The unfinished Bhojeshwar Temple of Bhojpur

This temple is located in the Bhojpur village in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The temple construction was started in the 11th century, during the reign of Paramara king Bhoja. The construction was abandoned for unknown reasons, with the architectural plans engraved on the surrounding rocks.

It appears that the construction work stopped abruptly due to unknown reasons. Historians speculate that the abandonment may have been triggered by a sudden natural disaster, lack of resources or a war. To the north and east of the temple, there are several quarry sites, where unfinished architectural fragments in various stages of carving were discovered.

The temple lies on a platform which is 35m long, 25m wide and 4m high. A huge limestone lingam is installed on the platform. The total height of the lingam, including the platform is over 12m. The doorway to the sanctum is 10m high. The wall at the entrance features sculptures of apsaras, ganas and other goddesses. The temple walls are made of large sandstone blocks, without windows. The northern, southern and eastern walls of the temple, features three balconies, purely for ornamental purpose. They cannot be approached from either inside or outside of the temple, because they are located high up on the walls, which provided a drainage outlet for the liquid used to bathe the lingam.

In the year 1951, the site was handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for conservation. Under the supervision of ASI, the restoration of the damaged temple was taken place and the temple has been designated as a Monument of National Importance.

Bhojeshwar Temple
Bhojeshwar Temple
Bhojeshwar Temple – Sculptures on the wall
Bhojeshwar Temple – Sculptures on the wall
Bhojeshwar Temple – carved drainage outlet
Around the temple
The huge linga installed on the platform
The roof of the temple
More sculptures from the walls
More sculptures from the walls
More sculptures from the walls
One of the ornamental balconies of the temple
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Lonar Crater Lake – The only meteorite lake in the country

Lonar Lake is a saline soda lake located at Lonar in the Buldhana district of Indian state of Maharashtra. It was created by meteor impact during the Pleistocene epoch and is the only known hyper velocity impact crater in basaltic rock anywhere on earth. Researchers believe that meteor of about 60 meter diameter and weighing a million tones in the form of a stone had struck the earth at 20km/sec high velocity creating tremendous energy & heat and a cloud of molten ash and dust. It resulted in the destruction of neighbouring flora and fauna. The explosion was equivalent to that of a 6 megaton bomb. The meteor is believed to have been buried 600 meter below the crater level. The impacting crater struck at an acute angle from the northern side and thus the walls of crater slope gently over here. Rest everywhere, an uniform slope of 26 degrees is present.

The lake has a mean diameter of 1.2 kilometeres and is about 137 meters below the crater rim. The crater rim is about 1.8 kilometeres in diameter. The crater’s age is usually estimated to be 52,000 ± 6000 years.

The forest department have planted different species of plants inside the rim of the lake, which gives an exotic experience to the visitors. It is home to many birds and animals. Near the crater around the margin of the lake, there are a number of temples which are mostly in ruins. These temples were believed to have been built during the 12th and 13th centuries. Some of these temples were constructed during the Yadava period.

View of the Lonar crater lake from near the MTDC Guest House
The trail around the lake through the vegetation
Another view of the lake
The trail around the lake through the vegetation
A red-wattled lapwig in the lake
Black-winged stilts in the lake
Ducks inside the lake
Black-winged stilts in the lake
I encountered this bulbul during my trail around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
More ruins
Around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
Anther view of the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
The trail around the lake through the vegetation
Trees around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
Ruins of the temple around the lake
More ruins

Gomukh Temple needs a special mention due to the perennial stream which emerges from here; the source of which is yet to be identified. The pilgrims, visiting the temple takes a bath in this water.

Steps towards the Gomukh temple
The perennial stream inside the Gomukh temple
Gomukh temple
MTDC Guest House
MTDC Guest House

The Lonar Lake was mentioned in many ancient scriptures such as Skanda Purana, the Padma Purana and the Ain-i-Akbari. The first European to visit the lake was British officer, J E Alexander in 1823.

Ambar Lake
Not far from the Lonar lake is a small lake called Ambar Lake which is believed to be caused by a splinter of the meteor that created the Lonar crater lake.

