The Little known Masroor Rock Cut Temple!

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30 odd km from Kangra town, there is this rock cut temple, which is hardly known to even people of that district. It is the Masroor Rock Cut Temples which many call as Himachal Pyramids or Elloras of Himachal.

These rock cut temples of Masroor have been carved out of the sandstone monoliths which make up the landscape. No one seems to know who carved them. There are many legendary stories that go round.  Few locals say it was built by Pandavas. There’s another legend attached to the construction of this temple, it is said that these temples were carved out at night, and work had to be halted when it was morning, which is why some shrines remained unfinished. Historians have identified that sculptures in the Masroor temples have been shaped in late Gupta style, most likely in the second half of the 8th century. There are not known inscriptions in the temple and no written accounts about this temple – thus it is rather a guess.

Legends apart, it is the architecture of the temple that is awe-inspiring. It has been built in Nagara style. This is very important style in Hindu temple architecture, with characteristic beehive formed towers. Every design is intricately carved. The temple has black stone idols of Ram Lakshman and Sita. But in the centre of the temple is a figure of shiva which brings a theory that possibly the temple originally was of Mahadev. The shikhars of some of the temples remain standing and are a supreme display of the craftsmen of the 7th -8th century who overcame the limitations of the existing rock structures to shape and carve their creations. The rock-cut style started in the reign of the Pallava King, Narsingha Varman (630-668 AD) during the 1st half of the 7th century.  It reached its climax in the Kailasha Temple at Ellora.  Though rock-cut caves are common in South India, yet, temples cut out of free standing rocks, known to archaeologists and art critics, are only 4 in number – Rathas of Mammalapuram, Kailashas at Ellora, Dharmanatha temples in Dharmnar and this one as Masroor. The Rathas & Kailashas are built in the Dravidian style, whereas the Masroor and Dharmnar ones are in the Nagara style.

Lets go through the carvings. There are depictions of Shiva, Parvati, Kartikaya, Buddha, Indra, Surya, as well as the Sapta Matrikas (seven forms of the goddess) and Ashta Lakshmi (8 forms of Lakshmi).

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The Saptamatrikas

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Ashta Lakshmi

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Kartikaya, who is rarely seen in Northern part of India

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Not sure of this but looks like Dasha Mahavidya of Maa Durga with Durga in the centre.

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Smiling face of Buddha

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Script on walls at few places which is yet to be deciphered. Maybe when deciphered can throw some light on this mysterious temple.

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Broken pieces lying at different places. Happened after the severe earthquake that rocked this place in 1905.

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The place is indeed beautiful. And one should visit it. State is trying to get World Heritage site tag but yet to get one. But it is indeed a heritage site, one that we can be proud of.

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8 thoughts on “The Little known Masroor Rock Cut Temple!

  1. What a treat. Looks like the temple had more of shakti idol carved.

    Thanks for sharing. Maybe some time would visit the place.

    Like

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