Sculptures of Vedic Gods from the Panchapura Temple, at Pinjore in Haryana, destroyed by Mughal ruler Aurangzeb. In its place stands Pinjore Garden, rather insipid in appearance in comparison to what must have been once a magnificent temple at this site. For more pictures scroll down.
Pinjore is a town in Haryana set at about 1800 feet above sea level in a valley overlooking the Shivalik hills. Unfortunately, Pinjore is now known only for Pinjore Gardens- a garden built by the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb's brother - on the foundations, plinth and ruins of a fabulous ancient Hindu temple. The site was known as Panchapura. There are many stories about the history of Pinjore but this blog states the story that geography of the region and sculptural stones of the temple speak.
Panchpura, lies close to the present day town of Panchkula. Panchkula did not exist then, but its name describes the geography of the region. In the vicinity of Panchkula (literally five rivers), flow the tributaries of the once mighty Saraswati. Today these rivers are not more than rivulets (except in the monsoons when the streams are flooded) and are named Tangri (Dangri), Markanda (Martand), Kaushalya, Chautang (Drsadvadi) and the Gaggar-Hakra, a corruption of the Sanskrit names Gagara-Sagara. Haryana is of course the region where the ancient rishis of India recorded the Vedas on the banks of Sarasvati. Kurukshetra, the site of the Mahabharata saga, also lies in Haryana.
The architectural style of this temple at Panchapura or Pinjore, was the Panchayatana, similar to the architectural style of the Khajuraho temples. It was built on the incline of a Shivalik hill and had many platforms. The entrance was located at the bottom of the hill. A walk up the steps would take one to the highest platform where the garbha griha was located and housed the principal deity. The bottom most steps of this temple were probably washed by the waters of the Kaushalya river, one of the tributaries of the Saraswati. The Kaushalya still flows nearby.
Today the entrance as well as the exit to this once magnificent temple, now the site of Pinjore Garden, is at the uppermost platform. The ruined temple is now known as Bhimadevi which certainly is a name given to it at a much later time than when it was first constructed.
The temple ruins have identifiable statues of gods and goddesses, apsaras and ghandharvs, but none of Bhimadevi. This temple is said to have been constructed between 8th and 11th century. However the erosion of its quartz statues tell a different story. Some of the statues are heavily eroded indicating that the temple complex is probably much older than what is generally accepted. Quartz is a sturdy and stable stone and erodes far slower than sand stone. The temples of Khajuraho are carved from sand stone, yet look far less eroded than the temple complex at Pinjore, suggesting that this temple is probably older than the Khajuraho temples, and certainly older than its 1000 year known history. It is said that the Pandavas during the period of their exile visited Panchapura which is highly likely because of the proximity of Kurukshetra to Panchapura. A temple either already existed here in those times or perhaps Panchpura became a sacred site once the Pandavas visited it. It is said that the town got the name Panchapura (the town of five) after the visit of the five Pandavas. Others say that the town got its name from the Panchayatana architecture style of the temple.
A Panchayatana style temple is one where the main shrine is surrounded by four subsidiary shrines. The origin of the word Panchayatana stems from two Sanskrit words, Pancha (five) and ayatana (containing). An example of a Panchayatana style temple is the Kandariya Temple at Khajuraho. Below is the floor plan of Kandariya temple which is the same as the temple in Pinjore. You will also notice that the Pinjore garden itself, built by ruining the earlier temple that existed at this spot, has exactly the same floor plan and design.
Some of the remnant statues are placed in small rooms, others are placed in an unkempt lawn of the museum premises and look rather uninteresting because of poor presentation. Quite a few of statues from this site are placed in museums around India and are hence scattered. Unfortunately, since no one place houses all the remnants of this majestic temple, its glory is diluted. This is an immense loss to the cultural history of Pinjore.
Here are pictures of some of the remains of what was definitely a spectacular temple in antiquity. The craftsmanship of the ancient sculptors is far superior to the Mughal period masons who were directed to, perhaps too hastily, build walls and platforms with the material procured from the ruined temple. The Mughals were crafty enough to leave intact the foundations of all the Hindu structures that they destroyed. Those served as the foundations of the Mughal-Islamic structures that they laid atop the Hindu structures. This saved not only labour and time but also offered a ready made architectural blue print and design. Take a look:
|A standing Lord Shiva, Panchapura Temple, Pinjore which was constructed in the vicinity of the Kaushalya River- a tributary of the Sarasvati River|
|Seated Shiva Panel, Panchpura Temple, Pinjore|
The Temple Ruins are now given the name Bhimadevi Complex
The ancient most name of the temple is lost in history.
|The Uma-Maheshwara Panel, Panchpura Temple, Pinjore|
The Panchpura Temple was constructed in the Panchayatana
architectural style. The temples at Khajuraho are built in the same architectural style.
|Goddess Chandwardharini, Panchpura Temple, Pinjore.|
These statues are made of sturdy quartz.
The erosion of the quartz points to the antiquity of this very ancient temple
|Bust of Lord Surya, Panchpura Temple, Pinjore|
Most of the statues were destroyed by Aurangzeb's onslaught.
|Another statue of Lord Siva's avatara called Ishana. Panchpura Temple, Pinjore.|
Very few of these have survived. None are left undamaged.
|A damaged statue of Lord Ishana, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, |
from Panchapura Temple, Pinjore.
|A heavily damaged sculpture of Parvati and Ganesha.|
Panchapura Temple, Pinjore
|Lord Ganesha Panel, Temple of Panchapura, Pinjore.|
|A panel of two gods, Temple of Panchapura, Pinjore.|
|Goddess Brahmani, Panchapura Temple, Pinjore.|
|Sri Hari Hara, Panchapura Temple, Pinjore.|
Goddess Saraswati, Temple of Panchapura, Pinjore.
A Gandharva , Panchapura Temple, Pinjore.
|Lord Ganesha, Panchapura Temple, Pinjore.|
|A broken shikhara of one of the temple mandapas, Panchapura Temple, Pinjore.|
Lord Lakulish avatara of Lord Shiva and Parvati,
Temple of Panchapura, Pinjore.
|Lord Shiva Panel, Temple of Panchapura, Pinjore.|
|An Eroded Shivainga, Temple pf Panchapura, Pinjore|
|Apsara Carvings at Temple of Panchapura, Pinjore.|
Eroded Gandharva Carving, Temple of Panchapura, Pinjore.
|A panel of dancing apsaras and gandharvas.|
Temple of Panchapura, Pinjore.
|Another panel of dancing apsaras and gandharvas.|
Temple of Panchapura, Pinjore.
The Temple of Panchapura at Pinjore is also sometimes called Khajuraho of north India for its erotic sculpture.
|Fragments of broken walls of Temple of Panchapura, Pinjore.|
The wall fragments of the Temple of Panchapura even in their ruined state
are much more artistic than the walls of Pinjore Garden made by the razed material of the temple.
Another wall fragment of the destructed Temple of Panchapura, Pinjore.