Introduction – Kharod is a small town in Janjgir-Champa district of Chhattisgarh. Alexander Cunningham visited it in 1873-74 and described its antiquities. He reports that Kharod derives its name from Khara and Dushana, two demons of Ramayana period. Khara and Dushana were the brothers of Ravana and were living with other three brothers in this region. Turturia, where Jabal, one of the brother, was staying is the place where war between Rama and Khara-Dushana took place and the exact place is marked with a bat tree as per local traditions.
Another local tradition ascribed the temples at Kharod to king Ashwa Dhwaj, the brother of king Tamra Dhwaj of Ratanpur. However, as per the earliest available inscriptions at Kharod, its antiquity can be placed to the times of the Panduvamshis of Kosala, seventh century CE. As the inscription refers to Isanadeva, an early Panduvamshi king, so the town would have been under them before Tivaradeva conquered Sripura (modern Sirpur) from the successors of the Sarabhapuriyas. If this is accepted then Kharod was the place over where the Panduvamshis were ruling before Sripura.
Monuments – Kharod is known as Shivakanshi as there are many Shiva temples and a monastery. Shiva is worshipped in his huge form as Dulhadeo in the village temple along with Chamunda and Shakti. Khajuraho also has a temple of Dulhadeo, probably worshipping dulha (bridegroom) was a tradition in the Indian villages during medieval times or Shiva was worshipped to obtain a good bridegroom for daughters. There are many temples in Kharod, however I visited only few important temples.
Lakhneshvar Temple – This is the most ancient temple at Kharod and is still in use. As per an inscription in the temple, Isanadeva, an early king of the Panduvamshi dynasty, probably built this temple however his inscription is very much damaged so it cannot be said with determination. A later inscription of the Kalchuri king Ratnadeva III also does not talk about the foundation of the temple. However this inscription is very important from historical point of view as it give a long genealogical list of the Kalchuri kings. This temple is dedicated to Shiva who is present in his lingam form inside the sanctum. However the temple has seen many renovations and repairs and its old character is almost lost now.
There is a laterite shiva-lingam inside the sanctum which has few very nice story attached. This shiva-lingam is said to have 1.25 lakh holes. It is assumed that when Lakshmana was returning to Ayodhya, after destroying Lanka, he got a leprosy attack and feel down here. Then he made 1.25 shiva-lingams and worshipped Shiva. Shiva got appeased with his worship and cured him. Since then it is said that if you offer 1.25 lakh rice-grains then all your wishes will come true. We have heard many such stories where leprosy found mention. It appears that leprosy was an incurable and abominable disease during old times and many places then claimed its cure if you worship there. As per an another tradition how much ever water you pour into this lingam, the water level will remain constant and water will not spill out.
- Kharod damaged inscription of Isanadeva – Descriptive List of Inscriptions in the Central Province and Berar – undated – The inscription is damaged however mention of an Indrabala and his son Isanadeva is legible. This Indrabala and Isanadeva would be the kings of the Panduvamshi dynasty. The purpose of the inscription is to grant a village for this temple.
- Kharod inscription of Ratnadeva III – Descriptive List of Inscriptions in the Central Province and Berar – dated in Kalchuri Era 933 (1181-82 CE) – The inscription gives a long genealogical list of the Kalchuri kings. It mentions that there was a king in the family of the Haihaya who has eighteen sons. One of them was Kalinga whose son Kamala ruled over Tummana. Kamala was succeeded by Ratnaraja I and latter by Prithvideva I. His son Jajalladeva I defeated Bhujabala of Suvarnapura. Jajalla’s son Ratnadeva II defeated the prince of Chodaganga, the lord of Kalinga. He is succeeded by Prithvideva II and latter by Jajalladeva II. Jajalladeva II married Somaladevi and begot Ratnadeva III in whose reign this inscription was put up. The inscription further mentions genealogy of Ratnadeva III’s minister who constructed various temples. He extended this temple at Kharod with mandapas.
- Kharod statue inscription – Descriptive List of Inscriptions in the Central Province and Berar – The statue is of a pandit whose name is engraved on the statue. The name reads Pandit Damodara. It is reported in Cousen’s Progress Report that this statue was kept outside the village and was bathed with the blood of cocks, goats and pigs. However the statue was replaced to its original location, in Lakhneshvar Temple, by the antiquarians.
Shavari Temple – This brick temple has been renovated at later times with mandapa extension. However the vimana is still surviving in original. There are many life-size statues inside the mandapa, however as the mandapa is a very recent structure so I am not sure if these statues were there originally or taken from some other location. Passing through the flat-roofed and pillar-supported mandapa, a visitor is led into the sanctum. There is an image of a goddess who is popularly known as Shavari Mata. Shavari was a female mendicant who waited in her heritage for Rama when he was in exile with his brother and wife.
The sanctum door is ordinarily carved with two shala-bhanjikas on the door-jambs. There are no river-goddesses found at the entrance. The jambs do not have any panels but flat structure. The door lintel has a male figures, probably Garuda, who is holding trunks of elephants which are placed on either side of his. On the second lintel slab, there is a Garuda image who is shown holding the tails of serpents, various nagas are also shown with him. Female dvarpalas (guardians) are seen at the extreme band of the sanctum door which, probably, suggests that the temple was dedicated to some goddess.
Andaldeo Temple – This brick temple is comparatively small however quite attractive. The temple is constructed over a high raised platform however the platform is very small, limited to the dimensions of the temple constructed above. The temple only has a sanctum which is accessed through a staircase. Life-size statues of river goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna, are adorned at the entrance. Door lintel has Shiva in middle and Brahma and Vishnu on either sides. This suggests that the temple was dedicated to Shiva.
There is no main deity installed inside the sanctum, only few loose panels are kept inside. The design of vimana is similar to the Lakshmana Temple of Sirpur. Niches are designed on the vimana however the sculptures are very much ruined. Horse-riders are placed on either side of niches.
How to Reach – Kharod is NH200, about 60 km from Bilaspur, 150 km from Raipur and 3 km from Sheorinarayan. Bilaspur is the nearest railway station and Raipur is the nearest airport. Public buses ply from Bilaspur on regular intervals.
- Cunningham, Alexander (1872). Report of a Tour in Bundelkhand and Malwa and in the Central Provinces (Vol VII). Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.
- Deo, Jitendra Pratap Singh (1987). Cultural Profile of South Kosala. Gian Publishing House. New Delhi. ISBN: 8121200954
- Lal, Hira (1916). Descriptive List of Inscriptions in The Central Provinces and Berar. Government Press. Nagpur.