The temples at Khajuraho were constructed as a group but were dedicated to two different religions: Hinduism and Jainism. This suggests that the people who built these temples followed a tradition of accepting and respecting other beliefs. They had faith in coexistence and welcomed diversity in matters of religion.
Built-in the 9th Century, Matangeshvara Temple is a true gem. The Matangeshwara Temple, also known as Matangeshvara or Matangeshwar Temple, is a Hindu temple in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the most famous Hindu temples, situated among the Western groups of temples. It is a Shiv Temple with a great history. King Chandra Dev of the Chandela Dynasty built this beautiful temple. It is a prominent tourist attraction with tourists from all over the world.
According to the Legend, it is believed that a sage named Matanga appeared in the form of a lingam and exerted authority over the god of love. This sage’s sacred homes were in Khajuraho, Kedarnath, Varanasi, and Gaya, now the revered locations of the four Matangeshvara temples. An alternate narrative suggests that the temple derives its name from a manifestation of Lord Shiva, who held dominance over the god of love.
The ASI, or the Archaeological Survey of India, has classified Matangeshwar Temple as a monument of National Importance. The temple was believed to be built between 900-925 CE, according to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), because it has a plain design, unlike the later temples of Khajuraho. However, scholar Rana P. B. Singh assigned it to approximately 1000 CE.
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The architecture of Matangeshwara Temple
The architecture of the Matangeshwara Temple is simple, without erotic carvings or sculptures, unlike the other temples in Khajuraho. The temple is made of sandstone and is rectangular with a flat roof. The temple’s entrance has a small porch, and it houses the lingam of God Shiva. The temple has the unique feature of having a separate entry. It is located outside the boundary of the western group of temples, near the Lakshmana temple.
The temple has an 8-feet high lingam, a symbol of Bhagwan Shiva. It is said that the lingam’s exact height of half part is below the visible base. The lingam is worshipped by devotees who come to the temple to offer prayers and seek blessings from Shiva.
The temple is known for its simplicity. The Matangeshvara temple is similar to the Brahma temple in its layout and design, but it is more prominent in size. It has a square shape, and inside it, there is a high lingam that stands at a height of 2.5 meters and has a diameter of 1.1 meters.
The base platform on which the lingam rests is 1.2 meters high and has a diameter of 7.6 meters. On the lingam, inscriptions are written in the Nagari script (the ancestor script of Devanagari, Nandinagari, and other variants), a type of ancient Indian writing.
Significance of Matangeshwara Temple
The Matangeshvara Temple is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus, and it attracts a large number of devotees every year. The temple is open to visitors every day, and there is no entry fee to visit the temple.
The temple is the only Hindu temple among the Western temples in Khajuraho still actively used for worship. The temple is believed to be the main temple of Khajuraho, and it is said that the town was named after the Khajur tree that stands near the temple. The temple is also known for its 8-feet high lingam, a symbol of God Shiva.
The Matangeshvara temple is a perfect example of the Nagara style of architecture, characterized by its curvilinear shape and the presence of a shikhara or tower. The temple is made of sandstone and is rectangular with a flat roof. The temple’s entrance has a small porch, and the sanctum sanctorum houses the lingam of Lord Shiva.
Mystery of Matangeshwar Temple
The Matangeshvara temple holds a fascinating mystery surrounding its main deity, the Matangeshwar Shivling. According to the local legends and myths, the Shivling, or the sacred symbol of Bhagwan Shiva, present at the Matangeshwar Shiva temple in Khajuraho, is not an ordinary stone but a living Shivling that grows taller each passing year. This unique Shivling is believed to increase by an inch annually, upwards and downwards.
The temple priests carefully measure the Shivling on every Kartik Purnima, an important day in the Hindu calendar. The growth of the Shivling has captivated the imaginations of devotees and visitors alike.
The enchanting legend associated with the Matangeshvara temple mystery adds to its allure. It is said that a long time back, Bhagwan Shiva, pleased with the righteousness of Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers, bestowed upon him a precious and magical stone known as Markand Mani. Recognizing the stone’s significance, Yudhishthira entrusted it to a revered sage named Matanga Rishi for safekeeping.
In due course, Matanga Rishi, concerned about the stone’s security, passed it on to Harshavardhan. Fearing for its safety, Harshavardhan decided to bury the Markand Mani underground. To everyone’s astonishment, a miraculous occurrence took place as a result. A divine Shivling formed around the magical stone. With the Markand Mani’s mystical powers, the Shivling has been growing steadily yearly.
The belief is that the top part of the Shivling reaches toward heaven. At the same time, the bottom extends towards Patal Lok, the netherworld. It is predicted that when the bottom part of the Shivling eventually reaches Patal Lok, the current era known as Kali Yuga will end, marking a significant transition in cosmic time.
Visiting Matangeshvara Temple
The Matangeshwara Temple is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus, and it attracts a large number of devotees every year. The temple is open to visitors every day, and there is no entry fee to visit the temple. Visitors can spend around 30 minutes exploring the temple and admiring its architecture and religious significance.
The temple is close to the Lakshmana Temple and easily accessible by road. Visitors can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the temple. The temple is located in the heart of Khajuraho, and visitors can explore the other temples in the Western group of temples after visiting the Matangeshvara temple.
The Matangeshwar Mahadev Temple in Khajuraho holds a special significance as it appears to have paved the way for many temples constructed in later centuries, such as the Adinatha Temple. Moreover, this temple embodies the critical characteristics of the Nagara style of architecture, which was prominent in the region.
To enter the temple, one must ascend a steep flight of stairs on a square platform to the entrance. The temple structure consists of several parts. First, there is a front porch called Ardha Mandapa, followed by a smaller Maha Mandapa. Finally, the innermost sanctum is called the Garbagriha. Above the Garbagriha, there is a distinct tower-like structure called Shikhara. An enclosed pathway called Pradakshina path also surrounds the Garbagriha, with balconies offering a view.
The temple’s outer walls are simple and devoid of ornamental designs. However, near the temple’s entrance is a small statue of Bhagwan Ganesh, the elephant-headed deity called the “Vighnaharta,” a remover of obstacles. This presence adds a spiritual touch and serves as a symbol of auspiciousness.
In conclusion, the Matangeshvara Temple in Khajuraho is a must-visit Hindu temple dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva. It is the only Hindu temple among the Western group of temples in Khajuraho that is still actively used for worship. The temple is known for its 8-feet high lingam and its simple architecture. It attracts many devotees yearly. Visitors can easily access the temple by road and spend time exploring its religious significance and architectural beauty.
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