Kiradu Temples Barmer

By Sanjeev Nayyar esamskriti@suryaconsulting.net | 2013

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Kiradu temples are 39kms from Barmer, short and quick drive. There are 5 temples going back to about 11-12 century A.D. Biggest and best is Someshvara Mandir, a front view is what you see. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Temple built in 11th century. Temple has got pillars on both sides with ruins of a shikhara that you will see later.

Side view of temple, pillars. The design and sculpture is amazing. Kiradu was earlier called Kiratkoop, once the capital of the Panwara dynasty who owed their allegiance to the rulers of Gujarat. It took me about 3 hours to reach Barmer from Jaisalmer, reached at noon. Visited an NGO ie into textiles and two villages where met with members of the Meghwal community.

A close up view of the pillars from inside the temple. Note the design and alignment. The inner sanctum has a image of Shivji, missed it. At its base, is a large reverse-curve lotus, which has a resemblance with the early Chola Temples of South India. Again missed seeing the base. It was dark inside the inner sanctum so did not venture. There was only a French tourists group, watchmen and me so none to guide.

We started with showing overview of temple, side view now see close up view of pillars as seen from outside. Admire the intricate work. Kiradu was once a very prosperous and populated area, centre for trade. Today the temples are not visited by many. A lone watchman is there to guard the place. A number of images are damaged.

A close up of a pillar. See other pillars in background which form part of temple. I am still trying to visualize what the temple must have originally looked. ''Other notable features are sculptures of apsaras (dancing girls from the abode of the Gods) and vyalas (a griffin-like mythical beast generally associated with the Buddha) which were rarely seen after 1050 AD in temple architecture".

A close up of lower portion of pillar. Row one is elephant, two is warriors on horse, three dancers. Row 4 seems like men with arrow etc but most images damaged.

Rear side of temple. This side is damaged, not visible from front as you saw in pic no 1. Temple is named Someshwara after King Someshwar of the Panwara dynasty.

Temple wall sculptures. Lower small images are of Mithuna couples (a la Khajuraho) and bigger images are of lady with heavy ornaments, unfortunately damaged. This temples were destroyed by Turushkas invaders and was restored later on. Kiradu is close to Sindh so subject to attacks by foreign invaders.

Another pic of wall sculptures. Left to right is mithuna couple, centre seems a war scene, right is again a fight. Person standing has sword in hand. All temples show the influence of the Solankhi school of architecture.

A side view of the shikhara, sculptures. Reminds me of temples in Gujarat, Khajuraho, Bhoramdeo Chhattisgarh, Belur and Halebidu in Karnataka. Left of pic see pillar that forms part of the temple.

A top view of the shikhara. It was about 5.30ish so setting sun''s rays give it a different color. Temple depicts scenes from Ramayana. Please look out for them or have a guide to assist.

Now for some close ups of temple sculptures. Top is rows of Ganeshas. Bottom not sure. Some have their hands up as if carrying something or supporting a stone. Some are sitting down as if doing something. Can someone enlighten.

Top seems to be a fighting scene as indicated by a sword. Lower portion not able to understand what men and women sitting in a similar posture indicates. Can someone enlighten.

This one shows you intricate design and people sculptures. Top reliefs seem to depict a fight as indicated by shield and sword even though appears broken.

Top is Samundramanthan. Lower level is warrior on horse, notice pig at feet of horse. ''Samundramanthan - According to Hindu tradition Devtas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons) once decided to churn out the ocean of milk to solve the issue of supremacy among them.'' To read more on this Click here

Lower level left to right is man and women in some sort of embrace but with weapon in hand, king seated on elephant in war with enemy also seated on elephant. Big image looks like that of an Apsara with elephant at her feet. Right of pic corner see image - strange look.

We now enter temple. Pillar right in front, note the pillars on side and inside temple that appear at end of pic. Bas reliefs at lower level of pillar show war scenes.

