The glorious period of the Chandelas marked with their engineering and architectural mastery is perhaps best experienced in Dudhai village in Lalitpur district. Historical records state that Dudhai was often referred to as the pride of the Chandelas dotted with exquisite temples, dharmashalas, maths and living quarters for the locals and the learned built by successive rulers between the 9th to 12th century.
Abul Fazl in his book has written in detail about the religious fanaticism of Akbar and specifically mentions that Dudhai was reduced to rubble on his orders. He goes on to graphically describe how the temples were desecrated and set on fire and how precious stones, jewels and crowns were carted off. The locals who had protested against the savagery of the desert barbarian were mercilessly butchered, women and children raped in front of their families and Hindu men stripped and executed.
Though the temple complex of Dudhai is under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the ruinous condition of these temples is not only unfortunate but also heartbreaking. Innumerable artefacts of this period are buried in and around the village and in the nearby thick woods yet to be found.
One temple complex that is totally in a state of disrepair is the Baniya ki Barat. According to the locals, two brothers named Devpat and Khovpat from nearby Deogarh were in possession of the legendary paras patthar or Philosopher’s stone. It is said that their marriage party (बारात) stayed here overnight and built the Badi Barat and Choti Barat Temple. It is also believed that the wealth acquired from the paras patthar helped them build temples in Devgarh as well.
It is difficult to imagine how these temples looked when built as there is hardly anything left to see. Some sculptures, carved pillars and stones with auspicious Hindu iconography are found lying about where the temple complex once stood.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)