Kala Dera Temples - The legacy of the Dogras

Located in the Manwal village of Udhampur, Kala Dera temples are believed to have been built in the 10th and 11th century by the Dogra rulers of the region. Kala Dera literally translates into Black stones and these are dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Here is the story of Kala Dera temples.

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Ruins of Kala Dera Temples...
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A lovely entrance...

My trip to Kala Dera Temples

As I walked into the temple, I was not at all surprised to find a guard at the entrance. Very curious to see me, he allowed me in with a strict warning not to take any pictures. When I asked why, he had no answer but warned me against it. This was not unexpected as these were years when militancy was still commonplace and any recording device was looked upon with suspicion.

Well, this was a time when digital cameras were not yet common, but also now unknown, and mobile cameras and mobile photography was unthinkable. I reluctantly agreed to not use my camera, though secretly I didn't know if I will be able to follow the absurd orders. The lack of any sign prohibiting photography gave me some confidence to use my camera, and I took a few quick pictures. I had no idea who I would show these pictures to, but I took them in any case.

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Some temples have very little that has survived oner the years...

There are two sets of temples and they are divided into I and II.

Kala Dera Temple I

These temples have barely survived and not much remains which will intrigue with visitor architecturally. The temple is located on a high platform and is approachable by a flight to steps. The designs on the walls and architecture are a mix of geometrical as well as non-geometrical.

The fluted columns are reminiscent of Roman columns that I also saw at the Temples of Krimchi. It is assigned to the 10th Century AD.

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Some Roman style columns...

Kala Dera Temple II

This temple is a compact and a better preserved than its counterpart. The lantern type ceiling is supported by fluted columns and is surprisingly well preserved.

There is also a headless Nandi at the entrance which must have occupied a central position in the temple plan. It is assigned to the 11th Century AD.

To reach Kala Dera Temples

The temples are locate at a distance of 28 kilometre in a small village called Manwal on the Dhar road. You can of course drive down, else take a mini-bus like me and get down at Manwal.

There is a short hike after the road gets over and then the temples appear. Few people visit these temples, so if you are lucky you might get to enjoy the place all by yourself :)

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Kala Dera Templs

If you plan to read more on these temples, check out this link which has much more detailed information about them.

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. Kala Dera Temples is very awesome temple...i known as Manwal

  2. Your exploration of less-known temples in India never ceases to amaze me, Sid. It's very nice to get a glimpse of places most tourists don't visit, so thanks for that!

  3. Really a great place. Love to visit soon. Thanks for the post.

  4. Really a great place. Love to visit soon. Thanks for the post.

  5. Would definitely visit on the next visit to the area. Thanks for the information

  6. Would definitely visit on the next visit to the area. Thanks for the information


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