Ancient Mukteshwar Mahadev Dham | Uttarakhand Shiva Temples

Surreal sunset at Mukteshwar Temple, Uttarakhand

A small trek, in the midst of mist laden mountains, canopied between cedar and oak trees, leads you to the lovely old temple of Mukteshwar. Quiet, pure, pristine, and just so fascinating is this trek that you are instantly transported to a world wrapped in the charms of another world that is so different than your own.


Start point of the Mukteshwar Temple, Uttarakhand
There are two ways from this point to reach the Mukteshwar Temple - stairs or trek.


We reached the base of the Mukteshwar hills at around 5 by car and were soon escorted by a guide who promised to show us the main spots of the temple town for Rs. 300. Eager to catch the sunset, we told him we weren’t really keen on a 3-4 guided tour rather just wanted to get a feel of the place. The guide kept prodding, helped by our driver, and finally managed to fix the deal at Rs. 150 for a quick guided tour of Mukteshwar.

Mukteshwar Dham Trek in Uttarakhand
We took the trek to the ancient Shiva Temple during ascent and stairs during descent.


Among the many things we saw (which I will cover in my next post), the short hike through a winding trail to the Mukteshwar temple was the real highlight of the show.

Situated at a height of 2312 m above sea level, this 350 year old temple packs in it a perfect harmony of legendary inspiration and mountain goodness. People of all age groups and inclination are drawn to this place year around - be it for the divinity or the solitude or the abundant scenic views it offers.

Mesmerizing sunset at Mukteshwar Temple, Uttarakhand
Surreal view during the hike to the Temple.


There are two ways to reach the ancient Shiva temple – the slope or the stairs. We took the slope while ascending and opted for the stairs during our descent.

The tiny hamlet of Mukteshwar gets its name from this temple – Mukteshwar Dham. We learnt from the guide that Lord Shiva had killed a demon here granting him salvation, hence the name Mukteshwar - Mukti for salvation and Ishwar for God.

Moon lit night above Mukteshwar Temple, Uttarakhand
Moonlight falling on the Shiva temple


Besides the temple, the town enjoys its fair of fame through the stories of the famous naturalist and man eating tiger hunter Jim Corbett who shot his first man-eater and later mentioned about ‘Muktesar’ in his books ‘The Temple Tiger’ and ‘More Man Eaters of Kumaon’.

Compound of the ancient Mukteshwar Temple, Uttarakhand
Inside the Mukteshwar Dham Temple compound.


The town finds a mention in the great Hindu epic Mahabharta as well, as it were the Pandava brothers, being staunch Shiva devouts themselves, who had constructed this temple in the hopes of getting Mukti or salvation from their miseries during their 12 year-long exile.

Though we were hesitant to take the guide initially, we enjoyed seeing the place along through his eyes and learning more from his narrative. We learnt about the varieties of oak trees found in the hills of Mukteshwar, the history of the place, and what makes the place so charming but what really topped the experience was catching a beautiful sight from the top of the ridge.

By the time, we reached the top of the temple; I was huffing and panting by the steep climb up. But then, I experienced something magical. As I stepped inside the temple premises, and glanced at the view around me, all my tiredness, all my fatigue vanished into thin air. There was not a single soul in sight.

Main sanctum sanctorum at ancient Mukteshwar Temple, Uttarakhand
Sanctum Sanctorum of the Mukteshwar Shiva Temple.


The air was of exquisite purity, the atmosphere so cold. The sun had set leaving behind a gorgeous band of vermilion rising up the cloudy veil of the mountains below which lay in dense impenetrable mist. For the next few minutes, we sat there in pin drop silence, witnessing nature’s drama spread gradually across the panorama.

Spectacular sunset at Mukteshwar Temple, Uttarakhand

As I bowed my head in obeisance to Lord Shiva at the main temple, I felt blessed for witnessing something so sacred and beautiful. Don’t know about salvation but a visit to Mukteshwar had definitely assuaged and bandaged my tired and weary urban soul.

How to Reach Mukteshwar?

By Road Mukteshwar is approximately 350 km from Delhi NCR, 51 km from Nainital, 72 km from Haldwani, and only 12 kms from Dhanachuli. It takes around 20 minutes in a car to reach Mukteshwar from Dhanachuli and can be covered as an excursion.

By Train – Kathgodam is the nearest railway station to Mukteshwar. Direct trains ply from Delhi and Mumbai to Kathgodam. From Kathgodam, you can hire a cab to Mukteshwar which should take around 2 hours roughly.

By Bus – There are buses available from Delhi till Haldwani, Almora, and Nainital from where you can hire a taxi and head to Mukteshwar.

Should you take a guide?

Mukteshwar is a small hamlet which can be easily explored on your own. But I would recommend you to take a guide – not only will you understand and enjoy the place better by getting an insight into the history of the town but more importantly you’ll be supporting the local livelihood, getting a chance to interact and see the place through the eyes of a local plus it won’t cost you a bomb.  

Mukteshwar Dham Shiva Temple Pinterest

Comments

  1. So good to see this post... as always you have covered all the points about visiting the sacred temples...

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  2. That looks like a rugged trail, Arti. I'm glad you didn't meet any man-eating (or woman-eating) tigers! I've experienced this magical feeling you describe after a long climb, looking out from the top at the faraway landscape. The beauty calms the soul. I'm glad you're traveling and trekking again.

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  3. A nice, devotional post that connects with your inner soul. There is a certain calmness I experienced going through the sacred images and the read; especially the part when you said all your tiredness disappeared in thin air

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  4. Great to read, Beautiful temples.

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