Shiva Temple, Kamakandla Fort, Bilhari Village, Rithi Tehsil, Katni District, Madhya Pradesh

A stunning fragment of the glorious reign of Maharaja Yuvarajadeva I of the Kalachuris of Tripuri (also known as Kalachuris of Chedi) that has largely remained in obscurity owing to its dilapidated state is the ancient building of Kamakandla. Though it is called as Kamakandla Fort, the typical architectural styling of a fort is missing.

 

This fort like structure was built in the early to mid-10th century according to a large inscription found on a rock that is currently housed in The Nagpur Central Museum. It also reveals the construction of Nohleshwar Shiv Mandir and the victorious campaign of Lakshmanaraja II.

 

There is a majestic statue of Lord Hanuman at the entrance of the fort with an old stepwell to the right that has never run out of water till date. There are three buildings in the premises that are in ruins though its high walls and viewing galleries have managed to survive.

 

The Shiva Temple built within this complex is an excellent example of the architectural mastery of the Kalachuris. It is an unusually tall structure with interesting detailing on the external facades. Unfortunately, the pillared mandapa has since disappeared and only the garbha griha remains. Even the Shiva Linga has been lost or desecrated with the Shakti Peetam (Yoni) the only reminder of what used to be.

 

The temple and fort complex have the most exquisite sculptures, carvings on pillars and ceilings of its time. A sizeable portion of the fort is under renovation and many ancient scriptures have been kept in the fort for safekeeping. There is no section of this grand structure that is bereft of decoration. There is an old crusher that was maybe used for oil in the courtyard.

 

Locals say that this place used to be called ‘Tapasi Math’. Perhaps, it was a seat of learning and knowledge at that time but there is very little evidence of that.

 

This structure exudes the old grandeur and charm of the Kalachuris. This 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)

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