One of the most remarkable monuments of the Beas Valley is
the temple of Baijnath. The village of Baijnath is situated 23-miles east
of Nagarkot, as the crow flies, close to the Mandi border and on the main
road, which leads from the Punjab plains through
, Lahul, and Ladakh to Central
Known as Kirangama, its name was changed after the temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva in his form as Vaidyanath or the "Lord of Physicians". The Temple is a good example of Nagri style of architecture. The Baijnath temple is orientated due west. It consists of a puri or adytum, 8-feet-square inside and 18-feet outside, surmounted by a spire of the usual conical shape, and of a mandapa or front hall, 20-feet-square inside, covered with a low pyramid shaped roof.
The adytum, which contains the linga known as Vaidyanatha, is entered through a small anteroom with two pillars in antis. This linga enshrined in the sanctum is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in the country. The roof of the mandapa is supported by four massive pillars connected by raised benches which form, as it were, a passage leading up to the entrance of the sanctum.
The architrave's resting on these pillars divide the space of the ceiling into nine compartments, each of which is closed by means of corbelling slabs. In front of the mandapa rises a stately porch resting on four columns. "The shafts of these pillars", Fergusson remarks "are plain cylinders, of very classical proportions, and the bases also show that they are only slightly removed from classical design".
"The square plinth, the two toruses, the cavetto or hollow moulding between are all classical, but partially hidden by Hindu ornamentation, of great elegance but unlike anything found after wards". The same author at considerable length discusses the capitals of the pot-and -foliage type.
Both the south and north wall of the mandapa are adorned with a graceful balcony window. The four corners are strengthened by means of massive buttress-like projections in the shape of half-engaged - miniature sikhara temples, each containing two niches in which image slabs are placed. Smaller niches in slightly projecting chapels are found between the corner projections and the entrance and balcony windows.
Cunningham and Fergusson that the Baijnath temple had undergone a thorough restoration at the bands of Raja Sansar Chand Katoch (A.D. 1776-1824) assumed it. But Sir Aurel Stein, who had the advantage of personally inspecting the temple in December, 1892, expressed the opinion that the building "has not under gone such very great alterations as the earlier describers state.
"He points out, that the doorway of the adytum is still decorated with the images of the river goddesses mentioned in the inscription. Only the roof seems to be modern; and according to the - statements of the local priests - it was renovated in the days of Raja Sansar Chand II".
A life sized stone Nandi, believed to be the carrier of Lord Shiva stands at the entrance. Also are other miniature shrines and memorial stones within the complex said to have been built around 804 A.D.
The temple of Baijnath, although situated at no great distance from the centre of the earthquake of the 4th April 1905, but suffered slight injury from that catastrophe. The neighbouring smaller temple of Sidhnath, on the contrary, completely collapsed.
Every year during Shivratri Fair, pilgrims descend on Baijnath for the colourful fair and festivities.
Road: Baijnath is only 16-km from Palampur and 132-km from Pathankot, is a motarbus terminus on the Palampur- Kullu road, and is easily accessible from Kangra and Kullu .
Kangra is well equipped with standardised accommodations, which vary from budget hotels to tourist lodges available at resonable rates. One can also stay at the hotels in Palampur.