Krimchi Temples Abandoned in Apathy

Anil Paba
Archaeology has played a great role in unveiling and unraveling the human civilizations thereby giving us the vivid accounts of human endeavours for survival and existence.
Despite the continuous discovery of archaeological sites all over India, Jammu region as a whole has not been visualized as an important archaeological region. Consequently, archaeological aspects of Jammu have not only remained largely unexplored but whatever significant findings have been has brought to light by the local archaeologists has not been highlighted in the national context. It may be mentioned that the find of the local archaeologist show the continuity in the cultural development of the region on the same pattern as in other regions of India.
The various explorations and excavations work have brought to light a faint idea of the early history of man in Jammu region. There has been a vast scope of doing an extensive and systematic survey to fulfill the various gaps in the early history of the region which requires comprehensive research work at various branches of archaeology. On the basis of the evidences found so far, the early history of Jammu region can be re-constructed.
It is very difficult to draw a clear chronology of the temples in absence of systematic study of scattered temples in the region duly altered and renovated with the passage of time. So there is a necessity of doing a more systematic research in the field to know the development of temple architecture.
The Jammu and Kashmir union territory is full of nature’s bounties. Apart from its beautiful scenic spots, superb gardens and majestic mountains, our state is richly endowed with valuable monuments. These monuments includes seven temples of Babbor (Babbapura of the Rajatarangini), Billawar, Laddan (Jalandhara Devi), group of temples at Krimchi which reflect the rich heritage and the glorious achievements of its past history. The ancient temples of Jammu are broadly of two types viz. Shikahara and Pahari style. The temples of Krimchi and Billawar are some of the temples in Shikahara style. The Shikhara style consists of a garbgriha (cella), a mandap and porch. A spire surmounts the cella and the mandap is covered with a low pyramid shaped roof.
Recently, Union MoS(IC) for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel met with Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha and discussed with him the importance of group of Temples at Krimchi, Udhampur. To promote tourism, development of Krimchi temples and other infrastructure around them including good connectivity was also discussed during the meeting. Thereafter, District Development Commissioner, Udhampur, Indu Kanwal Chib also held a meeting with the officials of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Revenue Department and other concerned agencies and discussed the issue of road dispute and its clearance to reach the famous Krimchi temple.
In ancient time Krimchi remained a big halting station. The Caravan carrying trade goods used to stay at Krimchi in the course of their journey to Kashmir valley. It was an ancient trade route from Kannauj to Kashmir. This place also, finds mentioned by Alberuni.
Many historians worked and wrote on Krimchi temples but each have a different opinion about the erection of these famous temples.
According to one version, the group of Krimchi temples in the vicinity of Udhampur are said to have been built in the reign of the Kushan King, Kanishka, that is, around 1st century A.D. whereas the local people of the region say that the Raja Kichak, a warrior of Mahabharta period, laid the foundation stone of Krimchi.
The ruins of an ancient fort of Krimchi kingdom near the temples are still there and the area of the fort has been maintained by the Patnitop Development Authority (PDA). From the fort one can see the scenic view of this beautiful group of temples.
However, as per Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the temples belongs to eighth-ninth century A.D., this group consists of five temples and two small shrines. The group of temples at Krimchi has been built over an elevated terrace of Birunala ( Bhuteshwari Ganga). The temple no 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 are built on a common raised platform where as the Temple No 4 is built on still higher platform and Temple No. 5 is built on a lower level as compared to other temples. Four temples face the east and the smaller temple faces the west. The four temples comprise of garbhagriha with curvilinear sikhara and an elongated antarala with a sukanasika decorated with Kuta-sikhara and kalasha.
Chronologically the Temple No.3 marks the beginning of the architectural activity at Krimchi. It seems to be the oldest and smallest structure. It is followed by temple no.2 more elaborate on plan and higher in elevation. The temple no.6 and 7 are survived with only plinth. The temple no. 4 marks the developed stage of the temple at Krimchi as it shows separate niches for parshvadevatas and door designs on the antatrala. As per ASI the discovery has revealed that temple no.4 stands on an earlier brick structure datable to post-Gupta period. The pillars of the temple no.5 show remnants of sculptures most probably representing river goddesses. The temple no.1 is most developed and elaborately ornamented. These temples have the influence of an early medieval religious architecture style, and resemble the Lingaraja temple at Bhubeneshwar (Orrisa) in layout and plan.
Earlier during the course of trial excavation carried out by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), a number of terracotta figurines, copper coins, and iron arrowheads, beads of semi-precious stone, pestles, querns and earthen pots were found. Besides a hearth, brick platform datable to late Gupta period were also traced. Sometimes back the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), again excavated the site from the east end of temples to solve the various mysteries about its period based on archaeological evidences. The ASI founds an earthen pots and some steps gos towards Birun Nullah which clearly depicts the existence of sites from all sides of Krimchi temples. Unfortunately, the excavation work has been stopped due to some unknown reason.
The reported findings from this ancient temple site by ASI , be it potsherds, coins, sculptures etc should be displayed along with detail report in the temple complex for the study and research by scholars and tourists. This will further generate interest to know more about our ancient past and also safeguarding the same.
However, the author has already highlighted the area of Krimchi village in your esteemed Daily dated January 2001, and 19th April 2015 under the title Baili,” A site of Historical importance unearthed”, and Baili,” The unexplored historical site,” which is situated just 2 Kms ahead of popularly known archaeological site Krimchi.
Keeping in view the socio-economic importance of the area being on ancient trade route and the interest of Ministry of culture, Government of India to develop the group of Krimchi temples, the land need to be acquired from the sides of Krimchi fort and from other sides of Narsingh temples which leads to the main gate of Krimchi temples. The Administration and ASI departments should take up the issues of land acquisition on priority with the locals in order to have easy approach to the temples.
Not only the Conservation of the temples but the due emphasis on the landscaping of the area around it along the river bank will restore antiquity and sanctity of this important historical, Archaeological and religious landmark.
(The author is Director Amar Aantosh Museum, Udhampur Member INTACH Chapter Jammu)