Kadwaha – The Vestiges of the Mattamayuras

Introduction – Kadwaha is a small village located in Ashoknagar district of Madhya Pradesh. It was a very important Shavite center during the eighth-ninth century CE as it is supposedly believed that the foundations of the Mattamayura Shaivite sect were laid here only. An inscription discovered at Ranod (Epigraphia Indica vol I) mentions two towns, Kadambaguha and Mattamayurapura, F Kielhorn identifies Kadambaguha with Kadwaha, however he did not propose any identification for Mattamayurapura. Few scholars like Sulochana Ayyar and M B Garde suggest Mattamayurapura should be Kadwaha only.

Religious centers played a major role in imparting education among common mass during the medieval period. Many temples and mathas (monasteries) were converted into educational institutions. Each one of these was headed by a superintendent who was well versed in religious scriptures. Ranod inscription mentions that Shiva was pleased with a brahmana who was a resident of Kadambaguha and gave his blessings to him. In this brahman’s disciple lineage was an ascetic named Purandara who was staying at Upendrapura. The king of Avanti, in desire to get initiated in Shavite doctrines, reached Upendrapura and requested Purandara to accompany him to his city. Purandara accepted his offer and came to his city, Mattamayurapura where he initiated the king.

Later Purandara founded a matha at Mattamayurapura. After this city’s name, the faith came to be known as Mattamayura sect. The Acharyas (teachers) of the Mattamayura sect were well known for their scholarship and they played a major role in promoting learning. Many Kalchuri inscriptions of the time of Yuvaraja I, Lakshmanaraja II and Kokalladeva II mention ascetics of Mattamayura sect and donations and respect bestowed to them from the royal house of the Kalchuris.

A fragment inscription at Kadwaha (Epigraphia Indica vol XXXVII) mentions that a Pratihara king Hariraja who came to visit the monastery at Kadwaha to get initiated into the Shavite sect. The mathadheesh (chief of monastery), probably Sadasiva who was second in disciple succession after Purandara, first enquired about the king and his lineage. After the ascetic was satisfied about the king’s Pratihara lineage then only he initiated him into the sect.

Babur in his Baburnama mentions a place, Kachwa, en route to Chanderi. Beveridge identifies Kachwa with modern Kadwaha stating that Kachwa of Babur and Kajwarra of Ibn Batuta should be same as both the towns were said to be situated at the bank of a large lake. Ibn Batuta mentions Kajwarra to be situated near a lake of about 1 league (about 6 km) and many idol-temples situated at its bank. Beveridge though mentions that Luard’s Gazetteer of Gwalior does not mention any lake in the near vicinity of Kadwaha however the Indian Atlas shows some dry beds.

Beveridge’s point is that as Babur mentions that he encouraged the people of Kachwa and bestowed the city to the son of Badru’d-din which suggests that the people of Kachwa were cordial towards the Muslims. Ibn Batuta mentions that people living at Kajwarra were mostly yogis wearing yellow clothes. He further mentions that many Muslim people follow these Hindu ascetics as they were interested in getting included and initiated in their doctrines. Beveridge tells that if the same interaction existed during Babur’s day, Muhammadans following the Hindu ascetics, it may well have been a special circumstance which led Babur to promise protection of those Hindus even when he was on a war.

Kajwarra or Kajarra of Ibn Batuta has been identified with Khajuraho by later scholars which seems appropriate. However Kachwa of Babur may be the modern Kadwaha. As Baburnama mentions Kachwa just before Chanderi so there is a great probability that it is same as the modern kadwaha.

Mattamayura is mentioned in Mahabharata however not as a sect but as a clan along with Malavas. It may be assumed that this clan, Mattamayuras, were residing nearby Malava area only. Mattamayurapura is referred as the city of the king of Avanti in epigraphs and Ujjain was the capital of the Avanti kingdom. Can Mattamayurapura, where Purandara established a monastery, be modern Ujjain?

Monuments – There are fifteen temples in sandstone construction at Kadwaha. All the temples are under protection of ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) and are named in groups i.e. Ekla, Pachhali Marghat (A, B), Chandla, Bag Group (A, B), Talao Group (A, B), Group 7 (A, B, C), Khirna Group (A, B) and Garhi.

The construction of these temples have been carried out in three phases. The first phase is represented by simple vedibandha and devoid of sculptural art on the vimana. The second phase shows sculptural art on the external panels of the vimana. This phase also shows some advancements in vedibandha moldings. The third phase shows increase in the total height of the temple.

