It is perhaps not known to many that Chhattisgarh is one of the few states in India where one can truly appreciate the natural progression of brick art and temples from the 7th to 16th – 17th centuries. This region of Central India has always been an important seat of power for successive dynasties from the Vedic Period.
Ancient mounds, buried cities, forgotten civilizations, beautiful brick and stone art, rare sculptures and temples found across Chhattisgarh makes it an epicentre of India’s rich culture, history and heritage.
A lesser-known brick edifice of perhaps the 12th century is the Ancient Shiva Temple located on the edge of a tank in Navagaon Village in Raipur district. This east-facing temple sits majestically on a raised platform and has a pillared mandapa, an antarala and a garbha griha.
It is unclear if the facades of this temple were always plain or if it eroded gradually over time. However, the entrance doorframe and pillars appear to be older than the walls of the temple, making one wonder if this temple was built in two periods namely 12th – 13th century and 16th – 17th century.
Legend has it that the builders who proposed to construct this temple said they would do so only at night. Locals say that the temple was finished in the early hours of the morning and as it was going to be daybreak soon, they left the sanctum sanctorum empty. Some say the presiding deity was consecrated while others say that it was always empty. It is likely that this temple was either dedicated to Lord Shiva or Devi but there is not much information to support this.
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)