The Kumbha Shyam Temple inside the legendary Chittorgarh Fort built in the 8th century by possibly the Guhilas of Medapata with some work put in by the mighty Paramaras and finally, renovated by Maharana Kumbha in 1448, the master builder dominates the surroundings with its grandeur, rich ornamentation and magnificent carvings and detailing.
Maharana Kumbha is considered to be one of the finest architects of the 15th century with tremendous understanding of ancient Hindu philosophy and treatises particularly the Shilpa Shastra. It is therefore unsurprising that every edifice he built is nothing short of spectacular.
The Kumbha Swamy Temple sits majestically on a high platform and has a mandapa, an ardhamandapa, an antarala and a garbha griha. There is an idol of Lord Varaha installed in the rear of the sanctum sanctorum that is of great antiquity. Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama are also consecrated in the shrine and worshipped daily.
As per historical records and carvings and panels depicting the various forms of Devi found on the plinth and parts of the roof, the temple was originally dedicated to Devi but was desecrated by Muslim invaders and then renovated. Architectural elements and sculptural art seen in the nearby Kalika Mata Temple built in the 8th century strengthens the theory that this temple was built in the same time.
Every inch of the temple is profusely decorated with gods and goddesses, musicians, apsaras, sages, panels depicting stories from the Hindu scriptures, auspicious Hindu iconography, floral and foliage patterns and repetitive linear elements. The ceiling panels are adorned with intricate carvings both in the centre and around.
There is an imposing shikara over the main shrine and a pyramidal roof over the pillared mandapa that houses an extremely rare idol of Lord Garuda.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian