Payer Temple is the most intact and an elegant temple located on the opposite side of a rivulet in the village of Payer in Pulwama district, 38 kilometer from Srinagar, the summer State capital of Jammu & Kashmir. Payer village is 3 km away from south Pulwama town.
The ancient temple of Payer is of intrinsic beauty and elegance. The superstructure is built of ten stones only, four rectangular stones cut out into doorways, the other four with square trefoil arches and one hemispherical dome stone completing the tri-foliage pediment and the last round in the form of amalaka.
The edifice has been encircled by the newly constructed wooden houses from three sides and is the best preserved example of Kashmiri Hindu shrine in the valley. The single square chamber temple is situated on a square piece of land. It is fenced and has a beautiful garden. The sanctum sanctorum reached by a flight of steps is built on a high square moulded platform of dressed Deveri stones to avoid flooding of the temple structure by the rivulet passing through the village. The temple is square internally and built on a high base. The base has a plain torus in the middle and a filleted torus on the top. Over the base of high platform, the temple of Payer is built of ten pieces of rectangular, square, hemispherical and round stones. The cult image of the temple is a Siva ling, which has an octagonal base. The temple is a naturally protected monument and not under worship.
It is open from four sides and approached through flight of steps. The most important aspect of the temple super structure is built of ten stones. The four door ways have been cut out of four large thick rectangular stones surmounted by a trefoil arch, which in turn is enclosed by a pediment slabs of sand stone. The four trefoil ached stones form the upper part of the temple. These have been placed on a square temple base. The ninth part has a unique feature of pyramidal roof with an inverted dome carved out of a thick sand stone slab to provide the curvature of a dome. Tenth being the amalaka of the temple. The sculptured tympanums over the four doorways with two stone compose the pyramid roof in the form of 8 feet by 4 feet in height, stone carved or chiseled out from interior in the shape of a dome.
The top hemispherical stone hollowed out from inside with expanded lotus in the interior act as pyramidal roof to prevent the accumulation of snow.
The top hemispherical stone hollowed from inside, the lower edge of which is decorated with the straight edges fillets and the beaded circle is a reflection of the Greek Roman architecture The central slab is decorated with expanded lotus the usual feature of Hindu Temple architecture in Indian sub-continent.
An octagonal base at the Linga within the sanctum is a form of Shiva which is installed in the centre. The temple reflects the the original style of the Kashmir valley architecture in true sense which survived in the valley. The elegant small temples reflect the original character of bigger temple like Avantipur, Martand and Naranag temple of the valley which lost their upper part.
The figure of Lakulisha a form of Lord Siva carved on the doorways confirms that the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Lakulisha is the founder of systemister of the Pushupati sect. The sanctorum can be approached from four sides . The entrance is through the east four doorways are rectangular and topped by a trefoil arch, which in turn is enclosed by a pediment, a usual feature of Kashmir's temple architecture. The pilasters on which pediments rest are surrounded by capital bearing pair of geese with long stylized foliage tails and the pilasters form trefoil arch springs crowned by two beautiful carved sitting miniatures humped bulls with a common head and two horns each. The bull has scarves tied to their humps which again is a foreign feature on the sculptures of the temple.
The eastern trefoil arch is enclosed by a relief in which Lord Shiva is seen seated cross legged on a throne under the canopy of an overhanging tree.
On the north side, the relief represents Bhairva, the terrible manifestation of Lord Shiva presuming a human being who turns towards him in an attitude of a supplication - behind the Bhairva has a long plain trunk of an elephant. On the western side is the animated figure of six armed dancing Shiva or Nat raja the upper two arms are gesticulating, the lower left-hand holds a lotus and in right the trident, in the left lower corner of the group is a musician plying on a vina or flute, on the right another beating a drum as accompaniment.
The Southern relief depicts a three headed Lord Shiva seated cross legged on a wicker-work pedestal. On the left lower corner is a seated female, probably, his consort Parvati. The remaining three figures are emancipated and are perhaps those of the ascetics. Over the Shiva is seen the flying figure of Gandhava. The corner pilasters are crowned by very beautiful floral, capital
The interior of the walls are plain, roof is hollowed out in a hemispherical dome with small pattern of expanded lotus flower. The gem of Kashmiri temple architecture is in original form, material and style is worth visiting which survived the ravages of time and manmade vagaries in the form of a small scale replica of specimen of Hindu shrine in the valley.
An octagonal base at the Linga within the sanctum is a form of Shiva which is installed in the centre. The temple reflects the original style of the Kashmir valley architecture in true sense which survived in the valley. The elegant small temples reflect the original character of bigger temple likes Avantipur, Martand and Naranag temple of the Valley.