Aimed at promoting Masrur temple, the least explored monument of Himachal Pradesh as a tourist point, the state tourism department will be holding a two-day national-level cultural event on the temple complex in the coming days.
The district tourism development office has chalked out plans for different activities to be held on the temple complex and is waiting for the approval of higher authorities.
First ever "Masrur festival" was held in December last year and the state government had announced to make it organise it on annual bases. The purpose was to attract hordes of tourists and to promote the religious tourism potential of area that boasts of 15 richly carved rock temples sculpted in the splendid style of Kailash temple at Ellora.
However, the state-level inaugural function was sort of light and sound show. This year the function will be of national level.
"We are organising a function on national level in Masrur temple complex where renowned artists from across the country will be participating," said Ashwani Sood, district tourism development officer.
He said, "According to the tentative plan, classical dance and music performances will be held on the first day, while the second day will be dedicated to the Himachali folk music."
"The final approval is yet to come and the dates are also to be finalised," said Sood, adding that he is hoping that the final date will be declared in a day or two along with the final proposal of the cultural activities to be done.
However, experts feel that organising only a two-day function will not be enough and much more is needed to be done to tap the tourism potential of the century-old rock-cut temple.
Prof NK Singh, former chairman of the Airports Authority of India, who has done extensive research on the temple, is of the opinion that the state government should create a new tourist circuit, including the temple complex and Pong Dam wetlands to attract the tourists.
He said the festival should also be theme based like Konark Festival of Orissa so that the temple could be exposed to the world and international artists should be invited to perform in the function.
"It is good that the government has taken initiatives to hold a festival but it will not be genuine tourism until we are not able to attract tourists throughout the year," said Singh, adding that infrastructures like roads in the area needed to be developed and one amphitheatre should be built near temple complex to hold the festival.
Built in 6th to 8th century AD, Masrur temple is among the four monolithic rock temples in the country. This is the least explored monument in Himachal and is striving to be registered as a world heritage site. However, least is written on the history of temple.
Prof NK Singh's book, "Coronation of Shiva - Rediscovering Masrur temple", has tried to resolve the mystery of the Masrur temple.
The Masrur temple is one of the four monolithic rock-cut temples in the country. Three such temples include Kailash of Ellora, Mamlapuram in Deccan, and Dhamnar in Rajasthan. While the other three temples are in a pit or on the ground, the one at Masrur is built in unique cruciform architect located as it is on a hilltop at a height of about 2,500 feet from the sea level. Some are of the view that the temple is similar in design to the Angokar temples of Cambodia.