Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple!

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 1/18 by Saumil Sah
Kainchi Dham

Having been born, raised and educated in the revered schools of Nainital-Uttarakhand, I had never quite actually understood the importance of my state (until now), the importance it holds in the history of India, be it the writing of Mahabharata in the vicinity of Mana Gaon, the Pandavas ascent to the heaven, origination of many holy rivers, the most important dham for Hindus being here (Badrinath), Hemkund Sahib, and the list goes on and on and on - For no reason Uttarakhand is a.k.a 'Land Of The Gods' or 'Dev Bhoomi'. One such place in the State's cocoon is the Kainchi Dham !

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 2/18 by Saumil Sah

Kainchi Dham

Picture Source: Google

A small quaint place-17 km from Nainital and 9 km from Bhowali. The place derives it's name from a local Kumaoni word 'Kainchi' which means 'two sharp hairpin bends' that is seen on the Nainital-Almora road. 'Kainchi' means 'Scissors' in English and though i have been to the place a zillion times, the bend never looked or looks the 'Scissor' part! although one cannot deny the fact that, the town is actually situated between two hills that intersects and crosses each other to form the shape of a scissor from where the name may have also originated.

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 3/18 by Saumil Sah

Kainchi View as across from the ashram

Picture Source: Google

The concept of this place came into existence in 1942 when Maharaj Neem Karoli (Neeb Karori Baba or Maharajji as He is more popularly known, is one of the greatest saints of the 20th century. He is among the very few true 'sadhus' (saints) that India has had in the recent times. He is also called Neem Karoli Baba (this name being more popular among his western devotees). Among the most well known of Neem Karoli Baba's disciples were, spiritual teacher Ma Jaya, Ram Dass, the author of Be Here Now,teacher/performer Bhagavan Das, Lama Surya Das and the musicians Jai Uttal and Krishna Das. Other notable devotees include humanitarian Larry Brilliant and his wife Girija, Dada Mukerjee (former professor at Allahabad University, Uttar Pradesh, India), scholar and writer Yvette Rosser, and Daniel Goleman author of Emotional Intelligence. Baba Hari Dass (Haridas) was not a disciple,however, he supervised several buildings and maintained the ashrams in Nainital area (1954-1968) before heading to the USA to become a spiritual teacher in California in the beginning of 1971. Steve Jobs, along with his friend Dan Kottke, traveled to India in 1973 to meet Neem Karoli Baba, but arrived after the guru died in September of that year. Hollywood actress Julia Roberts was also influenced by Neem Karoli Baba. A picture of him drew Roberts to Hinduism.) along with Shri Poornanand of the Kainchi Village proposed building an Ashram here dedicated to Sombari Maharaj and Sadhu Premi Baba who used to perform yagnas in this very place.

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 4/18 by Saumil Sah

Yugya Kainchi 1971

Picture Source: Google

Later in 1962, their dream materialised and the forest from this area was cleared and a rectangular platform was constructed. After due permission from the Forest Conservator, Maharaj Ji acquired the lease of this land and constructed a Temple devoted to Lord Hanuman over that rectangular platform and adjacent to it is the Kainchi Temple and an Ashram built for devotees. There is also a cave beside the temple where Baba Neem Karoli used to spend his time praying and is considered a sacred area.

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 5/18 by Saumil Sah

This is the Baba whose meditation cave Kainchi Mandir was built over. Maharaji's Khakrighat Ashram is also where Sambari Baba's maha smadhi is. It is 1 hour north of Kainchi.

Picture Source: Google

The place has a magnetic feel about it, my family has had the privilege of being in close contact with the temple for decades. My great grand-father was a very close associate and one of Maharaj Ji's favorite. Mr.Heera Lal Sah, my great-grandfather was known as until Maharaj Ji christened him as 'Habba', hence he became famous as 'Habba ji' or 'Habba Buju' in the common Kumaoni dialect (He has his name mentioned in the many books written by foreign and Indian authors dedicated to Maharaj Ji's life. In one such story, where my father when 5 years old had accompanied Maharaj Ji and his followers to Badrinath. A stretch came where the journey for 'Maharaj Ji' and my father was considered too tiresome to continue. A Palki was called for (The very Palki which the Maharaja's of yore liked to be pampered). The carriers after looking at the sizes of the 2 people in question thus had an argument amongst them as to who would carry the (mind you, Maharaj Ji had some weight on him) old man! (The carriers were unaware as to who Maharaj Ji was). Finally when it was decided as to who would carry whom, the palki carrying Maharaj Ji became as light as a feather and the one carrying my father became so heavy (SURPRISE!!) that the carriers had a hard time carrying it........this is just an instance of the many mystical ways of Maharaj Ji.)

