Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is one of the most revered and visited temples in India, attracting millions of devotees and tourists every year. The temple is situated at an altitude of 1330 meters, surrounded by lush green forests, mountains and rivers. The temple offers a serene and scenic atmosphere, as well as a rich history, mythology and architecture.
If you are planning to visit Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, here is everything you need to know about this divine abode of Lord Shiva.
Mythology and Legend
The mythology and legend behind Neelkanth Mahadev Temple are based on Hindu scriptures and beliefs. According to the Puranas, when the gods and demons were churning the ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, a pot of poison came out first. The poison was so potent that it could destroy the whole universe. No one was willing to drink it, except Lord Shiva, who volunteered to save the world.
Lord Shiva drank the poison and held it in his throat, which turned blue due to its effect. Hence, he became known as Neelkanth, the blue-throated one. He then came to this spot and meditated for thousands of years, enduring the pain and heat of the poison. His consort Parvati and other gods and goddesses came to visit him and offer their prayers and praises.
The spot where Lord Shiva meditated became a holy place, where a temple was built in his honour. The temple also has a natural spring, where devotees believe that Lord Shiva washed his mouth after drinking the poison. The water of the spring is considered sacred and has healing properties.
Architecture and Design
The architecture and design of Neelkanth Mahadev Temple reflect the religious and cultural significance of the temple. The temple is built in a traditional style, with a conical roof, a dome, a spire and a porch. The temple is made of stone, wood and metal, with intricate carvings and decorations.
The main attraction of the temple is the shivalinga, which is the symbol of Lord Shiva. The shivalinga is placed inside a sanctum sanctorum, which is accessible only to priests. The shivalinga is adorned with flowers, leaves, milk, honey and other offerings by the devotees. The shivalinga is also covered with a silver mask of Lord Shiva’s face, which is removed only on special occasions.
The temple is surrounded by lush green forests, mountains and rivers, creating a serene and scenic atmosphere. You can enjoy the views of the Himalayas, the Ganga river and the Swargashram valley from the temple premises. You can also hear the sounds of birds, animals and waterfalls nearby.
How to Reach
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is located about 32 km from Rishikesh, which is a popular tourist destination in Uttarakhand. You can reach Rishikesh by different modes of transport, such as road, rail or air.
By Road: Rishikesh is well connected by road to other cities in India, such as Delhi (240 km), Haridwar (25 km), Dehradun (45 km) and Chandigarh (215 km). You can take a bus or a taxi from these cities to reach Rishikesh. From Rishikesh, you can take another bus or taxi to reach Neelkanth Mahadev Temple. The road journey from Rishikesh to Neelkanth Mahadev Temple takes about an hour.
By Rail: Rishikesh has a railway station that connects it to other cities in India, such as Delhi, Haridwar, Dehradun and Chandigarh. You can take a train from these cities to reach Rishikesh. From Rishikesh, you can take a bus or taxi to reach Neelkanth Mahadev Temple.
By Air: The nearest airport to Rishikesh is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, which is about 20 km away. You can take a flight from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore or other major cities in India to reach Dehradun. From Dehradun, you can take a bus or taxi to reach Rishikesh. From Rishikesh, you can take another bus or taxi to reach Neelkanth Mahadev Temple.
Best Time to Visit
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is open throughout the year, but some months are more favourable than others due to climatic conditions or special occasions. The best time to visit Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is:
Winter (November to February): This is the ideal time to visit Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, as the weather is pleasant and cool. The temperature ranges from 10°C to 25°C, making it comfortable for sightseeing and trekking.
Monsoon (July to September): This is another good time to visit Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, as the weather is refreshing and green. The temperature ranges from 15°C to 30°C, making it suitable for exploring and relaxing.
The most auspicious and popular festivals celebrated at Neelkanth Mahadev Temple are:
Maha Shivaratri (February or March): This is the most important festival dedicated to Lord Shiva, which commemorates his marriage to Parvati. On this day, devotees fast, pray and offer milk, water, flowers and fruits to Lord Shiva. They also chant mantras, sing bhajans and perform aarti. The temple is decorated with lights, flowers and flags. Thousands of devotees throng the temple to seek Lord Shiva’s blessings.
Kanwar Yatra (July or August): This is a pilgrimage undertaken by devotees of Lord Shiva, who carry water from the Ganga river in pots (called kanwars) on their shoulders. They walk for hundreds of kilometers from various places in India to reach Neelkanth Mahadev Temple. They offer the water to Lord Shiva as a sign of devotion and gratitude. The temple witnesses a huge influx of kanwariyas during this time.
Tips for Visiting
Here are some useful tips and suggestions for visiting Neelkanth Mahadev Temple:
Timings: The temple is open from 5 am to 1 pm and from 4 pm to 9 pm every day.
Entry Fee: There is no entry fee for visiting the temple, but donations are welcome.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is not only a spiritual destination but also a gateway to many other attractions near Rishikesh that can be visited along with or after visiting the temple. Some of the nearby attractions are:
Waterfalls: You can visit some of the beautiful waterfalls near Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, such as Patna Waterfall, which is about 5 km away. You can enjoy the view of the cascading water and the greenery around it. You can also trek to the waterfall and explore the caves nearby.
Caves: You can visit some of the ancient caves near Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, such as Vashishta Gufa, which is about 16 km away. You can see the place where sage Vashishta meditated and attained enlightenment. You can also experience the peace and tranquillity of the cave and the river Ganga flowing next to it.
Rivers: You can visit the holy river Ganga, which flows near Neelkanth Mahadev Temple. You can take a dip in the river and purify your body and soul. You can also perform rituals and offerings to the river and seek its blessings. You can also enjoy the view of the river and its banks from various bridges, such as Lakshman Jhula, which is about 22 km away.
Ashrams: You can visit some of the famous ashrams near Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, such as Parmarth Niketan, which is about 23 km away. You can learn about the teachings and practices of yoga, meditation, spirituality and service at the ashram. You can also participate in the daily activities and events at the ashram, such as morning prayers, evening aarti, yoga classes and cultural programs.
Temples: You can visit some of the other temples near Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, such as Trimbakeshwar Temple, which is about 12 km away. You can worship Lord Shiva in his three forms: Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh at this temple. You can also admire the architecture and design of the temple and its surroundings.
Yoga Centers: You can visit some of the renowned yoga centers near Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, such as Sivananda Ashram, which is about 24 km away. You can practice yoga and meditation under the guidance of expert teachers at this ashram.
Meditation Spots: You can visit some of the serene meditation spots near Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, such as Beatles Ashram, which is about 25 km away. You can see the place where the famous band The Beatles stayed and composed some of their songs in 1968. You can also meditate in the quiet and calm environment of the ashram.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is a divine abode of Lord Shiva in Rishikesh that offers a spiritual and scenic experience for visitors. The temple has a rich history, mythology and architecture that reflect its significance and glory. The temple also has a serene and scenic atmosphere that enhances its beauty and charm.
If you are looking for a place to learn more about Lord Shiva and his worship, or to plan a trip to Rishikesh and its nearby attractions, Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is a perfect destination for you.