Bhojpur is a town of historical and religious importance in Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh, India.
Geography and hydrology
Bhojpur is situated on the Betwā River, 28 km from Bhopal, the state capital of Madhya Pradesh. The site is located on sandstone ridges typical of central India, next to a deep gorge through which the Betwā River flows. Two large dams, constructed of massive hammer-dressed stones, were built in the eleventh century to divert and block the Betwā, so creating a large lake. The approximate size of the lake is shown in the site plan given here.
Bhojpur takes its name from king Bhoja (reg. c. 1000–1055 CE), the most celebrated ruler of the Paramāra dynasty. There is no archaeological evidence from Bhojpur before the eleventh century, a fact confirmed by local legends which recount how Bhoja made a vow to build a series of dams “to arrest the streams of nine rivers and ninety-nine rivulets”. A location was found in the kingdom that allowed the king to fulfil this vow and the dams were duly built at Bhojpur.
Although the dams were constructed of cyclopean masonry, one of them was opened on the orders of Hoshang Shah of Malwa in the fifteenth century. According to Persian chronicles, he ordered the dam to be broken at the request of local merchants in Bhopal and Vidisha whose caravans were being raided by bandits taking refuge at an inaccessible spot protected by the lake.
Places of historical, archaeological and religious interest-
Cultural activities and festivals
- Bhojeśvar or Bhojasvāmin temple
- Quarries and rock drawings
- Cave of Pārvatī
- Remains of Bhoja's Royal Palace
- Jain temples
Every year, on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri, a big mela is organized at Bhojpur.
Bhoja's legacy at Bhojpur
Today, the partly ruined and incomplete Bhojeśvar temple still humbles the mind. Constructed in the latter part of the 11th century, its great stone blocks encompass a door frame, which towers ten meters high and five meters wide. Four titanic pillars, richly carved, rise to support an incomplete dome. The high noon sun lances through the dome, illuminates a massive pedestal made of three stepped blocks of sandstone, seven meters square.
An iron ladder ascends this huge pedestal to reach the uppermost platform, directly beneath the high roof, open to the sky. Dominating this platform and the great brooding temple is a magnificent lingam more than five meters high and over two meters in circumference. In the temple, religion and architecture, sculpture, drama and a weird vision combine in a compelling assertion of reality.
There is a brooding imminence about this great black temple that demands attention and reverence; and streams of school girls, as bright as moving garlands of flowers, moved up and down the ladder seeking the blessings of the great monolith, bowing to mumbled prayers from an ochre-robed, white-bearded priest who stood near like a vision of a benevolent and slightly portly Father Time.