Bhuteshwara Temple in Ruins Naranag, Wangat, Kangan Kashmir || by Bhushan Parimoo || LIVE IMAGE

Adventurism gene running through the veins of this writer propelled this time to attempt a new route for pilgrimage to Mohand Marg. In the ordinary course it may not have been traversed by any one earlier other than the nomads. Marg is nestled in the alpine lap in the Sandh Valley Kashmir which has a very special significance in the annals of history. Sir Aruel Marc Stein chose it his home.

 And it is, from where Stein always planned his expeditions of the modern paradigm which views the Eurasian landmark as one cultural field whose forces were its four high civilisations; the Medetarian West, the Indian and Iranian, and Chinese. Central Asia was a region where these four meet and interact. 

Two known routes to Mohand Marg did not entice any interest to venture on these beaten tracks, one from Gutilibagh Lar, where elders had a Chack, called Wattal Bagh Chak, other has been through Indrewan, Manigam .My great grandfather Pandit Shanker Parimoo had meditated for years under a big Chinar tree, at Manigan that is still remembered as Shakreyan Boouin.”. 

In pursuit to new route, thoughts about Bhuteshwara Temple ruins came abruptly before me. These have been rediscovered by Sir Stein after completing the translation of the Rajtarangni , Sharda script to Sanskrit ,Devanagari and English. It is the first chronology history of Kashmir written by Kalhana in verses. Sir Stein embarked upon a mission to verify the places mentioned in the Rajtarangini. 

This is how Bhuteshwara Ruins were searched out from thick high and deep jungle 1892. He got cleared the forest cover and laid before the world marvel structure in granite which had withstood centuries of weathering effect . Situated at the foot Hills of Gangbal Sar on the right bank of Knkvahani Stream which merges with River Sandh near Kangan. The spring there was a surprise as most of social media posts hardly cover it. 

Although Narannag , corrupted from Narayan Nag. and possibly mutated from Nag Bal means presence of the spring carrying the name of God Narayan the Creator in Hindu Mythology. But other school of thought by Sh Manmohan Munshi, Springs around are dedicated to Shiva and he has substance in it Kashmiuri Pandits are primarily Shivites.

The locals say water has been drawn subsurface from Gangbal lake channel created by the engineers who may have built this complex .The water from the spring must have been used to Worship the Shiva as per Vedic traditions. Shiv Lingams there are original for worship. As the out let to drain out water are very much there it ordained to pour one as token of worship .

The present writer though knew about the presence of the spring since decades, in fact one of writer’s uncles had land near it but had never broached upon the structure. May be the complex in ruins did not bear the reputation for any worship since such structures do not carry the virtues derived from sanctity as per scriptures. And hence it did not matter to him although he himself was very religious person, Gujjars thronged to him for advice and measures to ward their problems.

Bhuteshwara Ruins present a very in a luxurious impression. But in reality are very depressing landscape with neglect writ large everywhere. Unimpressive look of the ruin complex after the writer was there gave rises to many unanswered questions for which no cogent reasons could is found .Mere banking upon a guess work at times go astray. Very few know about it and fewer visit the site. 

A sad affair but not surprising and the reason that the area has been vandalised encroached upon in the name of Faith are no mystery. Unbecoming of the authorities of wilful neglect without any margin of doubt whatsoever .One thing was very sure either the Departments concerned do not know how to preserve its monuments or it is a deliberate act to wipe out every traces of the history which does not suit the present care takers. 

The Ruins have a history of its own, archaeology marvel value besides potential for heritage tourism. Alas “the land in the womb of the Himalayas” is utterly neglected . However, this writer believes in Nature than places created in the name of faith. We need our Earth to live, but she does not need us. We owe it to her and to ourselves to respect her kindness, her gifts. After all, she breathed life into us, not the other way around.

According to the legend, in the olden times, the priests of these temples demonstrated their poverty before the king by offering leaves of the Utpalasaka that have no value instead of proper offerings before the image of the idols .The plant is currently know in Kashmir by Vappalhak and forms a common vegetable of the Kashmiri cuisine. 

Even at present it grows in the higher reaches above 8000 feet and collected by the villagers in large quantities. According to,. S.N.Pandita known as Stein Pilgrim an authority on Stein’s Kashmir life and his expeditions that there are the two groups of ruins of temples at Wangath have separate enclosures called Rajdainibal and Nagbal. Stein identified the temples with Eastern group as those of Shiva Bhutesa and the Western group with that of Shiva Jeyasthesa. 

