Nestled in the Kumaon Hills is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Locals call it “Pracheen Vishnu Mandir”. From Kumaon folklores to ancient Hindu scripture “Skandpuran”, there are many mythological links to this ancient temple.
This temple is located at about 9 KM from the cottages. It is surrounded by Deodar trees, hundreds of years old. The temple is off the beaten path and very few tourists visit it.
(Story about the temple is at the end of the article. Scroll down or Click here)
Lord Vishnu is also considered the lord of water. Here in this temple region, two streams originate and merge to form the river Padmavati (Panar), which later joins river Sarju.
The temple is located deep inside the forest and is almost impossible to see from the roadside. Though there exists a small gate and a board indicating the way to the temple but only the people who know about this place visit it.
The track to the temple is also a new one. It descends through a forest of very old deodars, some of them over a thousand years old! The trek is about 300 meters in length.
The path to the temple is an experience in itself. If you happen to leave the track, the forest will look even more enchanting. A little distance from the track are some large rocks. After the rains, beautiful cascades form in this region.
The most ancient of the deodars is the one under which one of the streams originates. Just below the tree is the old temple of Lord Vishnu.
In the temple complex, restoration work has been done to bring it up to modern standards, but still, the old statues and some carvings can be spotted here and there. Some of these are thousands of years old.
The temple complex also has some new temples with different deities. A cave temple has also been carved out.
Apart from the temples, there are many other interesting things to explore in the complex. The old carved stones and existing remnants of the ancient temple are quite interesting. While walking the steps to the temple, some old stones with carvings of footprints can also be spotted. The two sources of natural spring water from which the water constantly keeps flowing are the main attraction. Many wild animals and birds can also be spotted in the region.
When you visit us next, ask us about the ancient temple and we will guide you to it.
For those of you interested in religion and mythology –
Himalayas were once completely submerged under the sea. Lord Vishnu in his Kurma Avatar (Tortoise Avatar) brought the Himalayas out of water. So, was born “Kurma-anchal” which gradually came to become more popular as Kumaon.
This interestingly links to the scientific theory that says that 50 million years ago, the Himalayan range rose from the sea, as the Indian and the Eurasian plates collided.
Ancient Hindu scripture, the “Matsya Puran” says that in his Kurma avatar, the cosmic turtle supports all the worlds on his back. Believers say, the back of the Turtle is an exoskeleton like the tectonic plates of the earth. They say this turtle is like a super energy, placed in the depths of the earth that created the Himalayas. Infact, this turtle was brought from the “Patal-lok” to churn the oceans by moving Mount Mandar from it’s base.
After raising the Himalayas from water, Lord Vishnu’s work was done. He established himself as the lord of water (Jaldevta) here and rested. Two water sources continued to flow as the two streams, Padamparna and Padmavati. They are said to originate from Lord Vishnu’s feet and hand. Just after originating, these two streams join and continue as Padmavati or Panar river.
Lord Vishnu, when he established himself, he did so as a large stone. This stone was kept under the largest deodar tree in the region.
This deodar tree is believed to have been a source of dripping honey in ancient times. This honey was offered to the deity of Lord Vishnu, which was kept as a stone underneath the tree. Once a passerby unknowingly licked the honey off the tree after which the honey stopped dripping. Locals, later on, started offering milk to the deity.
There is yet another related story about this temple –
A demon named Mulya lived nearby and he had a favorite cow. All his cows gave him milk except this one. Mulya felt suspicious and once when he spied on the cow’s movements, the demon found out that it offered its milk to the Vishnu deity kept under the tall deodar tree. He was furious and struck the rock (deity) and the tree. The tree thus split into two. Blood emerged from the rock.
Three brave warriors from Kumaon region itself, called Fartyals were instructed in their dream to fight the demon. So, they did and defeated the demon. Later they established the temple around the deity where it then lay.
The large deodar split into two, still stands tall. The water still emerges out. The new temple is there for everyone to visit and pray.
The temple and its story are also mentioned in Skanda Purana, one of the 18 prestigious Hindu texts.