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Chattradi



 
 
The temple of Chattradi is regarded as one of the holiest ones competing with well known temples of "Lakshna Devi" at Bharmour and of "Bhawani" at Kangra. The construction of the temple is simple. It consists of a small cell or sanctuary in which one of the rare brasses by the master craftsman Gugga is enshrined. The walls of the temple are built of rubble masonry alternating with beams of wood. The structure is surmounted by a sloping roof of slate. The roof is supported by richly craved wooden posts which form a VARANDAH. The Shakti Devi temple is of interest owning to the elaborate decoration of its facade, ceiling and pillar. The sanctum, its architecture and sculpture betray a conscious effort on part of its builder to introduce a highly refined post Gupta art in this remote part of Chamba.
 
The main idol in the temple is of Shakti Devi. This fine brass statue, 4 feet 6 inches tall shows Shakti holding in her hands a lance (Power, energy) and a lotus (life), a bell (aether, space) and a snake (death and time). Besides this main idol there are almost thirty other small figurines of tutelary deities like Annapurna. Some of these are believed to have been brought from far South or the State of Orrisa.
 
According to the inscription at Chattradi the temple was built by Raja Meru Varman, by whose order the inscription was engraved alongwith the names of his father, grand father and great grand father as well as that of the sculptor. This epigraph commemorates Meru Varman's victory over his rivals with the help of the Devi.
 
The outer walls of the sanctum are covered with frescoes which are of recent origin and represent scenes from PURANAS.
 
Near the Shakti Devi Temple is the temple of Gauri Shankra. The stone image of Gauri Shankra is of later origin. The work can be attributed to the 10th century AD which indicates a long period of sculptural activity in the region.
 
A few minutes walk up the mountain slopes from the main village is the Charauta temple which houses a stone image of BHATOD NAG who gives water to the people in return for one black and four white goats every three years.
 
There are two interesting legends connected with the village. Villagers had to fetch water from a nearby village call Makain. Once, a Chela of a siddha while carrying water fell prey to bears. The Siddha invoked the deity to solve the water problem. Inspired by the Devi he made 36 marks with his trident at different places in the village and water gushed out from the points where the marks had been made. There are 36 water sources in the village around which beautiful PANIHARS (Fountain slabs) can be seen.
 
According to J. Hutchison the village was named Chattradi at a later date when Raja Bala Bhadra (1589-1611) made a grant of 36 LARHIS to the temple following an accidental death of a cow at the hands of the Raja. One larhi is equal to three acres of land and such Lahris are today known as Chattradi.
 
In the month of September a mela is held on the third day after the mela at the Manimahesh lake when a man brings a Lota of water with which the idol of Shakti is bathed. On this day a number of sheep are slain to appease the goddess and to invoke her blessings. After the prayer the gaddies in their traditional costumes dance to the tune of local music.
 
The village is approached either from Gehra from where a bridle path leads to Chattradi or from Luna-Ka-Pul from where a steep trace is to be ascended to reach the village or by the motorable road, experiencing a scary ride almost 700 to 900 feet above the river Ravi as one nears the village. The ascent on foot is most rewarding as the visitors are welcomed by lush green fields and orchards at the outskirts of Chattradi. Chattradi looks most scenic during September and October. Even on other occasions, particularly in spring, Chattradi offers pleasant scenery.

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