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 6/18 by Saumil Sah

"It had rained a lot for a day or two and the river was swollen. During darshan Maharaji suddenly got up and we all walked out of the ashram with him to the bridge and looked down at the rapids. Then we walked back in the drizzle. Such a simple moment - and something you don't forget your whole life. Such was His presence." --Ram Giri, 12/24/05

Picture Source: Google

From Premavatar

Construction of Maharaj Ji's Temple at Kainchi:

Babaji left His physical body in the night of 10 September 1973. The Kalash containing His ashes was already installed in Shri Kainchi dham.Then, without any plan and design the construction work of Baba's temple began in 1974. All His devotees cooperated (voluntarily).The artisans and masons engaged in the construction work has an early bath and wearing clean clothes began work, reciting Hanuman Chalissa and chanting "Maharajji Ki Jai" (glory to Maharaj Ji). When the construction work was on, the devotees also recited Hanuman Chalissa and did Kirtan by singing (Shri Rama - Jai Rama - Jai Jai Rama), Mothers also writing "Ramnam" on the bricks passed them on to the workers. The whole atmosphere vibrated with the chanting of "Baba Neem Karoli Maharaj Ki Jai". Influenced by the ardent devotion of the Mothers for Babaji, the workers also developed the same feeling of devotion, faith, reverance and love. It was Babaji's lila that he infused these workers with the qualities of Vishwakarma (the architect of Gods) and they remained busy with the construction work.

Now came 15th June 1976, the day for installation and consecration of Maharajji's murti. Maharajji Himself had fixed June 15th as the consecration of Kainchi Dham.The Bhagwat saptah and yajna etc. were completed before the installation and consecration ceremony. The devotees installed Kalash and hoisted flag on the temple with the sound of bells, gongs, drums and conches.The sky vibrated with the sound of clapping. Kirtan and slogans of glory to Babaji. The atmosphere was ecstatic and everyone had the feeling of Babaji Maharaj's physical presence. Then with recitation of hymns from Vedas and with the specified method of consecration ceremony and worship, Maharajji's murti was installed. In this way, Babaji Maharaj in the form of a murti is seated in Shri Kainchi Dham.


Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 7/18 by Saumil Sah

Maharaj Ji overlooking the Kainchi Dham

Picture Source: Google

As you enter the entrance gate which kisses the Nainital-Almora road, walk down the steps and on to the concrete bridge that separates the temple from the river and the road, you hear the soothing sound of the bhajans and the river flowing smoothly through below and suddenly your materialistic thoughts are sucked right out of your mind and you are at a trance with yourself.

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 8/18 by Saumil Sah

This is the main entrance & leads to the old foot bridge (where there are many photos of Maharaji). Across are the outside dharmsala rooms & then entrance to the Mandir area & Babaji's rooms.

Picture Source: Google

One may think-'Is this Maharaj Ji's gift to mankind? where each one of us are in a rush at every tick of the clock?'. Even an agnostic would be swept right off his feet, each molecule of your body feels and gets connected to the minutest of details in there. For a moment, even if it lasts for few seconds you feel good about yourself, your existence, you feel an amalgamation of the soul with the body. The smiling faces that greet you on your way in, makes you forget about the trivialist of things.

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 9/18 by Saumil Sah

These bhundars (Red monkey) are bathing & playing in the river that runs northward which is between the road & the ashram.

Picture Source: Google

Once you take off your shoes at the main gate, you realize that the temple premises is so clean that it would put the 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan' to shame. The array of temples are a visual treat for the eyes and each one of them leaves an impression to the mind, you feel so boxed in!

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 10/18 by Saumil Sah

This Durga Vashnav Devi in Kainchi for Durga Puja 1987.

