Temples of Mahānirvaṇi Akhāḍā
Neelkanth Temple, Rishikesh
The Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Neelkanth, a form of Paramasiva. The temple is situated at a height of 1330 meters and is located about 32 km from Rishikesh in the Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand, North India.
The temple is one of the most revered holy shrines dedicated to Lord Paramashiva and is a prominent Hindu pilgrimage site. It is surrounded by dense forests and is adjacent to the mountain ranges of Nar-Narayan. It is enveloped between the valleys of Manikoot, Brahmakoot, and Vishnukoot and is located at the confluence of the rivers Pankaja and Madhumat.
According to Hindu history, the place where the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple currently stands is the sacred location where Lord Shiva consumed the haalahala poison that originated from the Ocean when the Devas (divine beings) and Asuras (demons) churned the Milky Ocean in order to obtain Amrita or nectar. This poison that emanated during the Samudra Manthan (churning of the ocean) was consumed by none less than Paramasiva Himself in order to save the world from it. Holding the poison in His throat, His throat turned blue, and henceforth Paramasiva is also known as Neelkanth, literally meaning The Blue Throated One.
A painting depicting the churning of the milky ocean, when Lord Paramashiva swallowed the Halahala, the poison, that emerged from the ocean.
Maha Shivaratri is the most prominent festival celebrated in this temple and scores of devotees flock to the temple during this festival. The devotees who pay a visit to Neelkanth Mahadev make an offering of Bael leaves, coconut, flowers, milk, honey, fruits and water to Lord Shiva. The temple observes two fairs that are held annually on the occasions of Maha Shivratri (Feb-Mar) and Shivratri of Shraavana month of Hindu calendar (July-Aug) during which the devotees undertake a sacred walk from Haridwar to Neelkanth Mahadev Temple.