A Dying Art

Ayodhya Nath Kerni
A large number of megalithic sites spread over  various parts of the world have been discovered in the  past. The ruins of historical buildings, stone pillars, forts and temples ravel ancient culture. The explorations done at the sites of Mohenjodaro and Harappa reveal much about the stone carving and cultural interest. The excavators were able to define that art of stone carving is as old as the civilization. Rough and natural stone are dressed with the help of tools so as to shape them to a pre determined design. In order to break off corners and angles, a sculptor hammers the stone with ditcher- a heavy, pointed chisel with rough edges. The form is then refined with more subtle tools such as claw chisels and flat chisels which are used for sharper details.
Not only in other countries but there are many examples of best sculpt and architecture in India. Many of the monuments have got the status of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Kami Mata Temple in Deshnoke (Bikaner) Rajasthan. The amazing carving work has been done. Kangra Fort of Himachal Pradesh is perhaps one of the oldest fort of India. The fort was devastated by a disastrous earthquake in 1905 AD but still stands a testimony to the architectural skills of times. There are richly carved temples with some idols embossed in the walls of these temples. Mahishasura Mardini cave Mahabadlipuram in Tamil Nadu has a number of cave temples where ancient art has its presence. Two panels with sculptures on opposite walls are quite famous. These carvings are the reminiscent of the History. Stone carvings at Hoysaleswara temple, Holebid Karnataka are very famous. Brilliant sculptures speak volumes about the architectural excellence. Konark Sun temple of Odhisha constructed by Narsingh Dev during 11th century is also famous for its architecture and wall carvings.
In Jammu region also the art of ancient monumental architecture was famous. The example of groups of temples held at Krimachi of district Udhampur is worth citing. Fascinating carvings done on the exteriors of temples is very attractive. The sculptures are exquisite and powerful. After carrying out carving on many stone slabs, the stones were assembled together to elaborate the design. The stone idols held at Krimachi temples are Shiva Varah Avtar, Parvati Gaurada, Ganesha etc. The artistic stone work of temples reflects the skill and craftsmanship of the time when the temples were constructed.
Besides architectural skills in temples and Forts construction, the Duggar Region remained famous for Bauli art. Baulis constructed during seventeenth and eighteenth century AD are the finest specimen of stone sculpt. Statuettes embossed on stone slabs were being fixed on the three sides of baulis. They include postures of different gods, avtars, serpents, sun, earth and even imaginary symbols of scenic beauty. The art of stone carving faced a sharp decline even with regards to Baulis. The Baulis constructed after independence were in a quite different style. The stone used for construction was merely plain and even undressed in most of the cases. Neither the chiseling work was done nor any murals were got erected. Unsurpassed  sculptural art of ancient Baulis could not be preserved for the coming generations.
The hard stone of the most of the Duggar region is very suitable for carving. Idols and small decors can be made out of stone. Training is required to be imparted to locals for stone carving. If technique of painting is introduced the products would be more attractive, strong, cheap as compared to marble. The art of stone carving needs revival at this stage. This would definitely improve the economy and locals may get self employment.
Looking for the skilled people of stone carving only some people could be  contacted in the interior villages.
Sh. Hem Raj S/o Late Anant Ram village Kah Chirayayi was seen erecting four idols of Bhim devta of size 5’X2′. It took him 100 days along with one assistant to complete the idols. The stones were heavy and loaded with crane on a tipper and brought to his village for further carving. He had learnt stone carving from his father.
An individual from village Ritti Tehsil Ramnagar also know carving an idol of Hanuman of the size one and half by one feet was sold for installing in a temple.
Two brothers from Sudhmahadev also perform the carving work as a hobby. One of them is a retired employee from State Forest Department. Idols and decors are prepared and sold by them at Sudhmahadev.
In Kashmir division art is  very popular. Mortals of different sizes along with decor items are available in the market. Tourists visiting  Kashmir Division purchase these items. In Jammu Division the art has  completely vanished. Necessary steps are needed to be taken to promote and revive the art of stone carving in Jammu Region.