The lost glory of Bateshwar
On the borders of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh lies the Chambal Valley which holds several unexplored gems of the country. It is also the only place in India that have numerous number of Valleys that are nothing less than a maze of scattered rocks. Once ruled by the great dacoits of Gurjar Singh, the Chambal valley is famous for many reasons. People say that unexplored places brings unexpected joy, but how many of us really do explore them? Why it is that all the attractive places sweeps off the attention and the unexplored always remain unexplored? We mostly feel that such sites are not worth our visit, so why not try exploring the Bateshwar Temples of Morena? Who knows if your opinion changes! Bateshwar temple complex at Morena in Madhya Pradesh is apparently the only area in India with 200 temples at the same place. These temples are of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. And do you know that these temples are restored almost from a pile of rubble?
The lost 200 temples of Bateshwar
The Bateshwar temples were created almost 200 years before the construction of the Khajuraho. The first temple of Bateshwar Temples was made during 8th -11th century back by the Kings of Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty, almost 1300 years from today and the rest of them were built in next 200 years. It consists of the group of 200 temples located in Morena of Madhya Pradesh. However these temples were destroyed in 13th century when the place was hit by a massive earthquake leaving only rubble behind. Years later, the ruins of Chambal Valley became home to a number Dacoits who ruled the place till the starting of 21st century. A place where even the police hesitate entering, these dacoits was very much familiar with the maze thus making it a perfect hideout! The last dacoit of the place was Nirbhay Gurjar Singh who seek shelter in the abandoned land of Bateshwar. He was the most wanted dacoit of the time who along with his men looted several infiltrators who dared to enter their so called kingdom. These dacoit though were dangerous men but also were the great worshipper of Lord Shiva, maybe that’s why the Bateshwar temples were safe, if not, the temple would had been looted years ago!
“My place of pilgrimage. I come here once in every three months. I am passionate about this temple complex.” Said K.K. Muhammed, the head of ASI.
The Bateshwar was notified as a protected site by the Archeologist department of India in 1920. These temples were considered mystical and thus everyone was scared of entering the premises. In 2005, one the archeologist team of ASI head by K. Muhammed arranged the meeting with Nirbhay Gurjar to seek his permission restoring the temple, Gurjar agreed on it. Soon after the meeting, the restoration of the temples started. Under Muhammed leadership the team was able to restore almost 100 temples out of the 200 in total. But this restoration especially under the sight of dacoits like Gurjar Singh was not a piece of cake. On one occasion, the Gurjar Singh came into an argument with one of the archeologist who stopped him from smoking in the temple premises. Over the heat of the situation, Gurjur Singh became furious, however the smart man had his way of calming the furious dacoit. He politely told him that the name Gurjar itself suggest that the dacoit is the descendent of the Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty. He further told him that the god had send him into this area as the protector of the Bateshwar temple! And here the dacoit was surprised and happy as well!
Narrating the difficulties encountered by the team during conservation of the project, the mining mafia had begun encroaching the area and the blasting in the temple vicinity also added up to the further destruction of the site! Neither the state nor the center government helped the ASI team, at the last the RSS chief K Sudarshan lend his help and the mining was stopped in the area. Along with this, the blast among the fights of law and crime too were on its height, when one by one the dacoits were shot down. Finally, one day Gurjar Singh was shot dead and from here ended the rule of Dacoits in the Chambal Valley. According to Muhammed the restoration of Bateshwar temples costed Rs. 2 crore for 80 of them. The emulsion of rustic and artistic touch at the place takes us 1000 years back in time and help us experience the beauty of the site! It feels like the artists carving the walls was having a kind of contest among them to carve out the best carvings of the time. The stone architectures, the complicated sculptures and the astounding design shows the passionate art in the temple. Most of the conical Gopurus over these temples were destroyed with time so the roofs now you may find looks flat. As these are not the live temples which means that there is no chance of restriction, so what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head straight out to Morena to explore the lost glory of the Bateshwar Temples!