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Sunday, October 21, 2001
Travel

Temples that symbolise poetry in stone
Arun Gaur

The Undeshwar Mahadev Temple with a bell roof, curvilinear tower and canopied balconies.
The Undeshwar Mahadev Temple with a bell roof, curvilinear tower and canopied balconies.

BIJOLIAN was a cultural hub of the Chauhans in the 10th century and later on of the Parmar feudatories of Mewar. Unlike Menal, the temple complex here has no deep gorge beside it for the spectacular flow of monsoon water, yet we traverse some of the most beautiful undulating drives on the ghat. From Bundi onwards the stretch of the road is unexpectedly good. The Bijolian temples were also built under the patronage of the King Someshvar Chhahamana of the Sakhambari dynasty of the 11th century.

The group comprises Mahakal, Hazaraling, Undeshwar Mahadev temples and the Mandakini Kund.

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Dancing damsels from the base of the Undeshwar Temple
Dancing damsels from the base of the Undeshwar Temple

From the front one immediately notices the first unusual feature ó the double-shrine of the Mahakal Temple facing east and south with a common vestibule. Right behind it, the Undeshwar temple has a different plan. It does not have a double shrine but its main shrine is diagonally aligned. It has canopied balconies and one ascends to a higher plinth level. Water from the adjoining Mandakini Kund, whenever it reaches the sufficient level, seeps over the phallic-stone. The towers of the three temples are differently profiled and elaborately carved and are better than that of the Menal Mahanala temple. A demonís tongue forms a circular configuration in which Shankar dances encircled with miniature aerial beings.

A dancing Shiva in the circle formed by a demonís
A dancing Shiva in the circle formed by a demonís
tongue in the Hazaraling tower

One notices that a prominently carved leonine figure overshadows an elephant, in the process almost trampling it. Normally, in the Hindu iconography of the North, I have so far come across, it is otherwise. Only at Bijapur did one see the lion swallowing an elephant on a wall or on a cannon mouth ó symbolising the Muslim victory over the Hindus.

When we reached the temple, it was gratifying to see an overseer from the Archaeological Department painstakingly directing the scrubbing work to remove the lime mortar sticking over the outer surface of the temples. The ladies in red and yellow ghaghara and odni were washing the walls with a diluted acidic solution. This slow process had been continuing for more than a year. The priest at the sun-temple of Jhalara Patan had told us that the natives deliberately poured the lime mixture over the bas-reliefs to save their gods from the iconoclastic blasts. This has been corroborated here by the overseer.

The top of the Hazaraling temple.
The top of the Hazaraling temple.

About half a kilometre from this complex, there is a Jain temple, where a giant statue of Parsavnath in gleaming black stone stands. On some little rocks, where possibly some water flows during the rainy season, the archaeological department has crudely erected a box-room over the stone inscription that includes a genealogical record of the kings of the Sakhambari Dynasty. We found its lock broken. The Jain god meditated there. A serpent etched on the rock, "fought the demon that came to destroy the godís meditation," is what the temple priest tells us.

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