Chander M. Bhat 
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Narastan Temple

by Chander M. Bhat

Narastan Mandir, now in ruins, lies in the North-East of Avantipora, 16 km from Tral town towards famous Aripal. The place of Narastan is famous for its ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, standing against the backdrop of lofty mountains of the Brariaangan Range. The name Narastan is the deviation of the original Narayan Sthan (place of Narayan). Architecturally, the temple claims a place of pride among many ancient temples of Kashmir. Minor excavation work undertaken by Lawrence showed existence of specimens of old sculpture. This stone temple is distinguished for its architectural works; it is dissimilar from all the other temples in the Kashmir Valley. Dating back to more than 1400 years. The interior compound measures about 8.6 feet square. An interesting feature of the Narastan Temple is, it has no ceiling. The courtyard measures 70 feet square. From the outer wall, there is a small side entrance near the southwestern side. This circular shaped temple is wholly constructed with stones in Gandhara style of architecture. The temple is on a single base consisting of only four courses of stones. At the top of the pediment, there is a figure that resembles a Garuda, the king of birds, sacred vehicle to Lord Vishnu, who is half man and half eagle with the power to acquire any shape. The main draw of the temple is the trefoil arches on the peripheral of the shrine walls. Another remarkable feature is the absence of any circumambulatory path on top of the base. From the courtyard, a flight of four steps leads to the shrine of Narastan. There is a stream of water that gushes down near the front of the temple3. The main temple, except the roof, if very well preserved. The important features of the temple are:

  • The temple, built on a single base made of only four courses of stones, is in a courtyard.

  • The courtyard measures 70 feet square. It is surrounded by a wall, which is unornamented except for a plain-filleted stringcourse, at about 2 feet from the ground, a predimental trefoiled niche in the West wall and a recess 3 feet square.

  • The temple cell measures 8 feet 6 inches internally and contained a Shiv Linga.

  • The temple is at the centre of 5 feet thick and 8 feet high walled enclosure, parts of which are in ruins.

  • The temple has an entrance, 4.5 feet wide, inner and middle gateways, designed stone doors, a portico and outer portal supporting columns (8 feet high). It has also a chamber measuring 8.5 feet square, two vestibules (outer one 8 feet by 4 feet and the second one of larger dimensions), the flooring, blank arched recess on the walls and a small cell projecting into the enclosure.

  • The portico projects 4 feet from the wall.

  • The gateway is a double-chambered structure open on two sides, for entry and exit. A doorway connects the two chambers, each chamber measuring 7 feet by 4 feet.

  • To reach the sanctum sanctorum from the courtyard base, there is a flight of four steps.2

Front Side of the Narastan temple

Front Side of the Narastan temple

Notes and References:

  1. Place Names in Kashmir by B.K.Raina & S.L.Sadhu, published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai & Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi, 2000.
  2. Encyclopedia: Kashmiri Pandit: Culture & Heritage by C.L.Kaul, published by Ansh Publications, 2009.
  3. Ancient Monuments of Kashmir by Ram Chand Kak, published by Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2000.
  4. Kalhan’s Rajatarangini: A Chronicle of the Kings of Kashmir, Vol. II by Stein, Aurel, published by Motilal Banarasi Dass, 1979.

Image Gallery: http://ikashmir.net/gallery/categories.php?cat_id=274

  

 
 

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