After having heard a lot about it, and especially after visiting the ancient hemadpanthi temple at Gondeshwar, the immemorial temple at Khidrapur one was on the list since long. Taking one of our favourites NH4 we took a detour to visit the “Bahubali temple’ at Kumbhoj. After a small climb of 400 stairs we got a panoramic view of the surrounding forest area and the Jahaaj Mandir. Bahubali at Kumbhoj is a replica to the Bahubali of Shravanabelagola known as Gomateshwar to the south in Karnataka. After this quick detour, we continued along the path for our main destination, Khidrapur.
Our planned lunch stop was at Kolhapur and the small detour meant that we were a little late, so we scarfed down some scrumptious lunch at the celebrity Opal restaurant. Since we wanted to check out the temple sans crowds we scheduled our visit early morning the next day. Before checking in to our hotel, we made a quick visit to the New Palace in Kolhapur. The Darbar Hall in this palace is a live witness to the grandeur and affluence of Maharajas.
To escape traffic, we started early morning 6am from Kolhapur. Watching the sunrise while driving past green fields was a serene experience. The roads from Kolhapur to Khidrapur are smooth and the route extremely picturesque. We passed through a few quaint villages. The scenic drive made the whole wake-up-early part well worth it. An hour and a half later we reached the charming little town of Khidrapur. With a little parking space for vehicles, the temple is right in the middle of the town. It is possible that over the years, the town must have grown around the temple. The entrance itself had us stunned. The stone carvings mesmerised us. The entrance was a stunning trailer to that movie we were about to experience inside.
After entering inside through the closed enclosure, the sight ahead was dazzling. The Swargamandapam ahead of the main temple is worth all the glory and craze. The mandapam is an entrance hall with an open roof. This temple is an example of architectural brilliance. Pillars holding the open roof, with carvings of deities and ancient figures all clubbed in perfect geometry is a sheer art of splendour.
We spent an hour admiring each pillar with its perfect structuring to support the open roof. When we look up a the open roof, we get a feeling as if we are looking at heaven, so it is called the swargamandapam (Swarg = heaven) The circular roof, 13 feet in diameter is supported by 12 circular art studded pillars. Along with various deities, each of the pillars hold a disha devata (Direction God). As you can see in the picture. Each pillar holds a unique combination of octagonal, quadrilateral, hexagonal and circular designs.
The entire temple is built out of stone. Another unique characteristic of this Shiva temple is that Nandi is absent in the temple. It is one of its kind. There is a tale about this. Mythology enthusiasts can read more about the tale here.
This temple is smaller than the one in Gondeshwar. But this one came into limelight after it was featured in the famous Marathi film “Katyar Kaaljaat Ghusli”. Far from the chaos, away from the pollution and noise, inside a charming little town, lies this marvellous feat of art. It cannot be easily found on the way to some place. You will have to look for it and reach this spectacular setting. This is on the border of Maharastra and Karnataka and is a protected monument by the Government.
I invariably feel that, such settings inspire us to become better humans. Reason? Structures like these are holding ground since centuries, a time frame, we just know on paper and in numbers. These monuments are still standing tall to pass on the ancient glory, grandeur, morals and honour. For there is a fair amount of chance, we might forget them in today’s disarray. Travelling to them rings a little alarm, always!
P.S. India is a magnificent country and we live on a beautiful planet. Please do not litter. Be a responsible traveller.