On the banks of river Liddar in Pahalgam, Kashmir, is situated the ancient Mamalaka Shiva Temple. Liddar river divides into two branches at this point in Pahalgam and the temple lies on the bank of right branch. It is known as Mamaleshwar and was a popular destination for all pilgrims going to Amarnath. Now the temple is a protected one under ASI as its the oldest temple of Kashmir dating back to AD 400 and they have taken some steps to preserve this ancient temple of historical importance. This ancient temple finds itself in Kalhanas Rajatharangini.
The temple is a small one, internal dimensions being 8’ x 8’. The small temple of typical Kashmiri architecture is still visited by the pilgrims, but very less in number. The inner sanctum of the temple has an extended porch outside resting on stone columns. ASI has made new columns to keep the temple structure protected. In front of the temple a 12 ft. square tank lined by stone slabs is fed by a pure crystal clear water spring. It’s in perfect symmetry to the temple.
Lord Shiva is the main deity worshipped in this ancient temple and you find a Shiv Linga inside. It’s known as Mamaleshwar. The present Linga is of much later period though its base or Pranali is ancient. King Jayasingha (1128 55 AD) offered a golden Amalaka and/or Kalash to this shrine which don’t exist anymore.
It is believed that the spring in the court of this temple is the same spring where Mata Parvati bathed and had asked Lord Ganesha to safe guard the entrance. This is how the temple got its name – comprising words ‘mam mal’ that means ‘do not go’.
The temple is at a height and you have to climb some distance after which you have around 30 odd stairs. Reaching the temple and worshipping there was an experience I can never forget. It was so peaceful and amazing that it took a lot convincing for me to finally leave as I was very reluctant to leave a place as auspicious and serene as the temple.