The overwhelming beauty of Kashmir is marked with intrigue. Kashmir was once imbued with Hinduism and spirituality, and Kashmiri Shivaism, a non-dualistic tradition that dates back to 850 C.E., had a deep influence on it. It was a Kashmiri Hindu, Swami Lakshman Joo, who was instrumental in reviving Kashmiri Shivaism. (Walk the talk with Canta Dadlaney, through the ruins of Krimchi Temples that transport you to a bygone history marked with riches and royalty!)
The ruins of the Krimchi Temples are one of the most captivating places and are situated at a distance of about 14km from the city of Udhampur. These temples are considered to be the oldest in the state of Jammu dating back to the period between the 8th and the 9th centuries. While no written information exists today to validate their history, the stories behind the construction of these temples are numerous. Some say they were built by King (Raja) Kichak of the Mahabharat (the ancient historic war fought between the Pandavas and the Kauravas), while others state that they were built by the Pandavas, who, after being sent into exile, spent a lot of their time in this region. This accounts for these temples popularly referred to as the ‘Pandhava Temples’.
Destination - Krimchi
A 30-minute drive by road from Udhampur city brings you to this complex which includes a total of seven temples, four large ones facing the east and three small ones facing the west. Built on the banks of a stream, the temples are surrounded with lush foliage and a vast range of colourful flowers. The main temple stands at a towering height of 50 ft and is dedicated to Hindu deities i.e. Lord Shiva, his consort Goddess Parvati, their child, Lord Ganesha and Lord Vishnu.
A Celebrated History
Krimchi was the brain-child of King Kichak, a contemporary of the Pandavas who defeated and killed him. The lineage of royals who ruled Krimchi is long with some of the notable rulers being King Dayakaran (the son of King Puran Karan), King Bahadur Singh and, King Himmat Singh.
For the convenience of visitors and tourists, the temples have been marked from one to seven. Temple number three is the oldest and temple number one appears as the most decorated one. A lot of information has been concisely detailed throughout the temples to give an insight into the background of this sacred place. Many attribute the architecture of these temples to Greek influences though some local folk state that the architecture is influenced by the ‘Nagara’ style of North India. Some believe that they were built by the Pandavas while others affirm that they were built by the Dev dynasty of Jammu state.
The eroded walls depict faded abstract impressions and the structures appear very similar to the Indian temples at Chamba, Bhubanewswar and Barmour. The pillars bear discrete foliage motifs which speak volumes of the creativity of that time.
In the past, archaeologists and researchers, in the course of excavations, discovered stone idols, iron arrow heads, earthen pots and other ancient paraphernalia which are exhibited for all to see. The excavations have now been stopped to retain the historical importance of these monuments which have a unique story of their own. Many a request has been put forth for this temple complex to be deemed as a World Heritage site to no avail.
Walking amongst these ancient ruins transports one to a mystical era of a past, deeply mired in spirituality and imbues one with an unknown serenity and calm.
These ancient temple ruins make for a very popular tourist attraction and are a must-visit for curious minds and solace seekers.
Timings of visit: 6am – 6pm.
Banner Image credit- Canta Dadlaney