Sunday, February 19, 2017

MP Diaries - Bhojpur, The Never Finished Edifice

Bhojpur is home to the magnificent temple of Bhojeshwar dedicated to Lord Shiva, built by Raja Bhojadeva of Paramara Dynasty during 11th century AD. The temple lies incomplete due to unknown reasons. Though there are various hypotheses with regards to the unfinishedness of this massive structure, the truth behind it being incomplete is still a mystery. It is hard to digest the fact that this temple was never finished, considering the efforts, planning and the resources that have been put in for the construction. The most accepted principle in temple construction is that the installation of the idol in the garbagriha or the sanctum sanctorum is carried out only after the temple is wholly constructed. Thus, to declare this temple was never finished itself seems a myth. Another angle to this could be that the Shiva Linga was installed here much before the Paramara period and Raja Bhojadeva only decided to built a grander temple than the already existing one. As per traditional belief, the huge Shivalinga here is associated with the Pandavas and this surely speaks about the antiqueness of the Linga.  Somehow we still remain skeptical about the temple being incomplete. There is a possibility that the temple was damaged due to an unexpected natural catastrophe or even the angle of enemies of the Paramaras such as the Chalukyas, Kalachuris or the Sultans of Delhi/ Gujarat having successfully attempted to destroy the temple cannot be discarded. Whatever the case may be or whichever theory we may adopt to give a rational explanation of this temple, the Shiv temple at Bhojpur today is a standing example portraying the exemplary architectural skills and techniques the Medieval Indians  possessed.
Bhojeshwar Temple, Bhojpur
Bhojeshwar Temple, Bhojpur
Nandi Mandapa 
Bhojpur Shiva Temple
The Mighty Shiva Linga 
As we continued from Ashapuri towards Bhojpur, the mighty Bhojeshwar temple was visible from far and seemed inviting. We were awestruck to witness this colossal edifice. As we entered the temple, the only intriguing thought that arose in our minds was that of the excellent execution and workmanship, considering the enormity of this structure. There are various evidences found here that give us a general idea about the temple construction. The ramp attached at the rear of the temple is one such, along with the line drawings exhibiting the plan of the temple with its various parts. The Bhojeshwar Linga is a gigantic one, sitting pretty on a huge platform. The Linga is considered to be one among the tallest and the grandest of all. Unlike other temples built by the Paramaras, this temple is devoid of a mandapa in front of the Garbhagriha (Sanctum) and houses a rectilinear roof instead of a curvilinear Shikara, again raising more questions about the purpose of this temple.
Sculptures on the Door Jamb
Shiva Parvati 
Gandharva 
Balcony 
Shaiva Dwarapala
The Ceiling 
Bhojeshwar temple is square in plan and built on a platform with a grand door jamb. The walls of the temple lack any kind of ornamentation and is window less, comprising three balconies on its three sides. The balconies are beautifully carved and supported by massive brackets. The ceiling of the temple rests on four monstrous pillars, of which the damaged one was replaced by an alternate pillar by the ASI during its restoration. Thanks to their effort, we can today enjoy viewing this masterpiece. Hereon we moved towards the site close-by to the temple which carries the line drawings of the temple plan and its various segments. Though witnessing such line drawings was our first, they only left us wondering about how and why the temple construction was discontinued (if so) as the drawings go on to depict the temple details very meticulously.   
Line Drawings Bhojpur
Map Depicting the Line Drawing Spots 
Line Drawing of the Pillar
The Unfinished Glory
 Distance from major town: 28 km from Bhopal
Accommodation: The best option would be to stay at Bhopal and plan the journey towards Bhojpur.
Where to eat: There are few road side eateries serving Poha and Jalebi with hot Chai.
References:
1. RBS Visitors Guide India -  "Madhya Pradesh"
2. Wikipedia
3. Temples of Madhya Pradesh - K K Chakravarty
4. Just tripping 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

MP Diaries - Ashapuri, A Ruined Capital

Ashapuri is one of the best kept secrets of Madhya Pradesh. Being very close to the capital city of Bhopal and located between two of the most prominent tourist places of Bhimbetka and Bhojpur, this place is hardly visited by tourists. We too were unaware of this place until a board at Midway Retreat in Bhimbetka displayed it. A quick research about the same on google helped us gather more information. We were more than happy to visit this place as it was located on the way to our next destination of Bhojpur. The sign board put up by Madhya Pradesh Tourism made it easier for us to reach this place, which is located about 22 km from Bhimbetka towards Bhojpur.
Ruins of Ashapuri with lake in the background 
Pink Lotus 
Ashapuri was the temple laboratory of the Pratihara and Paramara clans during 9th century AD. The numerous temples that are now in ruins bear a testimony to this. As we entered the Bhootnath temple complex, the care taker walked down the steps towards us with the visitors book in hand. After gathering details from us, he doubled up as our guide. As we maneuvered through the ruins, we stumbled upon the main temple complex of Bhootnath, built on the banks of a lake. The complex houses 26 uniquely styled temples of varying proportions. The locals are bound to the belief that this place was razed to dust by Mughals and hence is in ruins. The site is well maintained by the ASI and temples are systematically numbered from 1 to 26. Temple number 5 is the main temple of this complex and is dedicated to Bhootnath (Lord Shiva). The remains of this temple speaks volumes about the art and architecture of Pratiharas, who contributed majorly towards the temple construction. A large number of idols and other segments of the temples, most of which are partially damaged are kept spread wide across the temple complex, while many others are displayed at the museum nearby.
Remains of  BhootnathTemple 
Andhakasura form of Shiva 
Sapthamatrikas 
Ruins all the Way
Our guide also mentioned about the presence of another temple dedicated to Goddess Durga at a fair distance (about 400 meters) from the Bhootnath complex. This temple too lies in a  ruined state with fragments of idols spread across the temple. Just outside the Bhootnath temple complex is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Hereon, we drove towards the museum during lunch time and realised it was closed. We inquired about directions to another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Billota temple at the entrance of the village. Unfortunately, this temple too was closed. A big Shiva linga is seen outside the temple with many small lingas carved on it, called as the Sahasralinga. A beautifully carved but broken pillar base is also seen in this complex, with a carving that exhibits the various avatars of Lord Vishnu. Thus ended our exploration. It is good to know that a joint effort has been initiated by Madhya Pradesh Government in collaboration with the World Monuments Fund towards restoring Ashapuri back to its glory.
Goddess Durga Temple
Lord Brahma 
Shiva Temple, Billota 
Sahasralinga 
Parshuram (6th Avatar of  Lord Vishnu)
Vamana (5th Avatar of  Lord Vishnu)
Distance from the nearby town: 36 km from Bhopal. 
Accommodation: There are no accommodation options here. The best would be to plan for an overnight stay at Bhopal. 
Where to eat: The nearest eateries are about 6 km from here, at Bhojpur. 
References:

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