is a town of historical and religious importance in Raisen District of Madhya
Pradesh, India. Site Plan of Bhojpur showing the location of the temple, palace and dams. River
Betwā at Bhojpur, showing remains of the southern dam Bhojpur is situated on the
Betwā River, 28 km from Bhopal, the state capital of Madhya Pradesh. The
site is located on sandstone ridges typical of central India, next to a deep
gorge through which the Betwā River flows. Two large dams, constructed of
massive hammer-dressed stones, were built in the eleventh century to divert and
block the Betwā, so creating a large lake. The approximate size of the lake is
shown in the site plan given here.
Bhojpur takes its name from king Bhoja (reg. c. 1000-1055 CE), the most
celebrated ruler of the Paramāra dynasty. There is no archaeological evidence
from Bhojpur before the eleventh century, a fact confirmed by local legends
which recount how Bhoja made a vow to build a series of dams to arrest the
streams of nine rivers and ninety-nine rivulets. A location was found in the kingdom that allowed the king to fulfil this vow and
the dams were duly built at Bhojpur.Although the dams were constructed of cyclopean masonry, one of them was opened
on the orders of Hoshang Shah of Malwa in the fifteenth century.According to Persian chronicles, he ordered the dam to be broken at the request
of local merchants in Bhopal and Vidisha whose carvans were being raided by
bandits taking refuge at an inaccessible spot.
famous for the incomplete Bhojeśvar temple dedicated to Shiva. The temple houses
one of the largest lingas in India, 5.5 m (18 ft) tall and 2.3 m (7.5 ft) in
circumference. It is crafted out a single rock. The building is under the
protection of the Archaeological Survey of India.The temple at Bhojpur is unique in being left unfinished, with a series of large
architectural parts still located in the quarries where the stones were cut and fashioned.
In addition, there are a significant number of architectural drawings engraved
on the flat surfaces of the quarry showing mouldings, pillars, and temple plans.
Also of note is the large earthen ramp behind the temple which shows how
medieval craftsmen raised the large blocks of stone into position.
PārvatīImmediately opposite the temple, on the west side of the gorge facing the
Betwā, is a rock-shelter or cave, now occupied by religious mendicants.
Popularly known as Pārvatī's Cave, the cave contains a number of sculptures and
architectural fragments dating to the eleventh century.On the low plateau above the Cave of Pārvatī and opposite the Bhojpur temple
are the remains of Bhoja's palace. Only the foundations survive. Among the many
features of interest are unfinished carved blocks and graffiti engraved on the
rock floor. The palace is a unique surivival, being the only medieval building
of its kind in northern India. Bhojpur also has an unfinished Jain temple
containing a 6 meter-tall statue of Shantinath and two statues of Parshvanath
(left) and Suparasnath (right).
On the base of one of the images is an
inscription mentioning king Bhoja, the only epigraphic evidence connecting Bhoja
to the site. The same temple complex hosts shrine for Ācārya Mantunga who wrote
Today, the partly ruined and incomplete Bhojeśvar temple still humbles the mind.
Constructed in the latter part of the 11th century, its great stone blocks
encompass a doorframe, which towers ten meters high and five meters wide. Four
titanic pillars, richly carved, rise to support an incomplete dome. The high
noon sun lances through the dome, illuminates a massive pedestal made of three
stepped blocks of sandstone, seven meters square. An iron ladder ascends this
huge pedestal to reach the uppermost platform, directly beneath the high roof,
open to the sky. Dominating this platform and the great brooding temple is a
magnificent lingam more than five meters high and over two meters in
In the temple, religion and architecture, sculpture, drama and a weird vision
combine in a compelling assertion of reality. There is a brooding imminence
about this great black temple that demands attention and reverence; and streams
of school girls, as bright as moving garlands of flowers, moved up and down the
ladder seeking the blessings of the great monolith, bowing to mumbled prayers
from an ochre-robed, white-bearded priest who stood near like a vision of a
benevolent and slightly portly Father Time.At the glorious end of the Paramara
era in 1060, the Chalukyas of Kalyani and Gujarat combined with Lakshmi-Karna of
the Kalachuri dynasty attacked Raja Bhoja's capital. In that fierce battle, Raja
Bhoja died defending his kingdom. And so today, only the temple stands, and
beyond it, a damaged Jain colossus rides in a whitewashed building. Stones still
lie around partially carved as they had been when the sculptors fled nine
centuries ago when Bhoja fell. Eagles still wheel in the wide sky as they did
over that ancient bloody battlefield. And a train chuffs and mourns across the
plain like a sad spirit of a warrior, slowly departing. But Bhoja's
forty-two-year reign is still celebrated in myth and legend as well as in this