Chausath Yogini Mandir - Jabalpur
Goddesses have always had a special and higher position in Hinduism. Numerous temples dedicated to them are proof to this fact. Apart from the Shaktipeeths that we have in India, there are certain temples dedicated to Yoginis, or female masters of Yoga, and broadly equated to Goddess Parvati. These shrines have niches of 64 yoginis but some have more. Out of the 4 known Chausath Yogini Temples in India, one such is in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.
Chausath Yogini temples date back to the 9th century AD, but were discovered in the 20th century. They are in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha. I always wanted to visit one of these special temples, not just because these are dedicated to yoginis but also because of the mystery and amazing stories linked to it. The 64 yoginis also represents the 64 dance forms that Shiva is master at. The architecture is also such that all of them face the Shivalinga which marks their respect to Him.
The beauty of these temples lie in its architecture - Hypaethral, or commonly known as roofless structures. Normally temples are enclosed and have roofs over it, just like any other place of worship. But Chausath Yogini temples follow the roofless style which can also be seen in various Roman architectures. Recall the 'Colloseum'.
The Jabalpur located Chausath Yogini was built in the 10th century AD by Kalachuri Dynasty, however, there are shrines in the compound that dates back to 8th century AD. It is located near the Bhedaghats that is the most popular tourist site of Jabalpur. Unlike the 64 shrines as the name suggests, this temple has 81 shrines - 64 for the Yoginis and the remaining of other Goddesses and Ganesha.
Popular Scholar of Asian Religions - Shaman Hatley termed it as 'the most imposing and the best of yogini temples'.
Indian Parliament design inspired by Chausath Yogini
It is believed that the current Indian Parliament, designed by Sir Edward Lutyens and Herbert Bakers, took inspiration from the Chausath Yogini Temples' architecture. The basic structure of the central building surrounded by a circular arc with an open roof resembles very much these temples. However, there is no historical proof of Lutyens visiting these temples in MP. Some even say that it was inspired by the Roman Colosseum. However, it is to be noted that both Indian and Roman history is the oldest in the world and there is no doubt that the architectural know-how must be shared between the two.
Chausath Yogini, Morena
Instagram pic credits: kuldip_singh_gahalod
The Attack by Aurangzeb
It is believed that when Aurangzeb attacked the temple, he destroyed every idol inside the temple with his sword. The moment he tried to destroy the Shivaling and Shiva Parvati statue he heard a loud sound of bees, a flow of milk, and vibration inside his legs. He then decided to let go of the idol and went away.
The temple was also considered as the hub of Tantrik knowledge, which the Yoginis excelled in, and people from all around the world are believed to have visited this to learn. It is also believed that the same energies are still prevalent and hence it is not allowed or advised to visit it after the sunset.
Here is a sneak peak into the temple
How to visit?
It is easy to take any transport from the main city to Bhedaghats. Being a popular spot, there won't be any problem with mapping the location. Do remember that it can only be accessed by climbing some steep stairs which can be tiring. However, there is also a plane slope that runs along with the stairs.
India has a lot to be discovered which cannot be done in one's lifetime. Temples, in general, are the best places to learn about ancient science, rituals, stories, and incidents related to it. The beauty of earlier architecture, intricate designs, and significance can be easily seen. This will not only make you wonder about this marvel but also feel proud of the unlimited knowledge that we once possessed, which now seems to be lost.