Almora in Dev Bhoomi Uttarakhand is renowned for its ancient heritage (primordial human settlements and early Aryan people), culture, history (mentioned in the Puranas and Mahabharat), art and food. There are many temples built here by the Chand dynasty who catapulted Almora into a formidable seat of power in the 1500s.
The beautiful Kapileshwar Mahadev temple believed to be thousands of years old built by the Katyuri dynasty (origin dated around first century BCE) holds immense historical significance. This temple of Lord Shiva is built on the confluence of Shakuni and Fadka rivers with Shakuni emerging from Chaykhaan and Fadka from Motiyaapaathar.
At first glance, the design and placement of the temple in the midst of these rivers looks like it is seated in between two snake-like river forms. The main temple has become a little crooked over the years. Some locals believe that the temple appears to be leaning because of a landslide while some others believe it is because of the legendary war between two snakes who resided here.
Legend has it that there was a snake residing in Mauna temple and one in Kapileshwar. One day, they decided to set a task of who could break down the temple of the other faster. The snake living in Kapileshwar came to Mauna to break down the temple and the snake of Mauna went to Kapileshwar to do the same.
The snake of Kapileshwar wreaked havoc on the temple at Mauna but when the snake of Mauna had just laid the trap to ravage the temple of Kapileshwar, the snake of Kapileshwar arrived there claiming victory. The snake of Mauna quietly left the place knowing that the snake of Kapileshwar had emerged victorious.
There are white coloured marks on the stones on the banks of the river flowing in front of this temple which are seen even today and visible under water. It is believed by locals that these marks were made by the two snakes.
The sanctum sanctorum has a Swayambhu Shiva Linga that is revered by the locals. This temple is built in the typical style of the Katyuri dynasty with locally available light brown stones. Lord Shiva and Parvati Devi are worshipped here in different forms. There are two stunning sculptures at the main temple gate.
This temple is now protected by the Archaeological Department and the work of building a museum has commenced. The temple offers a scenic view of Mauna-Lweshal and the picturesque location fills you with a deep sense of bliss and contentment.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)