After the Gwalior sightseeing whole day, I had booked a car for next day, which was an outstation travel.
Early morning at 07:00 am the car arrived. We checked out. We had a local breakfast of Kachoris, Samosa Chat and some juices.
Instead of going through Nurabad, the driver took the Naresar route and we reached Bateshwar Gourp at 10.00 AM. On the way, we crossed the faraway Mitaoli hill and Garhi Padiwali. There is a solo temple near the parking. We chose to explore the Complex first.
There is an entry gate followed with a paved path till the location. There were few workers at the site. It was a jaw-dropping sight. Numerous temples at one huge area. Aihole also has many temples but they are spread around in the village. But, this was surreal to believe.
Bateshwar Complex has more than 200 temples and as informed by the local guy, who showed us photos of the past, some 90 of them are standing, rest are in process of resurrection.
There is a central Bhuteshvara temple surrounded by lots of mini temples. These mini temples are arranged in rows on Platform. Temples are dedicated to Shiva or Vishnu.
As per the records, they were built during 8th and 10th century C.E. by the Gurjara-Pratiharas. Most of them are built in the Nagara style with a simple Shikhara, no Mandapa. There is a Shivling in most of the miniature temples. We saw some Peacocks and Peahens frolicking around the temples. The complex is surrounded by Jungle.
(A scientific study of the temple reveals that the construction of the temples was carried on over centuries constantly, up to the 11th century A.D. It was then halted abruptly due to the Islamic invasions. As a result, many temples are left unfinished and all of them are desecrated. – sourced from net)
The temples are constructed from the locally-quarried yellow sandstone with a reddish tinge.
Their colour lends a particular variety to their appearance, especially at the sunrise and the sunset, when the Sun’s rays fall upon them at a slanted angle. The Gurjara-Pratiharas, also known as the Pratihara Empire, ruled much of Northern India from the mid-7th to the 11th century.
Complex has many interesting lintels, such as one with Navagraha, many with Dashavatara (ten avatars of Vishnu) of the Vaishnavism tradition, frequent display of Saptamatrikas (seven mothers) from the Shaktism tradition.
(Bateshwar’s rebirth is the story of labour of love of K. K Muhammad. He was serving as Superintending Archaeologist, ASI Delhi Circle, who took Obama around Humayun Tomb in November 2010. Muhammad, a Keralite and an expert of Upanishads, first saw the site when he was posted in the Bhopal circle. The place was just a huge mound of stone. Starting in 2005, ASI started putting the jigsaw pieces together and the site started taking shape. The site was used by the dacoits as a hideout and once Muhammad had a run-in with Nirbhay Singh Gurjar, the dreaded dacoit. After several rounds of negotiation, the dacoit whose ancestors built the temples was convinced of Muhammad’s intentions that the temples needed to be restored and shown to the world. He finally acquiesced and allowed ASI to carry on the restoration and in fact provided protection to the workers. – sourced from net)
We spent almost an hour looking at each of the temples, each exploring on their own. I took a clockwise round, clicking and jumping from one temple to another, reaching the central Bhutanath or Bhuteshvara temple. This is the main temple of the complex, which is still active. There was a Pandit who was reading some books. It consisted of a Garbhagriha, Antarala, Mandapa and a roofed Pradakshina Patha. There are many carvings of God and Goddess in the niches around the wall. The step well was outside this temple, still had water. Also, there was a huge tablet of Hanuman.
On our way out, we visited the solitary Vishnu Temple on a hillock. There is no Shikhar but the outer walls of sanctum sanctorum have amazing friezes. Also, one can view the Bateshwar ruins from here.
Only time will tell whether the 1300 year old temple pilgrimage site in Chambal ravines will suffer another bout of devastation and need another reincarnation. The local guy informed us that few days back Mr. Muhammad visited the site.
Our next stop was Garhi Padhavali.