The Temples of Jammu and Kashmir - Part I

Exact Match
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Amarnath Shiva linga

Amarnath. Magnificently located in a glacial valley at an elevation of 4,175 m (13,700 ft), this holy Hindu site is reached only after several days of climbing. The object of worship here is a cave containing natural ice formation which takes the shape of a Shiva linga. This linga is worshipped by the devotees as Amarnath. At the time of the full moon in July-August, thousands of devotees make a pilgrimage to this cave.

Mahadev Temple (Behna).  This is one of the largest gable-roofed Hindu temples in the Sutlej valley. The mandapa and corridor around the sanctuary are open to all sides; benches with leaning back-rests are positioned at the peripheries. Angled struts support the overhanging stone-tiled roof, which is steeply gabled in two tiers. Rising over the sanctuary is an open construction of two superimposed balconies; the upper balcony is provided with a timber-tiled conical roof and a metallic pot like finial.
There are elaborate carvings on the cedar balconies and the internal columns. Window recesses flanking the sanctuary doorway have friezes of animals and stylized foliation. Leaning against the right are 8th-9th century stone sculptures of Vishnu and Lakshmi. A collection of the brass mask of the God Shiva is housed in the sanctuary; these possibly date from the 12th-13th century.

This site represents the capital of Avantivarman (c.855-83), the first ruler of the Utpala dynasty of Kashmir. Two ruined Hindu temples arc found here.
Avantisvamin Temple, 9th century This temple is an important example of the later Kashmir style. As at Martand, the principal shrine is set within a large, rectangular court entered through a gateway on the west. Only the lower portions of the colonnade have survived; even so, a richly decorated classical style is evident in the pilasters, the niches with trilobed openings and the gabled sediments. The basements of six minor shrines are preserved at the corners of the courtyard; a raised floor area is positioned in front (west) of the principal sanctuary. The broad staircase leading up to the sanctuary is flanked by a high basement; among the sculptures on its sides are seated Vishnu with two consorts, and some unidentified royal figures. While little of the shrine itself still stands, its overall layout, with a central sanctuary and projecting porches on each side, is clear.

More exists of the gateway, with its two porches raised on a high basement. Exuberant carving (badly worn) includes friezes and medallions of figures, birds and animals, and niches with gable-like sediments containing images of Ganga (north) and Yamuna (south). Among the large assortment of antiquities discovered in the excavations here are several sculptures now displayed at the Sri Pratap Singh Museum, Srinagar.

Avantishvara Temple, 9th century
This temple was conceived on a grand scale but was probably never completed. The damage and spoilage suffered here are greater than those of the Avatisvamin temple, with which it is almost identical in layout. Only the basement of the main shrine now stands; attached to this are the outlines of four junior shrines. The colonnade is more or less reduced to its basement; more is visible of its gateway.


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