Among those who worship Lord Shiva as per Hinduism, the Shree Neelkanth Temple located close to Haridwar is much popular. This mesmerizing temple has an idol of Lord Shiva in the form of Linga. It is a popular temple countrywide, and one can see it full of pilgrims all the time of the year. The temple also carries a huge historical significance as it is almost 500 years old temple.
Located at the height of 1330 meters the Neelkanth temple is situated thirty-two kilometres away from Rishikesh in the Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand, India. This is a temple dedicated to Neelkanth, known as an aspect of Lord Shiva. The temple is one of the prominent pilgrimage sites for a number of religious believers and mostly the worshippers of Shiva. Neighbouring to the mountain Nar-Narayan, this temple is delimited by impenetrable forests on all sides. An interesting aspect is the location of the temple. The temple is close to the place of the confluence of two rivers Pankaja and Madhumati. This temple is also strategically placed between the valleys of Vishnukoot, Bramhakoot, and Manikoot.
The temple has a legend which places it in the mythological archives. It is believed that the temple is situated at the place where Shiva had consumed the poised that originated from the churning of the sea by the Devas and the Asuras in search of Amrita. The poison that he consumed made Shiva’s throat blue in color which therefore rendered him the name Neelkantha, which literally means the blue-throated one.
The architecture of the temple is worth noticing where the Shikhara of the temple is adorned with sculptures of Asuras and Devas in the deed of Samudramanthan or churning of the sea. The temple also has a natural spring right at its entrance where often the devotees take a bath before entering the temple. Shiva is present as the Neelkantha Shivalinga, a stone sculpture common as denoting Shiva all over India, within the main premise of the temple. This Shivalinga resides as the primary deity within the temple.
The prime festival that is celebrated with huge grandeur at this temple is the Shivaratri. One can witness the enormous amount of devotees who flock the temple from all over the world during this one day. The devotees who come that day offer Basel leaves, identify with the being of Shiva, coconuts, flower, milk, honey, fruits, and water to Lord Shiva. The Shiva Ratri is a carnivalesque occasion that is celebrated during the months of February and March. One can also witness fairs that happen simultaneously during this occasion. The other major celebration happens during the month of Shravan or what the English calendar marks from July to August, during which the devotees indulge on a trek from Haridwar to Neelkanth temple.
The cloudburst that had happened in the year 2013 has left several roads and structures in Rishikesh Damaged and repairing work of the same has taken a lot of labour and time, therefore, rendering the tourist place empty even during the peak seasons. However, latest statistics prove that after the repairing work has been complete, footfall has increased again.
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