Not very far from Mumbai there is a marvelous 11th century temple of Lord Shiva. Very few people know about it and navigating to this place without gps can be tricky. But the grand monument is mostly intact with its rock carved sculptures and structural grace .. therefore, a must visit for heritage enthusiasts. Another unconfirmed trivia about this temple is it was visited by the great Guru Nanak in 1415 CE.
This temple was built by Mahamandaleswara Chittaraj in the 11th century. He belonged to the Silahara dynasty … Chittaraj’s younger brother Mummuniraj completed the temple in 1060 CE. The origins of this temple can be traced due to a stone inscription inside.
श्री अंबरनाथ देवकुला समुद्धारित
It is said that there was a swayambhu Shiva-linga situated next to the river stream and the kings decided to build this black stone temple over it. Therefore to enter the garbha-gruha one has to climb down about 9 stairs and the temple is west facing in direction which is quite rare. This is a temple built in a Bhumija structure and since this temple goes a few years before the similar temple in Udaipur MP … it is important as the first documented example of a bhumija temple.
Garbhabruha and mandapa are like to stars coming together separated by free space known as antaral which is in pragriv form here. The wall has beautiful projections and recesses. There are about 73 sculputed statues on the walls with some special improvisations in gods and godesses which unfortunately did not notice thanks to my ignorance in iconography (this demands another visit) and Sur-sundari nymphs too. The vertical decorations on the shikhara are known as latas and this temple is built in the saptarath-saptabhum-bhumij-prasad structure. Since this is built by a king it could be categorized as Asiddhyatan temple. The element I would love to design for my house was figurines on the rectangular faces on the columns
The pillars are ornately carved and have some similarities with the pillars of the Modhera sun temple built by the Solanki kings … I am sharing a photo from my trip to Modhera in 2008 … but that full story in another blog post.