Ancient Temples of Kalachuri Period, Amarkantak
Ancient Temples of Kalachuri Period
Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh (MP)
Amarkantak, often refereed to as Tirtharaj or King of Pilgrimage is situated at an altitude of 1000 m in Anuppur district of Madhya Pradesh (MP). Amarkantak is located at the junction of the three central Indian ranges of Vindhyas, Satpuras and Maikal.
The mighty rivers of Sone and Narmada originate from Amarkantak. According to legend Sone and Narmada were to marry each other but Sone refused and flowed eastwards to join the Ganges near Patna.
Narmada took the opposite direction and flowed westward through the entire stretch of central India and finally draining into the Arabian Sea.
Amarkantak is a pilgrimage not only for the Hindu but also for the Jains and the entire town is dotted with innumerable temples.
Narmada Udgam Temple (see photo), the temple built to mark the source of the Narmada River, is the holiest spot in the whole of Amarkantak.
This temple complex consisting of a series of small white washed temples built around a water body, which marks the source of the mighty Narmada. Sadly these temples, like most of the temples of Amarkantak, are new structures.
The only old structures in the ancient pilgrimage of Amarkantak are the Ancient Temples of the Kalachuri Period, located bang opposite the Narmada Udgam Temple complex.
The temples were built by the Kalachuri kings, who ruled central India during the 10 – 12 th century.
According to legend Shankaracharya built the Surya Kunda in Amarkantak, in 8th century AD, to specify the origin of Narmada.
It is also said that Shankara installed the idol of lord Shiva in Pateleshwar Temple, strangely the Pateleshwar temple was built much later during the reign of Kalachuri King Karnadeva (1041 – 1073).
The temple complex located next to the ancient man made water body has several structures belonging to the Nagara style of architecture.
The Pateleshwar Temple is crowned with a pancharath sikhara and has a pyramidal mandap.
The Karna Temple, the largest and the most prominent temple in the Kalachuri Temple complex, is crowned with a towering ornate sikhara.
The complex also contains several other temples including the Johila Temple, Vishnu Temple and Shiva Temple. Another interesting structure in the Kalachuri Temple complex is the Pancha Math Temple. A series of five small temples, of different architectural style, located on a single raised platform.
Today the Kalachuri Temple complex is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the complex is very well maintained with manicured lawns and landscape gardening.
Sadly it is hardly visited by the thousand of pilgrims, thronging Amarkantak, the Tirtharaj or King of Pilgrimage