Chandreh Shiva Temple, situated on the right bank of the Son River is an outstanding example of a circular garbha griha. This ancient temple built in the 10th century (972 to 973 CE) by Raja Prabodh Shiva of Chedi is west-facing with a circular sanctum sanctorum preceded by an antarala and a mukha mandapa. Interestingly, this temple on plan looks like the yoni pitha (Shakti Peetam), a design that has not been seen in North India.
The locals however opine that this rare temple was built by the divine architect Vishwakarma in one night! On first glance, the architectural detailing, construction of the temple between the hills and lack of lime mortar to hold the stones together definitely strengths their statement.
The fortification of the temple and the fort that is close to the temple is in ruins while the temple has remarkably survived the ravages of the weather and time. It is perhaps this unique construction style of placing the stones one on top of the other in a specific manner that has allowed the structure to remain standing as it was thousand years ago.
The temple is built on a high platform measuring 46.5 feet in length and 28 feet in width. There is a highly ornate curvilinear shikhara over the circular sanctum and a profusely decorated sukanasi. This architectural feature is very common in the temples of Khajuraho and has made many historians question if this temple was the inspiration behind the architectural marvels built there. There are human figures in miniature niches, elephants, kirtimukhas, auspicious Hindu iconography, foliage and floral patterns and linear bands on the sukanasi.
The Shiva Pindi in the sanctum sanctorum is most unusual in design and placement. There is a sculpture of a crocodile carved at the outlet where water from the Shiva Linga flows out.
It is believed that the queen used the tunnel that runs beneath the fort to bathe in the Son River. Remains of a havan kund built by the king is seen in the fort. There is a math near the temple that is square in plan with a open courtyard.
There are two inscriptions found in the temple in an unknown language. Many historians, theoretical linguistics and philologists have attempted to read the inscriptions but have failed.
This temple is 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)