The lost and forgotten Shiva temple at Ladhoo, Kashmir

Located far away from Srinagar in a small village called Ladhoo, the presence of the ancient Jeevnath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is barely known anymore, even to many Kashmiris. However, when I was traveling through the villages in Kashmir valley on a project to discover old and lost temples of the region, I asked people around specifically for leads to old temple which didn't exist on guidebooks at all.

Here is the story of how I discovered the Shiva Temple of Ladhoo.

ladhoo ancient shiva temple kashmir valley
Shiva temple at Ladhoo, Kashmir
ladhoo ancient shiva temple kashmir valley
Idols immersed in the pond...

I started early in the morning from Srinagar with almost no plans but lots of hopes. I visited the relatively well-known Avantipore temples first, but then had a long day ahead and no more temples. I decided to ask the ASI guy at the temple for some suggestions of unknown temples, and he suggested the Shiva temple at Ladhoo. The only glitch - it as a bit far and I only had public transportation to commute. Tourists were still uncommon in Kashmir, and no-one certainly visited the villages. Of course, I didn't care about these things and after changing three different vehicles I finally reached Ladhoo village.

ladhoo ancient shiva temple kashmir valley
The local village market

There was nothing really special about the village, it was quite beautiful just like all the villages of Kashmir. But my entry to the village generated quite a lot of excitement and many people came out of their shops to see who this visitor with long hair was. I must confess that all this made me quite uncomfortable, but I had no other option but to befriend them. One of them invited me to his shop for some Kashmiri chai, and I agreed though I kept thinking that the tea could be spiked. Everyone had questions, and were quite surprised that I was a Hindu in search of old temples in the valley.

One young man and a boy volunteered to take me to the temple and tell me all about it. I bid the my curious new friends goodbye and walked further ahead. Within minutes we were at the temple and surprisingly there was very little that survived. But there was so much pride when they showed me the temple, and I could see why.

ladhoo ancient shiva temple kashmir valley
Details at the temple
ladhoo ancient shiva temple kashmir valley
Some more idols

The temple is really special because of the message of communal harmony it showcases. There are no Hindus at all in the village, yet the temple is still maintained by the caretakers of a mosque located right next to it. All that survives now is a small pond with few walls around and a Shiva idol somewhere inside. Apparently the idol becomes visible when the weather is dry, but this was time of rains and I could only imagine what it would look like.

ladhoo ancient shiva temple mosque kashmir valley
Mosque next to the temple...

The caretaker also told me an interesting story...

'The temple was built during the time of King Avantivarman. There was a famous Hindu sage who did tapasya here and the village used to be completely Hindu back then. When Shah Hamadan came to the valley and he brought the message of Islam with him. The sage was also very inspired by Shah Hamadan and embraced Islam. After him the entire region also took up Islam.'

It was around 5.30 when I decided to leave. It was also azaan time and I could hear a beautiful voice asking the faithfuls to bow before allah. It was getting close to sunset and I still had a long way to go. It was quite tough to find a direct vehicle for Srinagar, so I decided to take lift from a local boy who hen dropped me at a crossroad a few kilometres outside the village. It was kind of dark and there was neither bus or anyone else with me there. I certainly did feel uncomfortable.

Here is a video I recorded as I walked back through the village after the visit...

In about 20 minutes a bunch of army men walked towards me and rather roughly asked me for my ID. This was not unusual and had happened to me many times earlier as well. Once they saw my ID and realised that I was an outsiders, I got the worst possible scolding of my life. The head shouted at me at the top of his voice and admonished me for being so reckless to be alone in a Kashmiri village after sunset. They were furious and I could understand their point as well, but frankly I had never felt intimidated during the entire day.

travel kashmir village
Walking back from the village...

Just then a mini-bus came and I got on that. They gave me a stern warning to be never seen in the area again. I was tired, yet strangely satisfied with all the adventures in the day. As the bus drove towards the highway, I looked out of the window and tried to ignore the loud local music. I knew more adventures will be coming my way soon...


Planning a visit to Kashmir soon? Read these stories to get some more inspiration :)

An evening at Shah-e-Hamdam in Srinagar
Srinagar's Heritage walk through old city
Floating vegetables market of Srinagar
A brief history of Srinagar's houseboats


This is a part of a new series called 'Lost temples of Jammu and Kashmir'. Long forgotten in history, I feel it's our responsibility to bring out stories of these architectural and cultural marvels, and keep them alive.


  1. Glad to know about this temple. Nice series, Sid.

  2. This is quite an adventure!! Great info.

  3. i too like adventure in my life. but currently held down by my job and other responsibility..

  4. What an adventure and fascinating to see the temple. To be honest, I hadn't even heard of this place.

    Thanks for sharing.


  5. u never discovered this temple, ASI did long before. It is under the jurisdiction of ASI.

    1. That's correct - the usage of that was like a metaphor for a personal discovery. That's how I've used the word 'lost' also - it's in my context.

  6. In every other sentense u felt terrorise still u talking about communal harmony.. if u are searching for old temples atleast dont make joke of such condition of them

    1. Really? You thought I was making a joke on the temple? Wow...


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