banks of the Gomti River in of Kangra district of Uttarakhand.Baijnath is known for the Baijnath Temple. The Baijnath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The legend of the Baijnath Temple is that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married and the place where the temple stands now. The Baijnath temple stands at the confluence of two rivers , the River Garur Ganga and the River Gomti.

The Baijnath is a temple complex with the idols of Shiva, Ganesh, Parvati, Chandika, Kuber, Surya and Brahma. The walls of the temple are adorned with beautiful carvings of idols of Lord Ganesha, Lord Harihara Atma, Kalyanasundara and carvings which depict the victory of Lord Shiva over Asura Andhaka. Just outside the temple complex there lies a lake full of fishes Golden Masheer. The Kot Bhramari Devi Temple is near the Baijnath Temple and has its very unique feature that the Godess's face should not be seen by anyone except the priest. This temple is definitely worth a visit.

Timings: 7 AM to 6 PM

5. Narendra Nagar

Narendra Nagar is located on the main Rishikesh-Gangotri-Yamunotri route at an elevation of over 1300 metres above sea level. Narendranagar, located in the Tehri Garhwal district was popularized by Maharaja Narendra Shah. Narendranagar is not only a favourite hotspot for toursits, but also has been a seat of spirituality, meditation, penance and astronomy. It is said that Sage Uddhav performed penance at this place.

One of the founders of Astrology, Parasura, is said to have spent a considerable amount of time at this place, studying the movements of the nine planets, the infinite number of stars and the constellations.

Spiritual leaders of modern times like Sri Ananda Moyi Ma and Swamy Sivanand have also visited this place for their spiritual practice. The Royal Palace and the one of the largest statue of Lord Shiva's Nandi Bull are the other heritage attractions of this place.

6. Loharghat

Lohaghat is a stunningly beautiful hill station situated in the Champawat district of Uttarakhand. This ancient town located at an altitude of 1800 metres on the banks of the Lohawati River and near Mount Abbott is steeped in the heritage of its divinely beautiful temples. Loharghat is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Lohaghat lies in close proximity to tourist spots in the region like Shyamla Taal, Gurudwara Ritha Sahib and the fort of Vanasur.

The Advaita Ashram, located at Mayavati, is near Loharghat. The Advaita Ashram is the head of the several branches of the Ramkrishna Math and Mission. Loharghat is a perfect mix of incredible natural beauty which lies in close proximity to divine cultural heritage.

7. Jageshwar Temples

Jageshwar is famous for being one of the most legendary holy regions of India. It is a pilgrimage town located in the Kumaon region and finds its place in the ancient Hindu texts as a pilgrimage site. Jageshwar temples or Jageshwar valley temples is a complex of over 100 Hindu temples It is located in close proximity to the district of Almora. This large cluster of over 100 temples intricately carved and created cut stone is an important heritage site.

Most of the temples in this cluster are carved or built in the Nagara style of architecture while a few a built on South Indian style of architecture or the Central Indian style of architecture. The temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Surya Narayan and Goddess Shakti.

8. Chaukhutia Charukhutia

Chaukhutia gets it's from a Kumaoni word which means four feet in one context and which also the bottom the bottom peg attached to the floor in a doorway. In the context of Indian language and mythology, getting over a chukath signifies liberation. Chaukuthia is located in the district of Almora. The town's divine heritage is highlighted by a collection of temples constructed 9000 years ago which was discovered in an excavation expedition in the year 2016.

Near the town of Chaukhutia, on the banks of Ramganga River, is the Agneri Devi Temple which is dedicated to Goddess Kali. There is also a Lakhanpur temple about 5km from Chaukhutia. The place also bears testimony to the Katyuri dynasty with the ruins of its ancient Katyuri forts.

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9. Patal Bhavaneshwar Cave

The Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave is located in the stunningly beautiful Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. The limestone cave has a uniquely divine history. According to the local people and mythology, the cave is believed to have been discovered by Surya Vanshi King Rituparna in the Treta Yuga.

The cave is a very holy shrine of Lord Shiva and is said to be connected to Mount Kailasha which is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The Pandavas meditated in front of Lord Shiva before their final journey. Adi Sankaracharya also meditated here in this cave.

The cave is a popular tourist site for its rich and divine heritage. The cave is believed to be as old as mother Earth herself.and has got excellent security arrangements. It is well lit and properly maintained for visitors.

10. Duryodhan temple, Tons Valley, Uttarkashi district

The Uttarkashi district is home to a temple very rare and unique in India-The Duryodhana temple. The Duryodhana Temple is situated in the Jakhol Village in the Tons Valley in the district of Uttarkashi. It is believed that the natives of the Saur Village constructed the temple. It is said that the tears of the natives at the defeat of Kauravas formed the river, Tamas. The word Tamas means sorrow in Hindi. The Ton valley is unique in more ways than one.

Apart from the Duryodhana temple, Tons valley is also known for a prevalent culture of polyandry and polygamy which was prevalent in ancient history.

The Land Of The Gods, Uttarakhand, is not only tourist attraction filled with natural beauty and known for its offering of exciting adrenaline-pumping adventure sports but it can also transport its visitors to a time in ancient history filled with rich blossoms of divinely enchanting heritage.

Uttarakhand is probably one of the few places in the world that can offer such an eclectic mix of experiences for its visitors.

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