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The Wondrous Wood Temples of Tons Valley


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This recently built temple for Deity Chalda Mahasu in Bishoi sits on a high area above the adjoining Tons and Yamuna valleys in a relatively prosperous region

Trek the highlands to the sacred masterpieces along the Tons River as it flows down from the Himalayas to join the Yamuna River​

By Dev Raj Agarwal, Dehra Dun​

The tons river in the westernmost part of uttarakhand is the largest Himalayan tributary of the Yamuna. From its highest villages down to its confluence with Yamuna near Dehra Dun, the valley is known for some of the most beautiful carved wood temples of the Himalayan region. Following a strong local tradition, these sacred edifices are decorated with intricately carved motifs depicting scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and their gable roofs are beautifully covered with stone slates.

New temples continue to advance the tradition, including Bishoi (at top) which is on the site of an old temple. The temperate to subtropical climate of the Tons Valley lends itself to life in village-level communities. Perhaps due to natural hazards—such as earthquakes of 8.0 and higher that occur every century—the Gods, Goddesses and devas revered here are primarily of a fierce nature. I saw some of these temples for the first time forty years ago. Frequent trekking trips to Har ki Dun brought me back many times.

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