Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 8

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BY: SUN STAFF - 29.11 2017

Interior of Adi-Purkha Temple, Tihri

A serial exploration of places of Lord Brahma's worship.


Adi-Purkha Brahma Temple at Tihri-Uttarsal

In our exploration of Lord Brahma's temple in Himachal Pradesh, we began yesterday with one of the most prominent examples, the Adi-Brahma temple in the village of Khokhan, near Bhuntar in the Kullu Valley. There are four additional Brahmadev temples in the Kullu Valley about which very little information is available. They are the Beas Valley Brahma temples in the villages of Phati-Kanaun, Shilpihar, and Rahala village, and the temple at Surla Charan in Nahan tehsil of district Sirmaur.

The sixth, and most widely known Himachal Brahma temples is the Adi Purkha temple in the village of Tihri-Uttarsal, Mandi. This temple has an interesting historical connection to the Adi-Brahma temple at Khokhan, which is described in the book. Wooden Temples of Himachal Pradesh by Mian Goverdhan Singh.

"The pagoda style temple of Adi Purkha at Tihri-Uttarsal in Mandi district is an elaborate structure as compared to the one at Khokhan, but it compares nowhere near the latter in artistry. While the temple of Adi Brahma at Khokhan still retains to a larger extent the nostalgic grandeur of the past, the pagoda of Adi Purkha has undergone extensive renovations within the past few decades.

Adi-Purkha Brahma Temple, Tihri-Uttarsal

The pagoda structure of Adi Purkha is interesting for its imposing and well-intentioned arrangement of the three tiers and the formal harmony of the entire structure. In the treatment of this pagoda, the compositional parameters have fully been adhered to, so that the diverging lines of the topmost tier, when extended downward, precisely touch edges of the succeeding lower roofs to form an isosclese triangle. The mid-dip in the roof of the lowermost tier has further accentuated the aesthetic effect of the composition.

The under-portion of the tiers between the roofs is fitted with carved and ornamented structural members and multi-arched brackets. The graceful turned fringes and bells stylistically identical to the ones in the pagoda at Khokhan, have been provided under the roofs. Earlier, this pagoda carried wooden plank roofing, but it was replaced by thin stone slates during the restoration carried out in the recent past. Located some distance away is the tower-type bhandar of the devta.

It may be hazardous to fix the date of this time, but it may be safe to assume that it was built in the lower half of the 14th century. There is a tradition in Tihri village that in the ancient past, this village formed a part of the cultic realm of Adi Brahma of Khokhan. But when both the villages, Tihri and Khokhan, were separated during the territorial dispute between the kingdoms of Mandi and Kullu, the people of Tihri-Uttarsal raised a separate temple in their village on the pattern of Adi Brahma temple at Khokhan. In that process, the images in the Adi Brahma temple were also divided. The one installed in the then-newly built temple at Tihri was named as 'Adi Purkha' on the pattern of Adi Brahma at Khokhan, and also called 'Brahma' to signify its relationship and junior position vis-à-vis the Deity in the temple at Khokhan.

The above tradition follows a historical event which records that village Khokhan was annexed to Mandi kingdom by Raja Ban Sen (1301-1346 AD). Ban Sen is known to have built a temple at Hardwar beside a lake, popularly known as Parashar temple. Adi Brahma temple at Khokhan was probably built by him to mark his new acquisition. The 'Adi Purkha' temple may thus be considered a junior contemporary of the 'Adi Brahma' temple at Khokhan. The junior position of the temple at Tihri-Uttarsal not withstanding, it is perhaps a singular example of 'Adi Purkha' temple not only in the Beas valley, but in the mainland as well."

Temple scene along Sangla mountain range, Himachal Pradesh

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