Introduction – Ratanpur is referred as Ratnapura in inscriptions of the Haihaya kings. As per an inscription, Haihaya king Ratnaraja, also known as Ratnadeva I, established the city of Ratnapura and probably shifted his capital to this new city from Tummana (present Tuman). As no inscription earlier than this dynasty has been found at Ratanpur hence their claim of founding this city seems true and remains uncontested.
Another legend equates Ratanpur with Manipur where the latter is mentioned in Mahabharata. As per the legend, Ratnaraja renamed the village Manipur to Ratanpur. Ratan and Mani both means the same thing, a gem in Hindi. However Manipur of Mahabharata is situated at the bank of Suktimati river and there is no river near Ratanpur, which made Cunningham to simply reject this legend.
There is a nice legend on why Ratnaraja shifted his capital from Tuman to Ratanpur. It says that Ratnaraja reached Ratanpur by evening during a hunt. Instead of going back to Tuman at night, he decided to spend the night under a tree nearby Mahamaya Temple. His sleep was disturbed by strong light in the middle of the night. He woke up and found the court of the Goddess Mahamaya in progress where she was present with her attendants. He was quite surprised but went back to Tuman next morning. Later in the night he had a dream where the goddess asked him to move his capital to Ratanpur which will result in his fame and glory.
In an inscription of Jajalladeva, dated in 1114 CE, who was descendant of Ratnaraja, Ratanpur is described as the city of Kubera (lord of wealth) being decked with many-colored wonderful jewels such that it looks like ocean and decorated with many temples making its appearance like that of heaven. In a later inscription, of king Vahara in 1495 CE compares this city with the city of Indra. However the picture presented by explores and archaeologists of nineteenth century is quite different. The city which was rivaled with the city of gods had been reduced to a small village whose people were living under very substandard conditions.
J D Beglar visited Ratanpur in 1873-74 and reported its antiquities. He describes it as a decayed village with full of dirty pools and marshes leading to unhealthy condition of its residents. He tells that most of the residents were severely afflicted with goiter and it is rare indeed to see a permanent residents of the place with a healthy look. In his words, ‘..all are sickly, and the town wears a look of decay and squalid wretchedness unrivalled in the district, and only paralleled by Wyragarh in Chanda district’. He also mentioned that most of the temples were of recent time though some may have been constructed at the site of ancient temples utilizing their material. Temple material is also utilized in construction of the fort and Badal Mahal, a building inside the fort.
The picture at present is quite different. Ratanpur is an important pilgrimage site and this credit goes to Mahamaya temple which, as per a tradition, is considered as one of the Shaktipeeth, however it is not true. Shaktipeeths are considered very sacred among the Hindus and attract a large number of pilgrims all around the year. Portraying a Devi temple as a Shaktipeeth will result in glory, fame and money which is probably the reason that many devi temples across India claim to be a Shaktipeeth. Festival of nav-ratri is celebrated twice a year at Mahamaya temple and pilgrims from all over India come to Ratanpur to get blessings of the goddess. The town now has good facilities for pilgrims, though it cannot be termed very clean town but it is far better than the picture shown by Beglar during his visit in 1873-74.
General Epigraphs – Below are few epigraphs which were found at Ratanpur but their exact finding locations are not recorded.
