The Shrines and Temples of Himachal Pradesh

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Temple of Gauri Shankar with sculpturesAn old painting of Panchvaktra temple at Mandi
Temple of Gauri Shankar with sculptures
Temple of Gauri Shankar with sculptures | Source
An old painting of Panchvaktra temple at Mandi
An old painting of Panchvaktra temple at Mandi | Source

Introduction

Himachal Pradesh, the land of various dales is rightly called the Dev Bhumi or the Land or Gods. There are about six thousand temples in this state, depicting a variety of art and architecture. From architectural point of view these temples can broadly be classified into seven main categories namely, flat-roofed, shikhera or pointed roofed, bent roofed, mandapa or domed, pagoda, gompa and cave.

The flat-roofed, shikhera and mandapa are found in lower areas; the bent roofed and pagoda types are located in middle areas; while the gompa depicting the Tobetan influence are located in higher areas.

Shikhera or Pointed Roofed Temples

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Laxminarayan temple of ChambaThe Baijnath TempleManimaheshvara Temple, Brahmaur, ChambaThe unique sun temple is situated at "Nirath"Panchvaktra Temple at MandiTriloknath temple at Mandi
Laxminarayan temple of Chamba
Laxminarayan temple of Chamba | Source
The Baijnath Temple
The Baijnath Temple | Source
Manimaheshvara Temple, Brahmaur, Chamba
Manimaheshvara Temple, Brahmaur, Chamba | Source
The unique sun temple is situated at "Nirath"
The unique sun temple is situated at "Nirath" | Source
Panchvaktra Temple at Mandi
Panchvaktra Temple at Mandi | Source
Triloknath temple at Mandi
Triloknath temple at Mandi | Source

Shikhera or Pointed Roofed Temples

The Shiva Temple at Baijnath is a famous shikhera temple. The sculpture and architecture of the temple have been interrelated to render it a great artistic value. There is fine carving on the shikhera or top of the temple too. The central axis is nicely planned. In the niches of the projecting buttresses some collateral god have been housed.

Other notable shikhera temples are Basheswar Mahadev at Bajaura in district Kullu, Panchvaktra and Bhutnath in district Mandi, and Luxmi Narayan, Hare Ram and Gauri Shankar, Manimahesh at Bharmour in district Chamba.

The ancient Sun temple situated at Nirath is unique in Himachal. It was built in Nagara style and is one of the two temples in India the another one is at Konark.It is situated at a distance of 18 km from Rampur in Kinnaur district.

Mandapa or Domed Temples

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Jwalamukhi temple at Kangra,Tarna temple at Mandi
Jwalamukhi temple at Kangra,
Jwalamukhi temple at Kangra, | Source
Tarna temple at Mandi
Tarna temple at Mandi | Source

Mandapa or Domed Temples

The Mughal and Sikh impact can be seen on dome Shaped and flat- roofed temples. Since these influences were limited to lower hills only and thus these types of temples are found in lower altitudes of Himachal Pradesh.

The Chintpurni and Jwalamukhi temples at district Kangra, Renuka Devi at Sirmur, Tarna temple at Mandi are the mandapa temples. Many temples in the region are flat roofed too.

Pagoda Temples

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Hidimba Devi Temple in Manāli,Walls of Hidimba Devi TempleA wall of the Hidimba Devi Temple with hanging skulls of sacrificed buffaloes.A carved statuette of a primitive warrior on a wall of the Hidimba Devi temple.Hadimba Devi Temple in ManaliParashar temple of pagoda style
Hidimba Devi Temple in Manāli,
Hidimba Devi Temple in Manāli, | Source
Walls of Hidimba Devi Temple
Walls of Hidimba Devi Temple | Source
A wall of the Hidimba Devi Temple with hanging skulls of sacrificed buffaloes.
A wall of the Hidimba Devi Temple with hanging skulls of sacrificed buffaloes. | Source
A carved statuette of a primitive warrior on a wall of the Hidimba Devi temple.
A carved statuette of a primitive warrior on a wall of the Hidimba Devi temple. | Source
Hadimba Devi Temple in Manali
Hadimba Devi Temple in Manali | Source
Parashar temple of pagoda style
Parashar temple of pagoda style | Source

Pagodas

The pagodas are quite peculiar in construction with pyramidal structure and tiered roofs. These famous pagoda temples are Hadimba Devi at Manali, Tripura Sundari at Naggar, Trijugi Narayan at Durja, Adi Brahma at Khoh, Prashar at Mandi, Sungra temple at Nichar and Chandrika Devi at Kothi.

