The spired temple of Baijnath, set against the splendid backdrop of the legendary Dhauladhars, continues to attract people from all corners of the world. The temple is dedicated to Shiva Vaidyanath (Lord of Physicians. It was built by two merchant brothers-Manyuka and Ahuka in 804 AD. The temple of Baijnath has become synonymous with mystic invincibility. The faithful aver that no earthquake can ever damage the temple. It is indeed a remarkable monument in the Beas Valley and lends its name to the rustic township, which has emerged from what was originally a picturesque village called Kiragrama. Baijnath is located near Kausani, a small town 53 km to the north of Almora.
Baijnath retains much of its original mountain beauty. The snow capped ranges of the Dhauladhars tower in the north. Closer to Baijnath, the scenery becomes mellow with line of hills together with velvety meadows. There is a profusion of ferns and wildflowers, which remain in full bloom from the spring, through the cool summer, until autumn. The scenery is enhanced with the river Beas, the wandering shepherds, slate-roofed homesteads and watermills grinding grain. There are the forests of oak and cedar and the Indo-German Forestry Project. The tea gardens at Palampur and elsewhere add to the gentle, soothing beauty of the Kangra Valley.
SHRINE – The temple of Baijnath is remarkable for its unique, highly imaginative design and skilled workmanship. However, it has undergone changes and many of its old features-planned by two gifted craftsmen from the town of Kangra-have disappeared during renovations. Inscriptions record that Navaka and Thoduka constructed the lofty temple of Shiva. They fashioned it in the shape of a mandapa. On it glitters the figures of the crowd or ganas (the people). The shafts of the pillars are classically designed. Deities in stone, including the statues of Ganga and Yamuna, stand at the door of the temple. In a place on a wall can be seen the striking image of Surya-the Sun God-wearing a delicately laced jacket. Graceful balcony windows, ornamented foliage and carvings lend variety to the stately structure.
The lingam of Vaidyanath (Lord Shiva) resides inside. Many people travel to Baijnath in the hope that the Lord of Physicians will cure them of their ailments. The water at Baijnath is reputed to possess remarkable digestive properties and it is said that until recently the rulers of the Kangra Valley drank water only obtained from Baijnath. Nestling at the foot of the Dhauladhar ranges is the old village of Beer. This village was once the capital of the influential Pal Rajputs, who held sway over the area. Below Baijnath is a place called Binnu Khad. Further below are the ancient villages of Paproli and Trehal, which have, over time, succumbed to modernity.
In the month of April is celebrated a traditional festival called Rali. There is a story behind the festival, which tells one of the supreme sacrifices by a girl called Rali who jumped into the river as she was married to a boy child, years younger to her. Today, of course, the festival is hosted by young girls and boys to ‘obtain suitable husbands and wives’. It comprises of a series of fascinating rites such as dressing up of images of Rali and her child groom in bridal finery.
The nearest airport is at Pant Nagar, which is at a distance of 180 km from Kausani. Kathgodam is the nearest rail station. Some important trains for Kathgodam are the Shatabdi Express, Howrah Express, Ranikhet Express, Rampur Passenger, and Nainital Express. Kausani is linked to Almora (54 km), Ranikhet (62 km), Pithoragarh (107 km) and Nainital (117 km). It can be accessed by roads from Delhi, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Nainital, Pant Nagar and Ranikhet.