Approximately an hour drive from Bhopal towards the UNESCO world heritage site Bhimbetka, will take you to Bhojeshwar Temple, in the Bhojpur village of Madhya Pradesh.
A distant glance at the temple, might not impress you much but once you will go inside the main sanctum, be ready to get mesmerised. Bhojeshwar stands as a monument of National importance under Archaeological survey of India (ASI) for two reasons. This hindu temple which is dedicated to lord shiva was left incomplete during the final stages of its construction and the reason that you wouldn’t see much inscription here. But, most importantly it is at Bhojeshwar temple which houses the tallest shivalinga of the world.
But, I have got a different reason to cherish my visit to Bhojeshwar Temple. More than what this temple has to showcase, what stood out for me was that I got an opportunity to visit Bhojeshwar along with a person who was responsible of restoring it during 2006-2007. I did this walk with none than the ace archaeologist Padmashri K.K Muhammad, a face responsible to restore many iconic monuments of India and open it for the public. And believe me while he was taking us through this temple, I could see how happy he was to be back here. I saw people touching his feet, making it quite evident that how much he is honoured for his commendable work
Why Bhojeshwar Temple is an incomplete Hindu Temple?
Sometimes, I really feel that our country is full of wonders at every corner, that even a lifetime will be less to explore it fully. I expected the same about Bhojeshwar, just that it turned out to be an incomplete hindu temple.
Believed to be constructed during the 11th century, Professor Muhammad shared that the temple of Bhojpur was the ideation of Paramara ruler of Malwa Raja Bhoj, who was considered to be a great scholar and architect of his time. The temple originally stood on the banks of a reservoir which is 18.5 long and 7.5 miles wide. This reservoir was formed through construction of 3 earth-and-stone dams during Bhoja’s reign. King Bhoj is also considered to be the founder of Bhopal, apparently which was known as Bhojpal in the earlier days
It is said that Raja Bhoj could have adopted the idea of constructing this temple from his friend; king Raja Raja Chola I who was at the same time was constructing one of the largest temple of South India, Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur. It is from there that Raja Bhoj thought of creating not only the tallest shivalinga but also one of the largest temple complexes of the country.
So, why the temple wasn’t completed? Muhammad ji added that the calculation shows that during the final stage of its construction, the roof came off while laying the final stone, damaging the top most part of the shivalinga along with the pranali through which the water of abhisheka goes out. The reason could be that Raja Bhoj was probably thinking ahead of his time and somewhere in the process his calculations went wrong and hence the damage. He couldn’t put the final structure in place and therefore had to abandon the temple as it is. Also, according to the agamas (the various hindu religious texts) damaged idols of any god and goddesses cannot be worshipped and hence the lingam (an embodiment of Shiva) had to be left but the locals continued to offer homage here owning to its huge size
What is inside Bhojeshwar Temple?
The statues of four incomplete apasaras on both the side of the main sanctum shall greet you once you shall proceed towards the main sanctum, where lies the shiva ling.
The lingam is built using three superimposed limestone blocks and the total height of the lingam, including the platform is over 40 feet, making it the world’s tallest shivalinga. The Bhojpur temple features several peculiar elements, including the omission of a mandapa connected to the garbhagriha (sanctum), and the rectilinear roof instead of the typical curvilinear shikhara (dome tower). Three of the temple’s walls feature a plain exterior; there are some carvings on the entrance wall, but these are of the 12th century style.
How To Reach Bhojpur Temple:
- The nearest airport or railway station to Bhojeshwar temple is at Bhopal, which is 28 km away from this site. There are regular buses as well on this route
- The temple remains open on all days from 6AM-8PM
- Club it with a day visit to the world famous Bhimbetka
P.S: I was invited as a blogger to attend the Times Passion Trails in association with Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board. However, the observations and opinions are all mine and expressed unbiasely
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