Ambar Lake

Daitya Sudan Temple

One should not miss the mighty Daitya Sudan Temple with its impressive stone works located at the centre of the Lonar town, a kilometre away from the lake. This is a Vishnu temple dated to the Chalukya Dynasty which ruled central and Southern India between 6th and 12th centuries. It belongs to the Hemadpanthi style of architecture. It features carvings similar to those seen at Khajuraho temples. The diety of this temple is made of an ore with a high metal content that resembles stone. The exterior walls are also covered with carved figures. The plinth of the temple is about 1.5 m in height and the unfinished roof suggests an intended pyramidal for the tower.

The temple receive its name from its connection with the story of the demon Lavanasura or Lonasura who used to dwell in the crater close by and who was eventually slain by Vishnu in his incarnation as Daitya Sudan.

The temple measures 105 feet long by 84 feet wide and is with three chambers. The inner most chamber is garbh gruha, the sanctum sanctorum, where the idol of Lord Vishnu standing atop Lavanasur is present.

Daitya Sudan Temple
The main entrance of the temple
The idol of lord Vishnu standing atop Lavanasur
Architectural details of the temple
Architectural details of the temple
Architectural details of the temple
Architectural details of the temple
Architectural details of the temple
Architectural details of the temple

How to reach:
Lonar is easily accessible from Mumbai via Jalna. Jalna station lies on the Mumbai-Nanded railway line. There are frequent bus services available from Jalna to Lonar which is about 90km less than 3 hours.

The MTDC guest house is located very close to the crater lake is the best option for accommodation. The guest house also provides one of the best views of the lake.

Rani-ki-Vav (the Queens’s Stepwell)

Rani-ki-Vav is an intricately constructed stepwell situated in the town of Patan in the Indian state of Gujarat. Patan which lays about 130km northwest of Ahmedabad, was an ancient Hindu capital before being sacked by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024 AD. Rani-ki-Vav is an excellent example of its former glory. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated on the banks of Saraswati River. This stepwell is the finest in Gujarat and remarkably well preserved after it was restored in the 1980s. It bagged the title of “Cleanest Iconic Place” in India at the Indian Sanitation Conference in October 2016.

This stepwell was constructed during the rule of the Chalukya dynasty. It is believed that it was built in memory of Bhima I (1022-1064AD) by his widowed queen Udayamati and probably completed by Udayamati and Karna after his death. The stepwell was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati River and silted over until the late 1980s.

Rani-ki-Vav was built in the Maru-Gurjara architectural style. This well measures approximately 64 m long, 20 m wide and 27 m deep. It consists of many pillared pavilions at seven different levels. Minute and exquisite carvings adorn the walls of the well. Most of the sculptures are in devotion to Vishnu depicted in his ten incarnations. It also depicts Nagkanya, Yogini and Apsaras. Apsaras are depicted in 16 different style of make-up to look more attractive which is called Solah-shringar.

Rani-ki-Vav
Rani-ki-Vav
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Intricately carved pillars
Intricately carved pillars
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Intricately carved walls
Intricately carved walls
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings - an incarnation of Vishnu
Detailed carvings – an incarnation of Vishnu
An intricately carved wall
An intricately carved wall
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
One of the pillared pavilions
One of the pillared pavilions
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Intricately carved walls
Intricately carved walls
Pillared pavilions
Pillared pavilions
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Pillared pavilions
Pillared pavilions
Inside one of the pavilions
Inside one of the pavilions
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
More details
More details
More details
More details
View of the stepwell from the top
View of the stepwell from the top

This stepwell was not merely a site for collecting water and socialising, but also hold great spiritual significance. It explicit the ancient concept of the sanctity of water and they considered it as an inverted temple. There are around 800 elaborate sculptures among seven galleries. At the bottom level there is a carving of Vishnu reclines on the thousand-hooded serpent. There is also a small gate below the last step of the step well, with a 30km tunnel (currently blocked by stones and mud), which leads to the town of Sidhpur near Patan. It was used as an escape gateway for the king, in times of defeat.

