If I ‘discovered’ the ancient temples at Kiramchi, it was only because I was told they exist. Not that anyone – including the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) – knows much about these. For anyone with even a passing interest in ancient structures, this site is a must-see. They are a work of art. And hats off to ASI for maintaining the surrounding gardens so well.
[Click on any image for a larger view]
Where: Drive 60 km from Jammu to Udhampur and look for a crossing calling ‘Supply Chowk’ – turn in and drive 8 km along a winding road till you reach Kiramchi village. Park and hike on a dirt track for 1 km to reach the temples. Watch your steps as you walk along the Birunala rivulet – these were dry when I went though.
History: Official versions are only theories and guesses at best. Possibly dated circa 8th-9th century A.D. Kiramchi may have been founded by Raja (King) Kichack, a contemporary of the Pandavas of the Mahabharata. The latter are said to have spent a long time here during their exile. Kiramchi is also believed to have been the capital of Bhuti, one of the principalities of Jammu region ruled by the successors of King Daya Karan who founded the Bhutial dynasty. The last Bhutial ruler, Himmat Singh, gave up Bhuti to Raja Gulab Singh in 1834 whose descendants ruled Kashmir till India’s independence in 1947.
About the temples: Devoted to Hindu Lord Shiva, but only one of the seven temples has a small Shivaling. Another is used by devotees of Maa (Mother) Durga. While some of these temples have been restored, others are in their original state. Excavations have unearthed many terracotta figures, copper coins, iron arrow heads, beads of semi-precious stones, pestles and earthen pots on this site. I saw a few of these figures in a store; once again, the officials had no clue what or who they represented.
More than worth the effort – check these out whenever you can.
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