Saturday, December 19, 2015

Nara Nag temple of Kashmir

Nara Nag temple of Kashmir- evokes awe and is a devotee's delight.

The Valley of Kashmir is known not only for its lush green meadows, snow-capped mountains but also for its historical and religious places. There is a temple complex called Nara Nag which evokes awe and is a devotee's delight.

The moonlight in the valley of the Nara Nag is a mesmerizing experience in the month of November as the snow on the higher peaks reflects the full moonlight in the sky, beauty is further added by the tortuous course of the Kanka River torrent whose white and foaming water epitomize the moon silver light on the earth. The fast gale, silver moon light and sound of the gushing water of the Kanka River is a commemorative sight for the Nara Nag group of temples.

The small tank with perennial water of Nara Nag has refreshing, digestive properties. At a further distance there is a temple dedicated to Bhairva. The western group identified with the temple is dedicated to Lord Siva. Lalitaditya Muktapida eighth century King of Kashmir erected a temple of Lord Shiva here. The King Avantivarman paid a visit and and donated a pedestal with a silver conduct for bathing at Bhutsher. These temples are built of grayish granite found in abundance in neighborhood and their different architectural entities as evidently prove that they are of a different era.

The Sodaratirtha referred in the Nilamata Purana is among the scared tiratha in Kashmir Valley presently known as Nara Nag. Till the last quarter of 20th century, out of religious beliefs, local Kashmir Pandits after consecrating the ashes of their relatives in the Gangabal Lake come to perform the last rites for the peace of departed soul.

The first group consists of seven temples, the largest temple of the group has two entrances opposite to each other in north-east and south-west direction. The temple is built of huge rectangular stones laid in dry masonry with inter locking system. The interior is square and ceiling is domical built of horizontal kanjur stones and the apex stone crowned by a full blown lotus. The galvanized sheets roofing is of later addition. All the temples had conical stone roof of a single stone, the evidence of which are available on the site. The center is an unpaved square space for missing image of principle diety in the interior.

The closed doors embellished with trefoil arches and pediment reflect the Greco-Roman influence on the Kashmiri Temple architecture. The closed arches decorated with square topped arches meant to carry sculptures. Besides the main temple, there are six other miniature shrines placed in an unsymmetrical manner in the compound intended as subsidiary shrines. These subsidiary shrines were probably erected by various groups of pilgrims as a mark of reverence after returning from Gangabal Lake in form of "votive offering" after successful accomplishment of the hazardous ascent to Gangabal Lake.

About one hundred meters below towards the River Bed , the second group of temples is enclosed by two chambered huge gateway of similar size and shape as of Avantipur temple.

The roofless two chambered gateway were once supported by four pillars, the base of which are in situ. In this group there are about six small roofless temples with high plinths. The main shrine has only huge arched entrance and other three sides have closed doors with trefoil arches encased in triangular encasing. The ceiling of the grabha-griha or the Cella rounded off with rubble lime motar, probably of the later period, converting the square into a circle originally the triangular slabs springs the domical roof by corners of Kanjur stones. The three exterior trefoil niches once had a large image which is no more extant. A huge rectangular tank scooped out from a single rock into a water tank exists on the south face of the principal temple. The whole group encircled is by the remains of rectangular wall of huge stones of which the foundation could be traced, together with several base of pillars and fluted pillars similar to the Avantiswamin Temple , just opposite to the main entrance. There is a large platform with evidence of twelve pedestals of pillars, eight in number four on the longer side and four on the shorter side.

The flight of stairs is built between the central pair of columns facing the first group of temple. The 100` ft long by 67` broad pillared hall is a remarkable architecture feat of the whole group of temples.

The temples were plundered in the days of Jyasimha in Kalhana's time. The temple of Naranag suffered many misfortunes as mentioned in Khalhana's Rajatarangani during the reign of Sangramaraja (11th century). The temple- was plundered by Bhandesvara, a Minister of the King. For the period of the reign of Uchchala (12th century) a conflagration caused much damage to the building and during the reign of Jayasimha Hayavadava(12th century), a rebel minister also attacked these temples. Nara Nag is the base camp of the Gangabal Lake it takes 8-10 hour on foot or on horse back to reach the lake.

(source: Nara Nag

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