Kharod is a small town in Janjgir-Champa district of Chhattisgarh. It would have enjoyed a great reputation during its golden days, between 6th century CE and 12th century CE. this is reflected in various copper-plate charters issued from here and the antiquary remains scattered around the village. J D Beglar1 visited Kharod 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.
Another local tradition ascribes the temples at Kharod to king Ashwadhwaj, the brother of king Tamradhwaj of Ratanpur. However, as per the earliest available inscriptions at Kharod, its antiquity can be placed to the times of the Panduvamshis of Kosala, sixth 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.
Monuments – Kharod is known as the Kashi of Chhattisgarh2 because of its numerous temples. Shiva is worshiped in his huge form as Dulhadeo in the village temple along with Chamunda and Shakti. Khajuraho also has a temple of Dulhadeo, probably worshiping dulha (bridegroom) was a tradition in the Indian villages during medieval times or Shiva was worshiped to obtain a good bridegroom for daughters.
Indal Deul –This temple is locally known as Andal deul. It faces west and built over a platform. Except the platform and entrance doorway of the temple, which are built in stone, rest of the temple is constructed in bricks. The temple is consisted of only garbha-grha as there are not evidences if it ever had an antarala or mandapa in front. It is built in sapta-ratha pattern, central bhadra, corner karnas, pratiratha and pratikarna in between the former two. The garbha-grha is constructed over a near square plan, outside it takes a stellar (star-shaped) plan. The stellar plan of this temple, similar to Rama Temple at Sirpur, does not reflect a true stellar plan as its bhadra and karna offsets are parallel with the major axis, only pratikarna is oblique.
Deul has five sections, vedibandha, jangha, baranda, sikhara and mastaka. Vedibandha is composed of five regular mouldings. Bhadra has a large niche enclosed within two pilasters housing parshvadevatas. Bhadra in the south has damaged image, only lotus pedestal has survived, therefore it may be identifiable with Brahma or Lakulisa. Bhadra in the east has a standing image of Surya, while bhadra in the north has a damaged image of 10-arms deity, most probably representing Shiva as Nataraja. Karna also has cult images, in the south we have four-armed Ganesha and two-armed Narasimha, in the east is Vishnu over Garuda and Indra with Sachi over an elephant and images in the north are not distinct due to damage suffered. Bust of images are placed over pratikarna and pratiratha offsets. Shikhara has survived only till four storeys, however it may have five storeys originally. Each storey demarked with bhumi-amlas. Bhadra on shikhara has four niches in succession. Various images are housed in these niches, images in the south are better preserved, these are, in ascending order, seated Gaja-Lakshmi, seated Vishnu, a two-armed seated figure and a bust of Shiva. In the east, in ascending order, seated Narasimha, a seated two-armed figure, Brahma with his three heads, a bust of a male figure. All images in the north, except a bust in the top, are damaged.
Garbha-grha doorway has three shakhas (bands). Innermost band has scrolls, next band has diamonds and the last band has large figures of river goddesses, Ganga over makara and Yamuna over tortoise. Lalata-bimba over lintel has Shiva and Parvati, accompanied with Brahma and Vishnu. Presence of the remains of stucco and the condition of survived images suggests that the images were finally done in stucco. An image is done in its basic form in bricks and later its finer details were done in stucco.
Based upon its advanced stellar plan, when compared with the Rama Temple at Sirpur, Indal Deul may be dated posterior to the former. Therefore, the temple may be dated to mid-7th century CE.
Shabari Temple – Like other brick temples of Chhattisgarh, this temple is also built in brick except its jagati, doorframe and mastaka. The temple is said to be dedicated to Shabari, of Ramayana fame, and inside the garbha-grha is enshrined a female deity whose identification is doubtful. The temple faces east and is built on a stone platform (jagati). It is composed of a garbha-grha, antarala and a mandapa. The garbha-grha is square from inside, however on outside it is in sapta-ratha pattern reflecting a stellar plan. Its stellar plan is not a true star, like that of Indal and Rama temples, as its bhadra and karna offsets are parallel to the main axis. The pratikarna and pratiratha are oblique.
The temple has five vertical sections, vedibandha, jangha, baranda, shikhara and mastaka. Vedibandha has five regular mouldings. Jangha has oblong niches on its bhadra, meant for parshvadevatas. Shikhara has four bhumis, marked by bhumi-amlas on karna. Mastaka has all elements present, beki, amla, khapuri, kalasa and flag. All these mastaka elements are finished in stone.
The sanctum door is carved with river-goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna. There mounts are much obliterated beyond recognition. On the lalata-bimba is shown Garuda holding the tails of serpents, various nagas are also shown with him. Dvarpalas (guardians) are seen at the door-jamb.
Mandapa is supported on two rows of pillars, six pillars each. These pillars are carved with images, however much damaged. Many standalone images are kept inside the mandapa, these images were taken from different other temples. The temple is placed in the first quarter of 8th century CE, on the basis of its advancement of stellar plan when compared to Indal Deul.
Lakhneshwar Temple – This is a live temple and one among the most ancient temples at Kharod. 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 certainty. This temple is dedicated to Shiva who is present in his linga 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-linga is said to have one lakh holes. It is assumed that when Lakshmana was returning to Ayodhya, after destroying Lanka, he got a leprosy attack and fell down here. Then he made one lakh shiva-lingas and worshiped Shiva. Shiva got appeased with his worship and cured him. Since then it is said that if you offer one lakh rice-grains then all your wishes will come true. Various places in India have legends about leprosy cure, as the disease was taken as social stigma with no reliable cure. Another tradition attached to the linga tells that among one lakh holes, one hole goes to the nether world and whatever amount of water you pour it does not spill over. An another hole is said to be akshya-kshidra, as it always contains water irrespective of season and weather.
- 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 of various villages for the temple of Lakshmanadeva. Based upon the identification of Indrabala and Isanadeva with the kings of those names in the Panduvamshis dynasty, the inscription can be assigned to the early decades of the sixth century CE.
- 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.
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.
- Beglar, J D (1878). Report of a Tour in Bundelkhand and Malwa and in the Central Provinces, 1873-74, vol VII. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.
- Lakhmeshwar Mahadev Mandir, Punjab Kesari, retrieved on 14th May 2020
- Lal, Hira (1916). Descriptive List of Inscriptions in The Central Provinces and Berar. Government Press. Nagpur.