Pulwama : A centuries-old Shiva temple with indigenous patterns and fantastic design stands very well preservrd in Payarvillage in South Kashmir's Pulwama area.
The 1500 year oldShiva temple situated at the foot of the kareiva in the village of Payar also known as Payach , is located at the base of a table land known locally as NounagriKarewa on one side of a rivulet.This beautiful structure is said to have been constructed between 483 and 490 AD.
This shrine is noted by Walter Lawrence in his travelogue, "The Valley of Kashmir." Due to its outward style and elegance, he described it as one of Kashmir's oldest temples.
It is a square sanctum with a single stairway on the east side and a moulded four-tired foundation. It is completely open on all sides. The doors are rectangular and topped with a trefoil arch, which is surrounded by a pediment. The roof is pyramidal and two-tiered, with four pillars supporting it.
The superstructure is thought to be made up of ten stones, thus the name "ten stoned temple."The stones at the entrances and ceiling are sculpted with numerous Shiva motifs.Carved figures of animals such as geese, bulls, and elephants may also be observed.
In the temple's interior, a Shiva lingam stands above a depression towards the centre.
He claims that because it is situated on an elevation in a remote area, the temple is in excellent condition.Before the archaeological survey of India (ASI) designated this temple as a protected monument in 1958, inhabitants of Payar, according to Tariq Ahmad, also contributed to its protection.
Residents recall a Kashmiri pandit from a nearby hamlet doing his responsibilities as a monument attendant at the spot years ago.
According to them, a local named Ghulam Nabi Sheikh joined the ASI in 1974 as a monument attendant at the Ancient Shiva Temple Payar.
They went on to say that the Sheikh family welcomes foreign visitors and researchers who frequently visit the site and answer their queries . Sheikh retired from ASI in 2013 and later his cousin Mushtaq Ahmad took over as temple manager.The local residents recall their elderly women used to sing folk songs about the temple.
The folklore mentions five such temples in Payar; it says that four temples were lifted away from Payar but this one was left there by Pandavas in face of an external aggression.
A wire fence has been laid around the temple by Archaeological survey of India in 2002 which encloses a small park.
The park grows some varieties of flowering bushes and an old walnut tree. The canopy of the wall nut tree has sprung over the top of the temple.
It is a protected monument under the ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains act 2010. The act prohibits construction within 100 meters form the protected site and construction in further 200 meters form prohibited area without prior approval.