Barsi Takli – Maa Kalanka Devi Temple

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Barsi Takli (बार्शीटाकली) is a town in the Akola district of Maharashtra. The town’s original name was Tekkali as it is referred to in a twelfth century CE inscription belonging to a collateral branch of the Yadavas of Devagiri. It served as the capital town for the kings of that branch. The traditions ascribe Tankawati as its older name. The peth was founded later and as it began on the twelfth day of the month (the day following Ekadashi), the whole was called Barsi Takli. The gazetteer says the town was prosperous once and its population under the Nizam’s reign was once 22,000. The population dropped significantly by three calamities: a great Pindari raid when the town was looted for seven days, a great fire, and the famine of 1803. The population in 1901 was recorded as 6,288.1 The same stands at 30,214 in the 2011 census.

The antiquities were first reported and described by Henry Cousens in 1902.2 The Gazetteer of the Akola district composed in 1910 follows the description provided by Cousens and adds a few other details.3 J F Blakiston visited the village in April 1913 and added a few more details to the previous accounts.4 Naik was the last scholar who covered the temples in detail in his Ph.D thesis in 1947.5 After this, not much has been written about the town and its monuments.

Maa Kalanka Devi Temple – The earlier accounts mention the temple was dedicated to the goddess Bhawani and was known by the same name. The main entrance to the temple is on the north through a mandapa. Contrary to the usual temple plans where a mandapa lies on the same axis as the main garbhagrha, the mandapa in this temple is at the right angle to the garbhagrha. The exterior plan of the mandapa is rectangular. It is closed on two sides, east and south. The northern side, where an entrance is provided, is partially open with a gap between the beams and half-walls. These half-walls have seats with back benches. On the benches are two pillars and two pilasters supporting the beam above.

The interior plan of the mandapa is almost square. It has four pillars in the center carrying a dome ceiling composed of cusped rectangular blocks of decreasing size. The central pillars are exquisitely carved and decorated. The shaft is octagonal and retains the same shape tapering upwards. The capitals support bharavhaka (or kichaka) brackets with hands raised to support the beam above. The wall in the south has a series of seven niches. The walls in the east and west also have niches. All these niches are empty. The seven niches in the south wall probably were meant to have Sapta-matrika images as the temple is dedicated to goddess Bhavani. An antarala in the west end of the mandapa connects to the garbhagrha. A niche is provided on both the side walls of the antarala. These niches are empty at present. An altar niche is present inside the garbhagrha. The exterior plan of the garbhagrha is star-shaped.

The pitha moldings are badly damaged. The jangha starts with three heavy courses of kumuda moldings. The lowermost molding has niches on its faces with images of deities inside. The molding above the uppermost kumuda has a triangular spade-like motif in the front. Above this molding starts a band of images carrying images of various goddesses accompanied by attendants, dancers, etc. Another molding similar to kumbha separates the lower band of sculptures from the upper band. The upper band is smaller in size and carries small images. Above it rises a molding followed by a cornice. Below the cornice are flying gandharvas. Above the cornice is a frieze with pillared divisions, each division contains three figures representing dancers, musicians, mithuna couples, and attendants.

This temple is among the very few dated temples in Maharashtra, thus helps in fixing the chronology of the other temples. An inscription found in situ in the temple is dated 1176 CE which may be taken as the construction year of the temple.

Inscriptions – One inscription has been reported from the temple, details are below:

  1. Barsi Takli Inscription – The inscription is composed in Sanskrit however it is much damaged as half of the stone is pealed vertically. In line 3 is mentioned the son of Malugideva, line 6 King Hemadrideva, Later is mentioned Tekkali rajadhani (capital) which is said to have been made sacred like Varanasi by the pious act of somebody whose name is lost. Some more names are found in the next lines, Dayama, Bhillama, whose son was Palama, and his son Maila. Many of the names mentioned in the inscription are historically known. Malugideva was one of the Yadava kings of Devagiri. His son was Amaraganga, and the context of the inscription suggests that the latter was defeated in some war. Bhillama was the grandson of Maulgi and his reign can be placed in 1187-1191 CE. The descendants of Bhillama as mentioned in our inscription do not share the paramount titles taken by Bhillama, therefore it is apparent that this line of rulers represents a collateral branch of the Yadavas that ruled from Tekkali as their capital. The inscription carries the date Saka 1098, equivalent to 1176 CE.

1 Central Provinces And Berar District Gazetteers – Akola District (1910). p. 314
2 Progres Report of the Archaeological Survey of Western India for the year ending June 30th, 1902.
3 Central Provinces And Berar District Gazetteers – Akola District (1910). pp. 314-15
4 Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India, Eastern Circle, for 1912-13. pp. 42-43
5 Naik, A V (1947). Structural Architecture of the Deccan published in the New Indian Antiquary vol. 9, no. 7-12, July-December 1947. Karnatak Publishing House. Bombay. pp. 297-299
6 Lal, Hira (1916). Descriptive Lists of Inscriptions in the Central Provinces and Berar. The Government Press. Nagpur. pp. 133-134

Acknowledgment: Some of the photos above are in CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain from the collection released by the Tapesh Yadav Foundation for Indian Heritage.