Hotels in India » Heritage of India » Kalinjar – Invincible Through the March of Time

Kalinjar – Invincible Through the March of Time

Kalinjar fort stands atop a hill, majestic and awe-inspiring. Its history is replete with numerous battles and invasions but it has remained invincible.

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 and artistry.

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 mythological themes.

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.

Trimurti images 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 Parvati.

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 high altitude.

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.

 Email this page