- Raipur plates of Prithvideva I – Found in Raipur but issued from Ratnapura – dated in year 821 of the Kalchuri Era (Sunday, the 18th January 1069 CE) – written in Nagari characters and Sanskrit language – First plate is lost, only last plate has survived from the set – it refers to Prithvideva who born in the Kalchuri family and is the lord of Kosala. He obtained this grace from the god Vankeshvara. The purpose of the grant is to record a donation of village Asautha in the Apara mandala to a brahmana, Joguka, on the occasion of Uttarayana-Samkranti by the king. Vigraharaja is mentioned as his minster of war and peace – engraved by Hasala
- Ratanpur stone inscription of Jajalladeva I – now in Nagpur museum – dated Kalchuri year 866 (Sunday, the 8th November 1114 CE) – 31 lines in Nagari characters and Sanskrit language – The inscription refers itself to the reign of Jajalladeva I of the Kalchuri dynasty of Ratanpur. His genealogy is traced from Moon to Kartavirya. In his race was born Haihaya whose sons were called as Haihayas. In this race of Haihayas was born Kokalla , the lord of Chedi, which may be taken as the first historical personage in the inscription. He had eighteen sons, of whom the eldest became the lord of Tripuri. He made his brothers lords of mandalas. The family of one of these younger brothers produced in course of time Kalingaraja, who leaving the ancestral country, conquered Dakshina-Kosala. He resided at Tummana as the place was previously capital of his ancestors. From him was born Kamalaraja who had a son named Ratnaraja I. The latter adorned Tummana with several temples such as gods Vankeshvara and Ratneshvara. He also founded Ratnapura and adorned it with many temples. He put Yasa as the mayor of Ratnapura. Ratnadeva I married Nanalla, the daughter of Vajjuka, the lord of Komo-mandala. She bore to him a son, Prithvideva I who succeeded Ratnadeva I. He built many temples such as Prithvishvara at Tummana and excavated a large tank at Ratnapura. He married Rajalla and begot Jajalladeva I. The latter’s friendship was sought by the lord of Chedi. He was also honored with presents of wealth by the kings of Kanyakubja and Jejabhukti. He defeated Someshvara and imprisoned him together with his ministers and wives, but afterwards released them as desired by his mother. The kings of Kosala, Andhra, Khimidi, Vairagara, Lanjika, Bhanara, Talahari, Dandakapura, Nandavali and Kukkuta paid annual tributes to him. He founded a city named Jajallapura and constructed a monastery for ascetics, raised a garden and excavated a tank. The object of the inscription is evidently to record the king’s donation of the villages Siruli, Arjunakonasarana and others, whose names are lost, to the deity of some temple in Jajallapura. The inscription mentions Rudrashiva as the spiritual preceptor of the king. Vigraharaja is mentioned as his minister of war and peace – the name of the poet who composed this inscription is lost however he was some way related to a personage of caste Kayastha who belonged to a Gauda family and was minister of the king Karna, the inscription is engraved by a person who seems to have belonged to the Vastavya family – Tummana is present Tuman near Ratanpur, Komo-Mandala, Kanyakubja is Kanauj, Jejabhukti is Jajjhauti, capital of Chandellas, Khimidi is probably Kimidi in Ganjam, Vairagara is Vairagarh in Chanda district, Lanjika is Lanji, Bhanara is Bhandara in Madhya Pradesh, Talahari is territory around Malhar in Chattisgarh Dandakapura is probably Dantan in Midnapur, Nandavali and Kukkuta are not identified, Jajallapura may be same as present Janjgir
- Ratanpur stone inscription of Prithvideva II – found at Ratanpur but exact place is not known, now in Nagpur museum – fragmentary 28 lines written in Nagari characters and Sanskrit language – dated in year 910 of the Kalchuri Era (1158-59 CE) – mentions Ratnaraja to be born in Kalchuri family and compared with Mandhata. His son was Prithvideva and latter’s son was Jajalladeva. Jajalladeva married Lachchhalladevi and begot Ratnadeva. The inscription further mentions a chief, Vallabharaja, under Prithvideva II. He did many work of social interest like constructing lakes and tanks in village around Ratnapura, raising gardens and building temples. Information about his family is also given – composed by Devapani
- Ratanpur stone inscription of Prithvideva III – now in Nagpur museum – Epigraphia Indica vol I – dated Vikrama Era 1247 (1189-90 CE) – Prithvideva III is said to be the son of Chedi prince (Ratnadeva), the vanquisher of Choda and Ganga champions. He in turn was son and successor of Jajalladeva of the lunar race. The object of the inscription is to record the construction of a Shiva temple at the village of Samba by Devagana, who himself composed the record.
Monuments – There are many monuments of interest in this small town however you will not find monuments with ancient antiquity.
|Left side sculpture
|Right side sculpture
Mahamaya Temple – This temple probably symbolizes Ratanpur in the present era. It is suggested, by locals, to be one among the 52 Shaktipeeths where the right shoulder of the goddess Sati fell. However,, in reality, it is not counted among the recognized fifty-two shaktipeeths. The present temple is a recent construction which probably is standing on the place of an ancient temple. The mandapa is supported on sixteen pillars which are plain. There are two statues in sanctum (garbha-griha) one is of Mahamaya in the form of Mahishasuramardini and second is of Saraswati, placed behind the former image. Both the images are always decorated with jewelry and clothes hence seeing these in original is almost impossible. Image of Saraswati is believed to be extinct now.