Picture Source: Google

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 11/18 by Saumil Sah

Hanumanji Kainchi

Picture Source: Google

As you walk around the premises, right in the corner there is a bed in which Maharaj Ji used to sit and give blessings to his many followers. Just opposite to that is where the life-size statue of Maharaj Ji is installed and mind you what a grand sight that is, one can find people sitting in a deep meditative state or singing beautiful renditions of 'The Hanuman Chalisa' (in my every visit that i've had to the place, have spent countless hours sitting right there gazing back at the forests overlooking the temple and just soaking in the wind while my nostrils were treated to the burning incense. Right next to it is a cave where Maharaj Ji used to meditate and one can see 'OM' written all over the crooked cave . Now, the back side of the temple which is not accessible for the general public is as how JRR Tolkein would have imagined the Hobbit village to be! The area houses the Ashram, a fine garden- right between which there is a small rectangular structure with a roof solely for bhajans.

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 12/18 by Saumil Sah

Rita Green-In one of the back gardens, May 02. (One of the devotees staying in the ashram)

Photo Source: Google

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 13/18 by Saumil Sah

Krishna Connie-By the gardens in the back of the ashram. (Another devotee)

Photo Source: Google

A very important event-'The Kainchi Dham Fair' and communal feast is held on the 15th of June every year, where devotees from nearby regions and far off places come and pay their respects to Maharaj Ji. Thousands are fed on that day and people voluntarily offer their services and come weeks before the commencement of the fair. However, special permission from the office (within the premises) is required to stay there.


Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 14/18 by Saumil Sah

Vinodji- The Manager of the ashram. A jovial energetic character. Reminds one of the 'Hobbits of the Shire'

Picture Source- Google

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 15/18 by Saumil Sah

Kainchi Ashram bhandara roof in construction 1987 (this is the place where thousands are fed on the 15th of June)

Photo Source: Google

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 16/18 by Saumil Sah

Annual 15th June Bhandara evening.

Picture Source: Google

On the way back,one cannot forget to take the 'Chana' which is offered as a prasadam, it still mystifies me as to what quality of chana do they use or the amount of oil they put in or as to what they mix in it to make it so Yumilicious (.....and i just made up a word) ! As little kids, me and my brother used to fight over the chanas on our way back from the temple. Our mother being the peacemaker and distributing equal quantities on either side (literally counting). However, a must for a person visiting the temple, once when out of the gate do gorge on some delicious 'Pakodas' or a 'Neembu Paani' in the shops right next to the temple! It's a treat for the taste- buds! (Trust me on this one....)

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 17/18 by Saumil Sah

Usha Bhahadur & Devi Gupta in the front by the entrance to the temples. She is usually giving out channa prasad to the many temple visitors, which can number thousands a day during May-June.

Picture Source: Google

It's funny as to how people are reacting and making a bee line for the dham now, Just a statement from the youngest rather a famous billionaire in the world as to how Steve Jobs had advised him to visit the place, the Indian media even christening it as 'The Mark Zuckerberg Temple' is pretty naive especially when you go through the history of Neem Karoli Baba! No wonder Steve Jobs conceived the idea for Apple in this place.

Having said that, the place will never be the same (mark my words). People (now) commencing to the place, while walking down the steps or standing over the bridge or even listening to the Hanuman Chalisa will now imagine and relate as to how a certain Steve Jobs or a Mark Zuckerberg would have felt. BTW calling it 'THE MARK ZUCKERBERG TEMPLE'?? SERIOUSLY ?? Naah...I'd rather take a pass on that and just stick with 'KAINCHI DHAM'...Well, if you are with me till here then i will leave you with one of the many quotes of Maharaj Ji:

"The great sadhus don't have a human body. They are omnipresent. If a saint changes form, he doesn't necessarily have to take on a human body. The soul is the small form and the human body is the huge form."

Photo of Kainchi Dham! The Steve Jobs and the Mark Zuckerberg Temple! 18/18 by Saumil Sah

An old time favorite of the Honeymoon goers and one of the most popular hill stations in the country. 'Lake District Of India' they say!

Situated 11 km from the city of Nainital, Bhowali is most known for its T.B. Sanatorium, established here in 1912, where Kamala Nehru also stayed for a while. It is an important fruit market for all the neighbouring regions and gateway to places like Nainital, Almora, Ranikhet, Bheemtal, etc

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