Last year, my trip to Chhattisgarh was a pleasant surprise, both the way it all happened and how the tribal planet left me in awe of it. So much so that I can’t stop writing about it. My trip was an eventful one where I made a few new friends, witnessed history up close, stayed in a forest, and got mesmerized by a magical waterfall. Today, I take you through a visual treat to the historical quaint town of Sirpur situated on the banks of Mahanadi. Sirpur finds mentions in the records dating back to 8th Century AD. It was the capital of Somvanshi kings as well as a hub of Buddhists. History narrates that an earthquake in the 12th Century AD buried this ancient town under the earth. No wonder it has been nothing less than an archaeologist’s dream come true.
We reached Sirpur in the afternoon and headed straight to the Laxman Temple which is one of India’s finest brick temples. While I am not a real big fan of temples and religious trips, this one left me in awe. I stood there, admiring this ancient beauty which was as old as the 7th Century. The bricks, all intact and very beautifully carved to make this an astonishing architecture. Though I was stumped by it’s beauty but all credits go to Chhattisgarh Tourism for maintaining this age old structure so well. Even the temple complex is beautiful, making it a perfect frame for a perfect picture.
There’s a small museum in the temple premises where the artifacts extracted from this area are proudly displayed. Most seem to be remains of an old temple, Hindu Gods and Goddesses in various forms. There are two galleries and each one takes you to a long lost era.
The Laxman Temple left me in awe of the ancient times and and I could not brush off the fact that I felt a strong pull towards history. It only intensified when we reached the Buddha Vihar which hosted ruins of an age old monastery, with some of the chambers of buddhists still intact, after centuries!
By now we were all pretty tired and we thought it would be best to spend the rest of the afternoon, napping. So, we left for Hiuen Tsiang Tourist Resort where we were hosted by Chhattisgarh Tourism Board. The rooms were mostly empty and they asked us to check-in in whichever one we liked. Without giving much thought, I and a couple of my friends went inside one of the rooms and decided to stay there. We were so tired to even check the other rooms, so we just put our luggage in the first one that was opened. To our utter disbelief, we were later told that His Holiness Dalai Lama had stayed in the room when he visited Sirpur a couple of months ago. Could there be a coincidence more beautiful than this one? It had been named the ‘The Dalai Lama Room’ ever since. We were so tired that we didn’t notice those words written on the door. It is for things like this that travel is makes me want to always be on the move. If, only.
We only had a day to explore Sirpur, so once again we left the quiet corners of our own solitudes and ganged up to see everything else Sirpur had to offer. We visited a couple of other archeological sites and by now, we were kind of understanding the language these ruins spoke. Some more glimpses to follow.
There’s this one structure that stood out from all the others which we had seen by now. Our guides from Chhattisgarh Tourism had very cleverly preserved the best for the last. Surang Tila, as it is called an age old Shiva Temple and it’s beauty surpasses any man made thing I have ever seen. The time we visited, Shivratri was round the corner, so there were many a kanwars visiting this ancient Shiva Temple. The orange of their attire made my picture vibrant and I couldn’t thank them enough for that. The whole structure seemed to have been excavated from the ground in one piece. The stairs bending in a non-uniform manner being testimony for the temple to have stood the test of time and pressure.
Shiva is known to be the deity whom many a devils pray too, as well. At a secluded point in the premises was this old Tantrik Temple built to please Shiva, but for the wrong reasons. Nobody knew much about it, or maybe they were reluctant in letting out the story. The little I could extract out from the guide was that there was something wrong in the directions in which the Shiv Linga inside is placed and that conforms to some negative energies. But, both the right and the wrong temple being in the same premises was a reassurance to me.
I saw an amazing sunset from the top of this Tantrik Temple. It was a beautiful one, and I forgot to click any pictures. Best time to visit is when the sun is just setting, and it’s reflection making the temple glow. As the sun set, we left for the banks of river Mahanadi and spent some time just sitting there on the banks, each one in his/her own world, watching people go by.
There was this peace and serenity all around. I just stood there, mesmerised, thinking about many a things, remembering my loved ones and the times I had first read about this river in one of my Geography text books.