Part one of our Chhattisgarh Series : Its Heritage Temples
While it may be the “new kid on the block”… don’t allow Chhattisgarh to fool you! One of the best places in India to discover or rediscover ancient shrines, temples, monuments, culture, heritage, history and more… Chhattisgarh is home to many significant historical events and monuments that make it a wonderful heritage tourist’s circuit. A region that was once referred to as ‘Dakshin Kosala’, Chhattisgarh is blessed with many antique temples and religious shrines of a bygone era. A treasure-trove for general tourists and devotees, here are some of the interesting temples that take you back in time whilst in Chhattisgarh. The Sirpur town here is famous for ancient temples; amongst the many temples here some of the well known ones include the the Laxman Temple that dates back to the 7th century. Considered one of the most magnificent brick temples in India, it is known for its delicate carvings and sculpting that reveal an exotic Indian art form. Designs here suggest they represent the Krishna Leela, and it falls under the Pachrath category of temples. Here one can find murals of Sheshnag the mythological snake god, with Lord Shiva and Vishnu. The Gandheswar Temple is another ancient wonder, constructed using the remains of other ancient temples and viharas. Besides the beauty found on this temple; a result of the architectural designs of bygone years used here, the Gandheswar Temple is also famous for some extremely rare statues found on its premises as well as the pictures at its entrance depicting the Shivleela, and other statues of gods from various mythological stories. While Shivani temple’s exquisite architecture is a tribute to the engineering skill and imagination of its ancient artists, what makes this temple unique is its deity here; a unique culmination of two divine entities – Goddess Kali and Goddess Durga. It is said the temple is the embodiment of supreme power of the female Goddess in the Hindu mythology. Come Navrati, and this is one temple that bears a festive look, with devotees from all over flocking to worship Shivani Maa. Barsoor here is another interesting place, known for its archaeological, historical and religious sites. Remains of temples found excavated here date back to the 10th and 11th century. While it is said that earlier there were around 150 temples and ponds here, some of the prominent temples here include the Devreli Temple, Mama Bhanja Temple, Chandraditya Temple and Bhattisha Temple. The Shiva Temple here besides boasting of exquisite stone pillars with figures carved on them is also known to house sandstone images amongst the ruins of the temple. Amidst Chhattisgarh’s scenic landscape, the imposing Mahamaya Temple that dates back to the Kalchurian dynasty (1050 AD) in the town of Ambikapur, is a famous Sidh Shakti Peeth, devoted to Goddess Durga. Known to strictly adhere to religious rituals as per the Hindu customs, this stunning structure is one of the state’s most frequented temples during Durga Puja and Navratri celebrations when it wears a festive look with the beautiful lighting arrangements made especially for the festival. The temple also draws devotees as the locals have immense faith in the Goddess that she will relieve them from any difficult situation. Other significant temples of the golden bygone days include the famous Kudargarh Temple, where devotees believe that the supreme deity of Lord Kudargarhi never fails to grant the wishes of devotees, or bless devotees visiting if they offer the divine deity the blood of a goat. It is said that the temple has a small hole, also known as the kund with a six inches diameter. However no matter how many bowls of blood are offered here, the kund never overflows. While one can find many temples dedicated to various Gods and Goddesses in the holy premises of Baituk Bhairav and Kal Bhaurav, a special mention must be made of the famous Shankar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva here. It is said one can feel the omnipresence of God in its holy sanctorum, and is believed to be the place Lord Shiva delivered justice to the devotees of Shankar temple. Built in 1610 by Shri Balbhadra Dasji and Shri Bhosleji, the Balaji Temple is a shrine of major importance in Raigarh District of Chhattisgarh. Some of the highlights of this temple include the amazing images that grace the walls of the temple. While the presiding deity here is Sree Balaji, it is also home to Saligrams, believed to be the symbol of Lord Vishnu, found floating in the Gandaki River (Nepal). While today on its last legs, the Bhand Dewal Temple, built in the regional Kalachuri style, is another heritage temple that dates back to the 11th century and is known for the sculptures that adorn its walls. Built in the 14th century by the Chalukya kings, the Danteshwari Temple is an important pilgrim site as it is believed to be the place where the tooth of Sati fell. Apart from its beautiful architecture and sculptures that adorn the temple, it also houses a unique idol made of black stone and is one of the most sought after temples during the Dussehra festival. Tala is another place of major archeological importance, as it is home to two 5th century temples; the Jethani temple and the Devrani temple. However the main attraction of the place is the 5th century antique idol of Lord Shiva found here. Located at the tip of a mountain, Ramtek is a well known temple in Ratanpur that dates back to the Maratha King Bimbaji Bhonsle, while Deobalod is famous for oldest Shiv Mandir. While Dongargarh has been blessed with natural scenic beauty, the Maa Bamleshwari Devi Temple and the Chhoti Bamleshwari Temple is what attracts tourists and devotees alike here. Apart from these temples, the Shivji Temple and temples dedicated to Lord Hanuman and the ropeway, Chhatisgarh’s only ropeway are the added attractions of the place. Come Dusshera and these temples are some of the most visited temples of the state. Other prominent temples here include the Pithampur Shiv Mandir, Ghatadai (Paharia) Tripur Sundar Devi, Shivarinarayan Laxminarayan Temple, Turridham Shiva Temple, Chandrahasini Devi Temple, Dudhadari Temple, Ganga Maiya Temple, Temples of Ratahpur, Madanpurgarh Devi Mandir, Maa Bamleshwari Devi Temple, Uwasaggaharam Parshwa Teerth and many more. Surrounded by interesting legends, these temples that date back in time, with their antique idols, sculptures and images are truly a blessing for any tourists heading to the state.