The enigmatic temple of Bhojpur is an incomplete Hindu temple situated in the Bhojpur Village of Madhya Pradesh. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it houses a 7.5 feet high lingam in its sanctum and is believed to have been constructed in the 11th century during the reign of King Bhoja. The temple’s construction was left abandoned for reasons that are still unknown. Construction material can still be found at the site, with architectural plans engraved on the surrounding rocks. Historians speculate that it could be due to a sudden natural disaster, war or lack of resources. The temple has been designated as a Monument of National Importance by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
There are many theories revolving around what may have happened that led to the abandonment of the Bhojpuri Temple’s construction. One theory is presented by the peculiar construction style of the edifice, where the temple does not have a ‘Mandapa’ connected to the inner sanctum. Another unique construction feature is the temple’s rectilinear roof which defies the typical curvilinear dome tower. These divergences have led some to believe that Bhojpur Temple was perhaps a funerary monument constructed by Bhoja for the peace of soul of his father Sindhuraja or of his uncle Munja. The lingam in the Bhojpur Temple is built using three superimposed limestone blocks with a height of 7.5 feet and a circumference of 17.8 feet. The total height of the lingam is 40 feet with a square platform as a base. It is the tallest lingam of its kind in the world.
How to reach
By Air: The nearest airport is Raja Bhoj Airport, Bhopal, which is approximately 45kms away. One can hire taxis from there to Bhimbetka. By Rail: The nearest railhead is Bhopal Jn., at a distance of approximately 37kms from Bhimbetka.
Built on the banks of river Betwa, the tiny historical city Bhojpur was founded by philosopher king Raja Bhoj, in the 11th century. Raja Bhoj a scion of the Parmara dynasty is famous for his writings on philosophy, poetry, yoga, archery and phonetics, it was during his rule that Malwa and its capital Dhar came to be known as one of the chief intellectual centers in India.
The King and his intellectual caliber continue to be reflected in the cities he built and Bhojpur is no exception, this remnant of an era gone by is famous for the historical and half built Bhojeshwar or Somnath Temple,
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple houses the largest Shiva Lingam in the country.
A trip to Bhopal cannot be termed complete without a visit to Bhojpur, however the best time of the year to visit is during the Mahashivratri Festival, when thousands of devotees throng the city to pay obeisance and an extravagant mela (fair) is organised to mark the occasion.
According to the Mahabharata, Kunti the mother of the Pandhavas, worshipped at Bhojeshwar temple each morning and drowned her first son Karan in the river Betwa that flows near the temple.
Similar in architecture to the Bhojeshwar temple is the famous Jain temple, which houses a magnificent 20 feet high statue of Lord Mahaveera and two statues of Parsvanath.
Like all great Kings Bhoj was deeply involved in the welfare of his subjects and all the cities built by him mirror his deep understanding of architecture and a reverence for drinking water, a fact reflected in the Cyclopean Dam of Bhojpur, an architectural marvel, the dam was built without the use of mortar, however today, it lies in state of ruin, apparently destroyed by Hoshang Shah of Malwa.
How to reach
Bhojpur is half an hours drive (28 Kms) from Bhopal, Bhojpur is well connected to the state capital by buses and taxis.