This story is about an incomplete but remarkable Shiva temple called as Bhojeshwar temple near Bhopal.
Ever heard of the saying “Kahan Raja Bhoj aur Kahan Gangu Teli!” The grandeur of the the king Bhoj and his kingdom Bhojpur was the reason of the phrase. Raja Bhoj not only build the many lakes in and around Bhopal but also the ensure the prosperity of the region.
About the history of the Temple
First things first, Bhojeshwar Temple houses the world’s tallest Shivalinga. It has also been declared a monument of National Importance by Archaeological Survey of India. It’s an incomplete temple but still worshipped by many people who come to visit the temple from far off places. Situated in a town called Bhojpur in Madhya Pradesh, the construction of this temple dates back to 11th century and was the ideation of Parmara ruler of Malwa, Raja Bhoj – the king who was a scholar, visionary and an architect par excellence. Exceptionally skilled in architecture and civil engineering, he had also built several dams around the town.
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Why was Bhojeshwar Temple left incomplete?
By now, you have read me saying that Bhojeshwara temple is an incomplete temple several times, but there are so many reasons we heard which kept the temple incomplete. Some say that it remained incomplete due to lack of resources, some say due to the natural calamity, some say it was supposed to be built in one day, some day that Raja Bhoj focused more on the Somnath temple due to an impeding war but the most convincing reason I thought was the one which our guide, Padma Shri KK Muhammed gave.
He mentioned that the roof of the temple would have collapsed due to a calculation mistake which in turn damaged the Shivalinga. He also mentioned that as per Hindu Scriptures (Agamas) , Hindus should not worship in a temple whose idol is broken or damaged. This looks to be a reason why Raja Bhoja would have stopped the construction of the temple. But the locals continued to worship there.
Conservation of Bhojeshwar temple
In 2006, archaeologist Padmashri KK Muhammed found the temple in shambles and had a roof without a dome. He decided to take up the task of restoring this massively important temple of which there was no reference picture to compare to. I can’t even imagine what mammoth task it would have been. His team procured the stones locally, helped in carving similar looking structures to fit in the already existing pieces of the temple. The main roof of the temple is now a piece of fibrecast which looks to be one with the rest of the ceiling was also the idea of Mr. Muhammed. He and his team also had to convince the local people who had claimed the temple area as their own. While writing this, I am amazed at his life skills. Did someone say that he is only an archaeologist?
My experience of visiting Bhojeshwar Temple
I along with the group of people whom I was travelling with on Madhya Pradesh trip of Times Passion Trails reached Bhojeshwar Temple around noon when sun was shining in its full glory, after crossing the hinterlands of the state. The flower vendors and other souvenir vendors flocked the temple in huge number. We were approached by a few to buy some pooja flowers to offer in the temple. When we started walking towards the temple, it gave a rustic feel, looked a little bit in shambles too but knowing the significance of the temple, we knew it will be an experience to behold. Perched on top of the hill, the temple appeared huge as we reached the steps below it. What surprised me was that even though Hindus consider incomplete or broken temples inauspicious but this temple had people worshipping the Shivalingam.
Another interesting thing which I noticed was that there was only Garbhgriha as part of the temple. So, Hindu temples essentially have 3 important parts called Garbhagriha or Sanctum, Mandapa or entrance to the temple and Shikhara or Vimana which forms the top of the temple. Bhojeshwara temple only had Grabhagriha while the other parts were not there. Probably those were not in the plan or couldn’t be constructed due to various reasons. Only history can tell that!
I climbed the steps to reach the platform on which the temple is built and all of us gathered around Mr.K.K. Muhammed, who had restored this temple a couple of years back. The passion in his voice and gleam in his eyes while he talked about the stories around the temple made me feel so fortunate to be travelling with him. The priest ran upto Muhammed sir as soon as he got to know that Sir is around. What a sight it was! It brought that huge smile full of respect for Muhammed sir on all our faces.
Then we reached the main entrance of the temple and couldn’t help but notice the sun reflecting from the massive Shivalingam, like some divine nature power throwing all its energy into the Shivalinga. I had never seen this huge Shivaling ever before. I believe our timing was brilliant to be able to witness that spectacle. We got down in the Garbhgriha to the base of Shivalinga and we walked around observing the interiors and architecture of that dim lit area. There was a priest inside who was distributing prasad as well. When we were walking out of the sanctum, Muhammed sir explained about the dome in between the concentric circles on the roof. He told that the dome was missing for centuries and that led to damage of shivalinga. And in recent times, sir got a fibreglass cast to be placed in the place of dome, so that everything put together looks uniform. While Muhammed sir was telling these stories with such humility, all of us had our mouths wide open because all this is not small feat.
We got out of the sanctum just in time to see the setting sun. The view from there was calming to say the least. The landscape, the lush greens made for the perfect background of the temple. We then clicked a few pictures and made our way out.
How can you reach Bhojeshwar Temple?
Bhojeshwar Temple is located in Bhojpur which is around 28kms from Bhopal. The city is very well connected to major cities of Madhya Pradesh through good roads.
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