Friday, 21 June 2019

Mind-boggling Saas-Bahu Hindu Temple, Gwalior, MP - grandeur and beauty frozen in stone

Interior. Sasbabu temple, Gwalior, MP 10yearitch.com
Sasbabu temple, Gwalior, MP 10yearitch.com
Gwalior city in Madhya Pradesh  is rich in tourist attractions that include many  forts, museum, palaces and temples. They al'l' bring out the centuries old  unique cultural heritage  and its bearing on the state of Madhya Pradesh. 

No person interested in Indian history will  forget the  massive Gwalior Fort situated on the top hills near the city This was the place where so many battles taken place between the rulers of states who were after expansion of their power and revenue. It was here Rani Lashmibhai fought against her adversary the East India company who autocratically took her kingdom  and finally killed her.  Among the fine temples such as  Man Mandir Palace, Saas-Bahu Temple, Suraj Kund, etc., Saas-Bahu Temple attracts our attention because it is architecturally rich temple and whose design is different from the Dravidian style of temple architecture. Even, it does not closely resemble Nagara style temple design common in Odi'sha.' 
Sasbabu temple, Gwalior, MP.en.wikipedia.org
defaced wallreliefs. Sasbabu temple (big one), Gwalior, MP findmessages.com
This 11th century twin temple in  the Gwalior Fort  - Sasbahu Temple is  also known as the Sas-Bahu Mandir,  Sahastrabahu Temple. Dedicated to Vishnu in his Padmanabha form, the temple is in ruins and  this being due to its proximity to the fort where many invasions taken place by the Muslim rulers  of Delhi. This historical temple was built in 1093 by  King Mahipala of the Kachchhapaghata.  Inscriptions found in the larger of the twin temple confirm the name of the builder. 
Sasbabu temple, Gwalior, MP.10yearitch.com

Local name of the temple is  Sasbahu temple (Sasbahu meaning "mother-in-law, bride" or "a mother with her daughter-in-law"). This relationship implies two things -   being together and at the same time  being interdependent. Between the two temples that are dedicated to lord Vishnu, the Sas temple is  larger  and older than the other one.  The Sas temple has survived in some form, but the other one - the Bahu temple is simply  a shell structure of the original one storey building with a highly ornate door frame and its defaced wall reliefs surviving. The surviving features of the Bahu temple at Gwalior suggest that it may have been a smaller version of the Saas temple.
Though the  temple's tower and sanctum  are damaged, impressive damaged carvings  throw light on  its past grandeur and beauty. The jagati platform is 100 feet (30 m) long and 63 feet (19 m) wide, on a square plan. This three-story temple that follows  a central cluster concept  is a model of architectural sophistication.  The entrance porch and the mandapa of the original temple remain unaffected during invasions by the Islamic forces.   James Harle, an expert in temple architecture  says this temple was built in Bhumija style, a feature common in north India. He cites the  triple storey plan with a cruciform foundation and balconies to strengthen his theory.  Unfortunately the spire - tower called Prasada is missing, apparently ruined in one of the invasions. This Bhumija style, according to  Harle, is  characteristic of  a well proportioned superstructure, its "regularly arranged little subordinate sikharas strung out like gigantic beaded garlands". As in south Indian temples, this one has four entrance on all directions; the fourth one being closed for unknown reasons.  

With notably 4 idols of Brahma, Vishnu and Saraswati above its entrance door, the entire temple has fine carvings and those on the pillars are closely related to Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Shaktism. Both exterior and surviving interior parts larger carvings of ornamentations.
Sasbabu temple 1885, construction is on. The temple in 1885
Sasbabu templefindmessages.com
The sanctum  of  Sas temple is square in plan  attached to a rectangular two storey antarala and a closed three storey mandapa with three entrances. Four carved Ruchaka ghatapallava-style  load-bearing pillars  adorn  the temple main entrance porch. Intricate carving is found on the walls, lintels, etc but they are  much defaced. On the lintel of the entrances,  one can see  Krishna-Leela scenes carved inside. Whereas on the outer side you can see narration of legends from the  Hindu  mythology. Located above the lintel is Garuda, the  inimitable vahana of Vishnu.
mandapa entrance pillar carvings of women (defaced) Sasbabu temple, Gwalior, MP.en.wikipedia.org  

As for the  Bahu temple, its sanctum is also square in plan with four central pillars. The main deity Vishnu in the sanctum is damaged.  Also in the sanctum are  Brahma holding the Vedas on one side and Shiva holding the trident on the other side..  The Maha-mandapa is  square in plan with  twelve pillars. The roof  has two rotated squares that intersect to form an octagon capped by successive overlapping circles.   The temple, like most Malwa and Rajputana historic temples, provides multiple entrances to the devotee.  The pillars with octagonal bases  carry nicely carved women images that are defaced or tampered with.