Friday, November 30, 2012

Temples of Kashmir: Awantipur

19th August 2012

Awantipur is a small town 28 km from Srinagar on Srinagar-Ananthnag road.  Overlooking Jhelum River that flows next to the highway, the primary attractions in this small town are two Temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Vishnu.  Both Temples are situated next to the highway.

The name Awantipura comes from the first King of Utpala dynasty Awantivarman. He was responsible for the construction of these Temples. Vishnu Temple is a rarity as we only see Shiva Temples in Kashmir.

Like in Marthand, Sikandar Butshikan was the culprit for destroying these magnificent Temples. All we see now are the ruins which tell the stories of its golden age.

The first Temple we visited was Avantiswamin, the Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Sardarji guides were available but they have limited knowledge on the ruins. 

Lot of sculptures decorates the main entrance.

There is nothing left of the main Shrine now.

Navagrahas see on the entrance wall.

A damaged erotic sculpture.

The ruins of a subsidiary shrine.

A Mosque as seen from the Temple complex.

Entrance seen from shrine.

The remaining side walls of the Temple.

The Avantishwara Temple situated a km away from the main Temple looks very similar to its Vishnu counterpart.

But nothing much is left to say the story here.

Few of the idols in the Temple are now kept in Sri Pratap Singh museum in Srinagar.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Temples of Kashmir: Marthand Sun Temple

19th August 2012

This was the photo that inspired us to visit this great Temple. Taken by John Burke in 1868 from a hill, it looked grand. (Picture is taken from Wikipedia)

But the Temple shown by our car driver was in complete contrast. Our interest was on the Sun Temple that was destroyed by Sikandar Butishikan and now in ruins. But what we saw was a huge Temple complex crowded with pilgrims performing various rites and rituals. And certainly it had no reminisce of the Temple in our mind. While it was great to see Hindus freely performing religious rites in Kashmir, we were simply not impressed. Did we come to a wrong Temple?

Coming back to car, we asked the driver whether things were goofed up. “The stone Temple is still further. But I thought that you would be interested in seeing this Temple” was his reply. First things first and we headed to the ruins!!

Unlike Naranag Temple, the sun Temple of Marthand is well protected by ASI. It is surrounded by beautiful garden which is typical of an ASI monument. Sardarji guides were available to provide the information about the Temple. That was a great thing. Unlike fellow Hindus, they decided to stay back in the valley.

The Temple was built by Laitaditya Muktapida during 8th century. The main Temple stands on a high plinth surrounded by 84 small shrines.

The main shrine consists of oblong, sanctum, vestibule and mantapa. The roof is completed destroyed. A specialty of this Temple is two double chambered sideways flanking the Mantapa.

Images of Ganga, Yamuna, Vishnu and other gods are carved on the vestibule and Mantapa.

It is said that the shrines surrounding the main shrine were built later.

A large tank in front of the main shrine.

Photo from the side of the main shrine.

This great Temple was destroyed in 15th century by Sikandar Butshikan , one of the cruel rulers of the world.

Marthand Sun Temple is about 60km from Srinagar via Ananthnag (also called as Islamabad by locals!!). It is on the way to Pahalgam. The Shiva Temple mentioned in the beginning of the post is in the village of Mattan, 5 km before Marthand Sun Temple.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Temples of Kashmir: Naranag Temple

18th August 2012

While climbing down from Gangabal, the ruins of a Temple were seen at the base of the valley. Though we were aware of an old that Temple existed in Naranag, it was never expected to be just next to the ending point of the trek.

It is not a single Temple but a complex that houses several shrines. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is believed to be constructed during 8th century by King Lalithaditya Muktapida.  Kashmiri Pandits used to consecrate the ashes of their relatives in Gangabal Lake and then come to this Temple to offer worship. That was quarter century ago before the advent of militancy. Now efforts are on to renew those rituals.

As we enter the Temple complex, first group of shrines are seen. The roof is the main Temple is damaged and is replaced by galvanized sheets. There is nothing much left in the smaller shrines.

The second group of Temples can be seen at a lower altitude at about 100 meters away from the entrance.

A huge platform stands before the Temple which people from nearby houses use for drying clothes.

A Shiva linga badly damaged due to time. This is not surprising with snow covering few months every year.

There are big stone made tanks to store water in front of the main Temple. This is made up of single stone!!

The main Temple is much damaged with only walls remaining intact. The roof is completed damaged.

A Temple with Shiva linga inside.

A small Kalyani inside a Temple.

At the end of the Temple complex is a water tank that holds water from the nearby spring. It is now used for washing clothes.

There is no sign of maintenance for these Temples. Years of neglect due to militancy and Government apathy have made it vulnerable. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Temples of Kashmir: Kheer Bhavani Temple

12th August 2012

Today there are very few Hindus left in Kashmir valley, but some good Temples still exists. One such Temple is Kheer Bhavani Temple at Tula Mula 27 km from Srinagar. A religiously significant Temple for Kashmiri Pandits, it is now attracting lot of pilgrims in recent years due to waning of militancy.

We visited this Temple on our way to Sonamarg. From outside, the Temple looks like a CRPF headquarters!! Considering the number of shops outside, it looks like it is a famous place among tourists.

The Temple complex itself is quite large and peaceful.

The main Temple is constructed over a sacred spring. It is a common practice here to offer milk and kheer to the spring as a part of worship.

It is said that the colour of the spring changes occasionally. It is said that the colour of the spring changed to black during the start of insurgency in late 80’s!! But now it looked turquoise blue which I hope is a good sign.

Old chinar trees in the Temple complex provide shade and resting place for people. Since there were very few visitors, we rested for some time under a tree!!

The Temple constructed of White marble is considered more religiously important rather than for its architecture. For people interested in architecture, there are better Temples in Kahsmir!! More information about them in the later posts.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A waterfall

30th September 2012

A road side waterfall near Horanadu.

A closer look into the falls.

This is how it looks from road.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sirimane waterfalls

1st October 2012

Few km from Sringeri is this nice waterfall called Sirimane. Few years ago, one had to walk for five km from Kigga village to reach the falls. But now a road is constructed till waterfalls and concrete steps take us directly to its base.

The best part is that the falls is completely safe to get in. With the absence of deep pools and dangerous swirls, even kids can easily get down to the falls. This made my daughter extremely happy with this waterfall.

Next to the main falls, a small waterfall hides behind the trees.

Side view of Sirimane falls.

A close up shot of the falls.

From a view point nearby one can see the top view of the falls.

A good place to visit if you are in Sringeri. To avoid crowds, visit this falls early in the morning.