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An Architectural marvel
A complex of temples situated between latitude 32o 53’N and longitude 75o 7’E with an altitude of 730 m is located at village Krimchi on Udhampur Pancheri road at a distance of 12 km from Udhampur city. There is a hillock about 60 m high from road side and approximately 200 m from group of temples. The hillock popularly known as “Garh”, possesses about half an hectare plain surface on its top. Krimchi remained capital of Bhuti Principality till its merger with Jammu in 1834.
The ruling elite of Bhuti principality belonged to Bhatyal clan of Rajputs. As displayed on a board near entrance of the complex, the complete group of temples is believed to be constructed during 8th or 9th century AD. It appears that the all the temples were not built up at a time but they have comp up one by one. For instance temples No. 6 and 7 were damaged centuries ago as has been ascertained from the locals.
According to one legend, Kichak, a contemporary of Pandavs, is said to have laid the foundation of Krimchi, perhaps, a town at those times. The place was named after his name as Krimachi. A fort was constructed by him on Garh top and also a palace within the boundary walls of the fort. Pandavs were wandering at various places in disguise during the last year of their exile. They camped at Krimchi for a considerable time. Kichak gave an amorous look at Draupadi wife of Pandavs and gesticulated with malice intentions. On this Bhim became very furious and killed Kichak. And as such Krimchi became kingless for centuries.
Another legend which stands recorded in Revenue records reveals that Bhupal Singh of village Landhar came to Krimchi and built his palace within the walls of fort located at the top of Garh. He used to rule Krimchi and other area. As Bhupal Singh had no offspring, Krimchi again became kingless after his demise.
As per “Tareekh Dogra Desh”, by Diwan Narsingh Dass Nargis king Dayakaran was sent to Kashmir by his father Puran Karan , ruler of Jammu. Meanwhile Sompal belonging to same dynasty came to Krimchi from Kashmir and constituted the Bhuti Principality with the capital of Krimchi.He further constructed the palace on the “Garh Top” from where the vigil could be exercised on the whole valley. Landhar and a number of surrounding villages were also merged with Bhuti Principality. The successor kings ruled Bhuti very peacefully for a number of posterties. Mansar and Bhagat villages of the area were named after Mansingh and Bhagat Singh. The last king Himmat Singh at behest of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore [Pakistan] , surrendered the Bhuti state of Gulab Singh in 1934 AD , who later on became Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir.
Condition Of Palace And Fort
The palace and the fort over the “Garh Top ” have fallen into ruins owing to their negligence through ages.The walls of the fort built with chiselled stone slabs have disintegtrated . Now only remanants of walls can be seen. The structure of entrance door with alluring carvings on stone slabs has almost collapsed due to lack of proper maintenance. At the centre of the top ground, there exists a square shaped tank with stone walls on the underground sides . This might be a tank or underground ravage portion of the old palace. A new water storage tank has been constructed by the government in order to regulate the supply of water to local people.
Style of Krimchi Temples Contruction
There were two, the most leading styles of construction in India. In Northern region of the country “old Nagara style” , and in south India ” Dravidian style “were used to follow for constructing the temples . In central India one more style known as “Besar style ” , which is the combination of both the styles , was also in vogue . The temples of Krimchi were constructed in “Old Nagara style “. Accordingly the Krimchi or Pandava’s temples were constructed following below mentioned essential parts of the temple : The first is Garab Griha where an idol of a deity is kept . The second is Antrala , which is a space before Garab Griha to which the door of Garab Griha opens . The third is mahandapa . It is before the antrala where pillars are provided. The fourth is ardhmandapa and is usually small in size . The fifth is Parvesdwar where a nicely designed door is provided for the entrance . Architecturally these temples were constructed following old Nagara style . Prior to 1958 AD , the condition of these temples was not so charming as is these days. The temples were crumbling into rubble before carrying out the repairs. This can be seen from the photographs displayed in ASI Office.
The Pandava or Krimchi temples which stand built on a raised platform , have been numbered or marked from serial number 1 to 7 for easy reference . It is worth while to mention that temples figuring from 1,2,3,6 and 7 have been built on a common raised plat form. Its height from entrance gate side is 3.6 m. To arrive at the temple vis-à-vis platform , the steps have been provided from three sides . Temple no. 4 stands on brick structure and its platform is much higher than the common platform of other temples . The temple number 1 is the most developed depicting large sized mouldings, niches for dash dikpats and saptma trikas in addition to prasava gods. A beautiful standing image of four armed Vaikunth Lord Vishnu is enshrined in Garb Griha . Some local devotees worship this image as goddess Durga . The temple number 3 seems to be the oldest and smallest structure, consisting of a square but externally triratha on plan . Its Garab Griha has a pyramidal roof antrala with wagon vaulted roof internally. The temple number 2 is more elaborated on plan and little higher in elevation in comparison to temple number 3. The temple number 5 shows remanants of sculptures most probably as river goddess.
All the temples , with the exception of one, are east faced. Temple number 5 is built over a platform on lower level and its east side steps lead to more lower level. According to local people, many years , before , when digging was rendered to find out the base of steps, a door structure was seen in depth on the boundary of temple area. No further digging was made at that time as the ground was being levelled for beautification of these temples . The locals have also found carved stone idols from time to time while ploughing the land in nearby areas .
The data with regard to the revalution and interpretation of the archaeological studies have revealed that the style of building of Krimchi temples closely resembled those confined to Bhubnashwar in Orissia. Besides, this may also account for the exquisitely carved temples at Krimchi, Himachal Pardesh and the Jammu Siwaliks (Shivaliks). They grew out of many roots which later on got inextricably intertwined and gave rise to sub-regional stylistie variations. The evolution of arts especially in Jammu Siwaliks thus, has to be accounted for other than the turbulent historic situation only(Gupta,2009).This was also subject to changing demography in the wake of settlements of migrant tribes rise and fall of popular religious cults, movement of artisans, families, groups and guilds.
Present Position :
At present , there are three big and two small temples existing on plinths of two temples bearing number 6 & 7 exist . Extensive repair of temples 4 & 5 has been done with great care. There is small change in the look of the repaired parts . However, the temples are technically strengthened to shun the further disintegration . The leveling of ground for growing the seasonal flowers, provision of hedges and maintenance of the lawns have added to the beauty of land scapes vis-à-vis ancient monuments .The guest room has also been constructed towards south portion of the temples complex .
(The author is Ex -Associate Dean Cum Chief Scientist, K V K,SKUAST-JAMMU)