The Bhima Devi Temple is located in the Pinjore town of the Panchkula district, near the famous Pinjore Garden area. If you have ever resided in Chandigarh or have ever visited Chandigarh, then you have probably visited both these places. I grew up in Chandigarh and Panchkula. I have visited Pinjore Garden many times, sometimes with family outings, sometimes school visits, sometimes college picnics. But then I was not even aware that the remains of an ancient temple are kept so close to this Pinjore garden. Even the outer reefs of the garden are probably built by rocks from the same relics of the temple.
I consoled myself that it may have been excavated recently. That is why I would not have received information about it. No! It was excavated in 1949. I went to live near it, many years before that. How ignorant I was with my own heritage.
History of Bhima Devi Temple
According to an information board put up by the Archaeological Survey of India, this temple is the 7th. From 11th Was built in the middle of the century. It was built by the kings of the Gurjara Pratihara dynasty. Therefore, this temple was related to the states of Ujjain and Kannauj. Probably the most credit for the construction of this temple goes to King Ram Dev of this dynasty.
According to mythology, Bhima Devi is one of the 5 goddesses who currently have existing awakening powers. It is mentioned in the Goddess Mahatmya. There are 6 major temples of Bhima Devi. Three other temples are located in Himachal’s Sarahan, Nepal and Maharashtra.
It is also believed that the Pandavas had spent some time here during the time of ignorance. A small city called Viratnagar still exists near this temple. Kurukshetra is also not far from here. It is believed that the Pandavas worshiped Kali here. Pinjore was originally called Panchpura which literally means the city of five. What were these five Pandavas? Perhaps. Some sources also call this place Bhimnagar.
Chandi Mandir, Mansa Devi Temple and Kalka Devi Temple are the main Goddess temples of this region. This Bhima Devi temple located in the same area may be a part of the same Devi region.
Read more: 50 Indian city names – based on the names of the goddess
19th Alexander Cunningham in the 12th century. Some inscriptions of the century were written in which mention of Panchpura is found. Al-Baruni also mentioned this temple in his travel memoirs.
Aurangzeb’s army on the 17th. This temple was demolished in the century. It seems that this temple has not only disappeared from geography but has also disappeared from public memory. This temple probably also endured earlier Islamic invasions.
The excavation of a mound done in 1919 presented this temple again to the public. An area museum was also constructed here in 2009 where the remains of the temple excavated from this place are displayed.
Architecture of Bhima Devi Temple
This temple is a panchayatan style temple. A temple complex in this style consists of 5 temples dedicated to 5 deities. In the middle is a huge pedestal where there is a temple dedicated to the presiding deity of the region and which represents the Panchayatan style. In this area, it was the temple of Bhima Devi. The other four temples are located at the four corners of the main temple. These four temples often bear the outline of the main temple but are relatively small temples.
Panchayatan style is very famous in contemporary Kalinga temples of Bhubaneswar and also in the temples of Khajurahas.
Most of the central pedestal in this temple complex is intact. Once upon a time, the amalaka of the temple installed on this pedestal is now placed on the pedestal. One such urn has been balanced on this amalaka made by engraving rocks. Where is the temple situated between the Pitika and the Amalaka-Kalash now? While visiting this area, this idea first flashes into the mind and brain. It is soon realized that the fragmented parts of the temple are scattered around this pedestal.
A small statue of Ganesha and a then statue of Rama-Lakshmana are placed on one side which gives you the feel of a temple.
There is a cistern near the temple. It is believed that there were a total of 375 cisterns in this area. This pool is one of them. I came to know that 14-15 of them are still in existence. Three of them are located close to the water reservoir, which I was also able to see.
Luckily we met Shri Nirmal Singh ji who gave us detailed information about the temple. He also gave us information about other ancient temples and cisterns near Pinjore.
He showed us a statue made by a gray rock. The specialty of this statue was its tinkling rock. A clinging rock is a rock that produces a metallic sound when tapped. In Chhattisgarh too, I had seen one such stone which is called chinthinia stone. These are the same type of stones used in musical columns, which produce a musical sound when patted. You can see such pillars in Hampi temple and Airteshwar temple in Darasuram.
The water tank of the temple was small but its water was very clean. There were many colorful fish in its waters. This Kund was the most lively part of the temple complex.
Statues of Bhima Devi Temple Complex
Several statues found at the time of excavation of the temple complex area are scattered around the campus. The best of them are preserved in the four halls of the area museum. A few fragmentary statues are placed on top of the pedestal in the open museum. Even more disintegrated idols are placed around the trunks of trees and some are scattered elsewhere.
It is very painful to see a temple fragmented and scattered like this. The heads of many statues are separate from the torso. Still I was happy to come here because it aroused in me the hope of finding some more ancient temples in North India. We hope to rebuild these temples in future so that we can repay the debt of our ancestors.
These statues of the temple complex can be classified as follows:
Idols of gods and goddesses – These include the following:
- Shiva and Shivalinga as Shiva
- Shiva Parvati
- Nandi idols
- God of direction, like Ishaan
- Ganga, Yamuna
- Lakshmi Narayan
- Idols of men and women
Decorative statues– These include the following:
- Madanikas or beauty beauties such as lazy girls
- Idols playing Gandharva playing music and dancing
- Animal, especially plaques of yard statues
- Geometrical and floral
Statues depicting daily life – These include the following:
- Embroidery women
- Wedding scene
Temple elements – These include the following:
- Door frame
- Small Shikhar and Temple
- Portions of the columns
- Stone vase
All these point to a North Indian Civil Style temple architecture.
While traveling through the idols, I started trying to solve the puzzle of the statues scattered around. In his mind and mind he built a fictional temple and installed these idols in their rightful place. Will I also be able to come close to the origin of the temple created by the author of this temple? That puzzle was not easy.
Dharamandal and Draupadi Kund
There is an ancient Shiva temple across the road located in front of the Bhima Devi temple. This is also from the same period when the Pandava brothers used to reside here. This temple is called Bhimeshwar Mahadev, which indicates that this temple was built by Bhima. I saw a similar temple in Bhimtal of Kumaon. This Bhimeshwar Mahadev is a small temple which was recently renovated.
There are two small pools near the temple. A pool is called Draupadi Kund. This tank is available only for women. The second pool is called Dharamandal, which is designated for the use of men only.
It is believed that the Pandavas bathed here before departing towards Kurukshetra for the Mahabharata war.
I was told that in Mallah village, a few kilometers from here, there is a structure, indicating another residence of Pandavas. I will definitely see him during my upcoming trip.
Manji Sahib Gurudwara
Near the Shiva temple is an ancient gurudwara painted in clean white color. It is believed that Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited this Gurudwara during his visit.
Suggestions for museum visit
This temple is located very close to the Pinjore garden. Pinjore garden is systematically connected to all modes of transport.
There are many food and drink options available in Pinjore garden.
The area museum is closed on every Monday. But the temple complex is open seven days a week.
One hour is sufficient for temple and museum visit. I spent a few hours here. You can also visit this temple while visiting the famous Pinjore garden.
Translation: Madhumita Tamhane