Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Unique Temple at Haripur Where the Lower Caste Women is Worshipped

Temple of Mother Bhagayani at Haripur Dhar
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It seems inconceivable at least in a caste ridden society that a women belonging to a lower class is worshiped by the so called upper class Hindus. Yet it is true in Haripur Dhar in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Struck by the peculiarity of the village at an altitude of 7000 feet above sea level and a six hour drive through the serpentine hilly road; it is a relief to reach the village. 

Above 3 Km uphill, the temple is situated on a hilltop and provides a breathtaking view. A serene atmosphere without the usual noise and crowds associated with more popular temples is soothing. The temple though incomplete fills one with reverence, where the devotees perform prayers and pay their obeisance to Mother Bhagayani.

The story of the idol is that during the medieval period there once was a great saint Shrigur Maharaj in the area. He happened to visit Delhi. He was disgusted with the malpractices adopted by the shopkeepers to fleece the people. On protesting hes was arrested and put behind the bars. Guga Maharaj another venerated saint from Rajasthan came to his rescue and with the help of Bhagayani, who was a sweeperess managed to release Shrigur Maharaj. Bhagayani accompanied the saint to this place and has been worshipped as saint since then.

The temple at Haripur Dhar is the only place of worship where cutting across all shackles of caste-ism the uppr class Hindus worship a women lower in caste than themselves.

The temple has got a managing committee comprising the Sub- Divisional Magistrate, Tehsildar and other eight prominent people of the area.

The temple receives a steady stream of devotees who visit daily. The people from the far off places also visit the temple and attribute their achievements to the blessings of Mother Bhagayani.

Every year an annual fair is held in the month of April on Baisakhi when thousands of people throng the temple to worship the deity. Some offer goat sacrifices to please the deity. There is no plausible reason apart from tradition as to why the practice is prevalent.

May the light of transgressing caste-ism en-kindled in this tiny village spread to the rest of the country too. 

Kullu- The Valley of Temples

The Kullu valley in Himachal Pradesh is famous for its scenic beauty as much as it is known for its temples and folk traditions. The valley is said to be the abode of gods and goddesses. The people of Kullu consider the deities not only as gods but also their teacher, councilor, doctor and friend, with a solution to all their problems.

Kullu has been mentioned as Kulantapeetha in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as well as in Vishnupurana, Markandayapurana and Brihat Samihata. One of the earliest references in 5th century BC has been found in Pananini’s work known as Ashtadhyayai, where Kullu has been called Kulanta. The place also finds mention in Banabhatta’s kadambini written in 7th century BC; Vishakadatta’s play Mudra Rakahas and Kalhana’s Rajatrangini.

The Kullu valey offers a variety in stone and wood carvings in the architecture of its temples, about 1000 of which are still standing there since millenniums and centuries. These temples are of four types, the Shikhara, Pagoda, Mandapa and Flat- roofed.

                                                   Visheshwara Mahadev at Bajaura

Visheshwara Mahadev at Bajaura

The most popular temple in the region, which is also the earliest in entire Himachal Pradesh is that of Visheshwara Mahadev at Bajaura and is built around 1st century AD. It is situated at the right bank of Beas river and is about 15 Km from Kullu town while proceeding to Mandi.

A Miniature stone Shiva Temple in Jagatsukh, 6 KM South of Manali along the road to Naggar
Photo Credit- Wikimedia Commons by 

Shiva and Sandhaya Devi temples at Jagatsukh

The miniature temple built around 9th century AD at Jagatsukh village is also dedicated to Lord Shiva and is also a monument of national importance. Another famous temple at Jagarsukh is that of Sandhaya Devi.

Naggar the former capital of the erstwhile state of Kullu has several temples. Nagger could be approaches either from Patlikuhl or from Manali.
 There is a gauri Shankar temple in Shikhars style and the Ashiva temple.  The Ashiva and the Shiva temple at Dakshal village have been taken up by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Shikhara style of architecture is a typical characteristic of north Indian plains and was probably introduced into the hills around 2nd century AD. Like the temples in the plains these temples are richly carved and are without any pillared hall attached to the structure.

Hidimba Termple
Photo Credit- Wikimedia Commons by Biswarup Ganguly

Hidimba Devi Temple at Manali

The Pagoda style temple of Hidimba Devi is about 1200 meters from the main Manali bazzar. This mysterious temple is dedicated to the demon goddess Hadimba, also called Hirma Devi. The man eating demon Hadimba of Mahabharata times that Bheema had married on the condition that she would give up her evil deeds is worshipped as a goddess here and is in fact the presiding deity of the entire Kullu valley. Even today her position is next to Raghunathji, and her presence is must during the famous raht yatra or the chariot procession held at the beginning or end of the international Dussehra fair.

The temple of Hadimba Devi was rebuilt by Rajah Bahadur Singh of Kullu in 1553 AD. It is a square structure with three roofs of narrow wodden planks one over other. A large cone shaped roof tapers off on the top.

 There are exquisite wood carvings at the entrance and on the pillars. On the right at the base of the frame of the door are shown Mahishasurmardini and a devotee with folded hands and seated on Nandi bull are the Lord Shiva and his consort the goddess Parvati. On the left of the door is goddess Durga, a devotee and Lord Vishnu and Luxmi seated on Garuda.

