Bilhari village in Katni district has many abandoned and forgotten temples and grand structures of the early medieval period. One among them is the Vishnu Varaha Temple, a lesser-known architectural gem of the Chedi kings built in the 11th century located at a little distance from the Kamakandla Fort.
The temple sits on a high platform and has a mukha mandapa and garbha griha. The pillared mukha mandapa appears to be the only fragment of the original structure that has managed to survive the ravages of the weather and time, while the sanctum and the ribbed dome over the sanctum have detailing typical of Islamic architecture.
The presiding deity Lord Varaha is consecrated in the sanctum sanctorum. There are exquisite sculptures of the 11th century strewn about in the courtyard.
It is clear that the original sanctum and decoration has either been desecrated or severely damaged by Muslim invaders. It is remarkable that the statue of Lord Varaha enshrined has escaped their clutches. The temple has remained in obscurity for decades and hardly gets visitors.
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)