The Jaleshwar Mahadev Temple in Jaleshwar, the district headquarters of Mahottari, is one of the famous tourist destinations in Province 2. It is believed that the Shivlings in this temple were not built by anyone. It emerged itself in the historical period. It is said that this temple was seen in Jaleshwar before 300 years ago. However, the fame of this temple started to grow rapidly since the Janak Dynasty.
Jaleshwar town was named after the name of this temple to signify its popularity worldwide.
Jaleshwar means ‘God of the Water’ because in this temple, Shivalinga is situated under the water. There is a quadrangular water tank under the 16 steps towards the main temple, where Shivling is placed. It is said that the name was given as Jaleshwar Mahadev because Lord Shiva is regarded as a deity who is living in a pool of water in the form of Shivalinga. This temple is built in dome style with appealing turrets.
Being closer to Janakpur, Jaleshwar Mahadev has also been important religious sites of people around Janakpur. You can find many similarities in rituals, traditions, customs etc. between Janakpur and Jaleshwar. Panchkoshi circuit of Janakpur extends up to Jaleshwar NathMahadev so this temple is also crowded during the month of July.
During the ruling period of Shri Panch Girwan Yuddha Bikram Shah in 1869 BS, around 275 bighas of Land were provided to the priest Mahantha for the proper management and worship of Jaleshwar NathMahadev. The land was given from different places like Kanchanpur, Jaleshwar, Mahadevpatti, VahedaJwadi, Bajrahi etc. The priest was also provided with a red copper plate.
However, today, they only have copper plates, which are kept safely. As per GuthiSansthanMahottari, there is no property in the name of the temple besides the temple itself.
There is also belief that soil was taken from the holy land of Jaleshwar NathMahadev, Maithani to Janakpur to perform the Janaki’s marriage ceremony. Besides these, there are also many other mythological texts written in history, which indicate the importance of Jaleshwar Mahadev.
Jaleshwar NathMahadev is also very famous for its surrounding historical ponds. There are four ponds – Barun Sir Pond, Purand Sir Pond, Purni Sir Pond, and MahanthaPokhari. Barun Sir Pond is popular for its plethora of lotus flowers used in worshipping Lord Shiva. Similarly, Purand Sir Pond, also known as Gordhoi Pond, is used for washing hands and feet before making a visit to the temple. Moreover, Purni Sir Pond is considered as Makhan pond which is used as offering to Lord Shiva. Finally, Mahantha pond which is used in the place of priest Mahantha.
Jaleshwar Mahadev’s Significance in Maha Shivaratri
There is a special crowd in this temple during Maha Shivaratri as the devotees get a chance to worship and touch the Shivling only on this day throughout the year. On the rest of the other days, it kept under the water. Besides Maha Shivaratri, people also flock to this temple in other festivals like Balachaturdashi, Maghe Sankranti etc.
To make it easy for pilgrims to enter into the cave and pay homage to Shivalinga, a bucket of water is pumped out from the cave with the help of Nepal Army. Before, locals even tried to take the water out with the help of fire brigade, however, because of the continuous failure, they recruited a number of Nepal Army especially for the great festival, Maha Shivaratri.
Millions of pilgrims from Nepal and India visit this temple during this festival with the intention of making Lord Shiva happy so that they can live there happily and successfully. By observing its significance in the festivals like Maha Shivaratri, local ministers, priests, and people have been demanding to list out Jaleshwar Temple in Province 2 under the World Heritage List.
Jaleshwar Mahadev’s Significance in Maghe Sankranti
According to the mythology, some 250 years ago, a hermit named Jagadesh strolled around this place and meditated for a long time. After his long meditation, he came to conclusion and made a prophecy that the soil of Jaleshwar would crack from where unique Shivalinga would emerge.
Because of this belief, people from worldwide pay a visit to this place in Maghe Sankranti, Mangsir (November/December) and pay homage to Jagadesh for his pure prophecy.
Jaleshwar is 240km away from the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu. From Mahattori, it takes around 50 minutes (27km) to reach Jaleshwar Mahadev. Similarly, it takes around 20-30 minutes (20km) to reach the temple from Janakpur.
If you are travelling from Kathmandu, then you have three options to reach this temple. One of the quickest and easiest ways is to take a direct flight from Kathmandu to Janakpur which takes around 25 minutes. From Janakpur, you can either hire a private jeep or drive a local bus to reach there.
As an alternative, you can also enjoy the overland transportation all the way from Kathmandu to Jaleshwar Mahadev. While going for road drive, I recommend you to go via private jeep/car as it will make your journey comfortable and easy.
You might be confused about what kind of services are available in Jaleshwar. Well, you don’t need to worry as you can get access to a number of well-equipped hotels in Jaleshwar town for your warm stay.
Although this temple has full capacity to be part of the World Heritage List, there are allegations to which even the responsible bodies and local people are not showing much interest. Similarly, Jaleshwar Municipality has not been able to control the waste and garbage in the ponds and the surroundings of the temple. Also, there are no proper accommodation facilities to the pilgrims around the town, which has hindered its development.
For the development of the Jaleshwar NathMahadev temple, GuthiSansthanMahottari provides around NRS 58,600 every year with the hope of listing it under the World Heritage list.
This temple carries a high capacity in making Nepal one of the popular tourist destinations for both natural and cultural beauty. I hope that the local level and villagers will give proper attention towards this magnificent temple so that no complaints and voices towards its development will ever arise in the coming days. Also, I recommend every domestic and international tourist to visit this temple once to observe the wonders of Nepal.
-Article written by: Kusum Kharel for Land Nepal