Madhya Bharat is dotted with exquisite temples, forts, palaces and mathas of different periods. Each and every village in this central province of India has at least one temple, a pillar with an inscription mentioning the names of great warriors and a fort or a grand structure built by the reigning kings that is either severely damaged or reduced to rubble or restored to some extent by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The central region has always been a prized possession of Muslim invaders and therefore, the degree of destruction of temples and mathas seen here is exceedingly high. Terahi and Mahua, formerly known as Terambi and Madhumati respectively located in Shivpuri district have been important seats of learning and Shaivism from the late 7th century and therefore, have unfortunately been embroiled in innumerable wars waged by the Muslim invaders.
It is heartening to note that some temples in Terahi which stand as a testimony to the devotion of Hindu kings have managed to survive the ravages of the weather and time. One such temple is the Mohajmata Mandir that might be the Chandiya Temple referred to in an inscription on a pillar dated to 903 CE located on the bank of the Mahuar River.
The torana in particular suggests that this temple was built by the Kachchhapaghata dynasty. The entrance gateway known locally as Turari Gate is richly decorated and remarkably preserved. One can see Lord Surya seated in his chariot driven by seven horses in the centre flanked by Lord Kartikeya and Indrani Devi. There are remains of a carving of Lord Vishnu on the back panel flanked by Chamunda Devi and Vaishnavi Devi. Lord Varaha, Lord Hayagreeva, Lord Balarama, Lord Ganesha, Lord Agni, Lord Vishnu, Lord Harihara, Lord Kubera and Goddess Saraswati adorn the bands on the pillars. Auspicious Hindu iconography, figures of dancers and musicians, foliage patterns and repetitive motifs are seen on the torana.
This east-facing temple has a mukha mandapa and a garbha griha that is still standing though the shikhara has not survived. A damaged figure of a four-armed Goddess riding over what appears to be a preta (ghost) adorns the Lalata Bimba. The Sapta Matrikas are carved on the lintel. The Kali Mata who was consecrated in the sanctum sanctorum is now housed in a temple in Mahua.
The most fascinating feature of this temple is the innumerable figures of pretas (ghosts), kankals (skeletons) and other horrifying entities seen on the three sides of the temple. Locals opine that this temple originally dedicated to Kali Mata was designed to emphasize the importance of Terahvin (Pind daan is performed for the deceased for thirteen days and the ceremony conducted to mark the final day of mourning after a death is called Terahvin).
Remains of sculptures and pillars are found within the temple premises. Some artefacts have been moved to the Archaeological Museum of Gwalior for safekeeping. 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)