11th Century Bhojeshwar Temple: Home to one of the largest Shiva Lingas in the world - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Monday, November 23, 2020

11th Century Bhojeshwar Temple: Home to one of the largest Shiva Lingas in the world

Offering prayers at the Bhojpur Shiva Temple, Madhya Pradesh

It is one of the top heritage destinations of Madhya Pradesh. It is home to one of the largest Shiva lingams in the world. I am talking about the 11th century Bhojeshwar temple that was never completed, but that is used today for religious purposes and festivals. But, why has this temple remained incomplete? What is the story surrounding it? Let’s find out.

Located by the banks of the Betwa river in the Bhojpur village of Madhya Pradesh, the Bhojeshwar temple was constructed under the reign of Raja Bhoja, the most celebrated ruler of the Paramara dynasty. Raja Bhoj selected the region around Bhojpur to build a series of dams over 9 rivers and 99 rivulets. Prior to the dams being constructed, there was no village or town in that region. Bhojpur, the dams and the Bhojeshwar temple came about the same time all under the guidance of King Bhoj.

Some people believe that a natural calamity could have halted the construction, but according to Dr. KK Muhammed, the archaeologist who restored the Bhojeshwar temple, says that a mathematical error could have caused the collapse of the roof and subsequently, Raja Bhoj might have stopped the construction either considering it as a bad omen or because they did not know how to fix the roof.

I am very happy that the Archaeological Survey of India and its team led by Dr. KK Muhammed restored this temple or else we would have lost a beautiful temple of gargantuan proportions. Such sizes are usually seen in the temples of Greece and is rare to see in India, but the Bhojeshwar temple is one such rare specimen. Be its 65 feet high doorway, 43 feet high pillars or the 40 feet high lingam, everything about the Bhojeshwar temple is massive in size. The lingam, built using 3 superimposed limestone rocks is the star attraction of this temple. It is 7.5 feet high, 17.8 feet in circumference and is set on a square platform whose sides measure 21.5 feet. In total, the lingam platform measures over 40 feet, making it one of the largest Shiva lingams in the world.

The ramp in the north eastern corner of the temple and unfinished architectural fragments in nearby quarry sites show us the extent of the temple plans. If it had been completed, it would have been one of the largest temple complexes in India. But, that was not to be. However, we can all appreciate the vision of Raja Bhoj by visiting this temple, soak in its gargantuan proportions and offer our prayers to Lord Shiva. If you are looking for an offbeat rural getaway or offbeat culture getaway in Madhya Pradesh, the Bhojeshwar Shiva temple at Bhojpur would definitely be a top choice. I love this place and would recommend to all.

The 3 level Shiva Linga at Bhojpur Shiva Temple

Temple timings:

The Bhojeshwar Shiva temple is open from sunrise to sunset. Opening and closing times might vary on festival days.

A flower shop outside of Bhojpur Shiva Temple, Madhya Pradesh

Where to stay:

Bhopal city and its suburbs are home to a wide range of properties that cater to a diverse set of budget requirements.

If you wish to be in the heart of all action, I would recommend finding a property near Taj-ul-Masajid.

If you wish for some nature and scenic location, find properties located by the lake.

And if you wish for some remote and quiet, do look for properties located in the countryside.

My favorite property to stay in Bhopal is the Jehan Numa Palace, a place with oodles of history and that was once Bhopal’s royal boutique address. The same owners have another property called Jehan Numa retreat for those who seek some solitude and quiet time.

Bhojpur Shiva temple - home to the largest shiva lingam in the world

Where to eat:

Bhojpur has a few small restaurants where you can find limited food, snacks and beverages.

It might be prudent to head to Bhopal in case you seek a much wider food choice or if you have something particular in mind. The street food scene in Bhopal is also worth exploring and experiencing.

A pundit of Bhojpur Shiva temple

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Sanchi Stupa: The 2300 year old heritage monument and a UNESCO World heritage site

2) Khajuraho: The UNESCO world heritage site that includes many temples built by the Chandela dynasty. Also, famous for its erotic art

3) Bhimbetka rock shelters: It houses some of the oldest known rock art in the Indian subcontinent. Also, a UNESCO World heritage site

4) Orchha: The erstwhile capital of the Bundelkhand kingdom and an offbeat cultural destination

5) Chanderi: Famous for its sarees, but is also known for its Bundela and Malway history

6) Taj-ul-Masajid: The largest mosque in India and one of the largest mosques of Asia

7) Udayagiri Caves: 4th century heritage gem of the Gupta empire that is home to some of the oldest surviving Hindu temples and iconography in India

8) Bhopal: The city that was once ruled by Begums and that is fondly referred to as the ‘City of Lakes’

9) Mandu: Historical city that has historical treasures dating 3000 years

10) Pachmarhi: A gorgeous hill station and one of the hidden gems of Madhya Pradesh

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