Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mandwa Mahal and Bhoramdeo Temples, Travels in India

Mandwa Mahal and Bhoramdeo Temples
(A visit on Tuesday, July 14, 2015)
Continuing our trek around Chhattisgarh, India, about 17-18 miles away from Kawardha, near a large lake and its dam, through the hills, tribal villages, and herds of cows, we headed toward the first of two temple visits. The village of Chairagaon lies there, among green trees and alongside very low foothills of the Maikal range. At each turn of the roads are goatherders, cowherders, but as there are hardly any people living in the area, one only saw these plus an occasional car or motorbike on the road.

Here is a link to what it is like while driving through the cows!
Mandwa Mahal is a small Shiva temple built in 1349 by Fani Nagavanshi King: Ramchandra Deva, after his marriage with the Kalchuri Haihaya Queen Ambika Dev'i. The temple is facing West. It is known as the Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh due to its resemblance to the famed temples of Khajuraho and that group of monuments.
It has several sections including one underground which is the "inner sanctum", accessed by steep stairs. Inside this, was a holy man sitting with candles, garlands, oils, and flowers.                          
One can make a prayer in 
the inner sanctum and leave an offering for Shiva or go outside to the stone figure and leave offerings and prayers.
Around the rear of the temple, one can see many roughly-carved figures of erotic couples in many positions of the Kama Sutra. The sign at the entrance to the temple ground stated that this represented a type of worship and influence of the cult of the contemporary period. The sign was so badly chipped, rusted, and destroyed that it can barely be read.

Next, we went a few miles further and came upon the Bhoramdeo temple complex. The area approaching the road to the temple had blockades and old advertisements for the temple. Apparently, the government is/was trying to make it into a tourist destination. A short walk from the parking area took us to a lovely lake with giant lily pads, swan boat rides, and a few vendors selling their wares in front of the temple.

The Bhoramdeo temple is a stone temple dedicated to a form of the god Shiva and built during the reign of Naga Vansi, king, in the early 11th century. The temple was built by Lakshman Dev Rai in the Paramara style of Malwa. Various kinds of art (I read "Vaishnava, Jaina, and Shaiva sculpture styles") are all found in the temple houses on the grounds. The temple itself is also said to be in Nagara architecture.
The temple complex is named Bhoramdeo after a ubiquitous tribal god Bhoram deo (a form of the Shiva god). As you approach and see the temple for the first time, it is quite striking! Large trees cover the grounds and some of the temple, bathing all but the tallest structures in shade.One can see how it was left to the elements for centuries without being widely discovered in the quiet solitude of central India. The main entrance faces east and the lesser two face north and south.
The entrance sign reads: "The temple is equipped with a sanctum antechamber, a three-porched square assembly hall, a super structure of seven horizontal and vertical segments, four ante "fixesin". There is a superstructure above the porches and the antechamber. Outside along the sides of the temple, there is "a riot of images" depicting sex, war, dance, and music and this is supposed "to represent the ephemeral world of senses, giving way to the darkness, silence, and emptiness of the chamber (sign says "bomb chamber") inside where communion with God takes place".
Entrance to one of the lesser temple side structures (below)
There are other small structures on the grounds that resemble 8th century brick temples of Chhattisgarh. There are a few small statues and images around the temple grounds that were assembled mostly from the Chaura village and represent 12th to 15th century. 

Then, there are some erotic statues and symbols of Shiva that are said to be from the destruction of the Khajuraho temple of the 10th-12th century. There are so many pieces that the Bhoramdeo temple is also nicknamed "The Khajuraho Chhattisgarh" as with the Mandwa Mahal structure.   
Sacred phallic Lingua surrounding an egg
Sacred lingua covered by a cobra's head - you can see where offerings have been left                              
According to the Director of Archeology & Culture and culture board in Kawardha, this temple is "one of the finest flowers of Medieval architecture". 
There was a gigantic Shiva statue on the hill across the lake, but it was VERY obscured by tree cover so I didn't get any photos of it. After leaving the temple grounds and making our way back to the ambulance in which we had come, we saw a large herd of cattle and could hear their bells. I treasure this video and I wish we could have stayed longer.
Video of grazing cows and their bells
Some had bells on their tales and others around their necks....bells of all sizes. It was beautiful and calming to hear them! It almost sounded like a faint gamelan orchestra coming to order, but also reminded me of the Buddhist temples in Katmandu, Nepal, where there is an occasional cacophonous time of instruments in between chants and prayers. This was more gentle and lovely though, and brought images of a distant time and the onset of quiet evening on the mountain in waning half shadow.

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