Chandla Temple – It is located on the western most part of the village and is the only temple depicting a pyramidal tower as seen in many Dravidian style temples. The temple seems to be constructed during the earliest phase of construction in the Kachchapaghata period. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, and has Surya, Chamunda and Ganesha on the three walls of the external vimana. It has a sukanasika which has an image of Shiva on it.

Garhi Temple
Sanctum door lintel


Garhi Temple and Monastery (No 2 of Krishna Deva) – This temple is located in a deep dried up tank, near the primary school of Kadwaha. This temple represent the second phase of temple construction at Kadwaha. The front portion of the temple is hampered due to a mosque, probably constructed by Ala-ud-din Khilji as there is an inscription, found on the floor of this temple, datable to Vikram Samvat 1366 which refers to Ala-ud-din Khilji. Most probably he destroyed the temple and constructed a mosque at its place.

The temple faces west and is consisted of a mukha-mandapa and sanctum. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, who is present in the center of the sanctum door lintel in his dancing posture. He is accompanied with Brahma and Vishnu on extreme ends.




There is a two band decoration all across three walls which probably made the local people and few scholars to suggest a similarity between Khajuraho and Kadwaha. Some even suggest that Kadwaha temples have many erotic sculptures, however it is not correct. Sapta-matrikas (seven mothers) and Ashta-dikpala (eight directional guardians) are distributed across the three walls. In the niches, we find Chamunda on north, empty niche on east and Ganesha on south.



Monastery is located nearby this temple. It was a large establishment in its time. As it is assumed that the Mattamayura sec was originated from Kadwaha, hence presence of large monastery is not all surprising. In fact, there are many such monasteries spread around this region which reflect the expansion and distribution of Shaiva sects like Mattamayura.


  1.  Fragmentary inscription – The survived record is very fragmentary and date has not survived. After invocation to Shiva, it gives an account of the Sarvacharya down to Dharmashiva in the line of his disciples. Dharmashiva gave diksha to chakravarty king Hariraja of the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty.
  2. Bhuteshvara Temple inscription – Vikram Samvat 1366 (1309 CE) mentioning an ascetic named Bhuteshvara practised austere penance when the whole earth had been overrun by the mlecchas.
  3. Fragmented inscription in monastery – Epigraphia Indica vol XXXVII – The inscription mentions that a local king Gobhata came to the hermitage of Dharmashiva, the successor of Purandara, and apparently caused the death of one of his monks. Dharmashiva armed himself with magical weapons, emulating the God Shiva in his destructive capacity, out of rage and defeated the whole army of the king. However, it appears that Dharmashiva lost his life in this battle. The inscription further mentions about a Pratihara king, Hariraja, who came to visit the monastery at Kadwaha to get initiated into the Shavite sect. The pontiff of the monastery, probably Sadasiva, second in disciple succession after Purandara, first enquired about the king and his lineage. After the ascetic was satisfied about the king’s Pratihara lineage then only he initiated him into the sect.
Talao Group, Temple A


Shiva Temple (Talao Group ‘A’) – This east facing temple is located in eastern most part, little far from the village and belongs to the third phase of temple construction at Kadwaha. It is locally known as Murayat, a corrupt form of Mattamayura as suggested by Krishna Deva. It is a very fine specimen of Nagara Latina style shikara. It is dedicated to Shiva who is sculpted in the lintel center. Ganesha is also found on the sanctum door beam, below the statue of Shiva.

Shiva as Tripurantaka


Two bands run across the walls of the temple, very similar to the band arrangement seen at Khajuraho. However most of these bands have secular images, i.e. of apsaras. There are niches on all three walls, however all are empty at present. A band, over the roof of the sanctum and mukha-mandapa, runs across the temple. This band has some marvelous statues. We find Shiva as Tripurantaka, Chamunda, Ashta-dikapalas among others on these bands.

Talao Group, Temple B

Talao Group, Temple ‘B’ – This temple is located in the same complex as of the previous temple. It is a rare temple where we see two back-to-back sanctums, one facing east and the other facing west. A similar temple with back to back sanctums is also seen at Khajuraho. The temple is dedicated to Shiva who is present in the center of the sanctum door lintel. Among the statues we find, Shiva, Ganesha, Sapta-matrikas, Parvati etc.

Pachhali Marghat, Temple B


Sanctum door lintel


Pachhali Marghat, Temple B (No 3 of Krishna Deva) – This west facing temple is dedicated to Shiva. A ruined but impressive looking image of Shiva and Parvati in Kalyanasunadara scene, wedding scene of Shiva and Parvati, is sculpted in the middle of the sanctum door lintel. They are accompanied with Brahma-Sarasvati and Lakshmi-Narayana on the terminals.

