Shamlaji temple of Gujarat - a historical place of beauty and splendor

The state of Gujarat is home to countless historical and heritage structures, particularly the richly carved step-wells. Quite popular are temples dedicated to God Shiva and God Krishna. The hilly region of NE part of Aravalli mountains  is dotted with numerous   damaged temples of beauty. Shamlaji temple in the district of Aravalli dedicated to God Vishnu is an important  destination for tourists as well as Hindu devotees. 

Situated in a  place surrounded by thickly  wooded hills,  Shamlaji temple is not only an ancient Hindu temple but also a popular pilgrimage place in Gujarat. Records point out that it was a famous pilgrim center in  the 6th century CE.  It  has astonishing architecture with beautifully stone carved images of exceptional beauty; quite mind-boggling.  This temple is commonly referred to as  Dholi Dhajawala  and this being  due to white silk flag fluttering atop the temple.

 Shamlaji templ, Aravalli dt. GJ

 Built probably in 11th century in Chaulukya style in the past it was thought to be a Jaina worship place.  Though the present structure dates from the 15th-16th centuries, the sculpted image  of Vishnu in the garbagriha /sanctum seems to belong to 7th-8th century. This temple is said to have been not renovated in the last 500 years.

Shamlaji temple, Aravalli, GJ

Shamlaji temple, Aravalli, GJ

About its  architecture  this temple  was built with sandstone and brick and,  is a good example of  artistic excellence and charm of Chalukya style of temple design. This two-story structure  surrounded by a wall with a gateway has many ornate pillars and  a canopy all around with arches on each side.  The richly carved part in the lower  section  is overlain by  a frieze with an unintelligible pattern and above it lies all around a fringe of  stone-carved elephants' heads.   Right above it there is a frieze rich in  figures in bass-relief, men on horseback with bows, and animals particularly, elephants; It is interesting to note on the outer wall  between every two angles, the larger images  of  semi-rampant elephants standing  out in relief, A big  size elephant  stands on either side of the doorway in front of the entrance. Some episodes from  the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana are carved  on the walls but they appear to be a bit worn out due to time factor or the impact of seasonal changes. Most of the sculptures were made from bluish schistose  rocks (of  metamorphic origin - formed way down in the earth).

Shamlaji temple Aravalli

Shamlaji templeGujarat.

Shamlaji location map, Gujarat, India.

Shamlalji temple GJ. Note the jali pattern in the

Shamlaji temple, Gujarat, India

Above images: Note the lattice or Jali widows in the lower tier 

Pranala Shamlaji temple, Gujarat, Gargoyle.

Above image: Gargoyle at Shamlaji temple Gujarat. Pranala in the form of a makara.  In Indian architecture a pranala (IAST: praṇāla) is a discharge outlet attached to the wall of the sanctum. It discharges the lustral water or other liquids poured over the idols.  In Hindu mythology Makara is a sea creature roughly equal to the Zodiac sign of Capricorn...............................

Shamlaji temple, Gujarat, India 

Right above the sanctum,  the pyramid-shaped tower rises into a spire  with flattened sides. There are domes in the front part of the roof and they look as if rising from the flat surface. At the center lies the largest dome.  Figures of animals and  gargoyles  are noticeable  outside at all the angles of the roof .