The ‘Samudra-Manthan’ with nag ‘Vasuki’ and ‘Mandaar Parvat’
The danav on one side and Dev on the other. It was this that led to the Legend of Shivji as Neelkanth or One whose Throat is Blue
I bow to Nīlakaṇṭha (who has) ten arms, three eyes,
is sky clad [and] lord of the directions, dark eyed and adorned by/with poison.
नीलकण्ठं दशभुजं त्र्यक्षं धूम्रविलोचनम् ।
दिगंबरं दिशाधीशं नमामि विषभूषणम् ॥
#४५ of शिवस्तवराजः
Kalinjar Fort is one of the gems of the country. It lies in Banda District of Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh. Built by the Chandela rulers ( 9th to 13th century AD) the Fort proved as worthy as its name- The destroyer of time . It is one of the few forts that repulsed the invasions of Mahmud Ghazni.
It lies on a hilly plateau, 1,203 feet above the plains in the Vindhya Range.
We were on a visit to Khajuraho and had decided that visiting Kalinjar was a must. It is 130 km away from Khajuraho. For visitors to Khajuraho my advice would be to keep a day for this beauty too. And yes you will require a day and dont get taken in by guides who advise you to combine Panna and Kalinjar as they lie on the same route.
You should combine Raneh Falls and Pandava Falls with Panna National Park.
The entrance to the Fort is of course impressive as are the palaces inside but it was Neelkanth Temple that took my breath away and which I feel was the best part of my trip to Bundelkhand. Seen above is the Gate inside the Fort that leads down to the Temple. When we peeped from there we found that the temple lay way below.A total of 165 steps lead down to it in a long and winding route. I had hurt my ankle a few weeks earlier and it still wasn’t completely healed. However, steps can’t deter a traveller and a Seeker and so along with fellow pilgrim Sheelu Aggarwal I started the descent.
The sight of the Grecian Temple was enough to fill us with a sense of purpose and we continued down with renewed vigour.
All along the route there are carvings and statues on the rocks. In fact at the museum of Kalinjar Fort the ASI officer said that out of the 874 specimens of sculpture that they had in it most were found during excavations of the temple and I can well believe him after seeing the riches still there.
This beautiful carving of Chamundi Devi is just a little way above the main temple.
A small shrine devoted to Shiva.
This door leads down to the village and had one of the most adorable statues of Ganesha on it.
Taking deep breaths after the exertion of the descent with fellow seeker Sheelu, at the bottom.
The first thing we saw was this huge statue of Hanuman ji complete with the Sanjivani pahad near his head.
Some of the broken pieces which must have adorned the temple at one time.
And the beauty of this incredible yagna mandap has to be seen to be believed.
To me it seemed absolutely God-Like.
With another fellow seeker of the Divine.
The Pujari of the Temple
The legend goes that when Shivji drank the vish from the Samundra Manthan he came to this place to rest. And it was here that he found some peace from the burning in his throat. The Shivling in the centre of this photograph inside the temple cave is always wet near the throat portion, even if there is a drought or famine in this area. This is a reminder of the “neelkantha” or drinking of poison story from the epic
Some of the statues inside the cave.
I believe that God is One and is present everywhere. It gives me great pleasure to pray wherever I go and at all times to Him. Ringing the bells in a mandir, lighting a candle in a Church or prostrating myself in a sajda in a mosque are my ways of seeking nearness to Him
The pujari doing tilak for me. Because of the coconuts broken inside and the constant water it is very slippery so be careful. Sheelu cut her foot on a piece of broken coconut shard. As she said, “maine khoon ki ahuti di.” The pujari immediately gave some chuna to put on her foot and the profuse bleeding stopped as if by magic.
The door of the cave is a massive stone shutter like thing which the pujari told me used to move but they no longer know the secret lever.
To the right of the temple a few steps down there is the most amazing statue of Kal Bhairav carved in the rocks.
It is 24′ high, 17′ wide and has 18 arms and is garlanded by skulls.
Though we had spent two days looking at divine sculpture on the walls of the Khajuraho Temple the force and majesty of this took my breath away.
Taken from a wall opposite it by one of the boys inside the temple. We didn’t have the guts to jump up on it.
A side view of the mandap. This was built by the Chandela Kings and once upon a time had a roof.
35 steps lead upto a sarovar cut in the mountains behind the temple. Just above the temple is a natural water source that never dries up and water continually drips onto the shivalinga. The priests, who have been Chandela Rajputs since the time of the Chandela kings have pointed out that the neck of the sculpture of Lord Shiva on the shivalinga, though made of solid rock, is always moist to touch.
It is said that this contains treasure and there are some indications written on its walls which guide you. I dont know how true it is for surely someone must have found it if it was material treasure. To my mind its treasure of the spiritual kind for I felt a great sense of peace here.
This photo taken by Sheelu. I sat at the edge of the sarovar while she jumped down.
The climb back was arduous as the midday son was beating on our heads but was worth every bit of it.
lost in wonderment of what I had just seen
This photograph by Sheelu Aggarwal.
Shloka quoted above Sent by @haritirumalai
Translated by Rohini Bakshi
Note : Nearest airport is Khajuraho.
Banda is 56 km away
There is no food or water available inside the Fort so please carry enough water, snacks and packed lunch with you. There is a govt guest house in not a very good condition but usable as a restroom on request.
Wear shoes as its rocky inside.