The day was folding its wings slowly. The golden rays were gradually retreating to the shadowy darkness of dense cedar jungle. Tall elegant cedars on both sides of curvy hill road stood rapt in eloquent silence. We were on our way to Jageshwar temples group{ about 36 Km from Almora in Uttarakhand}

We could hear the soft murmuring of water. A group of centuries old temples came in view on one side of road. There were one or two others scattered on either side of road. It felt like being on the threshold of long passed era of history, steeped in spiritualism and mysticism.

By the time we reached the Kumaon Mandal guest house sun had set. Standing on the balcony in front of our room we looked at the cluster of temples. The only road of small hamlet of Jageshwar ran lazily from one side of temples while river Jat Ganga flowed encircling the temples from back . Tall devdars standing erect on the hills beyond the river stream turned blackish green as the lengthening shadows of dusk engulfed them. Whole aura was permeated with a mystique feel. Looking at the temples I could feel a calling from beyond.

Away from the chaotic mess of routine life, the tranquillity in the valley acted like balm on tired mind. Now and then sound of bells in the temple echoed in the valley. Gradually the shapes and contours of temples merged in the darkness. The river, calling in a soulful voice could be heard more distinctly. And then slowly the full round moon stepped in above the majestic trees of devdar.

Bathed in moon light the hills, the small houses, the temples, the river, the forests all looked ethereal. On left side of the guest house on a high hill was this huge leafless tree. Its round solid trunk holding the naked braches and branchlets spreading in all the direction looked majestic. It’s whole being sparkled in silvery grandeur. The conical tip of the shrine below it glittered like a source of light to illuminate the darkness within.

Nothing more celestial could have I conceived. The tranquil wind blew very gently. No, not even blew it was whispering, breathing peace to every thing around.

It was the night preceding Holi festival. Some where in the village people were singing the folk songs,accompanied by the beats of drums. Riding the air currents the songfull voices reached us……big round moon floating in the sky, the transparent silvery blue moonlight layer spread all over, the wind permeated with melodious voices…the silhouettes of temples .draped in mellow light……life seemed just complete…no haste to rush anywhere…no heed to passing of time …felt like being a part of scheme of nature….Oh! it was such a liberating feeling.

And then another glorious day dawned.We got up early, took bath and were in balcony.The hamlet was still in arms of sleep but nature has awakened. Sun God has started stretching it’s bountiful arms.Making way through the dense devdars light was creating hazy, pious pattern over the temples. Pujaris in the temples have started the early morning havans and smoke column rising from vedis lovingly embraced the haze of lights and behind the temple complex rose the black gurgling column of the smoke emitted from a burning pyre. Behind the temple complex is the cremation ground. The cremation ground dates back to the time of Chand dynasty and now is used by the inhabitants of the nearby villages. Watching the three kinds of smokes and haze coiling,uncoiling,emerging from different sources and mingling,unmingling with one another was an experience beyond words. The celestial, the pious, the beginning, the end altogether they created mystical inscriptions in the space over the temples and those centuries old Devdars watched solemnly. When a small ray of light flickered over the leaves of cedar I felt them smiling with compassion over my feelings of amazement and complete surrender to the almighty pulsating source of divine energy .

It was the morning when you can almost feel that you have met God.

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Pictures by Sunder Iyer

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