Rani-ki-Vav is situated in an earthquake prone area and due to this Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has put it on high alert regarding the risk preparedness and disaster management. Only the top 2 levels of the well are accessible to the visitors and the rest of the areas are out of bound to the visitors.

Ahmedabad – Part XIII: Dada Hari Vav

This much neglected but aesthetically built vav or stepwell is situated in Asarwa area of Ahmedabad city. When it was built in 1500 AD, Asarwa was a village by itself, which has now become an area of the city of Ahmedabad. The stepwell was built by Dhai Harir, a household lady of Sultan Mahmud Begada. She was believed to be the superintendent of the royal harem. Behind the stepwell is the mosque and a tomb built by Dhai Harir, where she was buried.

Built in sandstone this octagonal stepwell is five stories deep. Each floor is built on intricately carved large numbers of pillars and spacious enough for people to congregate. There are air and light vents in the roofs at various floors. From the first storey level, three staircases lead to the bottom level of the well. At the level of the ground, it is 190 feet long by forty feet wide. At the east end, from a domed canopy, a descent of few steps leads to a covered gallery. Built along a east west axis, the entrance is from the east and the two spiral staircases in the west. These spiral staircases are now closed.

The air and light vents in the roofs at various floors and at the landing level are in the form of large openings. From the first story level, three staircases lead to the bottom water level of the well, which is considered a unique feature. The top part of the well is vertical and opened to sky. The carvings of flowers and symbols of Islamic, Hindu and Jain gods are carved at various levels of the well.

The first gallery of the well bears two inscriptions, one in Sanskrit and one in Arabic. As per these inscriptions, the well was constructed in 1500 AD during the reign of Mahmud Shah by Dhai Harir Sultani. The name later corrupted into Dada Hari.

Dada Hari Vav
Dada Hari Vav
The domed canopy at the east end
The domed canopy at the east end
The ceiling of the domed canopy
The ceiling of the domed canopy
Steps towards the gallery
Steps towards the gallery
Interior view of the stepwell
Interior view of the stepwell
The bottom of the well - there is no water
The bottom of the well – there is no water
View from the bottom
View from the bottom
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Inscriptions in Arabic from the first gallery
Inscriptions in Arabic from the first gallery
Inscriptions in Sanskrit from the first gallery
Inscriptions in Sanskrit from the first gallery
View from top
View from top

Behind the stepwell is the 16th century mosque built on a platform. The mosque is a 5 domed structure with 2 minarets (which collapsed long ago). The mausoleum contains the tomb of Dhai Harir Sultani. The tomb is beautiful structure with stone carved lattice windows.

The mosque behind the stepwell
The mosque behind the stepwell
The qibla inside the mosque
The qibla inside the mosque
Mosque - architectural details
Mosque – architectural details
Mosque - architectural details
Mosque – architectural details
The mausoleum of Dhai Harir Sultani
The mausoleum of Dhai Harir Sultani
The door to the tomb
The door to the tomb
Mausoleum - architectural details
Mausoleum – architectural details
One of the lattice windows of the mausoleum
One of the lattice windows of the mausoleum

Mata Bhavani’s well
This is another stepwell which is located about 200m north of Dada Hari’s. This well is several hundred years older and is used as a Hindu temple now.

Inside Mata Bhavani's stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani’s stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani's stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani’s stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani's stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani’s stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani's stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani’s stepwell

Ahmedabad – Part IV: The Hutheesing Jain Temple

This remarkably elegant temple is created out of white marble. It was built in 1848 AD at an estimated cost of 8 lakh rupees, a major sum at that period. The construction of the temple was initiated by Shet Hutheesing Kesarising, a wealthy Ahmedabad trader. The construction was supervised and completed by his wife Shethani Harkunvar after the untimely death of her husband. The temple is dedicated to Dharmanatha, the fifteenth Jain Tirthankara. The temple was built during a severe famine in Gujarat. By employing hundreds of skilled artisans the construction supported them for a period of two years during this famine.

