Kakanmath Temple – Defying the Laws of Gravity

Kakanmath Temple
Kakanmath Temple

Tucked away near the small village of Sihoniya, 65 km north of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, the now partially ruined Kakanmath Temple dominates the surrounding flat countryside. And yet for all that imposing stature, this temple is one that will leave you wondering just how it’s possible to be still standing.

The Kakanmath Temple was commissioned by the Kachchhapaghata ruler Kirttiraja sometime between 1015 and 1035 AD. An inscription found at the Sas Bahu temple in Gwalior records a Shiva temple being built at Siṁhapānīya which is known as Sihoniya today, so it is assumed this is that temple.

The source of the name Kakanmath is thought to be derived from kanak (meaning ‘gold’) and matha (meaning ‘shrine’), although there is a local legend that says the temple was named after Kakanavati or Kakanade, queen of Surajpala.

Standing 115 feet tall and clearly once heavily decorated, this temple is considered very similar to many of the temples that can be seen at Khajuraho. Many of the carvings are similar to those that can be seen at Khajuraho as well, I did spot one of the classic images of a woman plucking a thorn from the sole of her foot.

The pyramid-like structure has a pillared corridor leading to a central shrine. Originally the site was a temple complex, with this central temple surrounded by four subsidiary shrines.

Earthquakes and further damage from invaders has taken its toll on Kakanmath, the area surrounding the temple platform is littered with carved masonry from this and those subsidiary shrines. It’s one giant jigsaw puzzle that perhaps one day will be attempted by someone.

Subsidiary shrine at Kakanmath, one of four that were originally in the temple complex

The marvel at Kakanmath is just how this temple is managing to still stand. Stripped of most of the walls, it’s just a fragile bare skeleton of a temple now and looks as though it could fall down at any moment with even the gentlest of breezes.

Remember that this construction doesn’t use any concrete or binding agent, the entire thing is just relying on the weight of the stones in strategic positions and the ingenuity of the temple architects.

It’s staggering to think that this structure has survived for nearly a millennium. I’m convinced if anyone asked a modern-day architect to replicate what stands today they would claim it’s impossible.

The ruins at Kakanmath are so majestic, possibly more so because of the loss of the outer covering of walls. It does give you an unique insight into how these complicated buildings were originally constructed, I just hope the temple is stable enough to withstand the next 1,000 years.

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13 replies »

  1. Namaste sir, you must have noticed that the temple looks bit incomplete(like construction not completed fully). There is a legend behind the temple. The temple is said to be built in one night. It’s dedicated to Lord Shiva. Its said that the wife of the king during that era was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. And there was no such temple that time especially of Lord Shiva so that she could worshipp, which made Lord Shiva ordered his Ganas to build a temple for her. So the Ganas built the temple overnight but left the temple incomplete the next morning. So that’s why you see sir no concrete or binding agent used. Legend also say that Lord Krishna ordered the 5 Pandavas to made this temple. Which one is true we don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you notice closely, you will find almost all of the stones are having numbers. These Stones were numbered by ASI team who rebuilt this temple from the scratch by solving one of the greatest jigsaw puzzle. For your information, it was Sir Cunningham who first mentioned about the tall Shikhara of Kakanmath visible from Gwalior fort. Don’t believe in legends, they are made up by people, there is nothing true about them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Marvelous structure once upon a time, destroyed by the time and invaders.
    Must have been taken very good care by archeological department of India.
    The ancient Hindu temples such as these must prevail safely with remarkable
    Era of Indian Hindu culture.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do not believe in involvement of Ghosts in its stucture. It is really an amazing structure by highly knowledgable architects of yore, and it would not be defying gravity. Undoubtedly it is a very amazing structure, which has for centuries stood against earthquakes and,it may survive for a long period till some earthquake of high intensity further damages the structure.

    I am all praise for Mr kevinstandagehotography, who has done an indepth study of the temple, very painstakingly and presented its detailed account for raw readers like me.

    K C Bhasin
    Gp. Capt.Retd..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. super pics Kevin, u have captured it so well. loved it and regret not doing there, had been to padawali, how far is it from there.

    Wanted to use a few pics on my site esamskriti. sent a permission mail to your gmail. look forward to hearing from you. thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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