Surya Temple, Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh

The temples, halls, dharmashalas and tanks built by the Chandelas across North India is an excellent example of their architectural grandeur, engineering precision and sculptural beauty. The Chandelas were a devout dynasty who took great pride in abiding by the age-old wisdom and tenets laid down in the Hindu texts.


Every building they designed conformed to the knowledge elucidated in the scriptures and it is therefore unsurprising that the Muslim invaders took great pleasure in destroying these architectural gems in the most barbaric means possible.


The fine artistic lines seen in their architectural elements, design features, sculptures, motifs and ornate pillars is unparalleled and exude charm, grace and harmony. The imposing edifices are adorned with gods, goddesses, scenes from the Puranas, musicians, men and women whose facial expressions, garments and jewellery are lifelike.


A lesser-known temple of the late Chandela period is the Surya Temple in Chhatarpur. According to historical records, this temple was built in the 13th century and was originally dedicated to Lord Shiva.


The temple is built as a pancharatha on a small platform. This east-facing temple has an antarala and a mandapa with the walls barely standing. The shikhara and other details are lost and one can only see fragments of the sculptural perfection of the Chandelas.


On closer inspection, one can see an image of Lord Ganesha carved on the lintel of the door. Locals say that the temple was desecrated and the sanctum sanctorum was left bare for centuries. An idol of Lord Surya was brought in from another temple and placed here and has since been known as Sun Temple.


This temple is a protected monument of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).


Written by Lakshmi Subramanian

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