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Chenani is one of the main principalities among the erstwhile twenty two Duggar states. Chenani was subordinated to Mughals, Lahore and afterwards to Jammu. The ruling clan came from Chanderi(Bundel khand) during 9th century. The name of the town also seems to be driven from the word ‘Chanderi’. The small town has a long history of its glory and turbulence. Its ruling dynasty is said to be one of the oldest in India having ruled uninterrupted for fifty two generations from about 850 AD to 1947 AD. The ruling clan belonged to Chanderwanshi lineage descended from famous king Shishupal.
The kings of Chenani have constructed many temples at various places. Shiva temple of Mandir Dushalla is one of the famous temples so constructed by them. There was a Pathshalla (school) and a Gaushalla (cowshed) and thus, being two shallas, the place was named as Dushalla. The Vedic education was imparted at this place during ancient times. The contention has the support of revenue records and some old books. The other myth prevailing among the locals is that when wedding procession of Lord Shiva passed through this place on the way to Mantalai, incidentally Dushalla (shawl) of Lord Shiva fell down so the place acquired the name Dushalla and after the construction of temple became Mandir Dushalla.
A track from Chenani leads to Mandir Dushalla along the Tawi river side.Mandir Dushalla is an intermediate spot and track passes through villages Khandiri, Bain and leads to Sudhmahadev. Presently, the road links are also available for Mandir Dushalla.
Sudhmahadev mela probably falls during the month of June each year. People from North West villages of Chenani and also from far away places walk over the track. People move in groups during night enjoying the coolness of full moon. The track is the only shortcut walking route to Sudhmahadev.
The distance by road is twenty five kilometers from Chenani. Many people used to halt for rest or cooking food at Mandir Dushalla. Some arrangements were also made by Chenani king long back. The singing of Dogri folk songs by the groups of men, women and children had its own charm. It left an indelible impression on the minds of the listeners.
When one group sang a song, the group following would listen to it, as and when the former completed the song the latter would start in response and so on the continuity never broke through out the night.
The poetic greatness was abundance in the folk songs. The songs lived up to the height of lyricism in Dogri language. Of course, no rhymed meters had been followed but each line ended with the words “Lachhiye” or “Goiriye” thus producing a natural rhythm. The melodious songs were not only in the praise of woman but also reflected spirit of Dogra Culture. The frequent use of similes and metaphors was assimilated in the rhyming couplets. Bhajans in praise of Lord Shiva were also sung by the groups, the clapping would supplement the impact.
When one turns left from the main track, a few yards away, after walking over a paved path, the temple of Lord Shiva is seen amidst the big trees. The temple, facing south, is constructed over a plinth of three feet height from ground level. On the left side of temple, there is an accommodation for pujari. On north west side of main temple an old covered Bauli exists. Some murals can also be seen along the walls of Bauli. There is one small temple existing behind the Bauli. Two pindis are placed inside the small temple. On the rear wall, a stone made dog head has been fixed on the outer surface. A legend popular among locals in this connection states that once when the queen of Chenani king was pregnant, the king got attracted to some other lady and married with her. The pregnant queen started living separately. The king provided her dry rations, woods etc for cooking. The queen down in the dumps, was shaken. In a fit of despair she immolated herself by jumping into the fire. Her faithful dog also jumped into the fire and got burnt.
After the death of queen and the dog, the king started spending sleepless nights owing to anxiety and depression. The king sought the advice of some astrologers and soothsayers who advised him to construct a Shiva temple . A small temple in the memory of queen and dog was also constructed .
A big sculpture of Nandi(Bull) is placed opposite the door of main temple on a concrete platform. The Nandi is made of half cut piece of big stone boulder and remaining half still exists in the nearby forest according to a legend traced from the locals. The Nandi is painted with assorted colours and protected from rains with a small canopy on the right side, an old Samadhi of a saint exists. The white-wash and paints have been applied on the temple, bull and Samadhi. Above the door of main temple red-coloured image of Ganesha has been depicted. On both the sides of Ganesha image, two stone slabs having some carved inscription are fixed in the wall. There are inscriptions on the foot base of Bull and Samadhi but due to continuous applying of paint a layer has been formed and the inscriptions have become invisible. The careful scratching of paint and acid wash may help to read these inscriptions.
On the bottom of door, two stone carved idols of Dwarpals (lords of doors) exist on both the sides . On the right front the stone carved idols of Lord Hanuman and on the left front, the idols of Bhairav and Shri Krishana exist there. There are some more idols on the outer surface of walls of temple like Matsya Avtar, Shri Ram, Sita, Lakshman etc. The temple is well maintained presently and looks as if newly constructed. It had gone under extensive repairs about sixty years ago according to the pujari. Mind becomes serene and calm when one enters the temple premises. There are eleven Shiva Lingums placed on the round shaped copper base and one Lingum in the centre, bit bigger in size than others. A round shaped brass pot has been tied with chain above the Lingums so that water drops continue to pour on Lingums. The plain and cultivated land 232 kanals and 17 marlas was attached to the temple by the Chenani kings. There is no other eleven lingums shiva temple in this area.
The unique thing about the temple is its inscriptions. The inscriptions on stone slabs are partly eroded and partly covered with layers of paint applied. The inscription on the copper plate placed below the shivas lingums is perfectly legible. The inscription is in Takri which has not yet been deciphered.
The immediate requirement of a bridge over the Tawi river is expressed by the locals. The huge population residing opposite side of Tawi river wish pay their obeisance at the temple and equally it would be useful for the students who have to go for schooling by covering a long distance. The road leading to Mandir Dushalla needs to be upgraded and black topped. The authorities may take the cognizance of the complete situation and immediate action be initiated.