Near Almora (35 km away) are a few clusters of ancient Shiva temples. The Jageswar valley became a major tirtha sthan in middle India. It was an area occupied mainly by Pasupata novices and adepts in these centuries. They placed immense value on Himalayan ‘‘Devadaruvana’’ (deodar forest).
One of these clusters, the largest is Jageswar with around 125 monuments. A km before that in the middle of the valley where the Jataganga turns due north is the Dandesvara temple group consisting today of fifteen monuments.
The largest of the temples named Dandesvara with a rocky outcrop in the sanctum seems to have been spurred by the promise of attaining liberation from the cycles of birth and rebirth. It faces south and has a vestibule and sanctum.
“A high base-molding unit supports a masonry wall frieze with pilasters on the corners and niches sunk into its center. Above the wall frieze springs an atypical tower consisting of three enormous cornices separated by prominent neckings. A modern wooden canopy shelters a crowning cogged disc.”
A smaller one is a superstructure supported on pillars capped by a slab and and a series of cogged discs, several of which have been set in recent decades. It is open from all four sides and at the center of the space is an abraded chaturmukhalinga.
Prof Nachiket Chanchani writes that “The etymology of the word ‘‘Dandesvara’’ can cast some light on the siting and historical functions of the temple that bears this name. The forename Danda may refer to a staff-bearing guardian deity variously named Danda, Dandapanı ̄, or Dandanayaka. In early medieval India, Danda was commonly associated with the southern quarter, portrayed on temples right beside Yama, the god of death (as at the seventh-century Parsurames ́vara temple at Bhubaneshwar), and repeatedly linked to Kasi.”
According to him this cluster was built one kilometer southwest of Jageshwar “as a ‘‘simulacra’’ of Varanasi’s Danda temple and as a shrine protecting the valley’s sanctity.”
Archives of Asian Art, Volume 63, Number 2, 2013, pp. 133-154 (Article)