Between 1001 and 1500 CE, Kachchhapaghata, Madhya Pradesh

Padhavali – Where Gods Come to Play

Introduction – This otherwise nondescript village is famous for its only surviving architectural marvel, a Shiva temple fortified inside a fortress, locally known as Garhi. The old name of the village seems to be Dharon1. As per a legend, it was part of a large city constituted by three villages, the other two were Kutwar (ancient Kantipuri) and Suhaniya (ancient Simhapaniya). However, there is no physical evidences to support this legend.

According to the above legend, the history of Padhavali can be put contemporary to that of Kantipuri, the latter served as one of the three capitals of the Nagas during the 3rd-4th century CE. It may be that the Nagas of Kantipuri had Padhavali in their dominion and thus the town can be connected with the Nagas. However, we are devoid of any physical evidence to support this connection. A 7th century CE inscription, mentioned below, shows that the town was known as Padhavali during that period.

The definitive antiquity of the village can be traced back to sixth century CE based upon a Neminatha2 sculpture found here and now housed in the Gwalior Museum. Among the other finds were numerous Jain images, which also suggests that Padhavali was an important Jain center during that period. Among these other Jain icons, few to mention are Parshvanatha3, Ajitanatha4, Sambhavanatha5, Chandraprabha6 and Shantinatha7.

The region would have been under the rule of the Pratiharas before it got transferred to the Chandelas and finally to the Kachhapaghatas. The Kachhapaghatas built a Shiva temple at the site making it among their prominent pilgrimage centers. The temple has survived with its mandapas, as a mute witness of the glory of that period.

Among the various Kachhapaghata marvels, mention of two Sadashiva images must be made. Trivedi8 mentioned that these two were housed in Archaeological Museum Gwalior. and now housed in the Gwalior Musuem. Willis & Maroo9 describes one of the image which is currently housed in Bhopal State Museum. It may be that one image was transferred from Gwalior museum to Bhopal Museum. Both the images have three faces, representing Tatpurusha, Vamadeva and Aghora aspect to Shiva.

One of the image, described by Banerjee10, has three faces, the left face is feminine holding a mirror, while the central and right face have masculine features, representing Tatpurusha and Aghora respectively. Krishna Kumar11 differs with the opinion of Banerjee on the identification of the three heads, he asserts that the three faces represent Aghora, Sadyojata and Vamadeva aspect of Shiva.

The town takes a time leap when it finds itself with the Jat rulers of Dholpur in the first half of the 18th century CE. The Jats constructed a fortress here thus stationing a small army to keep vigil around their dominions.

Inscriptions – Few inscriptions12 have been found in and around Padhavali area which are enumerated below.

  1. On a memorial stone – Inscriptions of Gopaksetra p 117 – 1 line on each face of stele in shell characters  – undeciphered – based upon its sculpture, datable to 7th century CE
  2. On a small slab in the floor of the fort – Inscriptions of Gopaksetra p 118 – fragment of one line in shell characters – undeciphered
  3. On a memorial stone – Inscriptions of Gopaksetra p 118 – 1 line, old Nagari characters, Sanskrit language – Eulogy of a chief, mentions Padhavali – datable to 8th century CE
  4. On a memorial stone – Inscriptions of Gopaksetra p 118 – 1 line, Sanskrit language – reads Pratiharatirtha – datable to 9th century CE
  5. On a memorial stone – Inscriptions of Gopaksetra p 118 – 1 line, Sanskrit language – reads ‘[ce]ghataachuna’ – datable to 9th century CE
  6. On a memorial stone – Inscriptions of Gopaksetra p 118 – no of lines not known, Sanskrit language – purpose not clear – datable to 9th century CE
  7. On a memorial stone – Inscriptions of Gopaksetra p 118 – no of lines not known, Sanskrit language – damaged and fragmentary – datable to 9th century CE
  8. On a pillar near the fort – Inscriptions of Gopaksetra p 118 – no of lines not known, Sanskrit language – damaged and fragmentary – datable to 9th century CE

Monuments – The only monument of interest is a Shiva temple situated inside a garhi (fortress).

Garhi

Entrance

Garhi (Fortress) – This fortress was constructed by the Jat Ranas of Dholpur in the 18th century CE13. It is oblong in structure and consists of two different parts, upper courtyard and lower courtyard. The upper courtyard has a Shiva temple while the lower courtyard has a step-well.

