Thursday, November 14, 2019

Temples of Anjaneri, Nashik, Maharashtra

Pancha Digambar Temple Complex, Anjaneri
Pancha Digambar Temple Complex, Anjaneri

I was all set to descend the hill of Anjaneri after resting for a while at the Anjani Mata temple.  The experience uphill was exhilarating and I was fully charged up. However during my descent a group of temples situated a little distance away from the village of Anjaneri caught my attention. Hence, I decided to explore these temples of Anjaneri on reaching the base, completely forgetting about the caves that I wished to explore around the lakes. There are a few cave temples and an ashram besides a lake on the rear side of the first temple. As I continued my descent and reached the trek base, I immediately ordered a plate of special Maggi noodles at a hotel owned by an elderly person. I was extremely hungry and gulped down 2 full plates of noodles. My legs were tired and I started to have second thoughts about exploring the temple complexes near the village by foot. The temple complex was located at a distance of at least 2 km from the trek base. In the meanwhile, a bunch of boys who returned to their vehicle after completing the trek offered to drop me off till the cross-road and I happily welcomed their offer.
Hot Maggi
 After thanking them, I walked across the village of Anjaneri where I could sight the ruins of many temples spread here and there. I reached a spot where I found 3 Hero stones / Sati stones. Here on, I visited the first temple complex which was in ruins. It housed a big temple of Lord Vishnu along with another smaller temple dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi.  The temples remain mostly damaged, with some restoration work being undertaken currently by the ASI. The grandeur of this temple can be felt even in its ruins. It is disheartening to witness the state of this temple today. The main temple is built as per the ‘saptharatha plan’ and houses a damaged yet beautiful panchabhuma bhumija shikhara’, which can be classified under the ‘Hemadpanti/Hemadpanthi Style of Architecture’. Hemadpant was a celebrated physician of the Dwaparayuga, who cured Vibhishana, the brother of Ravana, King of Lanka.  In return, he begged the services of some giant architects with whose help he built numerous temples and step wells in western India, and these styles were collectively classified as ‘Hemadpanti Style of Architecture’. Historically, Hemadri or Hemadpant was a minister of the 9th Devagiri Yadava King Ramachandra (1271 -1308 CE), who was also a great writer and went on to build numerous temples in this region in Hemadpanthi Style of Architecture. There are carvings of Lord Vishnu’s incarnations on the outer walls of this temple. The door frame of the garbhagriha is of Chausakha with beautiful carvings of Trimurti (Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara) along with Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi on the lintel. The garbhagriha houses a damaged murti of Lord Vishnu on a Garuda peetha. The Lakshmi temple however is much worse than the main temple and devoid of any murti.
Goddess Lakshmi Devi Temple
Lord Vishnu Mandir
Chausakha Door Frame
Lord Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva Carved on the Lintel
Rubble of Lord Vishnu Temple
Right opposite to this temple is a temple dedicated to the Jaina Tirthankara Rishabhanatha (Adinatha) which is in complete ruins.  What a sad and disturbing sight it was! The temple parts were seen spread across the area inside the fence built by the ASI, reflecting the sheer carelessness in maintaining and preserving our heritage. The murti of Lord Rishabhanatha is kept under the open sky without any shelter. From here, I moved on to the next and the biggest temple complex called as the Pancha Digambar Temple. The main temple here has been converted, currently being dedicated to Lord Shiva. This conversion may have happened in the later centuries, as a part of an effort in its restoration. Thus the main temple here is in a better shape, although not good. The ASI however is continuously and constantly working towards the temple’s repair. There are 4 small temples in this complex apart from the main temple and an open air ASI Museum, where all the artifacts found in this area are preserved. The last temple here was a small yet beautiful Jaina temple situated about a few meters away from this temple complex. This temple houses a murti of Jaina Tirthankara. All the temples here were built during the reign of the Devagiri Yadavas between 11th and 13th centuries. Thus ending my quest for this place, only ask was to walk to the main road and board a bus back to Nashik
Jaina Tirthankara Rishabhanatha
Main Temple of Pancha Digambar Temple Complex
Inscribed Stone
Restoration Work in Progress
Jain Temple

1. Maharashtra district Gazetteer - Nashik

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