|Snippets of Information |
Temples in Uttar Pradesh
* 11 Jul 2022
Bhitargaon temple, Kanpur
The Bhitargaon Temple at Bhitargaon town in Uttar Pradesh is a terraced
brick building fronted with a
terracotta panel. Built in the 5th century during the late Gupta period,
most likely shortly after Kumaragupta II (d. 455 CE), it is the oldest
remaining brick/terracotta Hindu shrine with a roof and a high Shikhara
(a stepped pyramid).
The sanctum of this temple is constructed in Tri Ratha style with a
domed ceiling. Sanctum is double storey; however the first story of
sanctum fell in 1850.
The credit for restoring this ancient Hindu Temple goes to King Shiv
Pratap who was largely responsible for bringing the temple of Bhitargaon
in public preview. Restoration work in the temple was carried out by
Alexander Cunningham who visited the temple in 1877 on invitation of
King Shiv Pratap.
The small, non-descript town of Bhitargaon is located about 43 kms from
Kanpur, and it literally translates to 'inner (bhitar) village (gaon)',
and it stands at the centre of an ancient city known as Pushpur.
The temple was simply known as Dewal, or temple, by the locals. It is
one of the earliest surviving brick temples of India. Though Cunningham
had placed it as belonging to the 7th century, it has subsequently been
identified as belonging to the late Gupta period, to the 5th century.
According to Cunningham, the temple, facing east, measures 66 sq ft and
has indented corners. The earliest photographs of it, taken by
Cunningham’s assistant Beglar in 1878, show a small projecting hall
before the entrance. The entrance into the sanctum shows one of the
first uses of a semi-circular doorway. It is, however, a corbeled or
false arch composed of bricks placed edge to edge instead of face to
face. Cunningham calls this the ‘Hindu arch’. He writes that this is
peculiar to India. This is different from a true arch which has a
wedge-shaped voussoir and a triangular keystone. The corbeled arch
cannot support large domes whereas a true arch can.
The temple also has a tall pyramidical spire ( shikhara) above the inner
sanctum ( garbha griha). This shikhara became the standard feature of
the Nagara temple architecture of India. The walls are 8 ft thick. They
are decorated with terracotta sculptures on panels fitted into niches
separated by bold ornamental pilasters made for the purpose. Many have
fallen or have become damaged and have found their way into museums. The
remaining ones are of Shiva and Parvati seated together, Ganesha, an
eight-armed Vishnu, a Mahishasura Mardini and many animal figures, flora
and foliage. Muhammad Zaheer, who examined this temple in the 1960s,
and who wrote The Temple of Bhītargāon, counted 143 panels.
Source: The marvel at Bhitargaon by Rana Safvi, The Hindu, Dec 9, 2018
Besides shikhara style, another unique thing about the temple was the inclusion of medieval texts like Manasara.
As of now, the temple is in a dilapidated state. It is said that the
lightning struck it and damaged it. This happened a few years before the
Sepoy Mutiny in 1857.
* 22 March 2022
Nag Vasuki Temple in Prayagraj (also known as Allahabad or
Illahabad) is a shrine for the Snake God, king of serpents who had
offered himself to be used as a rope around Mandarachal mountain to
churn the Kshir Sagar (churning of the ocean for amirtam).
This temple is located on the north of Sangam in the northern corner of
Daraganj on the Ganga bank. It has statues of Nag Raj, Ganesh, Parvati
and a reclining statue of Bhishma Pitamah. There is a Shiv temple in the
premises. A big fair is held on Nag Panchami day. Though Nag Vasuki
Temple traces its roots to 10th
century but the present temple structure, built by Maratha king Shridhar
Bhonsle, belongs to 18th century with its shikhara, colored in yellow
and orange. It is one of the two temples (another in Nasik) where
special religious rituals are performed to obviate the ill-effects of
'Kaal Sarpa Dosha'.
Source: prayagraj.nic.in ; optimatravels.com
* 22 March 2022
The seven 'Tirtha Devas' in Prayagraj (also known as
Allahabad or Illahabad) are the presiding deities - Triveni Sangam, Veni
Madhav, Som, Rishi Bhardwaj, Nag Vasuki, Akshayavat and Sheshanag.