Pulwama: Centuries old, historic temple at Narasthan village in Tral area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district has been craving for attention of concerned authorities for years.
This 1500 year old temple popularly known as Narasthan Mandir is falling into disrepair due to alleged neglect by the authorities.
Mushtaq Ahmad, Deputy Director, Archives, Archeology and Museums, Kashmir, said that they have started a conservation plan to restore the temple to its past glory .
“A detailed project report ( DPR) for conservation of the temple has been prepared under which a boundary wall around the temple was restored last year,” he said, adding that in the next phase they will be taking up restoration work of the temple.
He added that conservation of ancient monuments is not rebuilding.
“ Conservation is preserving antique objects in their original shape at their proper position and order,” he said, adding that for restoration work they had to collect 50 to 60 year old photo evidence of the ancient monument to find out exact location of objects so that they are put back at their original position.
He also added that there was a spring on the front side of the temple which has become filled with soil and over the years has withered away.
“We will be restoring the spring and also constructing a drain so that there is no water stagnation in the premises of the temple,” he said.
He further said that they have worked hard in restoring the boundary wall around the temple.
“If you visit the site you will appreciate our hard work,” he said.
Dr Nisar Ahmad, author of historical account, Aaina e Tral , said that Narastan Mandir was built around 6th century and has been mentioned in Nilmat Puraan, the oldest historical text book on Kashmir.
Chander M Bhat, a prolific writer from Pandit Community of Kashmir, said that the Narasthan village derives its name from Narayan Sthan (place of Narayana).
“The ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is more than 1500 years old,” he said, adding that it was built with grey limestone and coated with lime plaster.
He said that the temple faces south and houses a Siva Lingam.
“An icon believed to be of ‘Garuda’ (sacred vehicle of Lord Vishnu), the king of birds is located on the pediment. Garuda is half man and half eagle with the power to acquire any shape. The cella stands in a walled enclosure about 65 feet square,” he said.
He said that this stone temple is distinguished for its architectural works and is dissimilar from all the other temples in the Kashmir Valley.
He said that this circular shaped temple is constructed with stones in Gandhara style of architecture, which means each layer of stones is two inches inwards from the preceding one.
Tahseen Ahmad, a local resident of AripalTral, said that he has visited the temple site a number of times.
“The temple is in a dilapidated condition,” he said, adding that many stones have withered away from temple walls which can be seen lying scattered on the ground.
He added that many wild plants like nettle grow in the premises of the temple.
“Water stagnation is another factor which ridicules the past glory of this magnificent ancient monument,” he said, adding that last year authorities had started restoration of the boundary wall around the temple but that too was left incomplete.
Farooq Ahmad Trali, President citizen’s Council Tral, said that Narasthan Mandir is their collective heritage which needs to be conserved.
“We have been raising the issue of renovating this historically significant temple with administration time and again,” he said, adding that last year a wall was laid around the temple and then the restoration work was discontinued.
He accused authorities of neglecting this temple.
“The administration is in deep slumber with regard to conservation of this historically significant temple,” he said.