Kiradu Temple Complex is an offbeat historical gem some 35 km from Barmer City in Rajasthan State of India. We found the pictures of the temples on the internet very intriguing and mind boggling. The splendid temple complex believed to be haunted piqued our curiosity. And when we were looking for a stopover between Udaipur and Jaisalmer on our Rajasthan road trip Barmer was unequivocal.
We read about Barmer first time when reading a book ‘The Heat and Dust Project‘ which spoke of some sand dunes but nothing other than that. Hence, Kiradu group of temples on the city outskirts was the only key attraction for our Barmer visit.
Barmer Sand Dunes
We reached our hotel in Barmer just before sunset. We checked-in our luggage and rushed towards the sand dunes which was a 5-minutes walk from hotel. The dunes bathed in orange glow of the dipping sun was all to ourselves.
The enthralling wavy patterns over the sloping dunes were suffused with the fading daylight. Chhavi had fun rolling in the sand and we took this chance to click some quick impromptu pictures of her.
Soon the sun disappeared into the horizon leaving traces of its orange hues on the purplish sky. The only illumination we could sight as far as we could see was that of our hotel.
On the other side, the moon had already risen high in its full glory above the deserted dunes. We walked on the desolate roads through the stretches of barren land dotted with thorny bushes.
There wasn’t much scope for the dark fantasies as we soon reached the hotel. We called it a night after dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Next day early morning we were on our way to next destination Jaisalmer. But before that, we decided to make a quick stop at the Kiradu temples. Kiradu is 35 km off the route to Jaisalmer. The road to Kiradu was a long stretch of road through the arid lands with hardly any bends.
An hour later we were at the temple complex gate which was locked and there wasn’t any sign of anyone around. We were a bit skeptical if the entry was open swayed by the fact that the temples were assumed to be haunted. But then suddenly a man popped out of nowhere and inquired of our details probably as he did not expect much visitors to this abandoned city of bygone grandeur.
We walked on the paved path through the thorny bushes past the frolicking goats to the temple complex and stood flabbergasted. The wonderful temples dating back to 11th and 12th century were in ruins and apparently in disrepair. But of whatever was remaining it is was astounding and one of the finest example of architecture wonders.
Kiradu Temple Ruins
To our right, a set of crumbling stairs led to a temple surrounded by the dense thicket and undulating parched mountains in the backdrop. The lone temple with wrecked tower facade enduring the battering lashes of weather epitomized the splendor of bygone era.
Though the temple facade was pitiable the grandeur of the architecture was evident on circumambulating the temple structure. The multi turrets on the tower had intricate carvings and beautiful sculptures carved on the walls and into the wall niches.
The second temple was right across the road opposite to the first temple to our left. The second temple was much similar to the first one but with its crown broken midway.
The third temple someshwara dedicated to Lord Shiva was the largest of the surviving temples. The steps leading to temple and the carvings were in better condition though the defaced statues and animal sculptures were in deplorable state.
The lintels and the pillars were embellished with some of the elegant carvings and fine motifs. Some of the carvings depicted the epics from Hindu Mythology. We scoured for one impeccable piece in the derelict beauty but in vain.
We walked around the temple and were gobsmacked by the debris of severed sculptures of the temple.
Eyes aren’t enough to behold the beauty of exquisite art work on the temple. So captivating and spell bounding. We couldn’t but imagine its sheer splendour in the days of opulence. The temples are also called as ‘The Khajuraho of Rajasthan’ due to its erotic sculptures.
The third and fourth temple stood obscured by the wild growth behind the first temple. All along the way to the third and fourth temple we found more of the temple ruins piled up in heaps which manifested the severity of the destruction carried on by the invaders.
The fourth temple again was much similar to the first and second temple in architecture as well as condition. All the temples are of typical solanki architecture built in Maru-Gurjar style and have statues of various Hindu deities carved on the temple walls.
The fifth one was alluring and enchanting. It looked like a mandap where the performances like dance must have created a delightful ambiance. Today the aura dearth of any kind of music echoed nothing but a mystical silence.
It is believed that this site was a thriving city at some point of time in history. And had more than 100 temples of which only five remain today. As much as we were elated to have discovered this gem from the past it was disheartening to behold the condition of these temples.
The Legend behind the Curse
According to the popular folklore an ancient saint left behind his disciple to work on reviving the prosperity of the kingdom. The disciple was completely ignored by the people of the kingdom except for a potter’s wife which annoyed the saint and he cursed the village.
The saint told the potter’s wife to leave the town without looking back. However the potter’s wife also turned into stone when she looked back out of curiosity. At the spot today stands a temple 1 km from the Kiradu temple complex.
The locals believe that the curse of the saint still holds good and that if one stays back in the temple complex after dusk they would turn into stone too.
The mystery and the dread around the temple haunts everyone who visits the temple. But for us the most haunting was the deteriorating state of the temple. Any history buff and architecture lover would feel for such magnificent temple in the forlorn condition.
Have you been to these haunted temples of Kiradu and marveled at its architecture? Let us know in comments.
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