Masroor Monolithic Rock cut temples, dating back to the 8th century is a little known world heritage site. The day was heavily overcast when I set off for Masroor, about 40 kms from Kangra on the Nagrota Suriyan Link road. The road to the temples is in pretty good condition ; espied several green signboards (ASI) marking the route to Masroor.
A gorgeous vista of hewn rocks met my eyes, leaving me awed with its magnificence. I was once again amazed at the fascinating nugget of history and architecture tucked away in Himachal Pradesh.
Though not such a big place, the entire structure is huge and towering; constructed alongside a rectangular pool of water and surrounded by the majestic Dhauladhar trees. The temples stood out tall and straight, in one line; I could make out Buddha and Ganesha faces cut in the rock face here and there.
The temples (15 in all) are carved out of monolithic rocks by the artisans by hand in the Indo-Aryan style. The entire structure is constructed on top of a 2500 feet high hillock. All the temples are in continuity and built around a central shrine, which dominates the center and has three stone images of Ram, Laxman and Sita. These deities were decorated with colored cloths and we could make out that people come out here to pay their reverence as in any local temple.
The shikhars of some of the temples remain standing and are a supreme display of the craftsmen of the 7th -8th century who overcame the limitations of the existing rock structures to shape and carve their creations.
These richly carved cave temples are the only rock shrines of their kind in North of India. Another example of rock cut temples in India are the Ajanta-Ellora caves. The earthquake of 1905 devastated some of the beauty of this gorgeous piece of architecture, leading to the ASI removing several of the carved panels to the Shimla museum for preservation and display.
The place had an air of neglect; the signboards were rusting, paint was peeling, writing was fading – difficult to read and make out what was written there. The ticket counter was also bereft; one soul came out of nowhere to issue the tickets. There was a small chai shop next to the pool of water; other than there is nothing else around here.
If not for the pouring rain and chilling winds, I would have probably spent some more time here to revel in this gorgeous chapter of history. Thanks to the stinging rains, I couldn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked to.
District : Kangra
Location: Masroor / Masrur (Nagrota Suriyan)
Nearest town: Gaggal (airport)
Nearest train station: Pathankot and Kangra