Laxman Temple of Sirpur
Laxman temple : Introduction
India is a land of temples. Wherever you go, there are temples and temples. There are Hindu temples, Buddhists temples, Jain temples, Sikh temples (Gurudwara) & Islamic shrines. There are ancient temples, medieval temples & modern ones. There are stone built temples, brick built temples, mud built ones and even modern metallic temples. However, some of these stand apart as they attract visitors ranging from ordinary tourists to temple lovers to specialists for their special merits which may be the architecture, the historical background or the religious value. Here I’m writing about one such important temple, viz. the Laxman temple of Sirpur, Chhattisgarh, India. Being one of the oldest and finest brick built temples of this vast country with so many temples, the Laxman temple of Sirpur offers some examples of the exquisite architecture and sculptures of the 7th century A.D.
Laxman temple of Sirpur : Location
The Laxman temple of Sirpur is located at Lat 21 degrees 25 minutes and Long 82 degrees 10 minutes in the village of Sirpur in the Mahasamund district of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, about 90 km from the state capital Raipur. It is connected with Raipur by good roads, first by National highway (about 72 km) and then by State Highway (17 km).
Laxman temple of Sirpur: History
The temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, was constructed by Vasata, the mother of King Mahashivagupta Balarjuna in the 7th century in between 625-650 A.D. in memory of her husband King Harshagupta. Vasata was the daughter of Maukhari King Suryavarma of Magadha.
Laxman temple : Architecture
It is a Pancharatha type temple with a curvilinear Shikhara (pinnacle) built in the Nagara (North Indian) style of architecture. Built on a high pedestal of stone, the brick-built east facing temple originally had three parts, viz. the Garvagriha (sanctum), the Antarala and the Mandapa. The Mandapa is in ruins now with the remnants of two rows of pillars (8 on either side) which supported its roof only remaining. The entrance to the sanctum is through a stone-built massive door with exquisite sculptures, majority of which are damaged now. However, the partially damaged idol of Seshasayee Vishnu can be seen on the door. The sides of the door has many beautiful sculpted figures of Vishnu and His avataras (incarnations) like The Narasimha, Vamana etc. and figures from mythology. There are some erotic figures too.
Inside the sanctum, there is a beautiful idol of multi-hooded Sheshanaga flanked by some other deities. It is said that the temple got its name from this idol of Seshanaga, Laxman being considered as an incarnation of the former.
The Pancharatha Shikhara has beautiful Chaitya arches in the central Ratha and Amlakas in the corner Rathas as per the traditional Indian architecture. In the centre there is a small Corbel Arch. The Shikhara is decorated with many figures like those of elephants and mythological figures.
Laxman temple : other importances
- There is a museum run by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) in the premises of the Laxman temple. The main entrance of this museum has two stone-built Dwarapalas (Door Guards) on either side. Inside, there is a treasure trove of many ancient pieces of stone-built art like statues of various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism & Jainism which were excavated from various places of Sirpur. One Chaturmukhi Shivalingam ( The Phallic symbol of Lord Shiva with four faces) is worth seeing.
- This magnificent temple forms the backdrop of the Sirpur Music and Dance Festival which is held every year in the month of January. It is attended by a large number of people from various parts of the country who gather here to see famous dancers & singers performing there.
How to go
Sirpur is well connected to the state capital Raipur, which is again connected to all the major cities in India by rail, road and air. However, as the public transport facility is not up to the mark, it is better to go there from Raipur by hired car or taxi.
Where to stay
There is one Tourist Lodge run by the state tourism department near Sirpur. Hardy types can have accommodation in the houses of the temple priests.