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Bhojpur Temple

Bhojpur 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.


Bhojpur is 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. 


Cave of 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 Bhaktamara Stotra. 
 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 circumference.
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 time-defying monument.

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