The present temple of Hadimba Devi, located midst dense cedar forests in Manali was built on a huge rock jutting out of the ground in 1553 AD. This ancient cave temple has been dedicated to goddess Hadimba, the sister of Hidimb, an epic character in Mahabharata. The image of the deity is situated at the center of the rock. The skulls of sacrificed buffaloes could be found hanging on the walls of the temple. It is said that some of these skulls have been put up there since the ancient times and the legend goes that these are of pre-historic times.

Gompas ans Buddhist Monasteries

Click thumbnail to view full-size
 A statue inside Thekchen Choling Complex or Dalai Lama Temple, McLeod ganj, DharamsalaBuddhist Temple at KalpaTabo GumphaStupa & prayer wheels. Main street, McLeod GanjTibetan Stupas below the Tsuglag Khang Temple in McLeod Ganj at Dharamsala
 A statue inside Thekchen Choling Complex or Dalai Lama Temple, McLeod ganj, Dharamsala
A statue inside Thekchen Choling Complex or Dalai Lama Temple, McLeod ganj, Dharamsala | Source
Buddhist Temple at Kalpa
Buddhist Temple at Kalpa | Source
Tabo Gumpha
Tabo Gumpha | Source
Stupa & prayer wheels. Main street, McLeod Ganj
Stupa & prayer wheels. Main street, McLeod Ganj | Source
Tibetan Stupas below the Tsuglag Khang Temple in McLeod Ganj at Dharamsala
Tibetan Stupas below the Tsuglag Khang Temple in McLeod Ganj at Dharamsala | Source

The Gompas

The Buddhist influence penetrated in the northern and higher ranges of Himachal Pradesh. Consequently the gompa types of temples are found in Lahaul & Spiti and Kinnaur districts. However two gompas exist at Rampur and Rewalsar too.

The gompas consist of several rooms and corridors with flat roofs.

Some of such temples are Kardang, Shahsur and Guru Gantal at Lahaul; Key, Dhankar, Tabo, Thang-gur, Pin at Spiti valley; and Kanam, Rarang, Jangi, Kalpa, Rangrich, Taslugong, Lahrang, Sunam, Shalkhar, Lippa and Thangi at Kinnaur.

Thekchen Choling Complex or Dalai Lama Temple complex at McLeod ganj at Dharamsals has become the centre of Buddhist art and architecture ever since the p;ace became the seat of Tibetan government in exile after the occupation of Tibet by China.

Several stupas and gompas are found in the districts of Kinnaur and Lahaul & Spiti in Himachal Pradesh.


Wooden Temples

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kamaksha Temple at Karsog  MandiTemple at Kalpa in KinnaurWooden door to sanctum sanctorumA wooden temple on the road on the left bank of River Beas near Naggar, District Kullu.The Bhima Kali Temple at Sarahan Silver panelling on the wooden gate of Bhima Kali Temple SarahanEntrance to temple at SarahanTemple of Gauri Shankar with sculpturesExterior view gaurishankar temple
Kamaksha Temple at Karsog  Mandi
Kamaksha Temple at Karsog Mandi | Source
Temple at Kalpa in Kinnaur
Temple at Kalpa in Kinnaur | Source
Wooden door to sanctum sanctorum
Wooden door to sanctum sanctorum | Source
A wooden temple on the road on the left bank of River Beas near Naggar, District Kullu.
A wooden temple on the road on the left bank of River Beas near Naggar, District Kullu. | Source
The Bhima Kali Temple at Sarahan
The Bhima Kali Temple at Sarahan | Source
 Silver panelling on the wooden gate of Bhima Kali Temple Sarahan
Silver panelling on the wooden gate of Bhima Kali Temple Sarahan | Source
Entrance to temple at Sarahan
Entrance to temple at Sarahan | Source
Temple of Gauri Shankar with sculptures
Temple of Gauri Shankar with sculptures | Source
Exterior view gaurishankar temple
Exterior view gaurishankar temple | Source
The wood-art on pillars of Hatu Temple near Narkanda at Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.
The wood-art on pillars of Hatu Temple near Narkanda at Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. | Source

Wooden Temples

The wood carving is also exclusive in the temples of Himachal Pradesh. The Lakshna Devi temple at Bharmour, Shakti Devi at Chhatri and Manikula at Pangi in Chamba district; the Hindu temple at Kalpa in Kinnaur district; the Bhima Kali temple at Sarahan with fine wood carving and silver panelling; the exquisite architecture and sculpture of Gauri Shankar temple; Magru Mahadev and Kamaksha Temple at Karsog in Mandi district are the fine examples of wood carving.

