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The history of the temple itself is given in the two long inscriptions fixed in the walls of the mandapa of the temple. Accordingly we are told that Kiragrama (modern Baijnath) situated on the bank of the river Binduka was a part of Trigarta (the territory lying between the rivers Ravi and Satluj, roughly represented by districts of Kangra and Jalandhar) under the suzerainty of king Jayachandra, the overlord of Jalandhara. Under him a Rajanaka (local chief) Lakshmanachandra, who was matrimonially related to Jayachandra from his mother’s side, was ruling over Kiragrama. Genealogy of Lakshmanachandra (see box) is given in these inscriptions.

At Kiragrama resided two brothers, Manyuka and Ahuka, sons of a merchant named Siddha. Their genealogy up to fourth generation is also mentioned in the inscriptions (see box). They out of their devotion to Siva Vaidyanatha constructed the temple under discussion in Saka 1126 (CE 1204). They also donated a machine for extracting oil, a shop and some land in the village called Navagrama (modern Nauri near Baijnath) to the temple. The Rajanaka Lakshmanachandra and his mother also made some donations to the temple in the form of money and land respectively.

The inscriptions tell us that a Sivalinga known as Vaidyanatha already existed on the spot but was without a proper house so the present temple and a porch in its front was constructed. It clearly indicates that a shrine already in existed on the spot before the construction of the present temple.

What happened to the shrine in the centuries that followed is not exactly known but it appears to have continued under worship, as there is clear evidence of repairs and renovations from time to time. In the 18 th century Sansara Chandra II, the Katoch king of Kangra, carried out extensive repairs and renovations of the temple. Alexander Cunningham noticed an inscription of 1786 in the temple referring to its renovations by Sansara Chandra. An inscription on the wooden doors of the sanctum of the temple provides the date as samvat 1840 (AD 1783) that is very near to Cunningham’s date.

The devastating earthquake that shook the entire region of Kangra on 4 th April 1905 also caused damage to the shrine, which has been reported by J. Ph. Vogel and has since been repaired. At present the temple is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India but the performance of worship and rituals are under a local board at Baijnath with SDM as its chairman. The hereditary priests continue to get a share of the offerings.

 

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