Beed – Kankaleshwar Temple

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Beed is a district headquarters town of the district bearing the same name. It is situated on the western bank of the Bindusara River, a tributary of the Sindphana River, the latter is a tributary of the Godavari River. Bindusara River originated from the Balaghat range, Beed town is situated at the foothills of this range. The Imperial Gazetteer says the town was known as Durgavati during the Mahabharata period. Its name was subsequently changed to Balni and later to Champavatinagar after Champavati, the sister of Vikramaditya.1 The district gazetteer says no authentic information is available for the town’s present name except for the two local traditions. The first tradition tells the town was named after a Yavana ruler who found water at a shallow depth, “Bhir” is water in Persian. The second tradition says that because the town is situated at the foot of the Balaghat range resembling a hole hence the name, “bil” meaning hole in Marathi. The gazetteer says Beed is mentioned in the Puranas stating Jatayu fought with Ravana at this place. When Ravana made Jatayu crippled after clipping his wings, Jatayu waited here for Rama and breathed his last. It is believed that the temple of Jatashankar was built where Jatayu left his body.2

The early history of the town is obscure, however, there is a very high probability that it rose to prominence after the construction of the Kankaleshwar temple during the Yadava reign of the thirteenth century CE. The town came under the Khalji rule when Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah (1316–20) conquered Devagiri from the Yadavas. The city came under the Tugluqs when Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq (1320–25) defeated the Khalis. Muhammad bin Tughluq and his army camped at Beed in 1341 while returning to Daulatabad from Warangal. The emperor lost one of his teeth here, which he ordered to be buried with much ceremony and a tomb was constructed at the place. With the fall of the Tuglug dynasty, the city came under the Bahmanid empire. After the Bahmanids, the Nizam Shahi rulers of Ahmadnagar gained control of Beed. Several battles were fought between the Nizam Shahi and Adil Shahi rulers to gain control of Beed. Ultimately, the city came under the Mughal rule in 1598. G Yazdani was the first scholar to describe the antiquities in the town in 1921.3 The temples were included in very few later studies.4

Kankaleshwar Temple – Among the town’s three medieval temples, Jatashankar, Papanasha, and Kankaleshwar Temple, the first two temples are majorly renovated leaving no traces of their antiquity. Kankaleshwar temple has also been renovated, however, it’s base and walls are original. The temple faces west. It is constructed in the middle of a water tank, measuring 278 feet by 252 feet.5 A 62-foot-long and 6-foot-wide masonry causeway connects the temple with the water tank. The temple stands over a 4-foot-high jagati (platform) leaving sufficient space on all sides to facilitate circumambulation. The jagati is reachable via a flight of steps from the causeway. Two niches are provided at the base of the staircase, these are empty at present. The jagati follows the stellar plan of the temple.

The temple consists of a mukha-mandapa, a mandapa, and three garbhagrhas connected to a common mandapa through separate antaralas. The mandapa is connected to a mukha-mandapa in the east. The mukha-mandapa has four pillars supporting its roof. It is approached via a flight of steps. Two niches are provided on either side of the staircase, these niches are empty at present. Additional mandapas were constructed on either side of the mukha-mandapa at a later period. The mandapa is a square hall measuring 21.5 feet. Inside, it is an octagon with twenty-four pillars arranged on its sides. These pillars support a domical ceiling made of twelve circular rings of diminishing size. These rings terminate with a star-shaped slap that has a pendant.

Main garbhagrha in the west
Subsidiary garbhagrha

The main garbhagrha is in the west. The doorway is pancha-shakha, decorated with purna-kalasha, medallion, lotus scroll, kirtimukhas, and miniature columns. Ganesha at present on the lalata-bimba. Shaiva dvarapalas are present on the jambs. A torana is carved above the lintel. Next to the torana are various niches in projections and recesses, decorated with floral motifs. While all the garbhagrhas and antaralas are very similar in plan and decoration, the doorways of the subsidiary shrines are less decorated with simple ornamentation. The images of lalata-bimba on these doorways are badly mutilated. These are now given the shape of Ganesha and worshipped. Dr Yazdani reports the discovery of a female statue in the southern shrine suggesting it was dedicated to a goddess.6

Natesha

Matsyendranath

Adhishthana consists of multiple moldings. It begins with a double plinth called bhata, followed by a padma, a sharp kani between two receding fillets, and a kirtimukha band at the top. Jangha starts with a band of rhomboidal and circular rosettes, followed by a broad kumbha molding decorated with niches adorned with images of deities, kalasa, and kevala. Above this are large niches on each face of the projections. The niches in the bhadra-ratha are occupied by principal deities while the other niches are occupied by damsels, fighters, and semi-divine personalities. The images are mutilated so that identification is uncertain. Deglurkar identifies  Brahma, Brahma with Savitri, Parvati in panchagnitapas, Natesha, Andhakanvadhamurti, Bhairava, Varaha, and Nrsimha among the deities adorning these niches.7 Jangha is topped by a cornice. The shikhara is long lost. There is no inscription found in the temple. It is dateable to the 12th-13th century CE on stylistic grounds.


1 Anon (1908). The Imperial Gazetteer of India, vol. VIII, Berhampore to Bombay. The Clarendon Press. Oxford. pp. 112-113
2 Rao, P Setu Madhava (ed.) (1969). Maharashtra State Gazetteers – Bhir District. Directorate of Government Printing. Bombay (now Mumbai). pp. 641-643
3 Annual Report of the Archaeological Department of His Exalted Highness the Nizam’s Dominions, 1920-21. p. 2
4 Deglurkar, G B (1971). Cultural History of Marathwada, a Ph. D. thesis submitted to the University of Poona. pp. 219-223 | Deo, Prabhakar Raghunath (1973). Temples of Marathwada, a Ph. D. thesis submitted to the Marathwada University. pp. 120-129
5 Deo, Prabhakar Raghunath (1973). Temples of Marathwada, a Ph. D. thesis submitted to the Marathwada University. p. 121
6 Deo, Prabhakar Raghunath (1973). Temples of Marathwada, a Ph. D. thesis submitted to the Marathwada University. pp. 120-129
7 Deglurkar, G B (2019). Temple Architecture and Sculpture of Maharashtra. Aprant. Pune. ISBN 9788194013143. pp. 77-80

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.