CONTRIBUTED BY URVASHI SRIVASTAVA
Standing amidst serene surroundings on top of a hillock in Gyaraspur, the ruins of a temple stand as testimony to the great artistic traditions that flourished in ancient India. Amidst the scattered fragments of the temple stands an elegantly carved structure popularly known as Hindola Torana. The word Hindola literaly means swing and torana means portal. However contrary to the name by which it is popularly known today the structure was never meant to be a swing, but was probably the entrance gateway to the ruined temple. Situated in Gyaraspur at a distance of 35 km from Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh the portal heralds the entrance to the ruined temple which was dedicated to either Vishnu or Shiva. The remains of this entrance portal consist of two pillars with a beam on top of them. A smaller ornamental beam joins the two pillars at a lower level below the top beam. Both the beams rest on ornamental capitals having four brackets supported by mythical creatures. The intermediate space between the two beams is occupied by two very intricately carved arches placed side by side. On top of the main beam is a small aedicule fashioned like a miniature shikhar. The two pillars of the portal are recessed and square in cross section while the portion of the pillar in between the brackets is cylindrical in shape. The two pillars rest on recessed square bases. All the pillars and the beams have been very profusely carved with mythological themes of gods and goddesses, mythical creatures, nymphs, ghatakumbha, kiritimukha, graceful scrolls, and other ornamental patterns and motifs. On all four sides of the two pillars are carved the dashavataras or the ten incarnations of Vishnu. The Buddhist sun window motif can also be seen engraved on the front face of the pillars.
Nearby in the vicinity of the Hindola Torana is located another structure, a four pillared pavilion known as Chaukhambha standing amidst the ruined temple. Chaukhambha appears to be the remains of a pavilion who’s only surviving elements are four ornamental pillars and stone beams on top of a high podium. The Chaukhambha was probably the mandapa or pavilion of the ruined temple. Both Hindola Torana and Chaukhambha are carved in the same style and date back to the 10th century A.D. The excellent carvings of motifs in both structures are reminiscence of the Parmara and Chalukyan art Traditions.
It takes a day trip from Bhopal to Gyaraspur (approximately 90 km) via Sanchi and Vidisha to visit these interesting ruins. Both the Hindola Torana and Chaukhambha are situated enroute the Mala DeviTemple complex (9th century) in Gyaraspur which is worth a visit too. An added attraction is the view of the valley with lush green fields from top of the hill. A few more monuments in the vicinity are the Athakhamba (9th century), Bajra Matha (10th century) and Dhaikinath Stupa (6th-7th century).
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