The epics, myths and phantoms are the motifs of these wood carvings. The roof pillars and façade of Magru Mahadev at Mandi portray the great epic of Ramayana through fine wood carvings.

The architecture of the wooden temple at Naggar in district Kullu is peculiar in certain parts of Western Himalayas. The style is slowly vanishing and this newly built temple is an effert to revive the ancient tradition.

Cave Temples

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Front view of Masrur TempleCarving at Masrur Temple
Front view of Masrur Temple
Front view of Masrur Temple | Source
Carving at Masrur Temple
Carving at Masrur Temple | Source

Cave Temples

The Masrur cave temples are devoted to lord Rama. It is a rock cut temple and a rare piece of architecture in Northern India. A massive rock measuring 45 by 31.5 meters has been cut and sculptured into a temple. Around the doorways there is a deep cut carving which is exquisite in style.

The Shiva Temple in Tilokpur in district Kangra, the temples at Kudd near Lar Bharol in district Mandi and Baba Deoth Sidh temple in district Hamirpur are fine cave temples.

Sikh Shrines

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sikh gurudwara Ponta SahibGurudwara at Mandi
Sikh gurudwara Ponta Sahib
Sikh gurudwara Ponta Sahib | Source
Gurudwara at Mandi
Gurudwara at Mandi | Source

Sikh Temples

Besides these Hindu temples and Buddhist gompas, the Sikh Gurudwaras are no exception. The Sikh shrines of Poanta Sahib, Rewalsar, Manikaran and Mandi are famous throughout the Sikh fraternity. All these places except Manikaran were visited by Guru Govind Singh while uniting the hill chieftains against the Mughals.

Churches

Click thumbnail to view full-size
St. john church at Mcleodganj,Christ church, Kasauli Built in 1850. The St. Michael's Catholic Church, ShimlaStained Glass windows at St. Michael's Catholic Church Shimla
St. john church at Mcleodganj,
St. john church at Mcleodganj, | Source
Christ church, Kasauli
Christ church, Kasauli | Source
 Built in 1850. The St. Michael's Catholic Church, Shimla
Built in 1850. The St. Michael's Catholic Church, Shimla | Source
Stained Glass windows at St. Michael's Catholic Church Shimla
Stained Glass windows at St. Michael's Catholic Church Shimla | Source

Churches

There are a number of churches in the state due to the prolonged association of the Christians, as Shimla the capital of Himachal Pradesh was the erstwhile summer capital of the British Raj till 1947 AD.

These churches are the fine examples of architecture and the stained glass windows at St. Michael's Catholic Church at Shimla are exquisitely marvelous. Other famous churches are the Christ Church at kasauli in district Solan; St. John church at Macleod ganj at Dharamsala and the Christ church at Chamba.


A markerHimachal Pradesh -
Himachal Pradesh, India
[get directions]

Retrospect

In retrospect the temples of Masrur and Baijnath in district Kangra; Basheswar Mahadev at Bajura in district Kullu; Luxmi Narayan in Chamba district were built in 8th,9th and 10th centuries respectively and exhibit fine examples of architecture. In these edifices the North and South Indian architectural styles find their place in combination.

More by this Author


4 comments

SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

SANJAY LAKHANPAL 2 years ago from Mandi (HP) India Author

Thanks AliciaC for liking the hub. With limited resources the ancient wood work is indeed marvelous.


SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

SANJAY LAKHANPAL 2 years ago from Mandi (HP) India Author

Thanks Sribharani for liking and commenting. I am glad you liked it.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is an interesting and enjoyable look at temples. Thanks for sharing the photos and descriptions.


Sribharani profile image

Sribharani 2 years ago from India

Nice to see the religious face of HP, apart from its scenic beauty. Very well composed article.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working