Sunday, 21 December 2014

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
Photo Credit-flickriver.com

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 
Amitdighe

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. 

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