The Chandelas of Jejakabhukti are considered by archaeologists, architects, artists and historians to be one of the best (if not the best) and most prolific builders Akhanda Bharat has ever seen. Their architectural mastery is on full display in Khajuraho, Kalinjar, Ajaigarh and Mahoba which was the capital city.
The Chandelas built many spectacular temples dedicated to their favourite god, Lord Surya across Bundelkhand between the 9th to 12th century. Most of the temples in this region especially in Lalitpur district did not survive the savagery of Qutb al-Din Aibak and his rabid army. The temples were desecrated beyond recognition and their stones were hauled away to either build mosques or residential quarters for the Muslim invaders.
One lesser-known architectural gem of the Chandelas built in the 12th century by either Maharajadhiraja Madanavarman or Maharajadhiraja Paramardi Dev is the Sun Temple in Budhni Narhat village.
This temple is in a pitiable condition today but the ornate doorway of the sanctum sanctorum is outstanding to say the least and makes you wonder what the temple looked like when finished. The original temple had a maha mandapa, antarala and garbha griha. The shikhara had seven tiers that were richly decorated but sadly, only two remain.
Locals say that the delicacy, charm and grace of the intricate carvings and sculptures seen in this temple are not seen anywhere else. The temple has twenty-four avatars of Bhagawan Surya Dev. There is an eight feet high Lord Surya consecrated in the sanctum sanctorum. The facial features, posture and adornments of Surya Dev is testimony to the exemplary craftsmanship of the artisans. Unfortunately, the hands of Surya Dev have been broken by plunderers.
There is an ancient stepwell near the temple where a massive rock has been placed. There are innumerable broken pillars, sculptures, niches, brackets and other architectural elements lying around. The stunning sculptures of Lord Vishnu, Radha Krishna, Lord Hanuman, Lord Shiva and others are exposed to the ravages of the weather and time.
An akhanda jyothi has been placed on top of the temple and the fragrance of incense lingers in the air. 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)