Thursday, July 19, 2018

Heritage Heirlooms - Udayeshwar Neelkantheshwar temple

Udaipur is best known as the city of lakes in the Mewar region of Rajasthan. But there is another almost unknown Udaipur which is a village about 15 Kms from Ganj Basoda in Madhya Pradesh. This obscure place boasts of a very beautiful temple and many smaller ones in and around.

On hearing about this place in glowing terms, we decided to pay a visit.

The Legend

The story goes that Raja Udayadit of the Parmar dynasty (made famous by Raja Bhoj who established the city of Bhojpal = Bhopal) built this temple in the 11th century AD. It is said that this temple was built only on a single day of every (roughly) month .. that is, in the Pushya Nakshtra. So the carvings and other materials were gotten ready for the 26 other days and then the actual building of the temple took place only for the time the Pushya Nakshtra was ruling in the 24-hour period on the 27th day. 

This Shiva temple is east facing and the Sun's first ray of light falls on the deity twice a year around the equinoxes. The exquisite carvings are well preserved and are now under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India.

The regular offerings to Lord Shiva being sold outside the mandir.

The deity inside the temple... the God Udayeshwar Neelkantheshwar

Intricately carved exteriors...

The different dancing postures in the relief below are beautifully rendered.

One of the very interesting carvings and possibly a unique one in this temple is that of the God Ganapati in the female form seen on the right side of the picture below. On the left are his two wives Riddhi and Siddhi.

Another beautiful sculpture...

The Nataraj form of the Lord Shiva below..  with a Nagkanya in attendance with Kamadev.

The carving up front with the head desecrated is that of the Chamunda Mata complete with the scorpion on the belly and the gruesome garland of heads...

The carvings are superlative and deserve a lot of time to really appreciate them!

On the right is the Godess Saraswati ....

The Sun God.

Daksha... with a sheep's head in his hand.

Dharamaraj with the dog.

The one below is the Ardhanaareshwar.... Embodying the male and female forms in one body... signifying that each one of us has a bit of the masculine and the feminine within us!

There are many carvings of gods and goddesses and also of dancers and common village folk. One poignant one is of a mother with her child on her back... Another of a lady with an umbrella, the fluid lines of the carving very appealing!

 One more beautiful depiction is that of a lady removing a thorn from her foot. 

The 'Shikhara' is made up of miniature shrines of this temple all the way up culminating in the horizontal fluted disc called the Amalaka ending with the 'Kalash'.

A totally fascinating story here is the one explaining a human figure in stone hanging near the top of the shikhara... The story goes that after the temple was completed, the last thing left to do was to place the 'Kalash' on the top. A craftsman goes up and places the 'Kalash' but tarries too long admiring his handiwork. The sun rises and he is turned to stone, left to hang there for eternity!

There are even plans found etched in stone in the courtyard which are said to be the rudimentary drawings that were made prior to building this temple. Kind of like the blueprints of today! The one below is that of a pillar...

Tughlaq Mosque

In the 14th century, a small mosque was built alongside the temple... some locals say that the dharamshala of the temple was converted into the mosque.... but there are some inscriptions in urdu telling the tale of mughal occupation and subsequent defacement of parts of the temple...

This place is a gem, not to be missed! There are many smaller temples in and around the village .... each one with it's own alluring charm and a place in history. I'll try to cover them at least pictorially in the next installment.

To read the next installment at Part 2 Heritage Heirlooms - In and around Udaipur

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