A most curious metrological temple has piqued the interest of scientists, historians and devotees for centuries. This temple has the uncanny ability to accurately forecast rainfall in the region! Villagers say that about 5 – 7 days before the onset of rains, water droplets start dripping from the monsoon patthar (monsoon stones) that have been placed thousands of years ago in the ceiling over the garbha griha.
The number and size of the water droplets is an indication of the intensity of the rainfall expected. Larger the size and number of droplets, heavier the rainfall in the region. Small size of droplets indicates scanty scattered showers or a drought like condition. No water droplets indicate severe drought that year.
Farmers in the radius of 50km assiduously prepare their land and make necessary arrangements for sowing in accordance with this forecast only. Scientists and researchers have conducted many experiments and investigations but have left flummoxed! The most fascinating aspect is that the ceiling becomes totally dry the moment it starts raining!
There is no discernible source of water anywhere near this stone and even in the scorching summer, water droplets appear from nowhere prophesying the rains. It is therefore widely accepted that the walls and roof have been designed for this specific purpose.
Located in the quaint village of Behta Bujurg in Hardoi district, this monsoon temple design is one of its kind. From afar, this temple looks like a Buddhist Stupa but on closer inspection chakra and peacock motifs are visible on the façade.
There is no consensus among historians about its construction. Some say it was probably built during either the Gupta period or perhaps sometime during 2000 BCE but the markings of chakra and peacock are indicative of Chakravarthi Harshavardhana of the Vardhana dynasty. Another painting found inside the sanctum sanctorum suggests somewhere between the 2 – 4th century. It is likely that successive kings like the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty and the Chandelas added to the existing structure. One thing is certain though is that this temple is thousands of years old and has not been restored since the 11th century.
The temple appears like a chariot in the centre with lotus petalled shaped walls on the four corners. The interesting aspect is that when you look at the temple from the front, you will see only one dome-like structure but if you walk around to the back, it appears to be two! The temple premises are around 100 feet by 70 feet and the main temple sits on an 8 feet high platform. The main entrance is from the east. Walls are said to be 14 feet thick which is highly uncommon. Locals say that chuna patthar (limestone) has been used in its construction.
This temple has been built in three parts in probably three different times. Statues of Lakshmana and Lord Vishnu are seen in the walls of the mandapa. There are stunning sculptures on the twelve decorated pillars and there is an unusual massive boulder outside the temple which no one is able to fathom.
The main idol of Lord Jagannath is almost 6 -7 feet high in black stone. Subhadra Devi and Lord Balabhadra are on either side of Lord Jagannath. There are carvings depicting the dasha avatara of Lord Vishnu on the black stone behind Lord Jagannath. The stone at the celling of the temple has broken into two with one in its actual place and the other along with a pillar which appears to be of the Gupta era lying outside in the courtyard. A rare pancha-mukha Ganesha idol is also believed to be kept somewhere in the temple.
There are many images both inside the temple and in the courtyard that are beautiful like the idol in the south side which appears to be of Lord Vishnu, 24 incarnations of Lord Vishnu, an idol of Suryadev and an image of Lord Padmanabha Swami.
There is an old well which is about 100 feet deep which is believed to have been there since the ancient times. The discus mounted on the top of the temple is believed to be magnetic whose metal composition has not yet been identified.
Villagers swear by the predictions of this temple and have done so for centuries. People come from far-flung places to witness this divine event every year. This monument is under the supervision 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)