Who constructed this temple and when is not known. As the town was established by Ratnadeva, it may be assumed that he constructed this temple as well. Some people suggests that the Devi shrine was already there, may be in very primitive state, and Ratnadeva constructed a temple around that. However these stories are just to create a belief of ancient antiquity about the temple.Chattisgarh Tourism department’s brochure on Ratanpur states that the temple was constructed by the king Ratnadeva I in 1050 CE. In 1045 CE, the king came to Manipur on a hunt where he stayed overnight and witnessed the presence of the goddess. Later he constructed this temple and also shifted his capital from Tumman to Manipur, consecrating this ancient village name to Ratanpur, as mentioned in the same brochure. However we have already discussed over these points in detail above.
There are two inscriptions on the mandapa entrance however none talks about the construction of the temple. These inscription are of the Haihaya king Vahara and dated to 1495 CE. It may be possible that he constructed this mandapa however if it is true then why his inscriptions are silent on this achievement? I believe that the mandapa was constructed before the time of Vahara. Present form of the temple hides all the previous forms assumed by this temple. Now it’s a mass of marble arranged in a manner that of a mansion. Surprisingly people adore this modern construction, alas! they do not know what all they have lost in building this uninteresting and unattractive structure.
Main gate of the temple is adorned with large metal sculptures, one on either side. One sculpture depicts Shiva carrying dead body of Sati, perhaps to denote that this temple is among the Shaktipeeths, and another sculpture depicts Shiva gulping Halahala (poison) which came out of churning the ocean. These sculptures are impressive and attractive. There are two rampant lions on either side of the entrance gate. The gate leads a visitor into a compound where many small shrines are located. The main shrine of Mahamaya is the biggest among them.
Though the recent constructions are done at the cost of losing the old structures however I would like to appreciate the facilities provided by the temple committee for pilgrims. They have done a wonderful job and clearly deserve my applauds though I am no one whose applauds are of some value. Whatever it be, seeing the temple premises, you would wonder whether it is the same town as described by Beglar in 1873 as the progress witnessed by the town overflows from many quarters.
Raju Tiwari also mentions that Ratanpur was known as Devi-Khola in ancient times and later it was established as Ratanpur by Ratnaraja. He suggests that the name Devi-Khola clearly proves that this place was blessed with the presence of the goddess Mahamaya. He mentions that it is proved by evidences however he did not mention which evidences. In these circumstances, antiquity of Ratanpur or this Devi temple cannot be taken before eleventh century CE.
- Left side of the doorway – 5 lines in Nagari characters and in Sanskrit language – undated but should be of same period as of the below inscription – this inscription refers to the reign of Haihaya king Vaharendra or Vahara who was staying at Ratnapur and had a force of a thousand horses and sixty elephants. It compares the city of Ratnapura with the city of Indra. Govinda was the mayor of Ratnapura under king Vahara.
- Right side of the doorway – 11 lines in Nagari characters and in Sanskrit language – dated in year 1552 (should be of Vikrama Samvat) = 1495-96 CE – the inscription opens with salutation to Vishvakarma, the architect of gods. It then praises the sutradhara Chhitaku of the Kokasa family. He was the son of Manmatha and brother of Mandana. All of these are also mentioned in the Kosgain stone inscription of Vahara
|Kanthi Dewal Complex
Kanti Deul (Kanthi Dewal) – There are two temples in this complex which are recently reconstructed, on the same original plan, by Archaeological Survey of India. This reconstruction was done to provide reinforcements to its basement which was deviated to one side due to its proximity to a water tank. These temple were probably built in fifteenth century CE as the architecture style is Indo-Saracenic which has Muslim influence. However there are many statues studded in their walls which are of earlier origin. Two possibilities, either the temples were constructed at the site of an old temple hence presence of original statues or these statues were brought from some other ruins and placed at the new site. ASI information board does not give any information about this point and also there is no inscription found hence we are free to make our own opinion in this regard. I would go for statues brought from some other site way.
