The only ancient monument now standing at
Pandrethan is a
temple, which enshrines a Shivalinga, a recent installation. The temple is
located close to the main road by the side of a bend of the Jhelum.
Previously archaeologists had identified this temple with the Meruvardhanasvamin temple constructed by Meruvardhana. However, Daya Ram Sahni has already furnished the cogent reasons against this identification. The Meruvardhanasvamin temple is definitely Shaiva in religious affiliation in view of the fact that the figure above the lintel of the main door represents "Lakulisa", the deified "Pashupata" teacher.
The Internal Sanctum
The internal arrangement of the floor and doors on sides would indicate that the temple originally enshrined either a Shivalinga or an image of Mahadeva with three or four heads. On stylistic consideration of the sculptures on the ceiling and above the main door, the temple does not appear to be later than the 10th century A.D.
Consequently, it cannot be identified with any of the temples mentioned by Kalhana. The temple being of small dimensions atttracted little notice in olden days. Its small size coupled with its having been partially under water apparently helped it to escape the destructive hand of the non-believers.
Temple's Roof Top
Despite its modest dimensions, the temple is of great interest in view of the fact that it is one of the few temples, which preserves the major portion of the roof of the great temples looked like before their destruction. The temple also impresses one by virtue of its structural propriety, symmetry and restraint in ornamentation. Its architectural effect is somewhat undermined by the raised ground around it.
The temple now stands in the midst of a tank like depression, which is fed by natural springs. The wall of its platform remains submerged almost through out the year. Even the floor of the sanctum had been under knee-deep water before the present arrangement for partially draining out the water has been made.
A Tri Ratha Layout
Made of Ashlar stone masonry, the temple stands on a fairly high platform; the face of the latter has a set of projected mouldings at the base and at the top, the receding middle portion being plain. The platform is "Tri Ratha" (Three Chariots) on plan, the front side having a further central projection accommodating the stair with a moulded parapet. There are representations of brackets punctuated with flowers on the inner side of the upper portion of the parapet. The presence of a socket in the topmost course of both the parapets would indicate the existence once of a pillar or a sculpture.
The temple proper, above the platform, is also Tri Ratha on plan externally, but square internally. All the central projections provide each a door opening. The door opening on the backside is smaller than the other three and its jambs do not have the slanting cut of the other jambs, which are splayed to make the opening gradually expanding towards the sanctum sanctorum. This departure raises a doubt about the existence of this door originally.
The Exquisite Embellishments
The walls of the temple rest on a projecting member relieved with the foreparts of a series of squatting elephants in the attitude of supporting the load of the structure. Above this elephant frieze is a fillet capped by a somewhat "Khura" shaped moulding. Save for the projecting pilasters at corners, the walls are plain.
The base of the oblong pilasters presents three mouldings, while its somewhat splayed out capital is relieved with lions with a tree in between. These pilasters support the entablature consisting of the moulded architrave, frieze and cornice. The frieze in the middle part presents a series of brackets (possibly relieved with lion heads) each alternating with a recessed arch bearing within a flower with leaves or buds. But for the interruption of the projected triangular roofs of the central projections, the entablature would have run on all sides.
Perched on the entablature is the high-pitched pyramidal roof made of horizontal courses. The roof is divided into two storeys or tiers. The junction, on a level almost immediately above the summit of the triangular roof of the central projection, is relieved with a series of brackets capped by projecting bands; between the brackets are corbelled recesses, each bearing within a lotus with two leaves or buds. The monotony of the otherwise plain face of the upper tier is pleasingly broken by four slightly projecting trefoil niches (one each in the middle of the four side) resembling 'Chaitya'-windows.
The crowning member above the topmost course has disappeared. On the analogy of the better preserved, but smaller, temple at Payar, which has a remarkable similarity with the present temple it may be presumed that a fluted member (resembling an "Amalaka") served as the pinnacle.
The triangular roof of the four central projections, which present the appearance of a sort of a narrow porch or portico, projects forward from the lower tire of the main pyramidal roof. It is supported by two architraves resting on oblong pilasters with base mouldings similar to those of the corner pilasters. While the architrave is relieved with brackets punctuated by corbelled recesses bearing flowers, the capital of the pilasters is decorated with motifs including scrolls.
Attached to the inner sides of the two pilasters of the central projections of each side, but slightly receding from them, are two more pilasters. Rising above a set of three mouldings, their shafts are panelled. Their capitals are relieved with a pair of peacocks with foliated tails. These pilasters support a faceted trefoil arch framed within the triangular roof of the central projections.
While the sills of the doors are absolutely plain, the jambs, made of Ashlar courses, are faceted. The monolithic lintel, also faceted, presents a central frieze with seven arched niches, badly defaced.
The lintel supports a triangular pediment, its bottom relieved with brackets, each alternating with a flower. Inside the pediment is reproduced a trefoil arch. Within this arch of the front side is carved in high relief the figure of Lakulisa, wearing a Dhoti and an "Upavita" (sacred thread) and seated cross-legged. Unfortunately, the figure is greatly damaged. Its right hand might have been in "Abhaya" or "Vyakhyana Mudra". Against the left arm is a damaged "Lakuta" (staff). The space within the trefoil arch of the remaining three sides of the temple is now empty. Originally they might have borne the reliefs of some forms of Shiva.
A Different Contrast
In contradistinction to the plain interior walls of the sanctum, the ceiling is exquisitely and effectively carved. It is made of nine stone slabs arranged in three over sailing courses. The bottom course consists of four triangular slabs is boldly relieved with a pair of flying garland bearers holding a long garland with their hands. The modelling of the figures with their blithe movement is fairly natural and arresting.
The middle-spanning course of the ceiling also comprises four triangular slabs. Hovering the corners of the bottom square opening, these slabs produce a still smaller square, the opening of which is capped by a single square slab forming the topmost course. The four slabs of the middle course are relieved each with a flying Vidyadhara, carrying a ring like object (possibly a wreath) in his right hand and a lotus stalk in the left hand; a portion of the scarf is seen floating in the air.
The vertical face of these slabs is carved with the representations of brackets, each punctuated with a flower within a corbelled recess. A full-blown lotus with twelve full petals is reproduced on the topmost square slab. Around the lotus is a circular beaded border. Beyond this border and at each of the four corners of the square is again a flying figure with outstretched hands seemingly holding up the circular border of the lotus.
The entire ceiling is perched on a corbelled course running on all sides. This corbelled course, which projects inwards and is decorated with a series of flowers within squarish compartments, is supported by a horizontal row of brackets projecting from the course below. The course below the brackets is also corbelled and projects inwards beyond the plumb of the vertical walls of the sanctum.
The load over the ceiling is relieved by the provision of a hollow pyramidal chamber above the ceiling. There is no access to this blind chamber, which is closed on all sides by the facing slabs of the pyramidal roof of the temple.
As already noted, the Linga, which is under worship on a terraced platform, is a modern installation. Whereabouts of the original Linga or image are not known. The location of a pedestal or platform can merely be surmised from a shallow, but broad, squarish depression in the middle part of the floor made of large stone slabs