Lakshmi Narayan temple is the biggest and the most ancient temple of Chamba Valley in Himachal Pradesh state of India. There are six temples in all in the entire complex aligned from direction of north to south. All of these are dedicated to either Lord Vishnu also known as Narayan and Lord Vishnu. These include the temple of Radha and Krishna, one of Chandragupta era dedicated to Lord Shiva and the Gauri Shanker Temple.
Legend and History of Lakshmi Narayan Temple
The temple is believed to have been constructed in the 10th century by Raja Sahil Varman. The temple continued to be redecorated by the further kings of Chamba. As per a legend, Raja Sahil Varman sent all his nine sons to Vindhyachal Mountains to fetch the marble for construction of idol of Lord Vishnu. Eight of his sons sacrificed their lives but could not bring the marble. However, his ninth and the eldest son Yugkara was successful in getting the special marble. In fact, robbers also attacked Yugkara but he managed to save himself with the help of a saint. And this is how the most sacred idol of Lord Vishnu could get constructed at this holy place.
A metallic image of Garuda standing on a tall pillar at the main entrance was later added by Raja Balabhadra Verma. This was supposedly an answer to the threat of attack by Mughals. Thereafter, emperor Aurangzeb had ordered to demolish the temple but Raja Chhatra Singh, the then king wanted to show that he wasn’t afraid of the intimidation and added golden pinnacles to the temple tops in 1678.
Besides being historically significant, this holy shrine is also an architectural masterpiece. Raja Sahil Varman built the temple in Shikhara style. There is a Shikhara or the Bimana and a Garbhgriha with a small Antralya. There is also a Mandapa like formation in the temple premise. There are exceptionally admirable effigies of Lord Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi, Narsimha and Lord Krishna. All these are the residing deities of this temple.
There are wooden umbrellas and the shell roof on the top of the temple. The wheel shaped roof keeps the cold away. This was constructed keeping in mind the local climate as snowfall is an inevitable part of this land’s weather.The Shiva temple in the complex has been constructed by King Sahil Varman whereas the Gauri Shankar temple is said to have been added by his son Yugkara. The Radha Krishan temple was later added by Rani Sarda in 1825.
The temple opens up for devotees from 6 am to 12.30 pm and then from 2.30 to 8.30 pm. It is said that in between these hours, Gods are taking rest while they spend their night in inner parts of the temple.
- Location → Chamba → Himachal Pradesh
- Dedicated to → Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva
- Main Attraction → Beautiful Architecture, idol of Lord Vishnu made with marble
- Main Festival and Fair → Manjar Fair, a week-long festival in the month of August.
- How to reach by Air → the nearest airport – Gaggal
- How to reach by Rail – Nearest railway station → Pathankot
- How to reach by Road → A number of state transport services are available from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh for this shrine. Once can also hire taxi to reach here.