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An exterior view of Bhojeshwar Temple in Bhojpur, about 28 kilometres from Bhopal.
© Michael Turtle

Bhojeshwar Temple

This 12th century temple is not only one of the finest in the region, it also offers a unique insight into the construction process of the era.

The origin of the town of Bhojpur can be credited to Raja Bhoj, the same man who founded Bhopal in the 11th century AD. Although Bhojpur clearly didn’t grow in the same way Bhopal did, it does still have one of the most significant heritage sites in the region – the Shiva temple of Bhojeshwar Mahadev.

The 12th century Bhojeshwar Temple is considered to be one of the finest examples of temple architecture in the region. At its core is the abstract representation of the deity Shiva, or ‘linga’, in the temple sanctum. It’s 2.35 metres high with a circumference of nearly 6 metres. Above it is an ornately-carved ceiling with rock-carved sculptures.

The linga in the middle of the temple with the carved columns and beautifully-decorated ceiling. – © Michael Turtle
The linga in the middle of the temple with the carved columns and beautifully-decorated ceiling. – © Michael Turtle

What makes the Bhojeshwar Temple particularly interesting is the evidence of how it was designed and constructed. Carved on nearby rock surfaces are the architectural plans that would have been used as a reference while the temple was being built. You can also still see a ramp that large stones would have been pulled along to construct the upper levels.

Markings on the rock show architectural plans for Bhojeshwar Temple that were used as a reference during its construction. – © Michael Turtle
Markings on the rock show architectural plans for Bhojeshwar Temple that were used as a reference during its construction. – © Michael Turtle

Another archaeological site nearby that is worth visiting is Ashapuri. This temple complex was built between the 9th and 11th centuries and consists of 24 temple bases with thousands of architectural fragments scattered around the hills.

One of the temple ruins at Ashapuri, which would have been a large temple complex between the 9th and 11th centuries. – © Michael Turtle
One of the temple ruins at Ashapuri, which would have been a large temple complex between the 9th and 11th centuries. – © Michael Turtle

Ashapuri is considered to be one of the most remarkable medieval temple complexes in Central India and there’s currently a lot of work taking place to restore it.

Many World Heritage sites are temporarily closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please check official websites for more information.

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Bhojeshwar Temple