Neelkanth temple is one of the most sacred place of worship for the Hindus. It is located on a hill above Swargashram in Rishikesh and is situated at a altitude of 925 mts. Neelkanth temple is considered to be a apt example of complete natural hill heaven that lies adjacent to mountain ranges of the Nar-Narayan. Because of its beauty & religious importance the devotees and nature lovers visit the place round the year. Neelkanth Mahadev temple is considered to be one of the most famous temples and is situated at the confluence of the Madhumati and Pankaja rivers, amidst three valleys- Vishnukoot, Brahmakoot & Manikoot.
The way to the temple is quite exhilarating. The steep & narrow roads taking above the hill, in which the river is flowing on one side and mountain terrain is on the other side. Road is very curvy and narrow with steep slopes as one can expect on any hill station, so be carefull while driving. Incase you don't have a experience of driving on hills better park your vehicle at Ram Jhula taxi stand and hire a cab. It's a drive of 32 kms from Rishikesh via barrage or alternatively one can walk 22 kms via Ram Jhula to get there.
The centuries old Neelkanth temple in Rishikesh preserves in itself the celestial aura and the spiritual ambience within itself. It is enriched with legendry anecdotes and mythological stories. The name Neelkanth has been assigned to Lord Shiva and the story behind the name goes as follows.
The Puranas state that during the churning of the ocean- Samundra Manthan, there came out a poison. The venom was extremely poisonous that it could exterminate mankind. Gods were distraught and didn't know how to destroy it. Lord Shiva took a precarious step of drinking the venom to save his devotees. He drank the poison but did not swallow it. He allowed it to remain in his throat which turned his throat blue. Neel defines the color blue, Kanth means throat & Mahadev means Lord of the Gods. It is said that this is the place where Lord Shiva drank the poison. The gods tried hard to placate him and decided to pour water on his head to calm him down. That is why devotees pour water even now on the lingam. Later, a temple was built around this place which stands even today in the honor of Lord Shiva.
The temple's exterior has a beautiful architecture. The entire Samundra Manthan has been depicted with colorful idols of Gods and Goddess. The entire story of samudra manthan has been presented on the walls in vivid colors and intricate architecture. The inner sanctum is equally beautiful. A life-sized idol of goddess Parvati is seated near the entrance. Her striking sumptuousness combined with the magnificent aura makes the place divine. The arena around the lingam is made of marble. On the columns are etched the minutiae of the Dwarpals (guards) with intricate detailing that showed their weapons. Opposite to the lingam is present Lord Shiva's mount Nandi, the bull. The lingam is encased in silver & it has an opening at the top to see the original form.
Gigantic and aged pipal tree is present at the exit of sanctum. Devotees tie up sacred thread on the tree for the want of their wishes, they revist the temple to open the tie whenever their wishes are fullfilled. Devotees visit Neelkanth Mahadev temple to seek moksha, solitude and peace of mind.
Approachable on foot (22 kms.) from Rishikesh