Nachna – Imprints of the Guptas

Introduction Nachna holds a very important place in early Indian architecture. This village has some exemplary buildings of Gupta period. There is not much written about Nachna in historical records, so we do not know who and for what this small village known in ancient times. Recently Nachna’s name has been changed to Chaumukhnath, because of Chaturmukha Mahadeva temple of the town.

After the decline of Andhras (Ad 225) in south India and Kushana (AD 236) in north India, India witnessed a pause on all forms of human activities, spiritual and material. Soon a reaction followed and India started on its greatest intellectual awakening. A large part of India came under the rule of stable and cultured dynasty of the Guptas which provided patronage and encouraged the revival of human activities. Guptas were Brahmanical, so great stimulation was accorded to Hinduism. India sees first structural temple in this period only. Before the Guptas, temples were constructed like an open-air file altars, sometimes covered temporarily with wood, reeds and mats. People used to give offerings and pray in open fire-altars, however soon they desired something more positive than spiritual essence, a need for some material interpretation of the religious ideal. This anthropomorphic conception of deity came in Gupta period, and hence there arose a need of some habitation for the deity. India sees first structural temple in Gupta period only. The first temples were very primitive in nature, containing only a cella, sometimes with a flat roof. Later on an entrance porch on pillars was added into the design. Guptas ruled Indian from 4th to 6th century, however the structural architecture started by them continued for longer time, and we still see the imprints of those elements in recent time constructions.

Monuments – There are two main monuments of interest in this town.

Parvati Temple
Parvati Temple (5th century) – Constructed on a terrace, 35 feet wide, this temple is composed of a small square sanctum, 15 feet side. The sanctum cella is 8.5 feet in diameter. Though now ruined, but looking at the original scheme the temple was surrounded by four sides by a passageway is clear. This is a west facing temple, contrary to most of other Hindu temples which face east. The sanctum doorway is surrounded by finely carved guardians with Ganga and Yamuna, river goddesses. North and south walls are provided with pierced stone windows so that light can enter the sanctum. No tower has survived, thought it might be probably intended.
Chaturmukh Mahadeva Temple

Chaturmukha Mahadeva Temple (9th century) – This monuments dates from Pratihara period. The walls are plain except for central niche where pierced windows are placed. Carved panels, doorways and window work dating from Gupta era are insert into the walls; these may be fragments of dismantled Parvati temple. The curved tower and its decoration of arch-like motifs are typical feature of later work. It houses an 8th century four-faced Shiva-linga carved with remarkable vitality, especially the fierce open-mouthed face of the god on its south side.

Kumara Matha and Rupni ka Mandir (15th century)– The two later structures are notable for the Gupta doorways and columns incorporated into their brick work.

Food and Accommodation – There is not much in this small village. You can stay either at Panna, Satna or Khajuraho. Nachna can be visited as a day trip from these towns.

How to ReachNachna is 40 km from Panna, 110 km from Satna and 100 km from Khajuraho. Khajuraho and Satna are the nearest railheads. Khajuraho is the nearest airport. Nachna can be reached by a taxi from main towns. If you plan by public transport, then take a bus from Panna going to Satna and get down at Devendranagar, which is 15 km from Panna. From Devendranagar take a bus to Saleha, which is 15 km from there. From Saleha, Nachna is about 12 km. However there is no public transport available to reach this village. You can either try a taxi from Saleha or try some hitchhiking. Public transport frequency is not very good, so plan accordingly.


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