Vidisha is a historical town situated near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. It is well known for its ancient buildings that date back to the 2nd century. It is known for its cultural heritage and historical monuments reflecting the Gupta period’s architecture. The historical background of Vidisha makes it a tourist attraction. It lies at the meeting point of the Betwa and Beas Rivers, which used to be an important commercial center under the Sungas, Nagas, Satcahanas, and Gupta periods.

Several attractions in Vidishaare are worth visiting, and one of them is Besanagar, which has historical remains like the Udayagiri Caves, containing inscriptions dating to the Gupta Dynasty. It also has the ruins of the erstwhile shrine of Lord Vishnu and the monolithic pillar, built in the 5th and 6th century BC. Similarly, there are several ruins, theorizing the place was a trade center while King Ashoka ruled the city. It has become a tourist attraction due to its important archeological sites, ruins, inscriptions, and sculptures, reflecting the history of the Gupta period. The town consists of five areas, the valley of Betwa, the Eastern Region, the Western Region, the Sindh Valley, and the Bina valley. Each region has significance due to the different dynasties that had ruled the area. A few of the attractions in the city include Bajramath Temple, Gandarmal Jain Temple, Helidorus Pillar, and Udayagiri Caves.

The Bajramath Temple

An architectural review of location: Vidisha - Sheet1
The Bajramath Temple_©Itsmalay~commonswiki

The temple is in Gyaraspur, Vidisha. The architecture of the shrines suggests that, they were dedicated to the Hindu Trinity, later occupied by the Jains of the Digambara sect. The carvings on the doorways are dated back to the 9th century AD. These carvings are representative of post-Gupta architecture. The temple enshrines three garbhagrihas, and consists of Jain sculptures. The central garbhagriha is 2.23m long, and the other two are 1.93m long. 

The temple has a large mandapa, which is supported by 16 pillars. The mandapa has a balcony on each side and a staircase on the east. The temple was a Brahminical temple dedicated to Surya. The evidence for it being a Hindu temple in the past is the carvings of Hindu Gods Surya, Shiva, and Vishnu on the door jambs. The temple has an idol of Surya on a seven-horse chariot with Brahma and Vishnu on either side. The idols, of Tirthankaras now occupy all three shrines

Gandarmal Devi Temple.

An architectural review of location: Vidisha - Sheet2
Gandarmal Devi Temple_©Itsmalay~commonswiki

It is at Badoh village of Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh. The temple dates back to the 9th century. It has two distinct parts, each belonging to separate centuries, symbolizing that the temple had been constructed, over a long period. The architecture of the temple is a fusion of Pratihara and Parmara styles. Its construction is similar to Telika Mandir in Gwalior fort. It houses both Hindu and Jain idols. 

The main material used in its construction is sandstone. Seven small shrines surround the main shrine of the temple. Broken images of 8 goddesses, that once fitted into grooves in the platform of the temple, are preserved from the waist down. The temple has a rectangular shrine and a massive Shikhara. The temple, is believed to have been built by herdsmen, hence locally known as Gadarmal Devi Temple. It consists of one oblong cell with an entrance porch without a sabha mandapa.

Heliodorus Pillar

An architectural review of location: Vidisha - Sheet3
Heliodorus Pillar_©Dilipkumarftii1977

‌The pillar is a stone column, erected around 113 BCE in Besnagar, near Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh. The pillar, was called the Garuda- standard by Heliodorus, referring to the deity Garuda. The pillar was named after Heliodorus, who was an ambassador of the Indo-Greek king Antialcidas from Taxila and was sent to Indian ruler Bhagabhadra. The pillar is a stambha that symbolizes uniting earth, space, and heaven and is thought to connote the “cosmic axis”.It is located near the confluence of two rivers about 60 kilometers (37 mi) northeast of Bhopal, 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) from the Buddhist stupa of Sanchi, and 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) from the Hindu Udayagiri site.

The temple, was discovered by Alexander Cunningham in 1877. Two major archeological excavations in the 20th century have concluded that the pillar was part of an ancient Vasudeva temple site. The pillar also consists of several inscriptions of Vasudeva-Krishna devotion and early Vaishnavism. It also is one of the earliest surviving records of a foreign,  being converted to Vaishnavism.

Udayagiri Caves

An architectural review of location: Vidisha - Sheet4
Udayagiri Caves in relation to Besnagar, Vidisha, Sanchi_© Cunningham, Alexander, Sir, 1814-1893
An architectural review of location: Vidisha - Sheet5
Udayagiri temples feature square or near square plans_© Cunningham, Alexander, Sir, 1814-1893
Udayagiri hills and surrounding area_© Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand

These are a set of twenty rock-cut caves located near Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh from the early years of the 5th century CE. These are some of India’s oldest surviving Hindu and Jain temples and iconography. They are the only sites that are verified to be associated with a Gupta period monarch from their inscriptions. It is one of India’s most important archeological sites. The Udayagiri hills and their caves, are managed by the Archeological Survey of India. It contains the iconography of Jainism. These caves are notable for the ancient monumental reliefs and sculptures of Parshvanatha in his incarnation.

The site also has inscriptions belonging to the Gupta dynasty belonging to the period of the reign of Chandragupta II and Kumargupta. I. It also consists of a series of shelters and petroglyphs, ruined buildings. Inscriptions, water systems, fortifications, and habitation mounds of which are still being studied by the archeological department.

References:

  1. Retrieved October 23, 2022, from https://www.nativeplanet.com/vidisha/attractions/bajramath-temple/
  2. Wikipedia contributors. (2022, August 31). Udayagiri Caves. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 23, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udayagiri_Caves
  3. Wikipedia contributors. (2022b, September 2). Bajramath temple. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 23, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bajramath_temple
  4. Wikipedia contributors. (2022c, October 21). Vidisha. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 23, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vidisha
  5. Heliodorus pillar. (2022, October 8). Wikipedia. Retrieved October 23, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliodorus_pillar
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Hridya is an architecture student keen on expressing herself through words and visual narratives, hence found architecture to be a common ground that combines these interests. Furthermore, she loves to explore new horizons to stretch her abilities.

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