Chamunda with a scorpion


A decoration of single band runs across the temple vimana. Ashta-dikpalas are arranged as per their directions. A very curious image of Chamunda is found in northern niche, which shows a scorpion in her stomach. At Kolar, near Bangaluru, is a temple dedicated to Kolaramma is famous for getting cured of a scorpion sting. This Kolaramma is a form of Chamunda.

Eastern niche image


On the eastern niche, there is a very rare and unique statue. It appears to be a combined image of Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and Surya. The image depicts a male with three heads and eight hands. He is carrying a gada (club), trisula (trident) and snake. A bird (probably swan), bull and a figure like Garuda is shown at the base.

Pachhali Marghat, Temple A
Sanctum door lintel


Pachhali Marghat, Temple A (No 1 of Krishna Deva) – This west facing temple is dedicated to Vishnu however a Shivalinga is put inside the sanctum. The sanctum doorway is exquisitely carved. Dashavatara (ten incarnations) of Vishnu are depicted on the top most beam. Below that are shown Sapta-matrikas with Ganesha and Nav-grihas (nine planets) in between the lintel panels. Brahma and Shiva are shown on extreme panels while Vishnu is shown in the central one.



Two bands of images run across the temple vimana. Ashta-dikpalas are on their respective directions. The bhadra niches have, Bhu-Varaha on north, eastern niche is empty and Nar-Varaha on south. Vamana and Brahma are present on kapali niches. Parvati and Narsimha are also present in niches.

Group 7, Temple B


Group 7, Temple B – There are three temples in this complex, A, B and C. Temple B is a west facing temple and dedicated to Vishnu who is shown on the sanctum door lintel with Brahma, Saraswati, Ganesha and Shiva. The temple is without a porch and shikhara.The sanctum has a rectangular pedestal supporting a Garuda image.

The vimana is is built in pancha-ratha style. A single band runs across the temple depicting various image which are in various state of preservation. Ashta-dikpalas are present in their respective coordinates on pratiratha niches. There are three bhadra niches, Nrhsimha on north, Vamana on east and Varaha on south.

Group 7, Temple A
Sanctum door lintel


Temple A – This temple faces east and is dedicated to Vishnu. The temple is consisted of a porch, antarala and a sanctum. The sanctum door is profusely carved, Dashavatara on architrave, Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva on lintel with Nav-grihas in between. A single band of images runs across the temple depicting Ashta-dikpalas.

Two bands of images run across the vimana. There are three bhadra niches on three walls, Varaha on north, Vamana shown on east and Nrhsimha on south. Vishnu as Vishvarupa and Parvati are present on kapali niches in south and north respectively. Brahma is also depicted on one band.

Vishnu in Pancharatra agama


A rare image of Vishnu having three heads, lion, human and Varaha conforming to Pancharatra agama is found on the south wall. Khajuraho also has a similar image of Vishnu. All the niches are otherwise empty at present except one housing Nrhsimha image.

Group 7, Temple C


Temple C – This temple faces west and dedicated to Vishnu. The temple stands without porch and shikhara. The sanctum door is recently restored and is quite plain. A single band runs across the temple however many images are misplaced during the reconstruction. It seems that the temple would have been dedicated to Shiva. In various niches we see, Saraswati, Ganesha, Lakshmi and Parvati. Ashta-dikpalas are present as well around the temple.

Ekla Temple


Ekla Temple – This temple belongs to the second phase of Kadwaha temples. This east facing temple is built over a high rising jagati (platform) in tri-ratha style. It is devoid of any shikhara (tower) and porch as both have not survived the toll of time.

Sanctum Door Lintel


The temple is dedicated to Vishnu who is carved in the center of the door lintel accompanied with Brahma and Shiva on either extreme bands. Nav-grhias and Sapta-matrikas with Ganesha are carved in between these bands on the lintel. A beam above the lintel probably depicts ekadasha Rudras (eleven Rudras).

However at present there is a Shivalinga inside the sanctum. The sanctum is quite plain from inside, except two images on its southern wall. Vishnu as Anantashayi is shown in one image and another image depicts a lady with a child, probably representing Krishna’s birth. A mother and child in standing posture are also shown on its northern wall.

Temple Vimana


A single band runs across the vimana having a niche in center of each side. These niches are empty now however it appears that those had Shaiva images. Ashta-dikpalas are arranged across the periphery of the temple over its walls. An image of Paravti and many secular Apsara images adorn the vimana walls.