With its two bastions in the front, the fortress gives a majestic appearance to a visitor. It can reached with along flight of steps, at the base of which two lions are placed. The original lions are in Gwalior museum, the ones here are the replicas.

Mandapa Architraves

Pillar arrangement in Mandapa

Shiva Temple – This Shiva temple is now located inside the fortress described above. It has been associated to Kachhapaghata rulers however there is no definitive inscription to support this. It faces east and survived only with its mukha-mandapa and ranga-mandapa. It is constructed over a high rising platform.

Chamunda Panel

The temple is entered through its mukha-mandapa which is supported on two pillars. The rangamandapa has twenty-four pillars in total. Sixteen pillars are in fact half-pillars which are supported on a parapet wall running around the mandapa. This provides seats protruding inside the temple. Also, it results in an open mandapa allowing ample sunlight to enter. The central part of the mandapa is supported on eight pillars.

Shiva

Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu

Surya

Profusion of icons are encountered all around the temple, on all its architectural elements, be it pillars, beams, architraves and ceiling. Beams on the four cardinal directions displays maximum of carvings, showcasing Chamunda, Shiva, Surya and Hindu Trinity.

Trivikrama Panel

Dashavatara Panel

There is an overcrowd of mythological icons, some important ones are Krishna lila panel, Shivalinga worship panel, Dashavatara panel, Shiva-Parvati marriage panel, Sapta-matrika panel and Nava-grhas panel. Various scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata are also found.

The sanctum of the temple has not survived. Cunningham14 mentions that only the pillars of the sanctum have remained. Based upon the prominence given to Shiva and related deities, it would be certain that the temple was dedicated to Shiva.

How to Reach – Padhavali is in Morena district of Madhya Pradesh. Morena is a railway head and can be reached from major town. It lies of Agra-Gwalior highway therefore can also be easily reached via road. The village is tagged on Google maps, finding it would not be very difficult. No accommodation in the village, stay at Morena, Agra or Gwalior.


References:

1 Ayyar, Sulochana (1987). Costumes and Ornaments as Depicted in the Sculptures of Gwalior Museum. Mittal Publication. New Delhi. ISBN 8170990025. pp 19-20
2 Shah, U P (1987). Jaina-Rupa-Mandana. Abhinav Publications. New Delhi. ISBN 8170172187. p 168
3 Shah, U P (1987). Jaina-Rupa-Mandana. Abhinav Publications. New Delhi. ISBN 8170172187. p 181
4 Shah, U P (1987). Jaina-Rupa-Mandana. Abhinav Publications. New Delhi. ISBN 8170172187. p 131
5 Shah, U P (1987). Jaina-Rupa-Mandana. Abhinav Publications. New Delhi. ISBN 8170172187. p 131
6 Shah, U P (1987). Jaina-Rupa-Mandana. Abhinav Publications. New Delhi. ISBN 8170172187. p 143
7 Shah, U P (1987). Jaina-Rupa-Mandana. Abhinav Publications. New Delhi. ISBN 8170172187. p 155
8 Trivedi, R D (1990). Temples of the Pratihara Period. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 30
9 Willis, Maroo & Misra (2010). The Chambal Valley – A Heritage Treasure. Bookwell. New Delhi. ISBN 9789380574011. p 194
10 Banerjee, J N (1956). Development of Hindu Iconography. University of Calcutta. Kolkata. p 477
11 Krishna Kumar. A Dhyāna-Yoga Maheśamūrti, and Some Reflections on the Iconography of the Maheśamūrti-Images. Artibus Asiae Vol. 37, No. 1/2 (1975), pp. 105-120
12 Willis, Micheal (1996). Inscriptions of Gopaksetra. British Museum Press. London. ISBN 0714114758. pp 117-118
13 Willis, Maroo & Misra (2010). The Chambal Valley – A Heritage Treasure. Bookwell. New Delhi. ISBN 9789380574011. p 165
14 Cunningham, Alexander (1872). report of a Tour in Eastern Rajputana, vol XX. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. pp 107-110

  • Prof. Deena Bandhu Pandey

    Very attractive and interesting. Would you please like to get it published in our Journal STHAPATYAM (Journal of the Indian Science of Architecture) published from Delhi (also referable on Facebook and on NET http://www.sthapatyam.com).