Temple Trail to Kiradu Temple Complex with Suryagarh Resort
Kiradu Temples, when I first heard the name I felt the place must be having an aura around it just as its name. Kiradu doesn’t figure in the list of popular tourist destinations of Rajasthan yet. Fear, mystery, myths and numerous stories haunt these temples and nobody dares to set foot within the complex after sunset. Kiradu Temple complex was opened to public few months ago. Each day after sunset this complex of Kiradu Temples wears a deserted look. But not on the days when Suryagarh Resort takes their guests there. Many may believe these stories but not us! We from Suryagarh Resort reached the temple complex at twilight hours of 17 th September 2016.
Suryagarh Resort has a series of experiential holiday programs to offer its guests; Kiradu Temple Trail is one of them.
History of Kiradu Temples of Barmer
Kiradu ( Kiradkot) history goes back to 6th century when it was ruled by Kirad clan of Rajputs. They were a set of prosperous devotees of Lord Shiva. The temples that we get to see today were built by King Someshwar of the Parmar dynasty. He ruled Kiradu in the 12th century. It is believed that the place had 108 temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. During his reign Turushkas, (people of Turkistan) invaded his kingdom causing huge damage to the temples. Of those 108 temples only 5 remain standing today.
…just 5 temples remain
Though there is no specific mention anywhere of the other 103 temples, the ruins and scattered temple elements are a proof to the existence of many other temples in addition to these 5. None of these 5 temples have their idols. No worship takes place and the whole area looks deserted and devastated even after so many centuries. An inscription at Kiradu mentions Bhima as the reigning monarch and records the repairs to a temple broken by the Turushkas. It is dated 1178 CE. Bhim Dev was the king of Nahrwala, also called Bhima-II, the brother and successor of Mularaja-II.
Legends surrounding Kiradu Temples
After the devastating attack by Turks King Someshwar invited a great sage to restore safety and prosperity of the Kingdom. The sage, probably after completing his role left the kingdom leaving behind his disciple for the kingdom’s prosperity. With passage of time locals of Kiradu forgot the sage’s disciple. A time came when the disciple was sick. While everybody else ignored the disciple only a potter’s wife looked after him and nursed him back to health. This enraged the sage and he cursed the village to turn into stone but not before asking the potter’s wife to leave the village. Since then the village is under the sage’s wrath and nobody dares to venture in after sunset. Slowly the village got deserted and began to acquire a haunted look.
Kiradu Temple Trail by Suryagarh Resort
But then legends are legends; nothing to be alarmed about! Suryagarh Resort hosted us within these very boundaries of Kiradu village. As I set foot within the Kiradu Temple complex the first sight that my eyes feasted on was the scene of 30 pujaris in spotless white dress, seated in two rows facing each other right in front of Vishnu temple. At the door step of the temple, idols were centrally placed between the rows and a sacred fire lit in the homakund. Ferocious looking guards with mustaches stood on either side of the entrance of the temple. Hawan was on, the whole atmosphere there was reverberating with collective chants of holy mantras. And this was supposed to be a neglected temple complex? Hard to believe that! The welcoming scene was many times beyond my expectations! Such chants would have for sure invoked all positive energy and rid the place of haunting spirits if any!
Architecture of Temples in Kiradu
Incidentally these set of temples at Kiradu are known as Khajuraho of Rajasthan. The temples have Solanki style of architecture. All the temples are built of sandstone. Though the architectural style is different I found some of the features so similar to Hoysala temples of Karnataka. All columns, cornices, base panels here are carved in detail. The themes of carvings were stories from mythological stories, epics and Gods and Goddesses. Several animal forms were sculpted on the panels. These reminded me of the terracotta temples of Bishnupur, West Bengal too. There are some human figures sculpted in erotic poses. Probably that is why the cluster of temples here is compared to Khajuraho temples of Madhya Pradesh.
Round platforms surrounded by pillars seemed like some dance halls. Sabhamandaps has 8 columns and they are joined to one another at the top forming an octagon shape. Interiors of the temples were infested with bats and had unbearable stench. Most mesmerizing were the arches between the columns! How intricately carved, I stood rooted at the spot and admired!
Satvik Food at Kiradu Temple Complex
Kiradu Temple complex was our dining destination that night! How unique! Team Suryagarh Resort made good seating arrangements in traditional styles. We could sit cross-legged on the chowki style seats with little tables right in front. The thalis were elaborately stuffed with satvik menu. Couple of them like aloo mungodi ki subzi and mirch ka kutta I had never tasted before. They are so typical dishes of Rajasthan. Then there was continuous supply of pooris, pineapple rice pulao, and the mandatory dal-bati-choorma. Finally there were the desserts. Satvik food at the end of ceremony added a lot of value to the event. Chef from Suryagarh Resort prepared the dishes at the site and the food served was hot. Indeed lot of planning and coordination has gone into executing such an experience for us. I consider it as a blessing to be able to witness and experience this.
Fact File of Kiradu Temples
How to reach:
Kiradu Temple Complex is 40kms west of Barmer, 157kms south of Jaisalmer. You can take taxi to the temple complex from both these cities. 80kms westward from here is Pakistan border.
Open from 9AM to 6PM. With ASI permission you can stay back to do some twilight hours photography.
Tickets cost a nominal 50Rs for Indian adults and 200Rs for foreigners. Students need to pay just Rs.5.