Wednesday 23 January 2013

The leaning temples of India

Who has not heard of the leaning tower of Pisa. Thousands and thousands of  Indian tourists have made their way to Italy to enjoy the leaning tower. But do they realise that India too has several leaning structures and they are all temples.
If  the tower of Pisa is the only leaning structure in the Italian town of the same name, here the main temple leans to one side and smaller temples around it lean the other side.
These temples are leaning even today but it has not been established whether it is due to design or default. All that the experts acknowledge is that these are the only leaning temples in and of India.
These are the temples of Huma and it is not only the only such structure in India but perhaps the only leaning temples in the world. The main temple is  dedicated to Shiva and there are several smaller tempels around it. It is located in Huma, a village situated on the banks of the Mahanadi, 23 kilometres from Sambalpur in Orissa.
Though the edifice of the temple leans, the pinnacle is perpendicular. The temple is ascribed to the Ganga Emperor Anangabhima Deva, the third. It was later renovated by Balbir Singh during his reign (1660-1690), the fifth Chauhan Emperor of  Sambalpur.
There are other temples like Bhairavi Devi and Bhairo Devi around the Shiva Temple and these built by King Ajit Singh (1766-1788) of Sambalpur.
The leaning temple is built on a rock and though it is near the Mahanadi the soil is not weak or sandy. Therefore, it cannot be said that the foundation of the Shiva Temple which has a Linga called Vimaleshwar or Bimaleshwar is weak or stands on an unstable bedrock.
Experts feel that there is a slight shift in the plinth of the structure and this might have caused the edifice of the Shiva Temple to lean in a particular direction.
The other small temples around the Shiva temples are tilted in   other directions. In fact, you can see everything in the temple complex is tilted or slanted, whether it is the temple structure or boundaries.  The Jagannath Temple, Aruna Stambha, the Kapileswar Temple built later also lean to one side
Unlike the Pisa tower, the angle of inclination here has remained stable for several decades.
The Vimaleshwar Temple has an interesting legend. It is believed that Anangabhima Deva was suffering from tuberculosis. He was asked by Shiva to build a temple.
He then walked along the Mahanadi and reached Huma where he came across a  leaning  Linga. The King then decided to build a temple and also arranged for the regular worship of the deity.
Another legend is that the temple was built by Lord Viswakarma. It is also believed that a major portion of the Linga lies hidden under the earth.
Geologists say there has been a small shift at the foundation level and this has led to the temple structures being inclined at an angle.
However, the angle is yet to be measured.
There is a special type of fish found in the river near here known as Kudo. They are so tame that they will eat food from your hands. These fishes, which are red in colour, will eat sweets and other foods from the hands of those who bathe close to the temple.
During auspicious days and on festivals, they are called by their names and given the prasad of  Shiva and other Gods. You cannot catch them as they are believed to be the servants of Gods. Want to see and feed them. Try it. Head for this small temple town. It is just 23 kms from Sambalpur.
You can stay at Sambalpur. This city is well connected by road and rail.

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