The Masroor Temple in Himachal

The famous Masroor temple complex in Himachal Pradesh lies nearly 22 km from Kangra and 40 Kms from Dharamshala. It lies to the north-east of the village, a rocky sandstone ridge, the main axis of which runs from north-west to south-east. An outcrop of sandstone rock, the highest central portion of which has been separated from the rest by two transverse and more or less parallel cuttings, it accentuates the crest of the hill.

They are the stuff of legends. A set of 19 Nagara style temples featured out of a single sandstone piece with intricate carvings, they are testimony to the exceptional skill of their makers. The main temple, right in the center of the complex is also known as Thakurdwara. The largest monolith in Northern India, the temples are located North East of Masroor village. The 1905 Kangra earthquake destroyed 4 of the 19 completely and defaced most of the others. What remains now is the ruins of the Masroor temples. By its own admission, the ASI say they do not know much about the temples.

Till about 1875, these temples languished in obscurity as no one who should have known about them knew of them. In 1875, they were noted among the objects of Antiquarian interest in Punjab and were taken under ASI in Side view of the ruins 1912-13 after the devastating Kangra earthquake. The quality or the lack thereof of the ASI care is clearly visible in the mortar/gravel repair of some parts which defaces the monument more than the visitors who scribble on them with stone or chalk, which also no one seems to care about. Current state of maintenance notwithstanding, the temple ruins are grand to look at. Just in front of the complex face is a large water reservoir, around 50 metres in length, also made out of sandstone. The temple was originally built as a shrine to Siva but now houses stone statues of Rama, Lakshamana and Sita in the inner sanctum.

Just around the corner are a few caves in another hillock of limestone, probably used as living quarters by sages in the ages gone by. And beside the reservoir is a secondary school. Far towards the north are the Dhauladhars. Whoever conceived and executed the construction of these temples had great taste in choosing a location. Situated deep in the Kangra valley, this place perhaps offers the widest view of Dhauladhars from any point and to the opposite side is the present village of Masrur with its lush green terraced wheat fields.

A bit of unknown history, grandeur of monolith temples with intricate carvings, some great views of the Dhauladhars, difficult to find and not well kept by ASI. That’s Masroor temples for you.

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