Bateshwar Group of Temples

Bateshwar Hindu temples (or Batesara, Bateśvar) are a group of nearly 200 sandstone Hindu temples and their ruins in north Madhya Pradesh in post-Gupta, early Pratihara style of North Indian temple architecture. It is about 35 kilometres (22 mi) north of Gwalior and about 30 kilometres (19 mi) east of Morena town. The temples are mostly small and spread over about 25 acres (10 ha) site. They are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti – representing the three major traditions within Hinduism. The site is within the Chambal River valley ravines, on the north-western slope of a hill near Padavali known for its major medieval era Vishnu temple. The Bateshwar temples were built between the 8th and the 10th-century.The site is likely named after the Bhuteshvar Temple, the largest Shiva temple at the site. It is also referred to as Batesvar temples site or Batesara temples site.

The temples as they now appear are in many cases reconstructed from the fallen stones in a project begun by the Archaeological Survey of India in 2005.

According to Madhya Pradesh Directorate of Archaeology, this group of 200 temples were built during the reign of Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty. According to Michael Meister, an art historian and a professor specializing in Indian temple architecture, the earliest temples in the Bateshwar group near Gwalior are likely from the 750-800 CE period.

The temples were destroyed after the 13th century; it is not clear if this was by an earthquake, or Muslim forces.The site was visited and its ruins reported by Alexander Cunningham in 1882 as a “collection of more than 100 temples large and small to the southeast of Paravali [Padavali]]”, the latter with a “very fine old temple”. Bateshwar was notified by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as a protected site in 1920. Limited recovery, standardized temple numbering, ruins isolation with photography, and site conservation effort was initiated during the colonial British era. Several scholars studied the site and included them in their reports. For example, the French archaeologist Odette Viennot published a paper in 1968 that included a discussion and photographs of the numbered Batesvar temples.

In 2005, the ASI began an ambitious project to collect all the ruins, reassemble them and restore as many temples as possible, under an initiative led by the ASI Bhopal region’s Superintending Archaeologist K.K. Muhammed.Under Muhammed’s leadership, some 60 temples were restored. Muhammed has continued to campaign for the site’s further restoration and calls it “my place of pilgrimage. I come here once in every three months. I am passionate about this temple complex.”

According to Muhammed, the Bateshwar complex was “built on the architectural principles enunciated in two Sanskrit Hindu temple architecture texts, Manasara Shilpa Shastra composed in the 4th century CE, and Mayamata Vastu Shastra written in the 7th century CE”.He followed these texts as his team of over 50 workers collected pieces of the ruins from the site and like a jigsaw puzzle tried to put it back together.The site has been a “massive mounds of rubble” of temple parts, states Subramanian, with “ruins lying everywhere”.

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