The Hutheesing Jain temple is spread over a sprawling courtyard, a mandapa surrounded by a large ridged dome, which is supported by 12 ornate pillars. The main shrine on the east end reaches up into three stunningly carved spires and is encircled by 52 smaller shrines dedicated to the various Tirthankaras. The front is exquisitely ornamented by a dome shaped structure. The architect of the temple was Premchand Salat.

The pictures below are from the exterior of the temple. Photography inside the temple is prohibited.

Hutheesing Jain Temple
Hutheesing Jain Temple
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings

The outer courtyard of the temple is flanked by a recently built 78 feet Mahavir stambha (tower) fashioned after the renowned tower of Chittor in Rajasthan.

The Mahavir stambha (tower) inside the temple courtyard
The Mahavir stambha (tower) inside the temple courtyard
Another view of the tower
Another view of the tower
Tower details
Tower details
The door of the tower
The door of the tower

Ahmedabad – Part III : The Swaminarayan Temple at Kalupur

Built in 1822 AD, this is the first temple of the Swaminarayan sect and the headquarters of the NarNarayan Dev Gadi. The land for construction of this temple was given by the British Imperial Government in India to Swaminarayan. Sir Dunlop, the British officer was so impressed with the activities of Swaminarayan and his followers, that on behalf of the government he gave 5,000 acres of land in Kalupur area of Ahmedabad to build this temple. When the temple was completed, the officer was so amazed by the temple that he commanded a 101 gun salute to the temple. When the British government wanted to build a railway station in Kalupur, the temple returned part of the land, where Kalupur Railway Station stands today.
The temple was mainly constructed in Burma teak wood with opulent carvings of Hindu gods and goddesses in bright shades. The architecture of the central gateway is a mix of regional and British styles. Marathi and Rajasthani folk cultures and costumes are evident on the gateway sculptors.
The NarNarayan temple is the heart of the temple complex and was constructed with intricate carvings in pure Burma-teak, depicting deities and episodes representing Indian tradition and culture. The images in the temple are of Naranarayan Dev in the centre, Radhakrishna Dev on the right, Dharmadev, Bhakti Mata and Harikrishna on the left of the central hall.
The haveli to the west of the temple used to be the official residence of Acharya of the Naranarayan Dev Gadi. Now the ground floor of the front side houses the offices and inner portion accommodates the residence of the ladies who have devoted their life to the temple. The haveli on the north side of the temple was constructed by Acharya Maharjshree Keshavprasadji Maharaj in 1871. This haveli made in wood consists of intricately carved wooden pillars and balconies. An extensive central hall has been constructed on sixty pillars.
The temple attracts a million people the day after Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrated every year in autumn.

Swaminarayan Temple at Kalupur
Swaminarayan Temple at Kalupur
The main entrance gate of the temple
The main entrance gate of the temple
The intricately carved doors
The intricately carved doors
Door details
Door details
The temple
The temple
One of the entrances to the temple
One of the entrances to the temple
The carved arches
The carved arches
The carved arches
The carved arches
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
An intricately carved balcony
An intricately carved balcony
More of the carvings
More of the carvings
More details
More details
More details
More details
The grand haveli (traditional, ornately decorated house) in the temple complex
The grand haveli (traditional, ornately decorated house) in the temple complex
One of the elaborately carved pillars
One of the elaborately carved pillars
One of the elaborately carved pillars
One of the elaborately carved pillars
One of the elaborately carved pillars
One of the elaborately carved pillars
More from the haveli
More from the haveli
More details
More details

Modhera Sun Temple – An architectural masterpiece of Solanki period

The Sun Temple of Modhera was built during the reign of Bhima I of Solanki dynasty in 1026-27 AD. It resembles the better known Konark temple in Orissa, which it predates by 200 years. It was similarly designed so that the dawn sun shone on the image of Surya the sun god during the equinoxes.

Built in Solanki style the temple complex has three axially aligned components – the main shrine (garbhagriha) in a hall (gudhamandapa), the outer or assembly hall (sabhamandapa) and the sacred tank (kunda). The sabhamandapa is not in continuation with gudhamandapa but is placed little away as a separate structure. Both the structures are built on paved platform. Their roofs have collapsed a long ago. The platform of plinth is inverted lotus shaped.

