One of the most interesting and lesser-known rock temples of Maharashtra is the Anandeshwar Temple at Lasur village in Daryapur taluka in Amravati district. Built on the bank of the Purna river on raised ground, this temple built in black stone looks very much like a fort from a distance. Historical records state that this temple was built by Raja Ramachandra of the Yadavas of Devagiri somewhere in the 13th century but its purpose, construction and lack of availability of the black stone in the vicinity has raised many questions.
Though this temple is built in the typical Hemadpanthi style, the layout of the temple is very unusual. The temple in plan appears like a three-petal flower with a relatively small entrance on the fourth side. There are three sanctums and an open sabha mandap known as swarga mandap in the middle. This round structure is a visual delight with intricately carved pillars in the background while the infinite blue sky appears to be in the foreground! Another fascinating architectural detail is that rocks of different sizes appear to be joined or interlocked to hold the entire structure.
The Shiva Temple is seated in the main sanctum and supported by twelve pillars. There appears to be a common theme of yakshas in different forms seen in the roof detailing.
It is quite unlikely that you will see the array of floral, geometrical, mandalas and other myriad patterns in any other temple structure built in this time. This centuries-old temple has elaborately carved figures of sages, apsaras, scenes from the Puranas and gods and goddesses on the pillars and cornices.
Archaeological excavations around the temple have uncovered idols and stonework in the same black stone. There is some evidence that the carving on the stones was done with the help of elephants at the time of construction.
This temple makes for a compelling study for its concept, layout, structural detailing and unique designs and relief work drawing both devotees and students of history and architecture. This temple is now a protected monument of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)