Gyaraspur – a drive through history on 24th March 2019
Gyaraspur is a small town in Madhya Pradesh on Sagar Bhopal road, 114 km from Sagar and 38 km before Sanchi. On the same route is Kasba Bagrod, some 60 km from Sagar. Though I have travelled this road many times before, this was the first time I explored the history that dots the route.
Kasba Bagrod has a step well ( bawadi) which according to folk lore always existed. Some believe that it is over 700 years old. We stopped to check it out. The locals still take water from this step well though it has been fitted with multiple pumps to supply drinking water to nearly localities. Being close to the highway, the well has been covered. As per stories there the step well was constructed due to insistence of the daughter of a rich man who did not want any jewels or property from her father for her wedding but the well so that the village folk would not have to walk to distant places to fetch water. Don’t know if the story is authentic! The well is serving the locals even today!
Another 40 km down the road is Gyaraspur. In olden days the north south corridor cut though this town. Today, it is a small insignificant town, best known as an archeological site with some very beautiful structures from the 9th and 10th century which have stood the test of time. The temples were perhaps Vishnu temples originally and later became Jain temples. There is a lot of similarity with Khajuraho temples as far as the overall structure goes and the carvings of the dancer statues on top of the doorways.
We first stopped at Maladevi temple which is a Jain temple with hindu gods carved on the outside. It is built on the eastern side of a hill and is almost embedded into it. It was struck by lighting and hence not open to public from inside. The statues of lord Mahavir are visible from outside as good amount of light streams in. The carvings outside are still intact and fairly intricate. Even the rocks near the temple have some carvings. The temple is on a hill and overlooks a valley full of farms. At this time they were mostly dry as the wheat had stated ripening and some had already been harvested.
Very close by is the archaeological site for the famous Hindola Toran and Arch from the 9th century. The nine avatars of Vishnu are carved on the pillars of the toran. The carvings on these two surviving structures is intricate. Besides the two structures, the place is full of carved stones which would have belonged to a temple structure. Many of the intricately carved broken pillars, beams and statues etc been collected and piled up around the arch. In any other country there would have been effort to restore the temple. There is a museum close by which houses the more preserved status etc. But it was closed on account of holiday.
Within the city there are 2 other sites. The first one has two carved set of arches next to each other. They could be just chattris or pillar structure of an old temple. The second one was Brijmath, a 10th century temple. The temple has carvings of Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma on the outside but was later converted to a Jain temple. The area was closed so we could not get a look inside.
In just about an hour I had got a great tour of architecture from 9th and 10th centuries! Close to Sanchi, this is a place worth adding on your agenda when planning a visit to Sanchi.