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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ancient Kiradu temple ruins near Barmer, Rajasthan

One of the main agenda of our visit to Suryagarh this year was to experience the Kiradu trail. Kiradu (also known as Kiradukot) and nearby areas were under Army control till recent time and was opened to public just a few months ago. This post shares photos of Kiradu and information available so far, in one of the first few blog posts ever on this historic place.

Kiradu temples are believed to be built first between 6th and 8th century, improvised/additional temples added in subsequent centuries, reached the peak of its prosperity in 11th century and began suffering destruction during various attacks over time. The area was under the rule of The Parmer and The Chauhan kings who worked under Solanki dynasty in Gujarath.

About 5 temple units are partially restored and open to public as of now, all within walking distance, while this represents only a small portion of its original glory which is believed to have 100+ temples spread over several kms of area.

The main temple has no idol inside, but its core structure is intact. it is said to be built in Maru-Gurjar style and its walls, pillars and roofs depict wide range of motifs that seem to depict war, daily life, stories of Ramayana/Mahabharata and adult life. A close look reveals several Khajuraho style carvings, now defaced in most places and various unique stuff like women on horses etc. Once inside, the roof seemed to be missing. Attackers have defaced the structure to the extent their hands or tools could reach. Top part of the temple has most of its carvings intact. The writings are believed to be in Sanskrit.  Some pictures below.
Historic Kiradu temples in Barner Rajasthan
Historic Kiradu temples in Barner Rajasthan
Historic Kiradu temples in Barner Rajasthan
Historic Kiradu temples in Barner Rajasthan

Historic Kiradu temples in Barner Rajasthan
Historic Kiradu temples in Barner Rajasthan
Historic Kiradu temples in Barner Rajasthan
Historic Kiradu temples in Barner Rajasthan
Historic Kiradu temples in Barner Rajasthan

Historic Kiradu temples in Barner Rajasthan
 The Saga of Kiradu:

Below is the popular story associated with Kiradu narrated by locals and people who escorted us there: For the well being of Kiradu and protection against invaders, King Someshwara appoints a saint. This saint and his disciple based themselves in in Kiradu and ensured its continued prosperity. Once the Saint had to go out on a long trip- he left his disciple in the care of villagers. But apparently none of the villagers gave any food to the disciple except one old lady- potter's wife. Upon his return, Saint was very angry to see his disciple being disregarded by villagers. He decided to curse the village. In appreciation of the care shown by potter's wife, he advised her to leave the village at once and never look back.  But the old lady couldn’t resist from taking one last look at her village so she turned back and instantly got turned into stone statue. Everyone else in the village also reportedly turned into stone. From that day, the deterioration of Kiradu started as it was deserted and no one dared to come close fearing the curse. However there is no evidence to this belief.

On the day of our visit, local brahmin community conducted a series of artis and pujas at the Kiradu temple complex, apparently to scare away any negative powers that might be hovering around the place and restore divine forces in the temple complex. The puja ceremonies last for close to an hour. The puja ceremonies were being conducted for the first time in centuries so was certainly special for everyone around.



This little boy got everyone's attention. He was reciting the shlokas perfectly and was at times visibly upset when his seniors missed a phrase and tried to cover up.
After the puja, we also took part in singing the bhajan- Om Jai Jagadeesh hare...

Below is a building which is said to be used for dancing and other entertainment purposes. King would sit in the porch towards the back and girls would dance around the circular structure that exists in front of it. King’s chamber is almost gone except for back wall, the mandapam is intact.








Ruins can be seen on the ground all over.

As night set in, spotted this peacock climbing all the way up to the top of one of the temples. Several bats also flew away from temple complex.
At present Kiradu complex is under the care of ASI and INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) Barmer Charpter. They believe Kiradu deserves better attention and funding so that as much former glory as possible could be restored.

Apparently mainstream media has only given negative coverage for this place. There are already several thousand results for this place in a google search, but most of them spread false rumor and speculations without any scientific proof- that Kiradu is haunted, anyone who spends a night here will become a stone and so on. Obviously these are baseless and probably spread by people who have much to gain if people stay away from Kiradu (like those involved in illicit trading ancient artifacts or using the location for other illegal purposes)

Our visit to Kiradu:
Our hosts, Suryagarh arranged a visit to Kiradu for us. It took about 3 hours drive through the desert to reach Kiradu from Suryagarh, Jaisalmer. We stopped at a village for refreshment and drove further. As we neared Kiradu, we could see the changes in landscape- the sand dunes were replaced by a hilly terrain and density of vegetation increased.

