Lost in the rubble of the Dudhai village temple complex is the ruined Mahadeva Temple of the 11th century. This temple built on a high platform sits behind the Lesser Surang Temple.
Though it is well-known that this entire temple complex along with the goshala, dharmashala and other structures were built by the Chandelas, this temple appears to have some markings and architectural detailing typical of the Gondwana Kingdom. It has been well-documented by Abul Fazl that the desert barbarian Akbar had felt threatened by the grandeur and ingenuity of Hindu rulers and their artistic, literary and architectural masterpieces.
Like his predecessors, Akbar possessed the jihadi and radical fanaticism in full measure and went about systemically destroying outstanding pieces of art, sculpture and architecture particularly from the 8th century to the 12th century that had managed to escape the clutches of the Muslim invaders. This period is widely accepted as the golden period in Akhanda Bharat marked by the revival of Advaita engineered by Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya.
This Mahadeva Temple has a garbha griha that is on the verge of collapse, barely held together by some pillars. There is a magnificent Shiva Linga consecrated in the sanctum sanctorum.
A closer look at the fragments of the temple reveals defaced sculptures, auspicious Hindu iconography, floral and foliage patterns and figures in miniature niches. It is really heartbreaking to see a Shiva Temple in such an appalling condition. Sadly, all one can do is to try to preserve what is left of it and hope that this temple is not relegated to obscurity like the thousands before it.
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)