Raju Tiwari mentions that few skeletons were unearthed during the excavation below the garbhagriha, sanctum, of one temple. This suggests that the temple may have been a memorial of some king probably. Constructing a monument over the death bed of a king is not a rare practice during those times. Also as there is no river nearby Ratanpur, so it is very possible that the kings were buried near the tank. But why buried instead of cremation which is usually practiced among the Hindus?
|Brahma and Vishnu standing
|Brahma and Vishnu seated on either side of a fire column
|Vishnu worshipping Shiva
The bigger temple is dedicated to Shiva and constructed with an octagonal shikhara. There are imaged studded in this outer wall. You will find statues of Chamunda, Shiva with Parvati, Vishnu and Shala-bhanjika. There is one peculiar vertical stone with three bands. It probably represents Shiva as Lingodbhavamurti however I have not seen this icon in temples of North India region of that time hence this could be the first such representation. If true then the story as, told in Puranas, is not clearly depicted. Two top bands depict Brahma and Vishnu, once standing and once seated. There is a column in between them and Shiva is shown seated on top of the column. When Brahma and Vishnu are shown standing, they are not holding their hands in Anjali mudra however when they are shown seated, their hands are in anjalu-mudra. It may be derived that when they were standing they were bewildered about the fire column in between but when they got realized Shiva as the fire column itself then they joined their hands to pay their respect. As per the original story, Brahma flew upward in form of a swan and Vishnu dug the earth in form of a boar to find out the origin of the great fire column. This aspect of the story is missing here. The bottommost band shows Vishnu worshipping Shiva who is in form of a Mukhalinga. Anyway, do you see any arrangements or order in these statues, I do not see any hence I say that the images were brought from somewhere else and placed here.
Fort – This dilapidated fort is situated near the bus stand. From its remains it can be said that it would have been quite a building in its youth. As Ratanpur is believed to be established by king Ratnaraja, hence it is very possible that this fort was also constructed during his reign. However its antiquity before king Ratnaraja cannot be ruled out fully. There are two possibilities, either Ratanpur was in existence already and Ratnaraja just renamed the town or he established from scratch or from a very small occupation. As we have not found any inscription older than the Haihaya kings and also there is no mention of Ratanpur in other old inscriptions, it may be assumed that Ratanpur was established newly by Ratnaraja. In that case, this fort would have been built by him. It is a well known fact that Ratnaraja shifted his capital from Tuman to Ratanpur so he would have built this fort to safeguard this new city.
The earliest inscription found in Ratanpur is dated in Kalchuri Year 821 (1069 CE) in the reign of king Prithvideva, son of Ratnaraja or Ratnadeva I. It could be a possibility that the fort was also constructed during his reign. A local authority, Raju Tiwari, who is a journalist tells that as per Pandit Shivdatt Shashtri, this fort was built by Prithvideva I in Kalchuri Year 814 (1062 CE). However I am not aware of any epigraph or some other supportive material where this is mentioned. Chattisgarh Tourism departments’ brochure also dedicates the construction to the king Prithvideva I.
The fort is not situated on a high rising hill but rather on a plateau. Originally there would have been four gates but at present only few gates of the fort have survived but not in very good state of preservation. These gates are known as Simha Dvar, Ganesh Dvar, Bhairav Dvar and Semar dvar. The fort is known as Gaja (Hathi) Kila locally as a legend states that it looks like an elephant if viewed aerially. Another legend states that the main gate, Simha Darwaja, is in form of a seated elephant hence named Gaja Kila.
There are few but impressive statues adorned on the side walls of the fort near Simha Dvar (Simha Gate). These statues were probably taken from ruins of temples at the site. One status represents the scene of offering his heads on a Shivalinga by Ravana. There is a headless statue near the Ravana panel. This statue is locally known as Veer Gopal Rai’s statue who was appraised by the Mughal king Jahangir for his various qualities. It is also said that Jahangir was so impressed with Gopal Rai that he stopped taking tributes from Ratanpur.
After the main entrance through Simha Dvar, the next gate is Ganesh Dvar. There is a Hanuman statue near this gate. Main fort complex is located after this Ganesh Dvar. There are many temples inside this fort, Lakshmi Narayana temple built by a Maratha queen Aanandi Bai, Jagannath temple built by king Kalyan Sai etc.