With permission from relevant authorities, we were served dinner in the premises. If you visit on your own some of these add-ons may not be present. If you are staying with Suryagarh, they will be happy to conduct this Kiradu trail for your group with all necessary permissions, arrangements and so on.

Folks at Suryagarh have mastered the art of creating unique desert experiences for their guests. Kiradu trail is the latest addition to Suryagarh's list of #desertexploration offerings. Stay with them and they can arrange an expedition that will be well planned and executed, informative, luxurious and highly memorable. Some of the other outdoor experiences are: "Breakfast with peacocks at Khaba fort, Desert temple trails including Lodhruva, Kuldhara Churail Trail, Camel ride and visit to Ancient water bodies, burials and other significant spots inside the desert, visit to Jaisalmer town and fort and so on. On our own we will never be able to locate/explore these in the desert. Suryagarh team constantly engage in research and exploration in the desert in close touch with local community, bringing out newer possibilities, much ahead of their competition who largely rely on copying whatever Suryagarh is doing.

Kiradu area is well surrounded by hills which provide some protection in an otherwise sand filled desert. This area also seemed to have more vegetation.

Mridula asked me if I am willing to spend a night in Kiradu (I had slept in the open garden of Suryagarh the previous night). If only I could have the keys to one of the Toyota Fortuners, I might have probably spent the around Kiradu area and return in the morning)

How to reach Kiradu?

Kirdau is about 35kms from Barmer and 157 kms from Jaisalmer town. It is possible to plan a day trip to Kiradu from either of these towns. You will have to hire a taxi, as public transportation is not available yet. Temple is well marked on Google maps, so you shouldn't have trouble navigating in and out. Barmer is the closest town for accommodations.

How much time to spend in Kiradu?

Only a small area of 3 sq kms is currently opened to tourists. Main temples are concentrated in the centre, very close to each other. Couple of hours is adequate to explore this, but depends on your interest and motive to explore in detail or in larger areas.

Is there any entry fee?
Yes, a small amount (about Rs 10)- Saw a board to that effect- not sure if it is enforced

Are there any facilities for food, refreshment etc?
No, at least not yet. Go prepared with some food and water as nothing is available at the venue. But this might change over time if more tourists start visiting.
 

Note: All information as told to us during our visit.
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15 comments :

Siddhartha Joshi said...

The place looks wonderful! Loved the pictures man...

Ami said...

Beautiful indeed. And definitely a place that I would want to visit. The mandapam looks amazing.

rupam sarma said...

Amazing place. Awesome pics.

Nimi Arora said...

You have clearly spent a lot of time and effort on these pics and details.
Especially love the vibrant pagri colours and the evening pics.

--Nimi
www.NimiArora.com

Nisha said...

You are super fats in writing posts! :)

I can see the effects of Darter here. The angles, the composition and the night shots. Good going.

It's long since we haven't traveled together.

Nisha said...

That was *fast

Looks like I am faster in committing typos. :(

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@nisha-Thanks. yes should travel together soon... Let us see
Book for any of the destinations I have shared...
Don't worry about typo.


@Nimi- Thanks. yes, I did spend some effort on the pics than I normally do.

@Rupam- Thanks

@Ami- Thanks

@Sidhharth- Thanks

Rajesh said...

Beautiful remains of the temple. Craftsmanship is amazing.

D.Nambiar said...

First of all, love the shades of orange against the temples. That's quite a sight.

The work on the temple walls and pillars are so spectacular.

It's these myths that make the place more magical. So now that the pujas have been done, the temples are going to be functioning again? T

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Rajesh: Thanks

@DN - Thanks. there are no deity idol inside afaik, so I am not sure of daily poojas. If visitor count increases I am sure more activities will come up

The Untourists said...

Its gorgeous. I am always amazed at how beautiful our architecture used to be. I wonder why we have-not carried forward the traditional architectural styles anymore...

Yogi Saraswat said...

About 5 temple units are partially restored and open to public as of now, all within walking distance, while this represents only a small portion of its original glory which is believed to have 100+ temples spread over several kms of area.Very beautiful place to visit . A TV channel was saying that it is almost impossible to be there in night as there are some negative energy is always present there ( you too wrote about it ) , so I just want to know , is it true ?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Yogi- Not sure if anyone has tried . Similar folktales exist for Kuldhara also. Can't be true.

@The Untourists- Priorities change over time unfortunately

divsi said...

Awesome shots! Great compositions. you are extremely lucky to visit this right after it was thrown open to the public!
What an amazing place! :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Divsi... yes, it was nice to visit this place. Hope it is well maintained