When one hears the name Morena, the first image that comes to mind is of turbaned dacoits on horses, dressed in all black, holding guns in their hands, and galloping through the ravines while leaving a trail of dust in their wake. However, this cannot be the only reason the place is famous, as dacoits are no longer a problem here as they were. The architecture is stunning and deserves a mention.

This northernmost district of Madhya Pradesh is situated at an altitude that provides a variety in geography with lakes, rivers, ravines and hills crisscrossing its length and breadth. Being present amidst the Chambal river along with numerous seasonal and perennial rivers creating an undulating terrain of muddy cliffs, Morena has breathtaking architectural marvels which not only serve as a preservation of culture and heritage to showcase the world but also contribute to the ground inspiration for modern architecture in India.

Invasion and victory

Morena has been ruled by various rulers and has a vast history of wars to win. Being under the rule of Naga kings in the third and fourth centuries to Akbar in the 18th century and finally a separate district, as a result of the reorganization of states and the formation of new Madhya Pradesh, this place preserved its forts and temples for the generations to come and see the growth that has taken place and appreciate the historical achievements.

As one of the places in India with a tremendous amount of visual tribal culture, it is home to nine great monuments with great antiquity; five of which are colossal, built by great dynasties such as the Gurjara-Pratiharas, the Kachhapaghatas, and so on. It was an epicentre of Hindu temple architecture, with a rich architectural heritage.

Morena is surrounded by scenic delights and plains, such as the Chambal river in the north, the fertile plains of the Ganga-Yamuna doab in the north and east, and the semi-arid lands of Rajasthan in the west. This region was difficult to invade and leave a mark on because it was surrounded by forests, river valleys, hills, and scrublands.

Introduction to Architectural History

The Gurjara-Pratihara rulers saw an ideal opportunity for creating architectural marvels in the rock cliffs, deep ravines, and secluded cave systems that provided ideal areas for the quiet activity of temple building, which sometimes took decades, between the 7th and 12th centuries. Morena experienced a golden age of temple construction during this time, and the majority of its most significant monuments were built.

Morena’s ravines became a haven for guerrilla activity in the twentieth century, and it became famous for its legendary dacoits. Morena is now well-known for its business and commercial district. Many industries are active in Morena and Morena District’s industrial areas.

The Historical Built

Kakan math temple

At Sihoniya, the Khajuraho-inspired Shiv temple was built by the Kachwaha king Kirtiraj. This temple, known as “Kakan Math,” was constructed without the aid of adhesives. The location once housed a complex of four subsidiary shrines surrounding a central temple. The main temple’s outside walls, balconies, and a portion of its spire are currently all that remains of it. The temple now rests on an elaborate base (pitha). The structure has two halls, a vestibule, and a sanctum (gudha-mandapa and mukha-mandapa). Three transepts make up the circumambulatory circuit around the sanctum. The gudha-mandapa features four clusters of pillars, each with four pillars, and lateral transepts. The four clusters of the gudha-mandapa are aligned with the four pillars that make up the vestibule. 

An architectural review of location: Morena, Madhya Pradesh, India - Sheet1
Kakanmath Temple_©taleof2backpackers

Bateshwar temple complex in Padawali

The Gurjara-Pratiharas built several Bateshar temples in this area, which can still be seen presently. A magnificent ancient Vishnu temple stood here, which was later converted into a large ‘Garhi.’ This temple’s terrace, courtyard, and assembly hall epitomise ancient culture. The standing statue of a lion on the ruined gate suggests that he once stood guard at the temple’s gate with his companion. More than fifty monuments of various types can be found from Padawali to the valley of Bhuteshwar.

An architectural review of location: Morena, Madhya Pradesh, India - Sheet2
Bateshwar Group of Temples _©Madhya Pradesh Toursim

Chausath Yogini Temple at Mitavli in Morena district – Mitawali

On the 100-foot-high mountain to the north of Naresar lies a temple with 64 yoginis. It is a beautiful circular building with a 170-foot (52-meter) radius that is designed in the manner of Delhi‘s Parliament House. The temple has 64 chambers attached to the circular verandah, as well as a sizable courtyard. Lord Shiva and Lord Anuranjan’s circular temple is located in the centre of the temple.

Chausath Yogini Temple_©Mukul Banerjee

Sabalgarh Fort

The fort at Sabalgarh is one of the most captivating structures from the middle ages. The intriguing setting is enhanced by the exquisite “Bandh” that was constructed behind the fort during the Scindia era. In the past, Sabla, a “Gujar,” laid the cornerstone of Sabalgarh. Gopal Singh, the Raja of Karoli, built the fort atop a moderately tall cliff. To maintain control over this robustly constructed fort, Sikandar Lodhi dispatched a large force. The Marathas once more conquered it during their expedition in northern India and returned it to the king of Karoli. However, Khande Rao, whose large home still stands there, took it from him once more in the year 1795 A.D. During his rule, Lord Vallejali Daulat Rao Scindia (1764–1837) resided at the Fort of Gwalior. In the years 1804-5, the English took control of it. The region surrounding this fort was annexed by the Scindia kingdom in 1809.

Morena is no longer a place that is remembered for dacoits or guerrilla activities. It is now about culture, heritage and preservation of the past that makes one cherish the history and derive inspiration for the upcoming.

REFERENCE 

Amrita, A. (2020) Kakanmath Temple, hidden gem of Morena – ruins that defy gravity: T2B, Tale of 2 Backpackers. Available at: https://www.taleof2backpackers.com/kakanmath-temple-morena/ (Accessed: October 23, 2022).

District Morena (no date) हिन्दी. Available at: https://morena.nic.in/en/ (Accessed: October 23, 2022).

Kakanmath (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakanmath (Accessed: October 23, 2022).

Pahargarh Caves (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pahargarh_caves (Accessed: October 23, 2022).

Saxena, P. and Pankaj Saxena Pankaj Saxena is a scholar of History (2020) Morena: The Architectural Workshop of the gurjara-pratiharas, Indiafacts. Available at: https://www.indiafacts.org.in/morena-the-architectural-workshop-of-the-gurjara-pratiharas/ (Accessed: October 23, 2022). 

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An architecture student, always looking for something new by being a part of everything creative to express herself in every form. Being heard and able to deliver a great word has always been her bent. An old soul who believes that a conversation about changing for the better can accomplish a lot.

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