Dwarahat village is a beautiful village in Uttarakhand. Dwarahat translates to ‘Way to heaven’, it is nestled at an altitude of 1510 meters between the Kumaon hills. It is a beautiful village in the Almora district of Uttarakhand that houses a lot of ancient temples built by Katyuri kings that hold historical, archaeological, and religious values. Due to their significance, these temples are taken care of by the Archaeological Survey of India.
A notable aspect of these temples is their history and outstanding architectural styles. These architectural masterpieces have been carved in Indo- Aryan, Nagara and Maru- Parithara style of architecture. The architectural work that these temples possess is beautiful beyond words. These temples are prized possessions of ours from ancient history.
These exquisite temples are made of masonry blocks of pre-Cambrian granite. Another interesting feature of these temples is that to stick the blocks together instead of mortar, dowels and iron clamps have been used.
Dwarahat proudly houses 55 ancient temples with remarkable architecture, which are dived in 8 groups
Prominent groups of temples at Dwarahat
Badrinath group of temples:
This shrine is said to have been constructed in 1048 AD. The temple is built in the Shikhara style of architecture. The walls of the temple are adorned with intricate designs and carvings. The excellence of craftsmen of that era makes it look like a work of art.
There a total of three shrines here. The primary shrine is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This shrine faces east and originally had antrala, garbha griha and mandapa, out of which mandapa is now missing. One of other shrine is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and uncertainty hovers over the third shrine’s deity.
Built on the banks of Khiru Ganga, this small pyramidical shrine has simply beautiful architectural style. As of now, the temple does not have any idol.
Gujar Deo Temple:
Gujar Deo temple is perhaps the most beautiful temple of all the temples of Dawarahat. It is believed to be built in the 13th century. Gujar Deo temple incorporates sekhari shikhara style of architecture. It is truly an architectural masterpiece that incorporates the best of styles and techniques to make this temple a true architectural wonder. The temple is an orthogonal structure that has a panchratha plan. This temple characterizes the most developed Nagar styled temples of the central Himalayan region.
Although the temple is in the decaying stage its remains still speak of its erstwhile magnificence.
Kacheri group of temples:
This beautiful temple has 12 shrines; 10 of which are in two rows that consist 5 temples each, rest two are on a higher terrace. The construction period of these temples is speculated to be between 11th – 13th century AD. These temples were dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu alternatively.
Although these temples are smaller but looking at its styles one can evidently notice its similarities with Ratan Deo temple. These temples share a common entrance with a sequence of free-standing pillars with brackets and plain shafts in front. The temple complex also housed a well built of stone blocks.
Maniyan Group of Temples:
The temple complex originally had nine shrines in Maniyan Group of Temples. Previously it was believed that the group contained seven shrines but in a recent research, the foundations of two other shrines were recovered hence the number of shrines increased to nine. Considering its style experts believe that this group of the temple dates back to 11th -13th century
The four shrines of the complex had a common courtyard and apparently formed a single component. The shrine houses the image of Jain thirthankara on the beam of three shrines which indicates that the shrine perhaps belonged to Jains. It is worth noting that Jain shrines are usually not found in this region. However, it is believed that remaining shrines belonged to Brahmanical deities.
Mritunjaya group of temples:
It is believed to be the most sacred shrine among all the temples of Dwarahat. The temple is built with Nagara style of architecture; it is estimated to be built in 11th – 12th century. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva as Mrityunjaya. The encompasses a mandapa, antarala and garbhgriha.
One of the temples of the shrine is dedicated to Bhairavnath. As of today rest of the shrines do not have any idols and are lying ruined state.
Ratan Deo Shrine:
This magnificent temple earlier had nine shrines but only six of them survived till date. Three of those temples are situated on a common platform; these shrines are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. These are preceded by the north facing mandapa. Out of rest three shrines, one is on the west and the other two on the east, these are dedicated to Brahmanical deities. The Rattan Deo temple is estimated to be dating back between 11th – 13th centuries AD.
Kutumari Temple was originally located higher side of the hill. Unfortunately, this architectural wonder is not in existences anymore and is lost completely. A survey carried in the year 2000 by Dehradun circle confirms that the temple existed till 1950. The old photos of the shrine clearly show the decaying stage of this Rekha shikhara temple and it is believed the shrine collapsed entirely between 1950-1960. Today even the ruins of the shrine are not available at the site. The locals took away the architectural members of this historical monument and incorporated them in their houses one can still see these on the walls of the houses.
Dwarahat village is an important site that is acting as custodian to some of the most valuable gifts of history. This village is blessed with both nature’s beauty and rich architectural and historically magnificent monuments. Although some have then have become extinct, some are at the verge of it but it should be kept in mind that the beautiful architectures like these that souvenirs of history must be kept with care. Regular maintenance, restoration and security of these temples are the needs of these monuments.
The decaying wonders like these hold great historical, archaeological and architectural brilliance (apart from religious) and preservation these marvels are the duty of the authorities as well as of people.
Acts of stealing stone etc from the monuments like these are causing much greater loss than the loss of some bricks and stones. Awareness is needed to put a stoppage to such irresponsible actions.
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