Friday, 22 February 2013

A temple for the Dashavatara

The Dashavatara or the ten avatars of Vishnu are perhaps among the most well-known facts of  Hinduism. There are hundreds of temples and other structures in India and even abroad where the ten avatars of Vishnu are pictured, painted or carved.
However, not all the ten avatars of Vishnu are worshipped. The last avatar of Kalki is yet to take shape. Among the avatars, the most worshipped are Rama, Krishna and Narasimha. The other six avatars-Matysa, Kurma, Balarama, Vamana. Parashurama and Varaha are worshipped but they are not all that popular and the temples to them are far and few.
Though there are plenty of temples for Krishna, Rama and Narasimha, there have been only a handful for all the avatars put together. One such temple, which goes back to great antiquity, is in Deogarh in Madhya Pradesh.
The temple in Deogarh is called the Dashavatara temple and it was built by the Gupta Kings who practically ruled over the whole of India more nearly two thousand years ago.  
The Dasavatara temple was built in the early 6th century. It is perhaps one of the earliest temples ever built in India and also one of the earliest known Panchayatan temple in north India.
What sets this temple apart from other similar structures is that it has shrines dedicated to all the ten avatars of Vishnu. This is rare as during the Gupta age, temples were built for a single shrine.
Though much of the temple is in ruins, the wall panels which depict many of Krishna's pastimes in his Vishnu avatar are still well preserved.
The panels are called Rathika. One of the most outstanding carving is that of Gajendra moksha.
On the three sides of the tri-ratha sanctum, the walls are carved with sculptures depicting Visnu and the penance of Nara and Narayana. Statues of  Vishnu were sculpted into both the interior and exterior walls of the temple, and numerous panels depict the many pastimes of the Vishnu incarnations
The Deogarh temple is the first known Indian temple with a shikara or spire. Unfortunately, only the lower portion of the shikara remains intact. The ruins indicate that the shikara was similar to those found on the northern style temples of the early Chalukyas in Badami.
The temple is built on a platform that is ornamented with scenes from Ramayana and Krishna Lila. The temple has a beautifully carved doorway flanked by guardian figures with attendants beneath. The carvings of Ganga Devi and Yamuna Devi adorn the upper corners and a beautiful image of Vishnu reclines on the lintel.
There is a carved pillar near the temple and it lies on the ground. It is decorated with a pot and foliage motif, with medallions containing figures and bands of floral ornaments.
Apart from the Vishnu temple, Deogarh is famous for its hill fort, Jain temples and palace. The Deogarh Mahal, the erstwhile palace pf the Gonds who ruled the region, has 200 rooms and it is now a hotel. The Jain temples are adjacent to the fort and they were built between the eighth and seventeenth centuries. There are 31 Jain temples. The fort is called the fort of Gods. It was built in 1671.  
The rock cut caves-Siddha-ki-Gufa, Rajghati and the Naharghati-are nearby. There is a protected forest.
Deogarh is located on the Betwa river at the western end of the Lalitpur hills. It is in Chhindwara district and is near to Gwalior.
The nearest railway station is Jakhlaun 13 km, on the Jhansi-Babina passenger train route. Lalitpur is another railhead, 23 km from Deogarh.
Chanderi is another town nearby with several temples and an ancient history.  


  1. Deogarh is in Lalitpur District of Uttar Pradesh and Jakhlaun is on Jhansi Bina passenger train route

  2. The Fort (Jain Temple Campus) is approx. 2 Km away from the Jain dharmshala which have approx. 200 rooms and it is near to Dashavatar Temple and it is a new building and at new place.