Are you surprised with the title of the post? A visit to the Dashavatara temple in the Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh could surprise anyone in every possible way. Build in the 6th century B.C., the Dashavatara temple is believed to be the first North Indian temple built with the Shikhara. Sadly, most of the Shikhara has fallen but the Dashavatara temple still has a captivating presence with its majestic view and a high plinth.
This must have been one of the most exquisite examples of the artistic heritage of the Gupta period. The local caretaker proved to be a very good guide as he explained everything about the temple with every minute detail. The skill of the artisans is praiseworthy and the refinement of these sculptures is so surreal.
The carvings on the right side of the outer wall of the temple showing Lord Vishnu reclining on his left with the stone ‘cushions’ below him are chiseled in such a way so as to go along with the contours of the body.
The left side of the outer wall of the temple depicts the detailed stories of Gajendra Moksha while the back side of the outer wall shows the story of Nara Narayana. The wall depicting the Lord Vishnu also shows the arrival of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and other gods on their vehicles at the top along with the five Pandavas and Draupadi below the majestic Lord Vishnu sculpture.
Ruins of four other temples on each side of the main temple have also been found which indicate towards the idea of five temples together with the center one being the main temple. Lord Vishnu’s statue got stolen a long time back and only a rectangular support frame can be seen which one may mistakenly assume to be a Lord Shiva temple. But the support frame is rectangular in shape and not circular which clearly indicates that it is not a Shiva temple and also the carvings on the outer walls of the temple have stories related to Lord Vishnu. The carvings of the crocodile and tortoise depict the presence of Ganga and Yamuna on the entrance of the temple as the crocodile and tortoise are their respective vehicles according to the Hindu mythology.
The Dashavatara is truly a hidden architectural gem which stands out as an eminent example of the architectural carvings and highly detailed sculptures which truly displays the excellent craftsmanship of the artisans of those times.
The nearest city is Lalitpur which is 33 kilometers from Devgarh and is a one hour drive while Gwalior is the nearest airport which is 235 kilometers away. Devgarh is well connected by roads through bus services from Lalitpur and Jhansi but the service is not so frequent and driving a personal vehicle is a more preferable option.
The Jain Dharamshala is the only viable option to stay but Devgarh is an ideal one day trip spot. A night stay isn’t required unless one may spend a lot of time exploring the majestic historical ruins with the smell of rich culture, religious values and skilled craftsmanship in a day itself. There is no entrance fee. A visit to Dashavatara Temple is a must for every travel enthusiast who loves to explore historical places.
Till then- KEEP TRAVELLING. KEEP WANDERING.