Namita Sachan and her husband share their experiences and photos of a trip to Chamba in Himachal Pradesh.
Chamba in Himachal Pradesh is a small town located between the mountain ranges of Zanskar and Dhauladhar. The town stands on a plateau on the banks of river Raavi.
The curvy roads passing through sylvan surroundings, majestic mountain ranges, dense pine forests, small villages nestled in the deep valleys offers panoramic views around Chamba making it any nature lover’s delight.
For me however, the most fascinating things about Chamba were it’s beautiful temples, especially The Laxmi Narayan temple.
The Laxmi Narayan temple compound had six big temples and many other smaller shrines dedicated to various Gods. The main shrine is of Laxmi Narayan with others consecrated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
All six temples stand side by side on stony platform. The temples with their magnificent shikhara, intricate carvings and detailing are insignia of medieval architecture. The shikharas of temples are composed of miniatures of itself, all grouped in an orderly way. The outer walls are broken into many layers to give a circular impression with the shikhara culminating into a circular disc shaped structure at the top above which rests the dazzling kalash.
The temple dates back to 10th century A.D. Laxmi Narayan temple remains closed for about 2 hours in noon and when we arrived the shrine doors were still closed giving us time to walk around the compound and enjoy the beautiful carvings.
While waiting for the temple to open I sat facing the them, threw my head back and tried to fix my gaze on the finials of shikharas. The glorious blue sky glowed above and my heart filled with peace. It is said that in nagara style of temples there is a structure called gavaksh in the shikhara. This gavaksh is a closed window kind of structure which symbolically denotes open space from where the God pours his grace on the deity installed by man in the inner sanctum. At that particular moment I felt that several gavakshas have been opened in the sky itself and God was pouring his grace on me.
Quite near to this famous temple of Chamba is a comparatively lesser know temple of Harinarayan. This temple was built in 11th century a.d. Built in Shikhara style the temple is adorned with intricate carvings. Once this temple stood at the entrance of Chamba town. Though now midst the crowded market place, the temple still retains it’s architectural magnificence and spiritual appeal.
Chamunda devi temple in Chamba proved to be the best view point for us. We reached there at about 4 p.m.and the view of valley and river Ravi from the temple compound and stairs was spell binding. This temple is located on a comparatively higher point and is far away from the hustle bustle of market place and town. The compound has an ancient temple of nagar style dedicated to lord shiva and a wooden temple of pahadi style dedicated to devi chamunda. The distinct architecture of both styles has its own charm. The big peepal trees, the vermilion covered statues of various gods and goddess, the open compound and the reigning peace make it a perfect place to spend few hours.
There are other famous temple sites near Chamba such as Chaurasi temples of Bharmour, about 65 km from Chamba town.
The best time to visit the place from the point of view of enjoying the architectural magnificence is from September to November The rainy season being over and winters not yet fully arrived this is the best time to roam freely in the open compounds and premises of temples.
Nearest airports to Chamba are Amritsar and Jammu which are around 190 kms. Chamba is well connected by road from Delhi and Chandigarh. Delhi is 627 kms and Chandigarh is 357 kms from Chamba. Regular buses ,taxis and coaches ply from both the places. Pathankot in Punjab is the nearest railway station about 119km from Chamba.
About the guest bloggers: Namita Sunder worked as banking professional for 21 years and is presently enjoying her time reading,writing and travelling with a keen interest in Indian forms of art, architecture, folk tales/legends, culture and nature. Her husband Sunder Iyer is a journalist by profession and photographer by passion. He is a guest faculty at BHU and also takes photography classes at other institution as well as photography assignments. You can see a collection of his work here.
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