Neelkanth Temple in Kalinjar Fort, Uttar Pradesh

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.20160227_143904.jpgA 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.
20160227_145043.jpgThis 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.20160227_145350.jpg
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.20160227_145754.jpg
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 seenIMG_20160227_151739
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.


Comment List

  • Pankaj Saxena 04 / 03 / 2016 Reply

    The plate (photograph) carrying no 381 depicts the scene of ‘Samudra Manthan’ using the Serpent (nag) Vasuki as rope, the mountain ‘Mandaar Parvat’ as churner balanced on the shell of a grand turtle the ‘Vishnu’ in his ‘Koorm'(turtle) Awataar. Notice that the face of Vasuki is on the side of ‘Danavs’ so that the ‘Devtas’ are saved from the poisonous exhalation of Vasuki.
    The legend has that 14 ‘ratnas’ (gems) were obtained as a result of this churning including Godess Laxmi, Kamadhenu The cow, Airavat The elephant and ‘Halahal’ the poison that lord Shiva held in his throat.

    • iamrana 04 / 03 / 2016 Reply

      Thank you for this explanation

      • Pankaj Saxena 04 / 03 / 2016 Reply

        My Pleasure.

  • Rajdeep 04 / 03 / 2016 Reply


  • naveen 04 / 03 / 2016 Reply

    Thanks a lot for sharing this. We have such beautiful heritage in this state but is hardly known as a popular tourist spot.

    • iamrana 04 / 03 / 2016 Reply

      I’m glad I could acquaint you with such a beautiful temple

  • saket gupta 04 / 03 / 2016 Reply

    Amazing ! People travel take some snaps & done.
    But this indeed is great. You had covered the place, provided good explanation/story yet not boring. In fact it enthuses interest in the place.

    Thanks for sharing. I wish you keep the good work going.

    I also thank Mr. PANKAJ SAXENA for further interesting details on Samudra Manthan

    Saket Gupta

    • iamrana 07 / 03 / 2016 Reply

      Thank you. And you must visit ut

  • Aashish Kumar Dimri 07 / 03 / 2016 Reply

    Rana ji,
    You are among the best of my nation- liberal, learned and light hearted.

    • iamrana 07 / 03 / 2016 Reply

      Thank you

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  • Gaurang Mishra 03 / 08 / 2016 Reply

    Thanx for sharing. It is pathetic that we have lost so much of our rich heritage. It is left to ruin. through such posts and blogs we get to know, what we have lost, we have been detached with rich craft we had. the intricate carving on stone in the “yagna mandap” as you mentioned is well beyond comparison. The statue on top of the pillar is same as i saw in the Kutub minar complex. the last picture of that deity in “tribhang” pose is very nice. It is amazing as how such a massive fort etc were carved out.? patience, devotion, money, concern, etc all were required.

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