The Masrur Temples, also referred to as Masroor Temples or Rock-cut Temples at Masrur, is an early 8th-century complex of rock-cut Hindu temples in the Kangra Valley of Beas River in Himachal Pradesh, India. The temples face northeast, towards the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas. They are a version of North Indian Nagara architecture style, dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, Devi and Saura traditions of Hinduism, with its surviving iconography likely inspired by a henotheistic framework.
Though a major temples complex in the surviving form, the archaeological studies suggest that the artists and architects had a far more ambitious plan and the complex remains incomplete. Much of the Masrur’s temple’s sculpture and reliefs have been lost. They were also quite damaged, most likely from earthquakes.
The temples were carved out of monolithic rock with a shikhara, and provided with a sacred pool of water as recommended by Hindu texts on temple architecture. The temple has three entrances on its northeast, southeast and northwest side, two of which are incomplete. Evidence suggests that a fourth entrance was planned and started but left mostly incomplete, something acknowledged by the early 20th-century colonial era archaeology teams but ignored leading to misidentification and erroneous reports. The entire complex is symmetrically laid out on a square grid, where the main temple is surrounded by smaller temples in a mandala pattern. The main sanctum of the temples complex has a square plan, as do other shrines and the mandapa. The temples complex features reliefs of major Vedic and Puranic gods and goddesses, and its friezes narrate legends from the Hindu texts.
The temple complex was first reported by Henry Shuttleworth in 1913 bringing it to the attention of archaeologists. They were independently surveyed by Harold Hargreaves of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1915. According to Michael Meister, an art historian and a professor specializing in Indian temple architecture, the Masrur temples are a surviving example of a temple mountain-style Hindu architecture which embodies the earth and mountains around it.
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