Prashar Temple
Photo Credit- Wikimedia Commons by Dr Satendra

Prashar Temple

About 50 Km South- East of Kullu town is the temple of the sage known as Prashar Rishi. On the other hand about 20 Km North- West of Kullu at Dayar is the temple of Triyugi Narayan, which has been built in 15th century AD.

The valley has various attractions to offer which range from fairs, festivals and scenic beauty to ornamental dresses and handicrafts. But the main attraction still remains with the historic temples with their architectural fineness. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Symbols of Kangra Paintings at Narmadeshwar Temple

1.Paintings on the Walls of the temple
The Narbadsahwar or Narmadeshwar temple, a great legacy of Kangra art left behind by Maharaja Sansar Chand (1774- 1823), one of the mightiest king of the hills, needs proper conservation. The temple built by the king in the capital town of Sujanpur Tihra in memory of his mother queen Prasani Devi is an example of exquisite art in perfection. The wall paintings by the well known painter in the court of Raja Sansar Chand named Manku and his family members represent the climax of Kangra School of paintings. Every square inch of the inside wall of the temple is an embodiment of splendid art in color.

2. Narmadeshwar Temple
The temple is situated on the left bank of the Beas River. On either side of the entrance gate of the temple there are two stone idols of Bhagwan Mahavir and Bhairon. There are four small temples on each corner of the Narbadsahwer temple. The idols of Sun, Ganapati, Durga and Radha Krishna have been installed in each of these temples.

Narbadeshwar Linga or phallic symbol, the main idol has been installed in central cabin. Facing this idol above on the wall is a painting depicting the incident of the wedlock ceremony of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Other wall paintings represent the anecdotes from Bhagwat Purana, Upnishadas and from other mythical literature. The paintings of Nath sect and Guru Nanak Dev have also been painted besides the pictures from the regal life of the king.
3 Miniature Paintings on the Ceilings of the Temple
Though the painting done in this temple are the highest landmark of Kangra School of paintings, yet the conditions of these paintings for the want of care are in bad shape.
Not long ago the interior walls of this temple were got dusted and brush cleaned, but the cleaning operation had done more harm to the color patterns than any good. At places the color stands rubbed off and the wall paintings are permanently damaged.

Not many people visit this temple. Not even the lovers of art are aware that the temple where the maximum work of Kangra art is visible on the walls of the temple is decaying in obscurity. A slender and bushy path through a dirty lane connects the temple with the outer world.

If the archaeological survey and the state govt. do not take much interest in the proper preservation of the work of art, the main source of Kangra paintings will become a thing of the past.
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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Murals in Radha Krishan temple of Dada Siba

1. The Radha Krishna Temple

Dada Siba was a small princely state in Himachal Pradesh, which now falls in Dehra Tehsil of Kangra district and is about 12 Km from the famous Jwalamukhi Temple. The stare was founded by Raja Sibarn Chand in 1450 AD.

2. The Mural on Walls of Temple

There is a Radha Krishan temple in Dada Seba which was reconstructed by Raja Ram Singh (1845-1874 AD). The temple contains murals in Pahari style all over the outer walls of inner sanctum.

The murals as well as frescoes that survive today in temples, shrines, palaces, forts and houses in Himachal Pradesh are predominantly religious in theme and character. The most popular theme in mural paintings like miniatures is based on the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics, Shiv Purana and Devi Bhagwat.

3. The Mural inside Temple
There are about 400 panels both big and small of the paintings in the temple. The largest two of the size of 12 feet by 1.5 feet are about the Krishan leela where the lord is painted in association with the Gopis, cowherds and Radha. There is also a fine painting of the marriage of Lord Krishna with Rukmani. The Kaliya Daman or the taming of Kalia snake is another painting which is in fairly good condition. On another panel Lord Rama and Luxman are shown fighting fiercely with the Rakshas or the demons.  The other paintings on Ramayana are Sita- Swambara and the coronation of Lord Rama. The other uncommon Durbar scene of the monkey god Sugriva is also finely executed.

4. The Mural of Gopis

The painting of Lord Vishnu reclinging on Shesh Nag with the goddess Luxmi pressing gently the feet of the Lord that of Lord Shiva and Parvati in the forest also adore the temple. The most striking painting in the temple is of Kunjar Kamini, a group of women arranged in the shape of the form of an elephant.

The Sikh influence is also seen in a painting of Guru Nanak Dev sitting all alone under a tree.

The paintings on stylistic grounds belong to the 2nd half of the 19th century. The color of all the paintings has faded. Although the quality of the paintings of Dada Siba is not so fine as compared to some other paintings at Chamba, Nurpur, Dharamsala, Kullu, Sujanpur Tira and Arki in Himachal Pradesh, yet the composition and drawings are elegant, graceful and forceful too. The paintings with the passage of time have lost much of their grandeur and colors. Much damage has been caused to the paintings on the front walls.

The Language and Culture Department of Himachal Pradesh is taking care of this temple. In the first phase the panels of the paintings were chemically cleaned. The process of removing the varnish from the paintings caused much problem as the successive coats of thick and cheap wood varnish had been applied many times years ago to the paintings and the same has polymerized and turned pale with the course of time. It has also resulted in the cracks on the surface of varnish and the layers of the paintings as well.

The process of de-varnishing and cleaning the paintings was carried out with utmost care, patience and expertise step by step by removing all calcareous accretions and only greasy stains etc., over the surface. A great improvement is now seen after the restoration process.

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