Lesser Known Tourist Places in Rajasthan – Baroli Temples

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Baroli Temples – Hidden ancient wonders

  • Abhay Saxena

One of the oldest and most striking temple complexes in India is located in Baroli village near Rawatbhata town in Chittorgarh district at a distance of around 300 km from Jaipur. Baroli Temple Complex, comprising nine exquisite temples, is a walled enclosure amidst thick forest. The complex dates back to 10th century AD and exemplifies Pratihara style of architecture. Surprisingly, few visitors turn up here and the place remains a hidden treasure till date. In 1820s, the famous British historian Col. James Tod visited Baroli and was astonished by the unrivalled sculptures and architecture. The temples, primarily dedicated to Lord Shiva exhibit magnificently carved stone sculptures and intricately designed porch ceilings.

Of nine temples, 4 are dedicated to Lord Shiva, 2 to Goddess Durga and one each to Vishnu, Ganesha and the great Hindu trinity – Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the preserver and Shiva, the destroyer. The main shrine is dedicated to Ghateshwara Mahadeva (another name for Shiva). It is the most prominent and largest in the complex. Shiva is not only associated with destruction. It also connotes change and represents fertility. Shiva’s lingam (male sex organ) is the most explicit symbol of divine fertility powers. The ground of the complex is dotted with sculptures of lingams in communion with female organs, yonis signifying the creative interplay of consciousness and manifest nature. Eroticism has been a very important element of the Hinduism. It was actually a response to practices of newer religions like Buddhism, which preached abandoning the worldly pleasures in pursuit of spirituality. The Hindus, who despised the idea of giving up the physical pleasures responded by revering the sexuality as a divine play and created numerous erotic sculptures and texts. The famous Kama Sutra is a testimony to this tradition.

Other major temples include Ganesha Temple, A Shiva temple in a tank, Vamanavtar Temple (dedicated to Vamana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), Ashtamata Temple (dedicated to Goddess Durga), Trimurti Temple and Sheshashyan Temple.

A visit to Baroli temples complex shall grant an inexplicable experience, filling you with an elated calmness and a sense of mysticism. As a special gesture to all the Shiva devotees, the priest there shall dot your forehead with a fragrant yellow paste of turmeric and sandalwood between your eyebrows. This dot symbolizes the third eye of Shiva, which is the gateway to the higher consciousness.

 

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