Mind-boggling Bhoramdeo temple, Chhattisgarh state - well-known for erotic sculptures

Chhattisgar: BhoramdeoTemple, flickr.com/

Bhoramdeo Temple, Chhattisgarh en.wikipedia.org

Among the important temples of  Chhattisgarh  state the Bhoramdeo temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva  is an interesting one. Famous for erotic sculptures it is located in the mountainous region and  the Bhoramdeo temple complex  has  four temples. Among them,  the earliest one is a brick temple. The main  temple here is the Bhoramdeo temple that has fine  architecture. Unlike earliest  brick temples here, this one is made of hard stones This temple has  fine mid-blowing  architectural features that include  erotic sculptures whose distinct style of presentation is similar to those in the Khajuraho temple and the Konarak Sun Temple in Odisha. Hence, this temple  is tagged as  the "Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh". The Bhoramdeao temple complex is in the midst of a wooded area at the foot of the Maikal range of hills  in the Daksina Kosala region,  18 km from Kawardha town, Chhattisgarh state. Nearest major city is Raipur. 

BhoramdeoTemple /en.wikipedia.org

Above image: A freeze of an external face of the temple with images of gods and erotic sculptures from 'Kama Sutra'...... .............

Dating back to the Kalachuri period (10th-12th centuries), the sculptures and architectural style that were dominant in Central India in west Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan  were called Chedi or Haihaya (Heyheya) (northern branch). They have  close  similarity with those sculptures found in nearby archeological sites such as Janjgir, Kalachuri, Narayanpur and Ratanpur sites.  The early temples were made of bricks  during the rule of Pandus and they have close affinity with those  built in Kharod, Palari, Rajim and Sirpur in the state.


Chhattisgar: BhoramdeoTemple.dreamstime.com

Built by Laxman Dev Rai & Gopal Dev of Faninagvansh  Dynasty, the temple complex is heart-throbbing poetry in stone",  and the credit goes  to Nagwanshi Kings. These rulers, who ruled the southern Koshal region (part of Chhattisgarh), practiced tantrism. The temple  is dated between the 7th and 12th centuries. The name  Bhoramdeo owes its origin to the ''Gond Tribals'' of the area who worshiped  Lord Shiva as Bhoramdeo.

Main tower  facing south BhoramdeoTemple/en.wikipedia.org

 The temple complex has a colorful arch and near-by a sculpted image of Nandi (the bull), the vahana  of Shiva, From this entrance there is a well laid out esplanade which leads to the temple complex which is on the banks of a lake. 

The stone-made Bhoramdeo temple, is dated back to the 11th century and is older than the Khajuraho Group of temples. Its architecture is stunningly beautiful. One could see on the outer wall small carved  images in profusion built in a typical architectural style called the Gurur type. It is just owe-inspiring and this style is different from the north Indian Nagara style of architecture. Its structural uniqueness and elegance  lies in the receding rows or tiers placed successively upwards in the top part of the temple tower.
 A large platform or plinth that is built to height of 5 feet (1.5 m ) forms the first stage. The platform has many sculptures of Hindu deities carved on the exterior faces.  The temple constructed on  this platform measures 60 feet (18 m) x 40 feet (12 m) and is of conventional  Hindu temple, comprising a mandapa (hall), followed by an antral or passage leading to the Garbhagriha or sanctum (9 feet x9 feet ) where  a Shiva Linga, is  enshrined. The mandapa, square in  plan is supported by four main central pillars, apart from the peripheral pillars. All the three enclosures are linked by passageways.

On the exterior and interior walls of the temple are found the bass reliefs in the entablature part of elephants, mythical figures and sensuous sculptures. The sensuous carved figures on the exterior walls represent the nuances of Kama Sutra and the erotic postures. It is to be noted that they reflect on the  then prevailing social, cultural, architectural and religious ethos in the region and there was nothing to be ashamed of. These sculptures are  nicely crafted in three tiers on the exterior face of the temple up to the pinnacle and are housed in niches. It is a meticulous job well done by the sculptors of those days. As for the sculpted images arranged in rows on the outer faces of the main tower, they  vary in size from 1 foot to 1.5 ft to 2 ft in descending order from the top of the tower to its lower end. The base of the main tower is wide enough  to provide stability to the main tower.

The lowest tier of the exterior walls is embellished with sculptures of lions and elephants. Here,  the sculptures are made of black and ochre stones (black stone is used to carve pantheon gods while Ochre stone is used for other sculptures). The entrance doors are flanked by images of mythological figures, which are  1 or 2 ft in height. An interesting feature is on the southern face of the shikara or tower  where the Ganesha image has six arms and well turned up  trunk. There are some interesting images of gods. one being 
Shiva Linga, with a hooded serpent; the other one is a  stone slab of Vishnu and Lakshm├« mounted on Garuda with a king offering prayers.

The Istaliq temple or the temple built with dried or burnt clay bricks is close to  the main Bharamdeo temple. Built between 2nd and 3rd centuries this temple is in ruins, and the sanctum has no doors without an entrance hall or mantap. The tower above the sanctum  terminates in the middle.

In the temple complex there is an  open-air museum that  has a large collection of archaeological features unearthed from the area; they are dated to 2nd and 3rd centuries. Of particular interest is  display of Sati pillars, which have unique architectural motif in which couples are carved in squatting amorous postures called the "alingana-mudra".

 A recently built  Hanuman temple painted in red colour is also seen on one side of the courtyard. A draped Kal Bhairava sculpture is also seen in the complex at its exit end.

Cherki Mahal, the last temple in the complex, is in a thickly wooded area . It has  a nicely decorated entrance and a sanctum with a lotus decoration in the roof. 

Madwa Mahal,  dedicated to God Shiva is  located about a kilometer away from the main temple. The west facing temple is built like a marriage hall or pandal (fabricated structure), known in local parlance as  "Madwa". It is believed to have been built in memory of  of the wedding of Nagwanshi king Ramachandra Dev and Haihawanshi Queen Raj Kumari Ambika Devi that took place in 1349.
The temple has an impressive  Shiva Linga erected over 16 pillars.

The  outer  walls of this temple have 54  well-carved  explicit erotic images in various  postures  as explained in the ''Kama Sutra''. As mentioned earlier, it is a reflection of the prevalence of  the tantric culture during the rule of  the Nagawanshi kings.