July 2, 2016

Batesara Temples, Reviving a lost legacy...

In pursuit to unravel the unknown secrets of Chambal Ravines, this self proclaimed archaeologist decided to follow the tracks which were once the playgrounds of the dreaded dacoits of Chambal. These tracks bear the testimony of many battles between dacoits and police forces. With dacoits now a part of history, this new Chambal is a virgin kingdom with a red carpet for vagabonds like us.

From Gwalior, one hour of drive in the ravines took me to the slopes of an isolated range of hills near Padawali village; 1.2 km. ahead of Garhi Padhavali, 40km. from Gwalior and 25km. from Morena town in Morena district. Finally I was at the site of Batesara group of temples, perhaps the most prominent in the Chambal Ravines. There is some charm in the air of such places, that people get attracted to.

Flanked by hills and hidden from the outside world, far off in the Chambal Valleys a temple complex is coming back to life like a phoenix.

The ruins are slowly and steadily getting restored to their original glory with the dedicated efforts of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) since 2005. Some temples have been reconstructed by the ASI workers in its original form. The arrangement of the temples has been interpreted by means of data captured by high resolution, aerial photography of this place. Temples are arranged in one line and provide glimpses of the glory this place must have seen in the past...


More than 350 temples are estimated to have existed here. Around 200 temples have already been excavated and work is ongoing to bring out remaining 150 buried temples. When located these temples were only 2-3 ft. above the ground, on an average 5-6 ft. of ground has been dug out to realise the existence of temples. The aura of these legendary ruins has already surrounded us and we were automatically pulled inside the tempting premises.

The temples in Batesara complex are dedicated to Lord Shiva and there are also many images and statues dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temples are made of sandstone and are dated back to 6th –9th century, during the times of Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty, much before (almost 300 years) Khajuraho temples were built. Check out Lord Shiva in form of a Shivling (शिवलिंग ) and Nandi Bull.






This cluster of temples is spread over 10 hectares in Chambal ravines. Some of the temples here have sanctum with flat roofs while other temples which probably are added later have finely carved curvilinear shikhara over the sanctoms.

Stone craft at its best, the temple ruins consist of well defined walk ways, steps to the temples, architectural members and exquisitely carved images of Gods and Goddesses. Anyone who wants to learn temple art should visit this place.

Colossal size welcome pillars, one of the pillars was found in 2 pieces and the other one was found in 3 pieces during excavation. Check the carving at the bottom.


Most prominent temple in this complex is Bhuteshwara Temple and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Such beautiful holy premises did come under attacked by the invaders.  It is said that Mughal invaders had turned blind when they came to destroy this pious temple.

As usual it was the time to pray to the Gods for their benevolence for further travels in the future. There is a stepped water pond located in the middle of the premises. The water level in this कुंड (pond) never goes down, even during extreme drought. The settings of the pond are so fascinating that one can sit in the night and feel like being in paradise.





Statues here are so beautiful that it looks like these have been carved by the Gods and Nature itself. Likewise ten (10) incarnations of Lord Vishnu carved on the stone. Matsya (the fish), Koorma (the tortoise), Varaha (the boar), Narasingh (the human-lion), Vamana (the dwarf), Parasurama (the angry man, Rama with an axe), Lord Rama (the perfect man, king of Ayodhya), Lord Krishna (the divine statesman), and Buddha (all other references talk about Balarama (elder brother of Krishna) and yet to come Kalki avatar (the mighty warrior)…


Be it top or bottom the temples here are exquisitely carved. Check out this beautifully carved temple dome..

This is the most artistic and wonderful carving of the domes, I have come across. 

Also this Panchmukhi, 5 headed Shivling (पंचमुखी  शिवलिंग ) and Lord Hanuman, with his feet placed over Kamdev and Rati. This is the only one statue of its kind in the world. This statue was found in one piece and very good shape. ASI people were unable to shift Lord Hanuman from this spot, even with the cranes; thereby exposing the limits of human capabilities... Check out Lord hanuman and carvings on Panchmukhi Shivling temple...

There are a few inscriptions on the walls which are yet to be deciphered. Not only the inscriptions on the walls but there many other secrets which are waiting for their turn to come out. View of this complex from the opposite far end, check the carved domes...

There is one more beautiful temple just before this complex. No need to say now that beautifully carved...

Preciseness in the carvings force me to wonder if the concept of 3D printing had already existed in India in those times. It is very difficult to spot any differences in the similar patterned carvings. The interior in this temple is simple awesome...

The expedition which started with Mitawali and led to discoveries of Garhi Padawali, 115ft. high Kakanmath Temple and finally these Batesara temples. What a ride it had been surfing the mysteries of the Chambal Ravines..! Watch out Khajuraho and kingdom of Hampi a worthy competitor is about to enter the arena...

It will be mean on our part if we do not thank Chambal Valley for keeping a watch over such attractions in India and preserving our rich heritage. From here onwards we have to take care of our treasures...


All 4 of these marvels can be comfortably visited in a one day trip from Gwalior. Keep travelling Guys...



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6 comments:

  1. I guess this would be one of the biggest temple complexes in Northern India, we see a lot like this in the southern parts of the country. This looks awesome!

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    1. Thanks for dropping by...
      It is huge, not only the size the sheer exquisite carvings will definitely make this complex a very special place in Northern India..

      Delete
  2. Ohh ... this is amazing! Quite a big complex. It reminds me of Hampi.

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    1. Batesara is spread over a large area, but high on artistic sculptures. Very soon it will be giving Hampi due competition...
      Visit it to believe it...

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  3. Seems like an amazing place. Hoping to see it sometime. And if you say that it is as good or better than Hampi, I am definitely signing up

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    1. Hampi is huge and a colossal settlement in every dimension. Batesara is complex of temples, but what makes it different is the exquisite and precise carvings at every stone. At time it looks 3D printing had already existed in India in 6th century. Very difficult to spot differences in similar patterns of stone carvings..

      Gates of Batesara are closed by 5:00 PM.

      Delete

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