Introduction – Bundelkhand is deeply immersed into the romance of rugged forts and palaces, legacy of which still echoes all around the region. Stories of valor and chivalry, which are still in vogue, are the testimonials of the splendors of that by-gone era. Bundelkhand is known for its brave Bundela rulers who ruled over this region from fifteenth century CE onwards till the British conquered and annexed it into their dominion.
Barua Sagar, situated in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh, is a small village of the Bundelkhand region. It is famous for a large lake, from which it draws its name, Barua Sagar Tal, built by the king of Orchha, Raja Udit Singh. He also built embankments around it. These embankments are built in steps style and are a marvelous piece of public architecture. A fort, now in much ruins, was also built by Raja Udit Singh. The fort commands an excellent view of this lake and surrounding landscapes. Ken-Betwa Link, a project of the Government of India, has this lake as the end point of the proposed canal to bring water from Ken river.
During the fight for supremacy over Bundelkhand between the Marathas and the Bundelas, a battle between the troops of the Peshwas and the Bundelas took place at Barua Sagar in 1744 CE. Being situated very near to Jhansi town, Barua Sagar played an instrumental role in the life and events connected with Rani Lakshmi Bai, the wife of Gangadhar Rao. After the death of Gangadhar Rao, Jhansi sank into an unstable political situation.
Nathe Khan, the prime minister of Orchha, took advantage of this and attacked on Jhansi. He conquered Barua Sagar and besieged the Jhansi fort. However he had to retract back after the pressure from the British. Barua Sagar was recaptured by Rani by employing 4,00 troops under the command of his father, Moropant Tambe.
Barua Sagar also found mention in Vrindavan Lal Verma’s historic novel ‘Jhansi ki Rani’. It was here where decoit Kunwar Sagar Singh submitted with his companions to Rani Lakshmi Bai. The whole gang of Sagar Singh later joined the army of the Rani. During the early days of the Indian Independence, the political workers kept a secret office at Barua Sagar from where hand-written news-bulletins were sent to neighboring princely states of Bundelkhand through special messengers, who distributed papers at night and came back to office in the mornings.
Monuments – There are few monuments of interest in the village. The fort is much in ruins, however its traces can be seen over the hillock commanding a majestic view of the surroundings.There are ruins of two Chandella period temples, locally known as Ghughua Math and Gandai Temple. Ghughua Math is built in granite and has four cells, each fitted with doorways, of which three have an image of Ganesha and the fourth has an image of Durga.
Jarai Ka Math – This east facing temple is the most important monument of the village. It is located on the outskirts of the village, on Jhansi-Mauranipur road. The temple consists of a garbha-griha (sanctum), antarala (vestibule) and a ruined mukha-mandapa (portico). The garbha-griha of this temple is rectangular in contrast to generally square sanctums found in other Hindu temples. Rectangular sanctum is usually used to accommodate either the image Vishnu sleeping over Shesha or the images of Sapta-Matrikas.
Krishna Deva suggests that originally the complex would have been designed in panchayatana style however at present only two subsidiary shrines, south-west and north-west corner of this temple, have survived. The elevation of the temple is in pancharatha style. The shikhara has lost its one-third part and only five stories have survived. The shikhara was probably reconstructed during 17th century CE when many other temples were constructed by the Bundela rulers in surrounding areas.
The sanctum doorway is elaborately carved. The lintel has four rows of figures. The uppermost row shows five dancing female deities, one of them is Sarasvati holding Veena. The next row below depicts Ashta-dikpalas riding on their respective mounts. On the center of this row are two images of Varahi facing each other. Krishna Deva suggests that these two could be Bagulamukhis. Ashta-Dikpalas are shown moving towards this central point.
The row below shows Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva with two Bhikshatanamurti images at the cardinal points. Bhikshatanamurti image on the left of Shiva represents Annapurna providing alms to Shiva who is accompanied with Bhairava and his dog. The lowest row has six goddesses, including Gaja-Lakshmi and Mahesvari. Krishna Deva suggests that these could be Trantric Vidyadevis.
River goddesses, Yamuna on left and Ganga on right, are present the bottom of the door jambs. Beside these goddesses are found dwarpalas (door guardians). A figure wearing yoga-patta is found above Yamuna panel, this might be Lakulisa with his four favorite disciples. There are four panels on each door jamb, each displaying a scene from Bhikshatanamurti theme.
The lowest row has lalata-bimba at center which features a mutilated sixteen armed goddess. On either side of her, on upper panel, are shown six goddesses in niches. These include, Gaja-Lakshmi, Brahmi (?), Mahesvari on left and Sarasvati, Vaishnavi and Indrani (?) on right. The lower panel attached to this lalata-bimba displays Nava-Grihas (nine planets) on left and Sapta-Matrikas accompanied with Veerabhdara and Ganesha on the right. Brahma is on the left cardinal point and Shiva is on the right one.
Ashta-dikpalas (eight directional deities) are placed at their respective directions over the karna niches of the temple vimana. On the niches of adhisthana (upper layer of the platform) we find, Varahi, Durga and Chamunda on the south, four-armed Harihara, Kartikeya and Bhairava on the west and Kalyanasundara, Kubera, Ardhnareeshvara and Durga as Mahishasura-mardini on the north face of the vimana.
Above than this level are also many niches. Main niches, bhadra niches, are empty. There is one Bhadra niche on each lateral side on south and north and two niches on the west due to the rectangular arrangement of the sanctum. On the same level we see, Narasimha on the south, Surya riding over a seven-horse chariot accompanied with Danda and Pingala and three-head, three-legged Shiva on the west, Lakshmi-Narayana accompanied with Shankha-purusha and Chakra-purusha on the north.
Rectangular sanctum, female dwarpalas inside the antarala, various goddesses over the temple vimana and a goddess over the lalata-bimba suggests that this temple was dedicated to some goddess or Shakti. Krishna Deva suggests that the temple was dedicated to Jara, who iss an ancient Yakshi of Rajagriha and hence called Jarai Math.
There is no inscription found in the temple compound, hence based upon the architectural style, R D Banerji assigns this temple to the Pratiharas and to the middle of the tenth century CE. Krishna Deva assigns the temple to the very close of the ninth century CE.
Inscriptions – No important inscription is found except a pilgrim’s record which reads ‘Padmadev’, probably the name of the pilgrim.
How to Reach – Barua Sagar is on Jhansi-Mauranipur road which further connects to Khajuraho. It is about 19 km from Jhansi. If you are coming from Jhansi, then it will be on your right side just on the side of the highway. Jhansi is the nearest railway-head which is connected to all major cities of India. Gwalior is the nearest airport.
- Deva, Krishna (1995). Temples of India. Aryan Books International. New Delhi. ISBN 8173050546
- Trivedi, R D (1990). Temples of the Pratihara Period in Central India. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.