The gudhamandapa measures 51×25 feet. It is almost equally divided into gudhamandapa, the hall and gabhagriha the shrine proper. The pradakshinamarga is formed by the passage between the walls of garbhagriha and the outer walls of gudhamandapa. The roof of the passage has stone slabs carved with rosettes.

Garbhagriha, the shrine proper, is square measuring 11 feet from inside. The outer walls of the shrine is highly decorated. The base and walls of the shrine and hall are divided into several stretches with unique carvings. The hall in front of the garbhagriha was roofed by a dome which is supported by eight principal pillars below arranged in an octagon, four pillars in front of shrine proper and two each in recesses of windows and door.
The sabhamandapa or the assembly hall has extensively carved exterior. There are 52 intricately carved pillars representing 52 weeks of the year. The roof was in shape of stepped pyramid, but no longer exists. Inside, the walnut shaped ceiling rises in tiers which has numerous floral girdles. It is 23 feet high and supported by pillars arranged in an octagon. Toranas or the decorated arches arise from the lower brackets of the pillars.
The tank in front of the temple is known as suryakunda. The flight of steps through kirti-torana leads to the reservoir. It is rectangular. It measures 176 feet from north to south and 120 feet from east to west. There are four terraces and recessed steps to descend to reach the bottom of the tank. Several miniature shrines and niches in front of the terrace wall have images of gods.

Modhera Sun Temple
Modhera Sun Temple
Modhera Sun Temple
Modhera Sun Temple
A closer view of the main temple and the assembly hall
A closer view of the main temple and the assembly hall
Closer view of the main temple
Closer view of the main temple
Details of the exterior of the main temple
Details of the exterior of the main temple
Details of the exterior of the main temple
Details of the exterior of the main temple
Details of the exterior of the main temple
Details of the exterior of the main temple
Details of the exterior of the main temple
Details of the exterior of the main temple
Details of the pillars inside
Details of the pillars inside
The ceiling of the main temple
The ceiling of the main temple
Main temple - pillars and the ceiling
Main temple – pillars and the ceiling
Intricate carvings on the pillars
Intricate carvings on the pillars
A closer view of the ceiling of the assembly hall
A closer view of the ceiling of the assembly hall
What you see is some of the intricately carved pillars of the assembly hall. There are total 54 of such pillars
What you see is some of the intricately carved pillars of the assembly hall. There are total 52 of such pillars
View of the sacred tank from the assembly hall
View of the sacred tank from the assembly hall
Details from the assembly hall
Details from the assembly hall
Details from the assembly hall
Details from the assembly hall
More details of the carvings
More details of the carvings
More details of the carvings
More details of the carvings
More details of the carvings
More details of the carvings
More details of the carvings
More details of the carvings
More details of the carvings
More details of the carvings
The view of the temple complex - the sacred tank and in the back drop is the assembly hall. The main temple is not visible as it is behind the assembly hall
The view of the temple complex – the sacred tank and in the back drop is the assembly hall. The main temple is not visible as it is behind the assembly hall
Two pillars standing alone near the temple
Two pillars standing alone near the temple
View of the sculptured steps of the tank with various small shrines
View of the sculptured steps of the tank with various small shrines
Details of the shrines around the sacred tank
Details of the shrines around the sacred tank
Details of the shrines around the sacred tank
Details of the shrines around the sacred tank
The assembly hall reflected in the sacred tank
The assembly hall reflected in the sacred tank

The waning of the Solanki dynasty and the decline in Sun worship and the vagaries of the Islamic inconoclasts and devastating earthquakes led to the decline of the Modhera Sun temple. This masterpiece of Solanki architecture was plundered and defaced by the armies of Allauddin Khilji. The marauding soldiers placed gun powder inside the sanctum and set fire to it, creating an explosion that caused the main shikhara to collapse. In spite of all this and its magnificent dome missing, the Modhera Sun temple still remains as an architectural wonder, which can amaze any visitor.

The temple is located at Modhera village of Mehasana district in the Indian state of Gujarat.