India

Khajuraho – Pratapeshwar Temple

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The Pratapeshwar Temple at Khajuraho is likely to be either the first or last temple you come to, depending on which direction you decided to take on the circular route around the western group complex.

You will probably notice that this temple is a little different to any other structure in the compound and there’s good reason for that. The Pratapeshwar Temple is by far the newest temple here, built over 800 years after the other temples surrounding it.

If you go up the flight of stairs on to the platform, turn around and look south east, there’s a clue as to the origins of this temple. Outside the complex, across the road and behind a row of shops and restaurants, you’ll be able to see the upper most part of a much larger building that mirrors some of the architectural styles of this temple.

That building is the chhatri of Raja Pratap Singh, who built the Pratapeshwar Temple as a memorial to himself, essentially to immortalise his name. Raja Pratap Singh died in 1854, so we can date this monument probably to within a couple of decades before that. You can read a little more about his life in my blog post here.

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The Pratapeshwar Temple is an interesting conglomeration of three Hinduistic architectural styles. It has a Rajputana dome in the front, a pagoda style of ceiling in the middle, and then a typical brahminical Shikhara at the back. The shikhara is very reminiscent of those that can be seen crowning the fantastic chhatris at Orchha.

Inside the temple is quite plain as one would expect, with a single black polished linga in the far room. Usually kings after creating monuments like this in their name would install some sort of mythological statue for the sake of its protection.

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Access to the inside of the Pratapeshwar Temple has only been possible in the last couple of years. The temple was closed in 1956 due to the States Reorganisation Act, and the state archaeology department was unable to take care of the building thereafter. So the doors remained locked until late 2016.

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The internet is full of errors regarding the name of this temple. Many sites incorrectly label it as the Parvati Temple which actually stands a little further to the north west, Google Maps has it labelled as an Islamic Temple.

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Most literature you will read on Khajuraho will fail to make any reference to this building, which is a bit of a shame as I enjoyed the contrast it offered. It’s quite unlike any other structure in the western compound.

 

Group Khajuraho Monuments
Western Lakshmana Varaha Kandariya Mahadeva Mahadeva Shrine ♦ Jagadambi Chitragupta Parvati Vishvanatha Nandi Pratapeshwar Bhairava Statue MatangeshvaraChausath YoginiLalguan Mahadeva Chopra Tank
Eastern Hanuman  Brahma  Vamana  Javari  Ghantai  Adinatha  Parshvanatha  Shantinatha
Southern Duladeo  Chaturbhuj Bijamandal

 

 


 

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