Sri Jakh Devta Temple at Jakhdhar near Guptkashi – The Priest Walks and Jumps Through the Burning Woodpile

Sri Jakh Devta Temple at Jakhdhar near Guptkashi – The Priest Walks and Jumps Through the Burning Woodpile

7:15 am we started the journey from Tapovan, Rishikesh via Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark motorbike. We reached Jakh Devta Temple 5 km approx. further from Guptkashi at 3:15 p.m.

Total journey – 180 km approx. Road condition is almost good, especially after Rudraprayag till Guptkashi – very good but empty road. Mostly locals on the road. Tourists were nowhere visible after the Kedarnath flash flood – the year 2013.

View of Chandrashila Peak/Tungnath temple on the right side. Kedarnath, Chaukhambha peaks almost in front and thousands of feet below the holy river Mandakini flowing. Spectacular view during late afternoon hours.

We met Gunanand Devshali – a knowledgeable, respectable 70 years old person from Devshal village at a shop in front of the temple. Upon query about Jakh Devta temple, he shared History as follows:

Jakh Devta is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. As per written Samvat 1111 ( minus 57 years = Christian calendar years) on an idol, it is believed this temple is much much older than that –  approx. 900+ years old.

Earlier this temple was taken care of by 11 villages but nowadays by 14 villages named as follows:

Narayankoti, Kotheda, Devshal, Hyun, Nala, Rudrapur, Guptkashi, Dewar, Sankari, Semi, Bhainsari, Bansu, Teudi, Khumera.

The priest of Jakh Devta temple is from Kotheda village.

Vishwat Sankranti day i.e., 14th of April sometimes 15th of April Jakh Devta temple is visited by priests and devotees from nearby villages. Three days before Vishwat Sankranti day all nearby roads and shops are closed. Silver Oak tree wood known as Baanj in the Garhwali Language is collected by villagers from the nearby Devshal jungle. The woodpile is made nearby the temple.

On Vishwat Sankranti day woodpile is worshiped and burned at night. The next day is a big festival day during the day hours. Thousands of devotees visit the temple. Priest along with band baaja via Naranyankoti > Kotheda > Devshal villages visit Jakh Devta temple. After offering prayers the priest walk and jumps two-three times into last night’s burnt woodpile and later blesses devotees. And thus, the festival ends.

The road closed open around 12 noon hours on Vishwat Sankranti day.

During the festival time, all arrangements are done by Kotheda and Narayankoti villagers.

In short, this is the temple history and knowledge about festival time – said Gunanand Ji.

Thank you very much for enhancing my knowledge – said I. Thanks a lot.

We decided to revisit the next day during the morning hours. The morning was another beautiful morning when we visited the temple again. The surroundings around the temple are one of the best and most beautiful locations I have visited to date.

A fantastic journey I have to say. One should visit. If you wish you may drive further into villages – a few meters distance.

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