From Palampur, Kangra District
Houses: Baijnath Temple Or Kirangam
Main Attraction: Shivratri Fair
Famous As A: Hindu Pilgrimage
One of the most remarkable monuments of the Beas Valley is
the temple of Baijnath. The village of Baijnath is situated
23-miles east of Nagarkot, as the crow flies, close to the
Mandi border and on the main road, which leads from the
Punjab plains through Kangra, Kulu , Lahul, and Ladakh to
Known as Kirangama, its name
was changed after the temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva in
his form as Vaidyanath or the "Lord of
Physicians". The Temple is a good example of Nagri
style of architecture. The Baijnath temple is orientated due
west. It consists of a puri or adytum, 8-feet-square inside
and 18-feet outside, surmounted by a spire of the usual
conical shape, and of a mandapa or front hall,
20-feet-square inside, covered with a low pyramid shaped
The adytum, which contains
the linga known as Vaidyanatha, is entered through a small
anteroom with two pillars in antis. This linga enshrined in
the sanctum is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in the country.
The roof of the mandapa is supported by four massive pillars
connected by raised benches which form, as it were, a
passage leading up to the entrance of the sanctum.
The architrave's resting on
these pillars divide the space of the ceiling into nine
compartments, each of which is closed by means of corbelling
slabs. In front of the mandapa rises a stately porch resting
on four columns. "The shafts of these pillars",
Fergusson remarks "are plain cylinders, of very
classical proportions, and the bases also show that they are
only slightly removed from classical design".
"The square plinth, the
two toruses, the cavetto or hollow moulding between are all
classical, but partially hidden by Hindu ornamentation, of
great elegance but unlike anything found after wards".
The same author at considerable length discusses the
capitals of the pot-and -foliage type.
Both the south and north wall
of the mandapa are adorned with a graceful balcony window.
The four corners are strengthened by means of massive
buttress-like projections in the shape of half-engaged -
miniature sikhara temples, each containing two niches in
which image slabs are placed. Smaller niches in slightly
projecting chapels are found between the corner projections
and the entrance and balcony windows.
Cunningham and Fergusson that
the Baijnath temple had undergone a thorough restoration at
the bands of Raja Sansar Chand Katoch (A.D. 1776-1824)
assumed it. But Sir Aurel Stein, who had the advantage of
personally inspecting the temple in December, 1892,
expressed the opinion that the building "has not under
gone such very great alterations as the earlier describers
"He points out, that the
doorway of the adytum is still decorated with the images of
the river goddesses mentioned in the inscription. Only the
roof seems to be modern; and according to the - statements
of the local priests - it was renovated in the days of Raja
Sansar Chand II".
A life sized stone Nandi,
believed to be the carrier of Lord Shiva stands at the
entrance. Also are other miniature shrines and memorial
stones within the complex said to have been built around 804
The temple of Baijnath,
although situated at no great distance from the centre of
the earthquake of the 4th April 1905, but suffered slight
injury from that catastrophe. The neighbouring smaller
temple of Sidhnath, on the contrary, completely collapsed.
Every year during Shivratri
Fair, pilgrims descend on Baijnath for the colourful fair
HOW TO GET THERE
Road: Baijnath is only 16-km
from Palampur and 132-km from Pathankot, is a motarbus
terminus on the Palampur- Kullu road, and is easily
accessible from Kangra and Kullu .
PLACES TO STAY
Kangra is well equipped with
standardised accommodations, which vary from budget hotels
to tourist lodges available at resonable rates.