Marghatia Temple – This east facing temple is dedicated to Shiva. It is built on a low plinth and in pancha-ratha style. The garbha-griha has a shiva-linga and an image of Uma-Maheshvar in its rear wall. Sanctum doorway lintel has Shiva in middle and Brahma and Vishnu on its terminals. Nava-grihas and Sapta-matrikas are on recesses.

Shikhara of the temple is lost. The porch has its own shikhara but it is also damaged. Sukanasi over the porch has an image of Surya on his chariot. Two registers of images run across the vimana walls. Bhadra niche on north has Lakulisa in the upper band and Parvati on the lower, on east is Nataraja in the upper band and Surya on the lower, and on south is Gajantaka on the upper band and Sarasvati in the lower band.

Khirna Group, Temple A – This west facing temple is standing with its shikhara however its porch has been lost. The amalaka of the shikhara is still on top and intact. The temple is constructed in pancha-ratha style. In its square sanctum, the whole place on the floor is taken by a yoni-pith over which is placed a shiva-linga.

The lintel of the sanctum door has seated Shiva in center, with Brahma and Vishnu at its terminals. Above the lintel are shown Nava-grihas and Sapta-matrikas. Two registers of images runs through the external walls of the vimana depicting, Uma-Maheshvar in upper, Nataraja in the lower register at north, Uma-Maheshvar in upper and Kartikeya in lower register at south, kartikeya on upper and Chamunda on lower register at west.

Dikpalas occupy their respective places on pratihara niches. On kapali niches are, Uma-Maheshvar on upper and Lakshmi-Narayana on lower register at north and Uma-Maheshvar on upper and Vinayaki on lower register at south.

Khirna Group, Temple B – This west facing Shiva temple is located on the left side of the previous temple. It is built on a low plinth and in pancha-ratha style. The sanctum has a shiva-linga and an image of Parvati on its rear wall. The sanctum doorway lintel has Shiva in center, Brahma and Vishnu on its terminals. Nava-grihas and Sapta-matrikas are in recesses while eleven Rudras are found on architrave.

The shikhara is lost however the front porch is still standing intact, over two low rising pillars and two pilasters. These low rising pillars supporting porch is the distinctive feature of the Kachchapaghata architecture.  The external walls of vimana are decorated with niches adorning various images. Dikpalas occupy their respective position on the karna niches. On bhadra niches are present, Parvati on north, Surya on east and Ganesha on south.


Food and Accommodation – Chanderi is the nearest town where you will get proper accommodation. MP Tourism runs hotel Tana Bana which is the best place to stay. I would recommend you to contact Mr Kalle Bhai who works as a guide in Chanderi. He is a very reasonable and adequately knowledgeable about Hindu temples and nearby sites. He can be contacted at +91-9425381065.

How to Reach – Kadwaha is about 40 km from Chanderi and 16 km from Isagarh. Take SH10 to Isagarh from Chanderi, a diversion from Isagarh goes to Kadwaha. The nearest railway station is Ashoknagar and nearest airport is Gwalior. Kadwaha is well connected via road to Chanderi. Isagarh, Shivpuri, Guna and Ashokanagar.


  1. Ayyar, Sulochana (1987). Costumes and Ornaments as Depicted in the Sculptures of Gwalior Museum. Mittal Publications. ISBN: 8170990025.
  2. Banerji, R D (1931). The Haihayas of Tripuri and Their Monuments. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.
  3. Beveridge, Annette Susannah (1922). Baburnama. Mushiram Manoharlal. New Delhi.
  4. Burgess, J (1892). Epigraphia Indica vol I. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.
  5. Deo, Jitendra Pratap Singh (2001). Tantric Art of Orissa. Kalpaz Publications. New Delhi. ISBN: 8178350416.
  6. Deva, Krishna (1969). Temples of North India. National Book Trust. New Delhi. ISBN: 9788123719702.
  7. Deva, Krishna (1995). Temples of India. Aryan Books International. New Delhi. ISBN 8173050546.
  8. Jain, Kailash Chand. Malwa Through the Ages, from the earliest times to 1305 AD. Motilal Banarasidas. New Delhi.
  9. Mirashi, V V (1955). Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum vol IV. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.
  10. White, David Gordon (2001). Tantra in Practice. Motilal Banarasidass. New Delhi. ISBN: 8120817788
  11. Parmeshwaranad, Swami (2004). Encyclopedia of the Saivism. Sarup and Sons. New Delhi. ISBN: 8176254274.
  12. Trivedi, R D (1990). Temples of the Pratihara Period in Central India. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.