Friday, March 22, 2013

Temples of Chamba

Chamba in Himachal pradesh is a small town located between the  mountain ranges of Zanskar and Dhauladhar. The town stands on a plateau on the banks of river Raavi.
The curvy roads passing through sylvan surroundings, majestic mountain ranges, the dense pine forests, small villages nestled in the deep valleys such various panoramic views around Chamba makes it any nature lover’s delight. But for me the most fascinating things about Chamba were it’s beautiful temples. Specially The Laxmi Narayan temple.
The Laxmi Narayan temple compound had six big temples and many other smaller shrines dedicated to various Gods. The main shrine is of Laxmi Narayan. Others are consecrated to lord shiva and lord Vishnu.

All the six temples stand side by side on stony platform. The temples with their magnificent shikhara, intricate carvings and detailing are insignia of medieval architecture. The shikharas of temples are composed of miniatures of  temple itself, all grouped in an orderly way. The outer walls are broken into many layers to give a circular impression. The shikhara culminates into a circular disc shaped structure at the top above which rests the dazzling kalash.

The temple dates back to 10th century A.D. Laxmi Narayan temple remains closed for about 2 hours in noon. From 12.30 to 2.30. In fact when we reached there the shrine doors were closed hence we waited there in compound after taking a round of the compound and enjoying the beautiful carvings. That waiting time was one of the blessed experience of my life. As I sat down on the platform facing the temples, threw my head back and tried to fix my gaze on the finials of shikharas. The glorious blue sky glowed above and the pointed kalash, as if reached out to the unknown or created a passage for us to transcend to the unseen. My heart filled with peace.  It is said that in nagara style of temples there is a structure called gavaksh in the shikhara. This gavaksh is a closed window kind of structure. Symbolically it denotes that open space from where the God above pours his grace on the deity installed by man in the inner sanctorum. At that particular moment I felt that several gavakshas have been opened in the sky itself and God is pouring his grace on me. Oh, how fulfilled I felt.

Quite near to this famous temple of Chamba is a comparatively lesser know temple of Harinarayan.This temple was built in 11th century a.d.Built in Shikhara style the temple is adorned with intricate carvings. Once this temple stood at the entrance of Chamba town. Though now midst the crowded market place, ,the temple still retains it’s architectural magnificence and spiritual appeal.

Chamunda devi temple in Chamba proved to be the best view point for us. We reached there at about 4 p.m.and the view of valley and river Ravi from the temple compound and stairs was spell binding. This temple is located on a comparatively higher point and is far away from the hustle bustle of market place and town. The compound has an ancient temple of nagar style dedicated to lord shiva and a wooden temple of pahadi style dedicated to devi chamunda. The distinct architecture of both the style has it’s own charm. The big peepal trees, the vermilion covered statues of various gods and goddess,the open compound and the  reigning peace make it a perfect place to spend few hours ,if you want to be with yourself, you need to be on journey within.
There are other famous temple sites near chamba such as Chaurasi temples of Bharmour.This place is about 65 km from chamba town.
The best time to visit the place from the point of view of enjoying the architectural magnificence is from September to November The rainy season being over and winters not yet fully arrived this is the best time to roam freely in the open compounds and premises of temples.
Chamba has a rich heritage of handicrafts and paintings.The chamba rumals,chappals and pahadi style paintings are unique expressions of other art forms of chamba.
Nearest airports to Chamba are Amritsar and Jammu which are around 190 kms. Chamba  is well connected by road from  Delhi and Chandigarh. Delhi is 627 kms and Chandigarh is 357 kms from Chamba. Regular buses ,taxis and coaches ply from both the places.Pathankot in Punjab is the nearest railway station about 119km from chamba.

All pics by sunder Iyer


Panchali said...

Thanks for sharing amazing architecture of the Lakshmi Narayan temple, Namita. Thanks for the details as well. The open-roof sounds interesting...I can imagine how blessed you must have felt staning under that huge empty space.
Enjoyed your impeccable narration...I haven't been there, now it is in my wish-list!:))

namita said...

Thanks dear for being such a consistent support.The quiet ,serene ambiance of ancient temples have that magical impact on one.They transport one to realm beyond.