Kalinjar fort stands atop a hill, majestic and awe-inspiring. Its
history is replete with numerous battles and invasions but it has
Kalinjar means the
destroyer of time in Sanskrit. Kal is time and jar
destruction. It is therefore a common belief associated with the
Kalinjar hill that Lord Shiva had slain time on it. Since then the
hill has been considered to be holy site casting its shadow across
the patches of grasslands as well as the thickly forested valley.
The natural splendour of the surroundings make it an ideal place
for penance and meditation and, surpirisingly, a strage mystique
still pervades al over the hill. The scriptures state that the holy
place had four different names in the four yugas. In satyuga
it was known as Kirtinagar, in treta it was Madhyagarh, in
dwapar it was Singhalgarh and now in kalyuga it has come to be
known as Kalinjar. The hilly peak has several mythological legends
attached to it.
The origin being shrouded
in mystery, not much is known as to when and by whom the fort was
built on this holly hill though modern historians conjecture that a
Chandela king, Kedar Burman, had it erected in the 7th
century A.D. the fort was a unique monument of its time and had no
parallel in any other part of the country in terms of sheer grandeur
Its historical background
is replete with numerous battle and invasions. The Hindu princes of
different dynasties as well as Muslim rulers fought hard to conquer
it and the fort continued to pass from one ruler to another. But,
except for the Chandelas, no other ruler could, however, reign over
it for a long time.
In the year 1812 the
British troops marched into Bundelkhand and after a long drawn battle
they were able to annex the fort. The British seizure proved to be a
great watershed, transferring the legacy of the old aristocracy into
the hands of the new bureaucracy of officials who showed their
loyalty to British imperialism. The damages caused to the fort can
still be perceived on its walls and open spaces.
The majesty and grandeur
we presently witness within its precincts is due to the Chandela
rulers creative imagination, their highly developed aesthetic
sense and religious fervour.
Though they were great
devotees of Lord Shiva, they evinced a great interest in the erection
of temples of other deities, too. The massive rock cut sculptures
include figures of various gods and goddesses from ancient
Wherever the Chandelas
had established their reign they left their mark by enriching them
with fine works of art, stone images and sculpture. Chandela
work of art.
The western part of the
fort rewards all who take the time to look inside the temple of
Neelkanth Mahadev. Each time one peeps through a cave-like opening
and glances at an imposing Shivalinga of 4-6 feet, one is inspired
with awe. The idea has been to use landscape and cave-isolation to
set the solemnity of the mood for prayer. Its intrinsic feature is to
reflect and refract in the appropriate seasons, letting in light in
winter and darkening to restrict its entry in summer. The cave is
far less important as a symbol promoting faith in the phallus sign
of Shiva than the need to provide a setting conducive to prayer.
Close to the Shivalinga
cave, stand the idols of Bhairava and goddess Parvati, made of black
stone. On either side of the gateway, images of numerous gods and
goddesses are carved. A number of pillars can also be sighted in
broken condition at regular distances. On these pillars, it is said,
six-storey constructions were raised, but they were demolished. There
are numerous rock-cut sculptures displaying neglect and ravages of
time. The vagaries of nature and of man have taken toll
but the remnants indicate a synthesis of several ancient cultures and
faiths, and a legacy of a glorious past.
Another beautiful sight
is the palace of the prince, Aman Singh. He was the descendant of
Chhatrasal. A number of legends are associated with this mahal
whose big lawns and walls unfold a long history of Chandela culture.
Thousands of images made of granite and sandstone have been
collected in a museum, set up informally. Rich carvings on these
images arrest the eye, even though they are broken and have been
struck by the ravages of time.
are also many, showing the faces of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Some
distance away is carved a massive figure of Vishnu lying in the ocean
of milk, enclosed within the coils of Shesha-nag. It presents a
unique artistic charm. The presence of images of Lord Mahavir, the
god of love Kamadev, Indrani the wife of Indra and so forth speaks
of influence from diverse cultures and religions. It also leads us
to believe that the creation of the Chandela culture was not the
handiwork of artists from one region.
The Chandela princes were
influenced by the Shaiva cult. Therefore, among the
rock-cut and stone images are mostly those of Shiva, Parvati, Nandi
and Shivaling. Shiva is seen at times in his dancing posture of
tandava and at others in a close embrace with goddess
There are numerous other
attractions. Venkat Behari temple, though its interior lies in
decayed condition, presents a majestic look from the outside. Persons
suffering from skin diseases take a dip in the special Pond
of million tirthas. The Sita-kund, Pandu-kund, Patal-ganga etc.
speak for the Chandela taste for the aquatic resorts. Visitors
are wonderstruck to notice the clean water in these ponds at such a
Today we can easily reach the heights
of the Kalinjar Fort and witness the splendour of its glorious past.
Cemented roads have been built all through the mountainous passage,
along which people can conveniently travel. But to discover the real
charm and pleasure of adventure one has to walk along the old beaten
track, making way through the rough and rocky terrain of the seven
magnificent gates falling in between. Confronting these gates one
truly appreciates the functional relevance of this invincible fort
and its strategic defences.