The ancient Shiva temple in the remote village of Bavka in Dahod district in Gujarat is popularly known as the ‘Khajuraho of Gujarat’. This absolutely stunning temple that stands on a small hill near Hirlav lake in ruins was probably one of the most spectacular temples built in the Solanki era (or the Chaulukya dynasty otherwise known as Chalukyas of Gujarat).
According to legend, a devadasi (temple dancer) is said to have built this temple in one night, however, an inscription that was found has placed this temple to be of the 10th century. This temple is built in the traditional panchayatana layout and is reminiscent of the golden age of the Solanki period.
Though the temple right now is severely damaged, its rich history and grandeur seemingly remains unaltered and is seen in the beautiful sculptures on the walls and pillars. The intricate detailing and story that each erotic position depicts is carved out of the famous Kamasutra of Vatsyayana.
There are pictures of apsaras in dancing postures wearing attractive ornaments in the typical enchanting style of Gandharva kanyas. The sculptures of the apsaras all around the temple are breathtaking and its masterly representation leaves you wonderstruck.
The captivating imagery of sex kriyas as they are known was a common feature in that era as temples were considered to be the appropriate medium to impart sexual knowledge. The exquisitely comprehensive Rati krida is an unparalleled wealth of wisdom.
This glorious temple was attacked by Mahmud of Ghazni and later on by other marauders who ran away with priceless artifacts, statues and idols. Even though both the spire and dome have collapsed, the impressive carvings weave many graceful stories. This shining example of the Solanki era that suffered years of neglect has now been declared as a heritage site by the Archaeological Department of India.
People throng this temple on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivarati, Shravana and Amalaka Ekadashi.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)