Amidst ancient ruins

Amidst ancient ruins

Travel tales

Year 2008: I was very homesick in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I downloaded Google Earth, virtually visiting India in my free time and came across this volcano-like formation. But it had no information and the internet was not helpful. I was puzzled.

Year 2016: By chance I came across pictures of a little known temple called Bhand Devra and that temple happened to be inside a volcano-like land formation called Ramgarh crater — only it is not of volcanic origin — but something unearthly. I decided to visit it and also see the enigmatic Bhand Devra.

The Bhand Devra temple complex or the remains of it is situated in the middle of the Ramgarh crater in Baran district of Rajasthan. It is about 40 kms from the sleepy town of Baran. This crater is twice the size of the famous Lonar crater of Buldhana district of Maharashtra.

This temple complex was built in the 10th century and is dedicated to Shiva. I have no idea who built these magnificent structures or who destroyed them. I searched the internet which yielded almost nothing except the name of the temple and the crater site. Also, I did not come across any ASI employed personnel at the ruins to throw some light on this masterpiece.

Surprisingly the people of Ramgarh (the village outside the crater) are unaware that this circular bowl-like hillock is a result of a catastrophic meteor strike that happened millions of years ago. To their knowledge the Bhand Devra Shiva temple is in the middle of a kudrati joni (natural yoni) and that’s about it. From a distance of about 10 kms, one can see a faint outline of a hillock amidst green fields of crops.

The crater has a world of its own. Once inside the crater, one is greeted with blooming flame of the forest and recently constructed asphalt road takes you straight to a cave temple situated high on the ridge. It is a functional temple and has no artifacts worth seeing. The Bhand Devra is about 500 meters from here and is situated beside a lake. The structure of the Bhand Devra ruins is outright surreal. Even in its present state of dilapidation, it inspires awe. There are two other temples behind this imposing structure and upon closer inspection, one can find masterpieces of ancient carvings peeping out from their half-buried state. The carvings of the Bhand Devra complex feel like the works of people from the court of Vaishravan
Kuber at the mythical city of Alkapuri.

Whatever remains of the carvings gets stuck in the person’s mind as an adventurous dream. The saddest part of this ride was that, while exploring the environment around the temple, I had to tread on priceless pieces of broken artworks. They lay scattered everywhere almost as if there was a large-scale massacre and the dead were left to ossify as a testimony to this wrong done to them in a certain phase of time.

I think it’s high time we reflect upon how we treat our historical treasures. I hope those broken pieces don’t get sold off as part of art auctions and hope the government does something immediately to secure this surreal structure from
further damage.

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