Legend says Ashoka obtained a son from this deity and this son named Jaluka took a vow to worship at Jeyasthesa for whole of his life. Corroborating the tradition of Voppalhak being offered to the deity by the poor priests at Wangath in lieu of something more worthy as offering, Stein identified the spring currently identified with Naran Nag as the tank into which the minister of Avantivarman threw the bleeding body of Dhanva who had confiscated the lands endowed to the temple of Bhutesa and thereby rendered the priests to penury. When examining the ruins of the Buteshwara in August 1891, Stein found plentiful of Vappalhaak growth in the forest vegetation in which the temples were embedded then. Situated 70 kms north from the summer capital Srinagar, the Bhuteshwara Ruins are one hours comfortable drive,mid way on the famous Srinager-Sonamarg, Baltal-Amarnath Track. 

On Sindh near Wassu near Mangam is finest roving spot to adventure but not promoted as one of the tourist spots. Besides, in the west is the famous Hindu Shrine Kherbawani ,Roopbhavani, Lar, Waskur and Manigam and Mansalbal Lake. A young White lady in her twenties was another visitor on that day at Bhutesehwara Ruins. she approached me presuming by the complexion another fellow traveller asked about the impression of the Ruins .

Without introducing each other to cover the ignorance counter posed what she experienced, to it said nothing informative as no one here from the Department or the local guide to brief has to rely on her own notes. Kashmri background came to the rescue just gave rudimentary and sketchy details taking a few lines from the Rajatrangni that Son of Ashoka Jaluka, 220 BC, built the Shaivite temples Bhuteshvara,Jyestarudra, and Mathas in the Wangat Valley around the holy spring of Naranag . 

The Wangath temples were built in three groups, around the same time as the Shankracharya Temple in Srinagari and the Bumazuv temple near Mattan. King Jaluka built a stone temple at the site of the spring Naranag around 137BC. King Jayendra (61 BC) used to worship Shiva Bhutesha at the shrine. Lalitaditya Muktapidya (713-735 AD) donated a good sum of money to the shrine after his victoriousexpedition. King Avantivarman (855-883 AD) built a stone pedestal with a silver conduit at this shrine for the bathing of sacred images.

Kalhana's father Canpaka and uncle Kanka also frequented the site. She was also brief that Ashoka built the city of Srinagar in the 3rd century BC. As per Kalhana, the treasury of this shrine was plundered by King Sangramraja of Kashmir (1003-28 AD), during King Uccala's time (1101 – 1111 AD) and later by the rebel baron Hayavadana. 

Mr. Bhushan Parimoo at Bhuteshwara Temple

Thereafter it went in to an oblivion under thick vegetation growth through centuries was completely hidden in the surrounding thick forest . After sharing the pictures of the ruins Mr Pandita , expressed his doubts which had first crept in me too. Whether the Sivlingam comprised the original construction of the Temple or a later on addition of recent times. He further asked me to find about seven Ruin Structures at Wangat mentioned by the Stein made mention on his revisit this area in 1942.

which resulted in to revisit the area in search of more ruins and before that approach Sir Partap Singh Museum ,Lal Mandi Srinagar for relevant information and records. However, despite best efforts it had has nothing to offer and instead suggested
to seek help of nearby Archaeology Department of the GOI; went there had a tea but was politely directed to contact its office at Jammu. 

Earlier the writer had heard that at Lar and Manigam there used to be cantonments during the Chak rule but nobody gave any further help. Having drawn a blank to obtain more historical information about these relics of the past, the present writer feels haunted. Stein’s own words must compensate:’ From the high mountains plateau which my camp once more occupies, almost the whole Kashmir lies before me, from the ice capped peaks of the northern range to the long snowy lines of the Pir-Pansthal- a little world of its own, enclosed by mighty mountains ramparts, small indeed the country may seem by the side of the great plains that extend in the south and confined the history of which it was the scene.

 And yet, just as the natural attractions of the valley have won the fame far beyond the frontiers of India, thus too the interest attaching to its history far exceeds the narrow geographical limits. 

The favour with which nature has so lavishly endowed’ “ the land in the womb of Himalayas”, are not likely to fade or vanish. But those manifold remains of the antiquity which the isolation of the country has preserved, and which helps us to resuscitate the life and the conditions of earlier times, are bound to disappear more and more with the rapid advances of Western influences. 

 Bushan Parimoo
(The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist and a regular contributor to this Website .)
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Destroyed Hindu Temples In Kashmir | From 1986 to 2018 Part-2

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