Showing you pillars of different designs and from various angles because found the pillars the most o/s part of this mandir. Lower portion of pillar damaged. Left and right are images of face of a big beast. Top of pic u see the pillar is connected with pillars of both sides by stone which again is designed. Possible design could be a dome like structure that the pillars supported. Right of pic is entrance to the inner sanctum.

A close up of the same pillar. Left of pic u can see small temples above the main sanctum, u saw them from rear side of temple in pic no 11.

A close up of lower portion of the pillar. Top you see three images with eyes. It is called KIRTI MUKHA i.e. to keep away evil images. Seen them in many temples for e.g. Bodh Gaya Temple see pic no 6. To see pics Click here

Sculptures above door that lead to inner sanctum. Did not go inside since it was so dark. Amazing work to say the least.

U see two main pillars in front which I think along with others supported a dome. Behind that are more pillars that form the exterior part of the temple as you saw in pic no 1,2.

A close up of exterior pillars. All of them have Kirti Mukha''s as part that are in centre of pic. Face with eyes, hope can identify.

A close close up of pillar. The intricate work seems like floral in nature.

We now move to the other 4 temples that are dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. Not sure which temple is this. These are smaller than Someshwara but with equally good architecture. This temple is just next to Someshwara mandir.

Close up of sculptures. Right looks like a Shivji image since there is a trident.

Rear side of temple. Kiradu temples surrounded by hills on all sides. Very quiet place, you might not see a soul for days.

Close up of images on same temple.

Close up of bas reliefs. Top left is Swan. Right is Samundramanthan as described earlier. Below is men on horses. Unfortunately many images are damaged, defaced. Since Kiradu is enroute to Sindh it faced the brunt of foreign invasions.

This temple is opposite the Someshwara temple. The Archaeological Dept or some Govt dept is doing good work to maintain the place. I saw some older pics on the net and cannot believe it is the same place today. We must appreciate good work.

Close up of sculptures in temple. Pic taken 5.30ish. I reached only at about 4.45 pm. In fact was caught up with visiting villages that I nearly missed seeing Kiradu. After seeing Kiradu temples thanked Ishwar for making me go there.

Temple Shikhara. WOW is the only word to describe this work. In case of any errors in captions due mail me esamskriti@suryaconsulting.net and shall make corrections.

Lot of wild trees, bushes in the area. Forget the name of this cactus, my local friend told me it has some medicinal properties. Place is in ruins but Govt department doing some good work.

This is another amazing temple ruin. In some ways the design is like the Someshwara temple. Dome structure has 8 pillars all with intricate sculptures. Main temple, sanctum is to left of pic. Plinth seems newly built although as per original design. I think the platform is star-shaped like the temples of Belur and Halebidu in Karnataka. See pic no 9 in Belur temple Click here

A close up of the pillars supporting the dome. Left of pic has Toran between two pillars. Only 2 torans remaining. Note the sculptures at lower level of each pillar. Take pillar in centre of pic there is a image of a person face protruding outwards feet back. It is called KICHAK.

Lower part of column. Top has Kirti Mukha (face with two eyes) as you had seen in Someshwara temple. Level one shows God and Goddess, cannot figure out which one. Can someone enlighten.

Rear side of temple still in tact.

Close up of sculptures on temple wall.

Back to Someshwar temple - this is rear side of temple. Image damaged. Even then the whole frame gives you an idea of how magnificent the original temple must have been.

In Barmer, Sadar Bazaar is a centre for embroidery. It is also well known for intricate wood carving. Visit Barmer town, older parts to get a feel of town. I missed doing it for lack of time. If you like to buy bedsheets, cushion covers etc visit Gramin Vikas and Chetna Sansthan. They specialize in Applique work, patchwork and hand embroidery. Call their Secretary Vikram Singh who will give you workshop address. His contacts gvcsbarmer@gmail.com, phone nos 9413308843, 9680990029. To see pics of their products Click here