Monday, 1 June 2020

Unique Ancient Temple Resembling Parliament House Stands Atop A Hill - Chausath Yogini Or Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple - Mitaoli - Morena

The Chausath Yogini Temple, Morena, also known as Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple, is an 11th-century temple located in Morena district in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the few well-preserved Yogini temples in the country. The temple is formed by a circular wall with 64 chambers and an open mandapa in the centre, separated by a courtyard which is circular in shape, where Shiva is deified. The Chausath Yogini temple is in Mitaoli village (also spelled Mitawali or Mitavali), near Padaoli in Morena district 40 kilometres from Gwalior.

Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple On The Hill
Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple On The Hill
According to an inscription dated to 1323 CE (Vikram Samvat 1383), the temple was built by the Kachchhapaghata king Devapala (r. c. 1055 – 1075). It is said that the temple was the venue of providing education in astrology and mathematics based on the transit of the Sun. The temple is located on a hill which is about 100 feet (30 m) in height and there are 100 steps to climb leading to the entrance of the temple. It is externally circular in shape with a radius of 170 feet (52 m) and within its interior part it has 64 small chambers, each with a mandapa which is open and a facia of pilasters and pillars.

Aerial View Of Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple
Aerial View Of Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple
The roof of the entire structure is flat including that of another east facing circular temple within the outer circular wall. A large passage or courtyard lies between the outer enclosure and the central temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. There is an open porch entrance to this temple. The exterior surface of the outer wall has carvings of Hindu deities. Each of the 64 chambers in the outer circle has an image of Shiva deified in it. However, recent investigations have confirmed that originally these had a Yogini image deified in them and hence the temple is known as Chausath Yogini Temple ('Chausath' here means "Sixty four"). It is said that the roof over the 64 chambers and the central shrine had towers or shikharas which were probably removed during later modifications.

Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple
Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple
This circular temple is one among the very few such temples in India. This is a yogini temple dedicated to sixty-four yoginis. Other prominent yogini temples in India are located at Bhedaghat near Jabalpur and Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, Hirapur and Jharial in Odhisa. The yogini cult was a secretive practice confined to few groups and individuals. Its secrets are very securely guarded by its proponents and practitioners that if you are an outsider then it is very hard to know its rituals and practices. One can know and understand this cult only after becoming one and joining their community. But the trick is that when one becomes a part of that community, one also takes an oath to guard its secrets as others.

Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple Central Shrine
Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple Central Shrine
This temple has come into limelight in recent years as it has been made accessible to the general tourists. Many of these curious visitors have compared this temple with the Indian parliament building (Sansad Bhawan) as both are circular in style. Many have drawn conclusions that this temple was the inspiration behind the Sansad Bhawan. However this is not the case. This temple in particular has no role to play in the design and architecture of our Sansad Bhawan.

Pillars Of Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple
Pillars Of Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple
N N Mallya who wrote an authoritative book on our parliament does not mention anything about this temple. Also, from above text, we know that this temple was in obscurity till the 1940s therefore it seems a far fetched idea that it has any influence on the Sansad Bhawan design. Also, the architects of our Sansad Bhawan, Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, never paid any visit of this temple or nearby localities.

Inner Colonnade
Inner Colonnade
One of the outstanding features of this temple is a huge underground water storage facility that collects rainwater running off from the main shrine and reaching this facility through drain pipes. Hindu rulers of the past didn’t simple erect structures but these were architectural marvels in themselves. This temple is proof of their engineering and architectural expertise, like several others that dot the Indian landscape. The temple is located in Seismic Zone III (Moderate Damage Risk Zone) and has withstood the test of time by facing several earthquake shocks without any damage to it.

Temple Location:

Mitawali is about 40 km from Gwalior which is the nearest major rail-head and airport. It is about 2-3 km from Batesar. It is also a very rare temple as there are 3 - 5 such temples around in India, Such as 2 in Orissa - Hirapur and Ranipur-Jharial, 3 in MP - Bhedaghat (Jabalpur), Khajuraoh and Mitawali. All are circular except the one in Khajurao. Chausath Yogini Temple, Mitawali is lies about 15 kms from Morena and about 55 kms from Gwalior and needs a whole day to cover all 6 spots. The Temples and monuments are well maintained by archeological survey of India (ASI).

Temple Address & Contact Details:

Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple,
Mitaoli,
Morena,
Pin Code : 476 001.
Madhya Pradesh.

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