Destination Covered: Naina Devi, Nanda Devi, Gangnath, Bholanath
A well-known Shakti Peeth, Naina Devi Temple, is located at the northern end of the famous Nainital Lake. Situated at an elevation of over 6800 ft, Goddess Naini Devi is the deity of this temple. Represented by the two eyes of the Devi, it attracts thousands of devotees every year. It is said Naina Devi temple formed when Lord Shiva was carrying the corpse of Sati, and her eyes fell to the ground. It is the same place where the current temple stands.
Located above the Mall Road of Almora City at an elevation of 6110 ft, this temple is dedicated to Nanda Devi, an incarnation of Goddess Durga. The temple features a magnificent monument adorned with a stone crown, encircled by a wooden roof. The walls of the temple show intricate carvings. As per legends, Nanda Devi was the family Goddess of the Chand Kings, rulers of the Kumaon region. And it was in the 17th century that King Dyot Chand built the Nanda Devi temple in Almora.
Gangnath was the son of king Vaibhav Chand of Doti. When he fell in love with a Joshi Brahmin lady Bhana, he fought with his father and left his house. Soon Gangnath was murdered. However, when Gangnath's ghost started harming people, the people of the region started worshipping him and Bhana. The jagar singers of Kumaon often tell tales about the love affair of Gangnath and Bhana. The temples are spread all over Kumaon.
One of the most popular and revered folk god of Kumaon, Bholanath is said to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The story goes like: Chand King, Udai Chand, disinherited his elder son because of his bad habits and gave the Kingdom to his younger son. When the elder son settled with his pregnant wife near Almora, the King had both of them executed. The son, his wife and their unborn child became ghosts and people started worshipping them. The original temple of Bholanath is at Champawat.