NARAYAN NAG TEMPLES
Narayan Nag , or “Sodartiratha”, as it was known in ancient times , is one of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites in the Kashmir Valley. The prominent feature of this little hamlet nestled about 20 kms from Ganderbal, is the 1500 year old temples. The site owes its sanctity to the existence of a large spring neat which have been built two groups of temples. The two groups of temples lie on the right bank of the River Kishan Ganga, Kanak-Vahini of Rajatarangni, a perennial river originating from the Gangabal lake and the glaciers.Both the groups of temples are separated by about 200 metres square pillared platform. In ancient times the locality of Nara Nag was known by the name Rajadainbal. These temples were constructed during the reign of Lalitaditya The first group consists of seven temples; the largest temple of the group is dedicated to Shiva and has been identified with the temple of Bhuteshwar, mentioned in the Fourth Book of Rajatarangni. All the temples have conical stone roof of a single stone. Besides the main temple, there are six other miniature shrines placed in an unsymmetrical manner in the compound intended as subsidiary shrines. These subsidiary shrines were probably erected by various groups of pilgrims as a mark of reverence after returning from Gangabal Lake in form of “votive offering” after successful accomplishment of the hazardous ascent to Gangabal Lake.
About one hundred metres below towards the river bed lie the second group of temples also dedicated to Shiva and has been identified with Jyeshtheswar mentioned in the Fourth Book of Rajatarangini. It is enclosed by two chambered huge gateway of similar size and shape as of Avantipur temple. The roofless two chambered gateway were once supported by four pillars, the base of which are in situ. In this group there are about small roofless temples with high plinths. The main Shrine has only huge arched entrance and other three sides have closed doors with trefoil arches in triangular encasing. The temples were plundered in the days of Jayasimha in Kalhana’s time. The temple of Nara Nag suffered many misfortunes as mentioned in Kalhana’s Rajatarangani during the reign of Sangramaraja (11″ century). The mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley have left these temples entirely unattended and in a state of disrepair only for the ASI to take them under their wings for restoration work. However, even today, the Shrines are sacred to Hindus, who perform the last rites of their loved ones after consecrating their ashes in the nearby Gangabal Lake.