On way back from Uri, I decided to check the ancient structure whose roof is visible from the road. A military man walked me from the main road, past the security gate and into the military camp which now surrounds the temple. On way to the temple, the man, someone from mainlands, claimed the temple was build by 'Pandavas'. When I told him that I am ethnically Kashmiri Pandit, the man happily said that it all belongs to me.
In 1868, when Henry Hardy Cole arrived at the temple along with photographer John Burke for his 'Archaeological Survey of India report, 'Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir' (1869), a local Hindu Fakir who lived in the temple told him that the temple was build by 'Pandus'.
The temple had been recently excavated on the orders of Maharaja Ranbir Singh. Before that, the temple had been claimed by mountain and the trees, which might explain why it survived vandalisation and remained untouched for a long time.
[via British Museum]
An attempt to study the temple was first made by Alexander Cunningham in November 1847. He noticed that the Pandits called the place 'Bhawaniyar'. And assumed it to be a 'Bhawani' temple. Cunningham couldn't examine the temple properly as it was half-buried under snow at the time. Using a telescope he tried to see beyond the thick foliage if the inner wall of the temple had a colonnade.
"The material of which the buildings are constructed, is a pale, coarse granite, of which there seems to be no quarry within reach on the left bank of the Jhelum. This circumstance is remarkable, considering the enormous size and weight of some of the stones employed. Mr. Drew, a geologist in the service of H, H. the Maharajah, thinks that the blocks of granite must have been carried down some of the valleys on the opposite side into the river bed, whence they were brought for the construction of the temple."
He also suggest that central temple was probably surrounded by water (just like Cunningham had suggested for Martand) as he found two old wells also near the temple. He also noticed that near upper base of the temple, is the spout of a channel which carried off the washings of the image. He wrote it looked like a snake or some similar animal.