1. Ratanpur Stone Inscription of Jajalladeva – this stone inscription is supposedly discovered inside the fort – now in Nagpur museum – 24 lines in Nagari characters and Sanskrit language – dated in year 1207 of Vikram Samvat (1150 CE) – Lineage of the Haihayas is traced from Moon and in this race was born Jajalladeva I. His son, Ratnadeva II, defeated the mighty warriors of the Chodaganga king. From him was born Prithvideva II in whose reign this inscription is engraved. The purpose of the inscription is to inform that a temple for Shiva is constructed by Devagana whose family was migrated from Chedi mandala to Tummana some time back. – composed by Devagana, written by Kumarapala and engraved by Sampula
Badal Mahal – As I have not personally visited this monument so my account is derived from various reference books. This is located on Ratanpur-Kota road and is in ruins. As per a legend it was built by Rajsingh Dev, son of Takhat Singh, in sixteenth century CE. He established a small habitat here and named it Rajpur. However after the death of his son, Vishwanath Singh, he abandoned this palace. The legend further mentions that Rajsingh started living in Gaja Kila at Ratanpur. There he came to know about a fact that he is not the son of king Takhatsingh but of some brahmana diwan. On this revelation he ordered killing of that diwan.
People tell that this palace was built by king Rajsingh for his Naga queen. The palace is built in form of a swing so that the queen can enjoy her time here. Whatever be the truth, the palace would be a quite considerable structure in its time as evident from its ruins. Local people also name is Satkhanda as there is a ruined structure of three-four floors in between this palace. There are many tanks around this temple and it also has an old well. People say that there is a tunnel at the base of this well which connects to a tank in Bilaspur, but who knows the truth. ASI never make any statements to clarify these doubts. You will hear tunnel stories in all the forts and palaces of India.
- Ratanpur stone inscription – discovered within Badal Mahal, now in Nagpur museum – 36 lines written in Nagari characters and in Sanskrit language – dated year 915 of the Kalchuri Era (1163-63 CE) – The inscription is of Brahmadeva, a feudatory under Prithvipala (Prithvideva II), and talks about religious and charitable works of his at various places. He is referred as the foremost of all the mandala chiefs. Prithvideva called him from Talahari-mandala to entrust the government of his country. Brahmadeva constructed a Shiva temple Mallala, constructed a temple for Srikanta at Varelpura, built nine shrine for Parvati at Ratnapura and excavated a tank at Ratnapura. Several other works of his are mentioned in the inscription – composed by Tribhuvanapala, son of Ananthapala and written by Kumarapala and engraved by Dhanapati and Isvara
|Girjabandh Hanuman Temple
There are many other temples in Ratanpur. Bhirava temple is one important monument which is situated at Bilaspur-Pali road within the limits of Ratanpur town. There is a nine feet high Bhairava statue. This temple is very famous for its tantra and other similar characteristics.
Rama temple at Rama Tekri, which was constructed by a Maratha king. There is a statue of Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Shatrughna inside the sanctum. It is believed that a water stream flows from the thumb of Rama statue inside this sanctum.A statue of Vishnu and Hanuman are placed in the mandapa.
Girjabandh Hanuman temple is supposed to be built by the king Prithvideva II. It is a Dakshinamukhi Hanuman temple which puts it under the rare category of temples. The main statue of Hanuman is carrying Rama and Lakshmana on his shoulders and crushing Ahiravana under his feet.
How to Reach – Ratanpur is about 25 km away from Bilaspur which is the nearest railway head as well. It is situated on NH200 which connects Bilaspur to Ambikapur. Raipur is the nearest airport. Public transports are frequently available from Bilaspur.
- Cunningham, Alexander (1872). Report of a Tour in Bundelkhand and Malwa and in the Central Provinces (Vol VII). Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.
- Cunningham, Alexander (1881). Report on Tours in the Central Provinces and Lower Gangetic Doab in 1880-81 (Vol XVII). Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.
- Lal, Hira (1916). Descriptive List of Inscriptions in The Central Provinces and Berar. Government Press. Nagpur.
- Mirashi, V V (1955). Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum Vol IV Part 2. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.
- Sampath, M D (2001). Epigraphs of Madhya Pradesh. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.
- तिवारी, राजू (2008) | रतनपुर को सती का शाप | आरपा पॉकेट बुक्स | बिलासपुर |