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Masroor Rock Cut Temple, Dharamshala Overview

Situated 32 kms from Kangra in Dharamsala on the Nagrota- Surian Link Road, Masroor Rock Cut Temple is an archaeological site which is currently in ruins. The complex is a combination of 15 rock cut temples designed in the Indo- Aryan style of architecture, believed to have been built in the 8th century (as per relics). Dedicated to the Hindu gods Shiva, Vishnu, Devi and Saura, the complex faces northeast, towards the Dhauladhar range. Currently under study, experts suggest that the edifice was a part of an elaborate plan of further construction which has been left incomplete. Most of the complex has been damaged, mostly due to earthquakes.

The Masroor Temples have been carved out of a single monolithic rock in Nagara style, with a Shikara. The complex has three entrances at present; however, evidently, a fourth entrance has been left incomplete. The architecture is inspired by Hindu texts - it has a sacred pool of water, the entire construction is symmetric and is laid out in a square. The main temple with a square sanctum occupies the centre place whereas the other tiny temples surround it in a mandala pattern. The intricate carvings in the interiors depict teachings from the Vedic period. Situated on the top of a rocky hill and surrounded by picturesque Dhauladhar mountains, the mesmerising Masroor Rock Cut Temple is thronged by devotees and tourists alike. It is also believed that taking a dip in the holy waters of the tank can cleanse your soul from the sins.

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Legend of Masroor Rock Cut Temple

Similar to any other historic site, there is also a legend for the Masroor Rock Cut Temple in Dharamsala. As per the legend, the Pandavas of Mahabharata stayed here during their exile (vanavaas) and build this temple. It is also believed that while building it, their hidden identity was exposed to the people, and thus, they had to leave the place before finishing it. The rectangular pond located in front of the temple was designed by the Pandavas for Draupadi for her exclusive use.

Another legend says that the Pandavas wanted to reach heaven. so that they began developing a staircase within the Masroor Rock Cut Temple. They made an oath to complete the construction of the staircase by the next morning. This angered Lord Indra, the god of heaven and Thunder, as the staircase would make an easy way to reach heaven. So, he disguised himself as a crow and began crowing loudly during the early dawn, which restricted the Pandavas from completing the staircase.

Structure & Architecture

As the name suggests, the Masroor Rock Cut Temples are carved out of one single rock and provided with a unique monolithic structure designed in Indo Aryan style. The temples stand on top of the hill, around 2500 feet from the sea level. It is one of the most complex single rock-cut architectures in Nagara style with intricate sculpture detailing on the lintels, pillars, doors, jambs and column which still confuses archaeologists and historians on the perseverance and skills of the constructors who were responsible for designing such incredible piece of architecture during that era.

All the temples consist of idols of Gods and Goddesses including Saraswati, Parvati, Shiva and Lakshmi including floral designs. Based on the structure, it is believed that the temple is half finished. The magnificent structure of the attraction has striking similarities with the Kailash Temple at Ellora and the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. There are many other temples in India designed through Rock cut which includes the Rath of Mahabalipuram, Dharmanatha Temple at Dharmnar and the Kailash Temple at Ellora Caves. However, the Masroor Rock Cut Temples are the only one built on the top of the hill.

Tips

Wear comfortable shoes as you will be required to walk a lot.

How To Reach Masroor Rock Cut Temple

The temple is situated 45 kms away from Dharamsala. You can either drive down or hire a taxi to reach your destination.

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