Chausath Yogini Temple, Jabalpur
Chausath Yogini Temple
Bhedaghat, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh (MP)
“Yogini” represents both a female master practitioner of Yoga, and a formal term of respect for a category of modern female spiritual teachers (in both Hinduism and Buddhism) in eastern countries such as India, Nepal, and Tibet. [Source: Wikipedia]
There are a total of four Chausath Yogini Temples or 64 Yogini Temples in India, two are in Orissa while the other two are in Madhya Pradesh (MP). The two in Orissa are located in Hirapur (near Bhubaneswar) and Ranipur – Jharial (near Titlagarh). The two is Madhya Pradesh are located in Khajuraho and Bhedaghat (near Jabalpur).
The Chausath Yogini Temple located on a hill top next to the famous Dhundhar Falls in Bhedagaht, near Jabalpur, is the largest Yogini Temple in India. It consists of a circular structure of inner diameter 116 feet and outer diameter 131 feet.
The circle is broken down in 84 equal cells, out of which three serves as gateways. The gateway on the South – West consists of one cells while the one on the South – East consists of two adjoining cells.
The rest 81 cells houses statues of Yoginis, but there are doubts if all the 81 are Yoginis or not. Some expert opine that 64 out of the 81 are Yoginis, while the rest are other deities like Shiva and Ganesh. Another section believes that all the 81 are Yoginis.
Armed with a list of 64 Yoginis I took the long flight of stairs leading to the Chausath Yogini Temple, located on a hilltop next to the River Narmada.
Reaching the temple I found the Yogini Statues numbered and named by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It was definitely a delight but to my astonishment I found that the number of statues in 85 not 81!!!
I started of with my documentations, moving in the usual clockwise direction, but soon I found several names missing and those present didn’t match my list and I soon realized it was not an easy task. But I was able to solve the riddle of 81 and 85 as a few of the cells contained multiple statues. Later I also came to know that some of the statues were removed from other places to the Chausath Yogini Temple.
If of the statues were intact but most were severely defaced while in few cases, large chunks of the sculptures were totally missing. I went on with the process of photo documentation, as it was almost impossible to identify the non tagged statues.
Completing my ritual of circumscribing the Chausath Jogini Temple, i moved towards the middle of the circle. Slightly of the centre, is the Gouri Shankar Temple, constructed in 1155 by Queen Alhannadevi. According to experts, this temple was constructed two centuries later than the original Chausath Yogini Temple. The temple contains the stone idol of Shiva and Parvati riding the bull.