The ancient Shiv Temple is situated in the state of Chhattisgarh, about 22 km from the capital Raipur, nestled in a village called Deobaloda. Situated between Raipur and Durg, along Bhilai-3, Charoda railway line, the village of Deobaloda houses this beautiful Shiv temple which has acquired historical importance. The temple is a protected monument under the Archeological Survey of India.
A few days back I had gone to my maternal home in Bhilai, Raipur for a family event. On the way from Raipur’s Swami Vivekanand Airport to Bhilai, my sister told me about this temple situated on the way from Raipur to Bhilai. It was a golden opportunity. We eagerly got ready to visit it before heading home. This is how I got to see a beautiful temple full of faith and mysterious stories.
After traveling for about 30 km on Raipur Durg Highway, we took a detour towards Deobaloda village. It was the middle of the rainy season. All around us were lush green paddy fields between rows of tall trees spreading different hues of green. Winding through narrow but clean mud roads we reached the entrance gate of the temple. As we got out of the vehicle, we were enchanted by our surroundings.
It was a beautiful neat village full of small houses, trees, and water bodies. At the entrance, there was a huge Peepal tree whose leaves were fluttering in the wind creating a symphony of soothing tunes. Beyond the tree, there was a beautiful temple made of stone that looked incomplete. Later we came to know why!
As per the information board put up by the Archeological Survey of India, this Nagar-style Shiv Temple was built in the 13-14th century by Kalachuri dynasty kings. This temple is also called Chhamahi or six-month temple.
There are some interesting legends associated with this temple. As per one legend, the sculptor who was making the temple left it incomplete. Hence there is no Shikhar or superstructure in this temple.
As per another legend, when this temple was being built, there was night continuously for six months. That is why it is also called Chhamasi Mandir or Six Month Temple. However, there are no astronomical or historical proofs to endorse the same. I guess the temple took too long to build, or the temple was being made continuously only in the nighttime, that is why they say there was night for six months.
Another legend says that the sculptor got so engrossed in his work that he did not care about anything else. Not about his clothes too. While working continuously day and night with complete concentration on his work, his clothes got worn out, eventually torn away and he became naked. His wife used to bring food for him daily. One day as she was busy, the sculptor’s sister brought him food along with water in a pot or Kalash. Seeing his sister approaching, he got so ashamed of his nakedness that he climbed on the roof of the temple and jumped in the temple tank to hide. Seeing her brother jumping in the tank and believing he died, she felt guilty and she herself jumped in the lake. They say that when water levels go low, we can see her Kalash above the water surface.
Going further this folklore says that there is a tunnel inside the tank that opens in another village called Aarang. They say that the sculptor found the tunnel and went through it to emerge in Aarang Temple. There he turned into a stone statue. They say that this stone statue is still there in Aarang Temple.
We found the people of Deobaloda very affectionate and welcoming. They seemed very simple-hearted. We received smiles from every person we met. Usually, very few people around any historical site know about the site. But here, not only did they know about the temple, its history, and legends, they were ever willing to tell us about them. They even showed us the location of a round stone Kalash in the lake.
The east-facing temple is built in red sandstone which otherwise is not a native stone. The temple is made in the Nagar style of temple architecture with a Sanctum Sanctorum or the Garbhagriha and a Navrang mandapa in front. It is standing on a tall platform with 4 main pillars supporting its roof. The temple shikhara is missing which was probably of Nagar style. In front of the temple, there is a small mandapa where a Nandi is sitting facing the temple’s main entrance. The second entrance is from the temple tank side.
As you climb the stairs of the main entrance, you can see excellent carvings of various deities on 4 main pillars and all inner pillars. You can see images of Bhairav, Vishnu, Mahishasur Mardini, Shiva, musicians, dancers, and Kirtimukh. This tells us about how art-loving the kings were.
On both sides of the Garbhagriha entrance, there are exquisite carvings where you can see Ganesh, Shiva’s family, Dwarpalas, and other deities along with flowers, creepers, and snakes. The ornate entrance of the Garbhagriha is small making us bend a little while entering. As it is said that we need to bow while going in front of God.
The Garbhagriha is about 3 feet below mandapa level. We have to go down a few steep stairs to reach there. There is a tall Shivling in the center with two cobra snakes standing beside it. Behind the Ling, there is a beautiful statue of Parvati. Apart from these, there are statues of Ganesh, Hanuman, Jagannath, and other deities all around the inner walls.
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The outer walls of the temple are also excellently carved with a variety of images that will mesmerize you. Elephants, horses, and human figures would immediately catch your eyes. You can find people playing drums and other musical instruments, warriors fighting with swords and spears, and sceneries with trees and animals. There is a panel where you can see a mother holding her child on her lap sitting under a tree. There are scenes from epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata.
There are images of deities on many panels. We could spot Narasimha avatar of Vishnu, Ganesh, Varah, and Shiva with his trident, Vishnu and Lakshmi. There was an interesting panel with a combined figure of an elephant and a bull. That shows the imaginative power of the artisan. There were some erotic images too. There are many layers of panels that are still not carved.
On the right side of Nandi Mandapa, there is a tall black stone structure with some carvings on it. We could not make out what it represented.
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There are two major water bodies near the temple. There is a large temple tank or Kund on the right side of the temple entrance. Behind the temple complex, there is a large pond. There were many fishes and turtles in the temple tank. It is said that the Water in the tank never dries up.
The tank has 23 steps and 2 deep wells. It is said that one of the wells continuously supplies water to the tank while the other well is actually a tunnel. People believe that this tunnel opens in a village called Aarang but no one knows for sure. There is no scientific or archeological evidence for the same.
The lake is behind the temple tank. It is called Karasa Talab or Kalash Talab. Some village ladies were filling water from the lake. We asked them about the Kalash or water pot of the artisan’s sister as we could not see anything on the surface. They said that there is a tall stone pillar with a pot-like structure on it. Due to rains, the water level had risen above it.
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Every year on Shivratri, which falls in January-February, a big festival is organized in this temple. This two-day event is attended by people in large numbers from nearby villages and towns with a lot of enthusiasm and devotion. This festival is called the Deobaloda festival.
The temple is visited by devotees on all days of the week, throughout the year. People have utmost faith in the god, temple, and even the tank water. They take water from the tank and sprinkle it in their home for auspiciousness. They say that water has the power to cure people of diseases and bad influences. When we visited the temple it was Shravan month of the Hindu calendar which has added significance to Jalabhishek- water bathing of the Shiv Ling. We did witness village womenfolk decently dressed, doing the ritual with fun and frolic.
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In the temple complex, just before reaching Shiv Temple, there is one temple dedicated to Mahamaya. Where there is Shiv, there will be his Shakti around.
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You can reach the temple easily from anywhere in Raipur. It is situated on a small detour from Raipur-Durg road at Bhilai-3, Charoda. It is about 35km from Raipur Airport and about 20km from Raipur railway station.
This blog is written by Madhumita Tamhane, in charge of IndiTales Hindi.