The Bhima Devi Temple Complex comprises the restored ruins of an ancient Hindu temple dating from between 8th and 11th century AD, together with the adjacent 17th century Pinjore
gardens (a variant of Mughal gardens), located in Pinjore town in Panchkula
district of the state of Haryana
.The Bhima Devi temple was sculptured during the reign of Gurjar Pratihars.Most of the comprising sculptures and architectural, which ruined during Mughal period, are of the times of the Gurjara Pratiharas.
Archeological excavations done in 1974 revealed the temple, which was subsequently dated to 8th century to 11th century AD and declared as a protected monument under the ‘Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act-1964’. The unearthed findings cover over 100 antiquarian sculptures, apart from a layout plan indicating a five temples complex, including the main central shrine representing the Panchayatana architectural style, similar to the styles seen in the contemporaneous Khajuraho and Bhubaneshwar temples.
The temple complex adjoins the Pinjore Gardens
, also known as Mughal gardens built by Aurangzeb’s foster brother using much of the ruins of the Hindu temples destroyed by the Muslim invaders from the 13th century onwards till the 17th century.
Muslim invasions of Pinjore town started with Nasir-u-Din Mahmood (Iltumish’s son) in 1254 AD, continued with other invaders like Timurlane and lasted till Governor of Sirhind Fidai Khan’s (foster brother of Emperor Aurangzeb) onslaught in 1666.These invasions were responsible for the wanton destruction of this ancient temple complex. The Pinjore gardens (now renamed as Yadvendra Gardens after Yadavindra Singh Maharaja of the former princely state of Patiala) developed in the 17th century, by Fidai Khan (was also the architect), was reportedly constructed partly with ruins of destroyed temple. This garden is considered as a lovely Mughal garden, one of the oldest in northern India.
An open–air museum with the Bhima Devi temple ruins (85 % of the ancient sculptures have been aesthetically installed at different places of the open air museum). Integrated with the Yadavindra Gardens, it has been developed with attractive modern illumination arrangements.
The temple complex comprises the ruins of the temple, aesthetically arranged in an open air museum (patterned on the original Panchayatana layout) housing 80 pedestals fixed with the excavated sculptures, and the Pinjore gardens with which the temple complex is fully integrated (with 150 focus lights).
The excavation of the ancient temple in 1974 was a historic discovery linking the antiquarian finds to the establishment of the temple to the period between 8th and 12th centuries of Gurjar Pratihara School of Art. The excavations have revealed five ancient plinths or pedestals and over 100 beautiful sculptures.Gray and green sandstone available locally in the region are the main source of material used to carve the stone sculptures. Archeologists have classified the sculptures under four categories, namely: