The richer we are, more casual we become towards our valuable things. Same thing I observed about Indian culture and heritage. India have thousands of historical site which have so many great stories associated to them. But at the same time there are numerous sites that lost their identity and couldn’t got space in the pages of Indian history. Even peoples living in the vicinity are not aware about these sites. Time has been so partial that present and even history forget about these places. It seems that Mughals and few Indian dynasty didn’t left space for others. I encountered with such thought during my recent trip of Gwalior. The city is itself famous for its wonderful forts and palaces but there are some not to miss offbeat sites around Gwalior like ’64 Yogini Temple’ and ‘Bateshwar Temples’. This time my main focus was to explore these offbeat sites.
But I didn’t have idea of how to get there, and the bigger problem was no locals aware about it too. Thanks to nomadic traveler who put these kinds of places on surface. Luckily, I met another travel lover who wish to joined me and the Google Map was the only guide with us.
64 Yogini Temple
The first offbeat site we targeted was Ekkatraso Mahadev Temple that usually known as 64 Yogini Temple. This temple lie is in Mitavali village which is about 36 Km from the Gwalior Junction. My other friend who was local to that region, arranged a bike for our expedition. As per the google map’s instruction we moved approx 20 Km on Bhind road then took left turn from Malanpur ( a small town on road). In spite of having our digital guide, we also confirmed with en-route villagers whether we were on the right track. On moving further 8 Km we could have see a semi-spherical hill, standing in the mid of flat land. Still we were not sure that we got first glimpse of our destination. We were moving on the road, but the distance from the hill not decreasing, seems like we were encircling the hill. Curiosity and patience was running in opposite directions. Finally spot a road leading directly to the hill, within few minutes we were at the foothill. Though, it was a small hill but not easy to reach on top in one go.
On reaching top, we could see the wonderful view of this ancient temple, which is almost 1000 year old. Outer wall of the temple also have some intricacy and few sculptures. Base of the temple itself around 8 feet high and a stair is there for entering into the temple premises. Entrance is directly open to the face of main temple, the middle one.
The complete set of temple have a main Shiva-Parvati temple in the center and 64 smaller chamber around it in circular fashion. Every chamber have a roughly shaped stone as the representation of Shiva-Lingam. The enclosed area inside the temple, isolate you from the surroundings and being on the top of hill, one can not see anything other than the temple and sky. May be the idea of isolating one from the worldly things, gave birth to this unique architecture. Once before, I have experienced similar kind of temple at Bhedaghat near Jabalpur in MP itself.
Apart from its unique structure, this temple is closely associated with mystic world of Tantrism and black magic. Being on the top of a hill, you can enjoy bird view of the surroundings. As this location is far far away from the town, so it offers view of wide spread green field, quite soothing to eye. After taking some good pictures of this ancient and unique site, decided to move to next destination.
My next spot was Bateshwar Group of temples in the same region, I learned about it from a TV program. Though my local friend did not knew about that. That was not a big problem, after-all we were with our digital guide ‘Google Map‘. As per map the site was just 5 Km from the ancient temple we were at. After 15 minutes of ride, we saw a fort kind of structure. The site marked with the name ‘Garhi Padhavali’ on the entrance.
Finally we reached the site we were hunting for and yes name may be different, it was the first thought came to mind. There were many broken building parts placed at both side of pathway from entrance like pillars and sculptures. Two big stone-lions were sitting at the main entrance of this smaller fort right below the stair. As we moved up from the stairs, a Mandapa kind of structure was there in the front. The details on its ceiling was just amazing and eye-opening. Hundreds of beautiful sculptures in several layers depicting God-Goddess, mythological stories and fest celebration. I can say, every inches was covered with the fine detailing. Even its pillars also beautifully ornamented. This Mandapa was not so big but the detailing on every corner and thousands of sculpture carved out of stone make it a piece of jewel.
This Mandapa was the main attraction of this Garhi (smaller fort). It is believed that this Mandapa once had a big statue of Nandi (holy oxen of Lord Shiva). Till that we got to knew that Bateshwar is still to see and 500 meter from this site.
Bateshwar Group of temples
Then we moved to our most wanted site ‘The Bateshwar Group of temples’. When we had taken turn from the Bhind-Gwalior road, I read somewhere the Bateshwar road but the irony was, only few people knew about these group of temples. The very first temple on this path was an ancient Vishnu temple, quite isolated from the group of temples. And we could see several spears of other temples just at 100 meters, took a deep breath of satisfaction.
It was a jaw-dropping site, so many ancient temples at a single place, looking like a mystic temple city. Seems Like, I traveled in time and suddenly reached several century back. Some of the temples are standing complete, while so many with broken or damaged spear. Probably, one of the temple was in use of daily worship, because I saw holy bells and flowers on the Shiva Lingam. The same temple also have a Mandapa in the front but look like it will fall anytime.
Most of these temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, having Shiva Lingam in sanctum. Thousands of temple parts were littering here & there. You can see many relief depicting the various mythological scene like marriage of Shiva-Parvati, Krishan Leela and intimate couples ( like in Khajuraho temples) on the broken parts or temple walls.
As per the archaeological survey, It was a group of around 200 temples of 8th to 10th century, this site is a protected monument. Very few historical researches have been done on these ruin till now. In 2005 an archaeologist ‘K K Muhammad’ took initiative to restore most of these temples. He is very passionate about his work, and his dedication and hard work can be seen in all the standing temples, all were just ruin before 2005.
It was a big challenge for his team to choose right part from the ruins and assemble them. As per Mr. Muhammad these temples were build on the architectural principles mentioned in two Sanskrit texts Manasara Shilpa Shastra and Mayamata Vastu Shastra. So, following these texts help his team to rearrange the broken parts. And more beautiful thing about these temple is that Dacoit Nirbhay Singh Gurjar with his gang helped ASI in restoration works.
Any reading about these temples can not compensate the real presence. Feel the magic of site by visiting in person. It was a great experience to see these offbeat sites near Gwalior and one more step towards knowing our rich heritage of India. Whenever I visit and experience such sites, I feel more proud for our history and heritage.
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