A short walk away from the cottages, there is a small temple. Nested on a hilltop, the temple is dedicated to Saim Devta. Worshiped as one of the guardians of the village, Saim Devta provides prosperity. Some of the local folk consider Saim to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The temple is highly revered and is said to have been initially established by Saim Devta himself.

Early morning view of the hills from the temple
Early morning view of the hills from the temple

(For the story of Saim Devta, scroll down or use this shortcut – Story of Saim Devta)

The temple of Saim Devta is a must-visit place near the cottages. It can be reached by two routes, both of which are quite short. One of them is a new road (dirt-track) that has been made out just a little ahead on the Oak Tree Hill road and ascends towards the right side, or by taking the centuries-old stone footpath further ahead. In the rainy season or following snow-fall, the mud road can get slippery so be careful when you go exploring.

Stone Pathway
Stone pathway to the temple. It is now broken in many places and the new road is a better option to reach the place.

The path is covered by grass and at places, plain mud. Shoes can get dirty. There are rocks and stones scattered around on the road. Some of these are quite reflective due to a large amount of mica present in them.

Stones rich in mica
Stones rich in mica – their shine looks like diamonds added to the soil

When we visited the temple for the first time, we saw a young fawn (deer). It was a beautiful inquisitive one and followed us for some time, all the while maintaining its distance. Deers, foxes, squirrels, martens, and mountain birds are common. If one is lucky, these can be easily spotted.

Forest of Oaks with Ferns
Forest of oaks, rhododendrons, pines and ferns – quite frequently mountain birds can be spotted in these forests

The paths to the temple merge a little ahead and then there is a small flat area, near the hilltop. On one side are the fruit orchards, our cottages and some other signs of civilization. On the other side, there is a forest of oaks, deodars, rhododendrons, and some scattered pines.  We also saw a third path descending down from the side of the temple through the forest. On enquiring, we came to know that this was an old footpath that led to the village located in the valley.

Entrance to the temple
Entrance to the temple

The entrance to the temple is a small archway with a hastily scribbled name of the temple. One one side of the entrance there are instructions to leave the foot-wear outside. Beyond the arch is a small courtyard with a high seat, where sages can sit and give religious discourses. When we reached, the temple was deserted but there was a soothing effect on the soul. Being on the premises itself was calming and comfortable.

Mistle Thrush
Mistle Thrush spotted on way to the temple.

A little ahead was the temple, a place for the priest to stay and also another temple a little higher up. Modern civilization had touched the place and there were plastic sheets, painted metal, and electrical fittings but still, the location of the temple has its own charm and for the religiously inclined people, the place can also be a destination for the soul.

There’s a small courtyard too with a high seat. This is used for religious discourses and philosophical readings, which take place during festivals.

Tree trunk covered with moss and ferns
Tree trunk covered with moss and ferns

The courtyard of the temple gives a good view of the hills all around. The surroundings have all the signs of fresh misty air. The trees can be seen covered with moss and ferns, especially after the rainy season. There’s green all around.

The quiet and the serenity around the temple start to calm the mind and provides a feeling of bliss. Do spend some quiet moments in the temple whenever you stay at our cottages.

Pine tree overlooking the dense forest of oaks and deodars

The temple area has multiple temples. Apart from the main temple dedicated to Saim Devta, there is an old stone temple dedicated to Harju (or Haru) devta. Further up, at the end of the area is a temple of Lord Shiva. Many other deities have also been placed around these three temples.

For those of you interested in knowing more about the story (mythology) behind Saim Devta, here it is. This is exactly as told to me and there are some things which are beyond my imagination but still. Hope that you find it interesting.

Once upon a time, there was a Kumbh, at Haridwar, a town in Uttarakhand. Kumbh is a large religious gathering. It was an auspicious occasion and people took a dip in the holy river of Ganges. A very young girl ‘Kainar’ had also gone there with her family members. There were huts of sages, ascetics and various religious people.  Kainar also built a hut and started living there, on the banks of river Ganges. Her family members warned her to not venture out deep into the river. On the early morning of the fifth day of Kumbh, Kainar went for an auspicious dip in the river. Initially, she walked on the river-bed till the time water touched her knee. She was not happy with the dip and so she ignored the warnings by her family members and went into deep waters. At that very moment, sun rose and the sun rays fell on her body. She realized that she was pregnant. She started crying and returned back to her hut. Kainar was ashamed of her pregnancy and remembered that she had not obeyed her family members and took the dip on her own.

When Kainar was ten months pregnant, the child, before being born told Kainar that he would take birth. After some time the child was born. Years passed and Kainar once again wanted to go for the holy dip in the Ganges. She gave her son to a religious guru, Gorakhnath, to take care. However, the son went after his mother to protect her. When the guru saw that the child was nowhere to be found, he created a male child by his own powers. Later the missing child returned. Now both of the children started playing. When Kainar reached back, she was shocked to see two children. Guru Gorakhnath told her that now she had two children. Elder was Haru (or Harju) and younger was Saim. Guru offered them the best of education.

Once, Kainar , with her sons went to meet her married sister at Bairath. Family members offered Haru and Saim to take care of cattle. Haru and Saim asked seven queens of Bairath for tasty food. However, the queens told both the children to win the queen of Chhipulakot if they wanted food as they had desired.  Haru started a journey for Chhipulakot with some soldiers. As soon as they reached to Chhipulakot, the king arrested Haru.

When there was no news of Haru for many days, Saim became worried. Saim reached out to guru Gorakhnath. Guru Gorakhnath made Saim realize his powers and gave guidance. Along with his nephew Goril, armed with his new found knowledge of his powers, Saim reached Chhipulakot, dressed as a religious person. On the way, Saim played flute and attracted many followers. He became a well know sage in the region. He performed miracles on his way. He even made some temples for praying (one of which is this one in Natadol). When they finally reached the place from where Haru was arrested, Saim transformed Goril’s body into a cat. The cat entered the palace and prison. Goril informed Haru that Saim had also reached Chhipulakot. Saim along with his followers captured the queen of Chhipulakot and freed Haru too.

They are now considered the angels of the village boundaries and also the guardians of the village. Praying to them provides prosperity. This story was narrated to me by an old villager in the region. It was hard to understand what he was saying but this is what the narration sounded like. Others might have a different version of the story.

It is also said that this particular temple was initially made a Shiva temple by Saim devta himself. Now it also has temples dedicated to Haru and Saim.

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