As civilizations collapse and rise, the historical ruins, the monuments serve as relics coming from history and to be passed to future generations. Monuments act as an impression of the past. The monolithic rock-cut cave temples of Masroor in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh are one such representation and portrayal of architectural treasure preserved over centuries and for future generations to appear.
Located 32 kms from Kangra in Dharamsala on the Nagrota- Surian Link Road, Masroor Rock Cut Temple is an archaeological scene that is presently in ruins. The temple is an assortment of 15 rock-cut temples constructed in the Indo- Aryan manner of architecture, speculated to have been constructed in the 8th century. Devoted to the Hindu divinities Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and Saura, the temple faces northeast, in the direction of the Dhauladhar range.
Presently under research, specialists indicate that the structure was a component of an elaborate project of additional construction which has been abandoned incomplete. Most of the structure has been damaged, primarily due to earthquakes.
The Masroor Temples have been created out of a single monolithic rock in Nagara technique, with a Shikara. The temple has three openings at present; however, apparently, a fourth door has been abandoned incomplete.
The architecture is stimulated by Hindu scripts, it contains a blessed pool of water, the whole structure is symmetric and is laid out in a square. The main temple with a square sanctum situated in the center area whereas the other small temples encircle it in a mandala structure. The complex carvings in the interiors illustrate education from the Vedic times.
Located on the top of a rough mountain and encircled by panoramic Dhauladhar mountains, the enchanting Masroor Rock Cut Temple is crowded by devotees and travellers likewise. It is furthermore believed that taking a dip in the blessed waters of the pool can purify your spirit from sins.
Masroor Temple, The Himalayan Pyramid
Popularly recognized as the Himalayan Pyramid, Masroor is a rock-cut temple. It is an assortment of 15 rocks temples created out of a single rock and constructed around the main temple. Therefore, the 14 encircling temples were created from the outside however the main temple was created from the inside, they certainly are a phenomenon of structure.
The main temple maintains idols of Lord Rama, Lord Lakshmana, and Goddess Sita, all facing east. There is moreover a figure of Lord Shiva over the entrance to the central altar at Masroor. Cut deep into the rock, the portrayal of the coronation of Shiva upon the lintel was one of the best maintained of the temple's ruined carvings.
It is a delight to observe; Shiva's posture here was with his eyes closed, sat very much like the Buddha is recognized to sit. The existence of this sculpture has directed philosophers and archaeologists to speculate that the temple was initially dedicated to Lord Shiva, however was later transformed to worship Lord Rama.
Asserted to be constructed around the 8th and 9th centuries, Masroor shares a stark resemblance with the temples at Angkor Wat in Cambodia which was constructed in the early half of the 12th century.
- Wear comfortable footwear as you will be needed to walk uphill and downhill while departing to and from the temple.
- Maintain silence in the premises of the temple and respect the boundaries of restricted zones
- Photography is banned in the restricted zones of the temple. So, look out for the signs.
- Pay respect to the set of rules and regulations and do behave and dress the way you are expected to do.
According to the regional beliefs, the Pandavas spent an extended period of time here in this temple premise during their exile. Another tale lets out about the presence of an incomplete staircase that is established inside the temple. It is asserted that the staircase was created by the Pandavas to reach paradise.
They took an oath to complete the building work by the same day sunrise. Hearing to this Indra, the king of the Gods got tensed as the stairs would carve the way to reach paradise easily accessible. So he disguised himself in the shape of a crow and cried loudly before the early morning. As a consequence, the Pandavas, could not complete the staircase.
Archaeologists speculate that the Masroor temple was still being shaped when Mahmud of Ghazni put a blockade on the territory in 1009. Recognized as the conqueror of a thousand temples', Mahmud ravaged the fabled prosperity of the Kangra valley, Masroor and all. He demolished everything as he moved, however, Masroor's protecting grace was its structure from bare rock, making it practically invincible by Mahmud's army.
Although Mahmud did not eradicate the temple, it is speculated that his untimely appearance hindered the temple's completion. Thereafter, natural forces were to abandon Masroor destitute at the turn of the 20th century, when in 1905, an intense earthquake ravaged the territory, overthrowing Masroor's stone pillars and damaging the northernmost shikhara.
A slim stairway, the steps a slight worn through centuries of usage, cut up through the rock onto the roof of the temple, atop which posed the persisting shikharas. The main building prevails untouched, however, the other nine were not relatively so fortunate. Few had lost half of their glory; others had been repurposed by gravity as a rockery of types by the pond closeby.
Best Time to Visit
It is suggested that you try to explore the Masroor Rock Cut Temple during Shiv Ratri so that you get to relish the festival that the regional people celebrate there in happiness at that time. It is furthermore recommended that you resist touring the temple in the monsoon season because of the abrupt and risky landslides that take place in Himachal Pradesh at that time due to the heavy rainfall.
How to reach:
The Masroor rock-cut temple is accessible seven days a week. The temple stands roughly
- By Air: The closest airport is at Gaggal, nearly 15 km away from Dharamsala. There are regular flights from Delhi.
- By Train: The closest well-connected railway station is at Pathankot. The Kangra Railway Station is just linked by a narrow-gauge train from Pathankot to Joginder Nagar.
- By Road: Dharamsala is nicely connected to Pathankot by road, and there are regular buses ply on the route. Masroor temple is on the way to Nagrota, and there are limited buses here. It is best to rent out a vehicle from Dharamsala or Kangra.
The Masroor Rock Cut Temple is a significant temple to the Hindu pilgrims who travel this territory at least once in a lifetime to lose themselves in the historical sacredness spreading out of these walls. A stop in this fantastical dwelling leaves every traveller with a pure spirit and a devoted perspective to encounter every upcoming challenge in life. Enjoy your visit to this magical place and fall in love with its ancient architecture and beauty.