SAS BAHU Temple, Gwalior Fort

By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2020

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1. Minutes away from the Man Singh Palace is the Sas-Bahu Temple. Consists of 2 temples. Architecture from outside is not impressive so might skip. Please stop by and spend time, it is a marvel. Front view north west of Sas temple. It has 3 entrance porches, you see one on right of pic.

2. This smaller is Bahu mandir. Behind it is fort wall. Original name of temple is ‘Sahastrabahu’ meaning 1000 arms. It is also another name for Lord Vishnu. Another name is Harisadanam Temple. Made by Kachhaghatapa rulers. Construction was started during reign of King Ratanpala & completed during reign of king Mahipala in 1093 A.D.

3. Sas temple has a Garbha-graha, Antara, Mahamandapa & Ardhamandapa. The exuberantly carved pillars & ceiling of the central hall are flanked by porches on 3 sides, the exterior walls are richly carved with geometric floral designs, elephant figures, dancers, musicians and scenes from Krishna Lila. The exterior decoration of the smaller temple is similar. It has a vestibule & a small central hall.

4. I stood at the smaller temple & clicked view of fort walls both sides. This is south side. Right of pic in white in gurudwara, close to that in Scindia School. Centre of pic amidst trees green structure looks like a mosque. Visited in January 2020.

5. View from smaller temple north side. U see Man Singh Palace, Karan Mahal. Right of pic is pathway for horses & elephants to fort gate. “The temples, which faced large-scale destruction during the Delhi sultanate rule, have been largely reconstructed and repaired at various times.”

6. Closer view of temples, front is Bahu and behind is Sas. Something I liked about the design of the smaller temple. Temple is made of red sandstone. Sas means mother-in-law and Bahu means daughter-in-law.

7. Smaller temple. Note pillars and external roof design. Supporting every pillar is what looks like a being, is called KICHAK. Centre of pic 3 murtis, missed taking a close up.

8. Side panel of smaller temple. We show the full panel, lower most is Kirti Mukhas to ward away evil – found in temples across India. Pic taken before sunset.

9. A close up of the panel. Next pic is even closer. There is a Sas-Bahu temple near Udaipur too. Name of hill on which Gwalior Fort is called Gopagiri. History of fort goes back to 5th century A.D. “It has witnessed the varying fortunes of the Guptas, Hunas, Pratiharas, Kachhwahas, Tomars, Pathans, Mughals, English and the Marathas”.

10. Top line is floral design, next line not sure left side seems like boat ka oar, right shows men sitting in yogic posture, next line are elephants-front part damaged and last line is kirti mukhas.

11. Top line right is men in yogic posture, next elephants and last is kirti mukhas.. Kevinstand wrote, “A King had built the larger temple for his queen (worshipped Vishnu). When he passed away & his son became the next king, his wife asked him for a temple of her own to worship, and hence the new king built the smaller Shiva temple next to the Sas Bahu temple, where his mother prayed.”

12. South west view of the smaller Bahu Temple. It has a vestibule & a small central hall. Area is flood lit at night – missed taking pictures. I clicked pic around 5 pm and next day around 11 am.

13. Front view, u climb up steps into a hall. U can see porches on 2 sides, ie east and west. Temple is ground plus two storeys. Sculptured panels at lower level all around temple, we will see some. Temple has a pyramidal structure without any arches. There is no shikhara or tower above, perhaps collapsed.

14. North east view. Three levels of temple. “While the shikhara of the larger temple is non-existent, from the remains Cunningham derived that the plan showed a triple storied structure with balconies, and a cross foundation; thus, suggesting that the temple originally followed Bhumija style with a height of more than 100 feet.”

15. Rear south side view. Left of pic, stone wall is in place of a porch as you see on right of pic. Temple has a well maintained garden all around it.

16. Panel at temple entrance. See Ganesha Pranams. Around 1090 A.D. or today Ganesha at temple entrance. Sculptures in panels on left and right of Ganesha, partially damaged. Lower part of pic, sculptures at end of pillar with their hands up as if supporting the structure are Kichak, found in many temples.

17. Vertical view of entrance. U get a view of the sculptures that await u at entrance to sanctum.

18. Entrance left side lower panel. Please help with description ofmurti.

19. Entrance to sanctum left me spell bound – see pic top to bottom. Temple has lovely workmanship. In Gwalior Fort, also see Teli-ka Mandir or temple.

20. Panel of entrance to sanctum. Sculptures lower part of pic (usually Apsaras) damaged. Some caption info taken from an article in Financial Express & British Library sites.

21. Close up of intricately designed part at entrance, amazing this is all done in stone.

22. Wow sculpted entrance close up. Look at the entire panel.

23. Close up top part of panel. The entrance way holds a Garuda on the lintel (centre of pic), while left to right Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are carved on the panel right above it.

24. Lower part, as u enter see 4 huge pillars before u enter the central hall area.

25. 2 carved pillars in front, 2 behind in the main mandapa and then sanctum.

26. 2 pillars front, such pillars on each side to support structure. In centre is entrance to sanctum. “The porch is carried on four quadripartite Ruchaka pillars of the ghatapallava type capped by load-bearing kumaras and tranga-brackets.”

27. Sculptures pillars damaged – please help with description.

28. Main mandapa hall. “The hall, supported by intricate piers, has an elaborate 3-tiered roof, lavish domical ceilings & 4 small shrines at the corners. The whole edifice is decorated with relief sculptures, vegetal patterns.” “Inside the main mandapa there are 4 carved pillars that bear the weight of the upper storey.” “Mandapa has a lofty (about 24.40 m high) samvarana (bell -roof).”

29. Close up of ceiling. Amazing work.

30. Pillar close up.

31. Panel above entrance to sanctum. Please help with description.

32. Close up of panel. Please help with description.

33. Side panel of porch east side, evening view. Some sculptures damaged.

34. Close up, sadly mutilated.

35. Another panel.

36. North east facing porch, taken pic like this to give you a sense of the height and design.

37. Centre is entrance to central hall that u saw earlier. 3 sides of temple have similar design, this is ground floor. Next two pics are floor 1 and 2.

38. First floor. Note ceiling and pillar designs, observe and enjoy.

39. Second floor, see ceiling design.

40. Vertical view of 3 levels.

41. Cross section of east facing porch, gives u idea of design.

42. South west view of rear side of temple.

43. Close up of south side of temple, 3 levels.

44. Close up of lower level panel, damaged or destroyed not sure.

45. Lower level panel. To read about fort and temple https://asibhopal.nic.in/monument/gwalior_gwalior_gwaliorfort_more.html

46. Lower level panel. See lovely pictures of both temples https://kevinstandagephotography.wordpress.com/2019/04/06/sas-bahu-temple-gwalior-sasbahu/

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