Posted in History, Photography, Travel

of going around (in) circles…

Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple, Mitaoli, Morena, Madhya Pradesh, India

It was evening by the time we emerged from the cobweb of district roads that got us out of Pinahat back to the national highway at Dhaulpur – it is almost fun crossing the borders of the three states of UP, MP and Rajasthan at a whim in this region, if only the roads threw lesser potholes, and also bullock carts and tractors for that matter since we are on wish lists…

The waves of countless tribulations that have shaped the subcontinent since millennia have led to the present scenario where a handful of monuments have been glossed up as trinkets to attract the hapless souls roaming around in herds for that taste of India, while the rest have either been subsumed into the overarching grandeur (or ignominy) of their landscapes or settled for encroachments as a barter for staying relevant somehow…

Surprisingly, many ancient structures show a higher degree of resilience than most of their medieval counterparts… blame those medieval contractors maybe… but I sense that the evolution of warcraft has more or less determined the schematics of real estate for centuries now… a look at the list of ancient monuments can take one back to ‘cleaner’ times when violence had not yet evolved fully from a primal instinct to a strategic discourse…

That is probably why the temple at Mitaoli delights… apart from the fact that it has 64 chambers, and I have been a stickler for the powers of 2 since childhood, most of time ensuring that the number of steps I’d climbed or descended stuck to the pattern… it is solitary and serene, yet still intact to a remarkable degree for a monument that is close to a thousand years old, and hardly encroached… hardly researched as well, in the past century or so where half a dozen such structures have been unearthed and many more are still under excavation, the underlining narrative explaining the architecture and the rituals has remained speculative to a large extent, so has the interpretation of inscriptions and iconography… 

Which is why perhaps that ancient architecture delights more that the medieval… it has yet to be understood fully thereby making it difficult to be dyed in some communal undertone… it is still ‘young’ and ‘unraveling’… and often leads us creatively into the larger dimensions of faith… the debates on reveling yoginis vis-à-vis the ascetic yogis… in the case of our temple in Mitaoli, it translates into the nomenclature — the name ‘Chausath Yogini Temple’ painting a picture of indulgent and aggressive feminine divinity, while ‘Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple’ represents the antithesis — a singular, brooding Shiv with little interest in such deific gaieties…

Weaning away from theistic deliberations, the structure is perched atop a hillock about 30 meters high, spiraling stairs leading up to entrance on the east gate… 64 chambers are stacked neatly on the inside with statue carvings (that also adorn the outside), with a large courtyard central circular temple housing Shiv, the primary deity…

Supposed to built by Maharaja Devapala between 1055 to 1075 AD, it is but obvious to accede to the assumption that the temple was used as a study ground for mathematics and astronomy considering the enviable symmetry of the structure that takes one back to the geometry box (and gloatingly pluralizing locus to loci)… rainwater harvesting was also not ignored, with a drainage system around the central compound in a relatively good shape… references arise then and again on the architectural inspiration of the Indian Parliament, it could be thus, but arcs and their progression have always caught architects’ imaginations anyway… there is a small elevated temple on the east side in the external compound… maybe a foresight informed the architects of the need for a vantage point for photographers to arise  in the future… 

It is perhaps the preciseness of this construction that coupled with the relief has kept the monument spick and span, not to forget that more animals have strayed into the compound than humans till now… more concrete is being poured around these days for public amenities… thankfully the road condition means it still wouldn’t become another ‘honeypot’ for some time to come… 

A large part of the ancient heritage of this region still remains to be excavated, and would potentially reveal the full scale of the ancient river civilizations of Central India… but looking at the contorted expositions of the kinetic these days, remaining in the state of potential seems a much more preferable proposition…

Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple, Mitaoli, Morena, Madhya Pradesh, India
The eastern part of the complex leads into the inner parth of the concentric system


Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple, Mitaoli, Morena, Madhya Pradesh, India
The temple stands upon a 30 metre high hillock, a barren patch of rock jutting out of an otherwise expansive planar fabric


Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple, Mitaoli, Morena, Madhya Pradesh, India
The outer and inner doors are perfectly aligned, leading to the sanctum


Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple, Mitaoli, Morena, Madhya Pradesh, India
The symmetry of the entire structure is flawless


Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple, Mitaoli, Morena, Madhya Pradesh, India
The movement of light is highly noticeable around the complex, and would have understandably made for a perfect vantage point for astronomic pursuits


Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple, Mitaoli, Morena, Madhya Pradesh, India
Lots of etching on the floor outside the temple in all directions


Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple, Mitaoli, Morena, Madhya Pradesh, India
And then the fading sun sends around some picture postcards

Ekattarso Mahadeva/ Chausath Yogini Temple, Mitaoli, Morena, Madhya Pradesh

Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves.

In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods.

An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster ‘inclusive’ growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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