This is probably the very first time I had visited a temple, which actually did not look like a proper temple. Only the foundation plinth could tell the visitor that once stood here a magnificent temple in the middle of nowhere. There were just rubbles and randomly placed stone slabs. I had read so much about this place and finally when I was here there was nothing significant to be seen.
Bilaspur is indeed a land of mystery, being primarily an industrial town with a transportation hub people often do not associate this place with heritage. In reality, Bilaspur has close proximity to some of the most fascinating temples that can be found in India.
Around 28 kilometers from Bilaspur lies a small village by the name of “Tala” and this place is famous for two temples located right next to each other and goes by the name of Devrani Jethani Temple. Archaeological Survey of India has recently covered up both the temple ruins with metal corrugated sheets to protect the remaining structures. This has both a plus point as well minus point, visually the temples have lost its charm as all one can see are iron support structures holding up the metal corrugated roof. On a positive side, the remaining part of the temple will be protected from further degradation from weather impact.
Discovery of Tala Temples
The temples of this region were originally discovered by J D Wangler who was an associate of Sir Alexander Cunningham famous for being the one who formed Archaeological Survey of India. This discovery was done around the year 1878.
However extensive excavation was only done by ASI as late as 1977. During the excavation artifacts such as silver coin was discovered. This silver coin belonged to the Sharabhpuriya Dynasty under the rule of the then ruler Prasannamatra thus dating these temples back to 6AD.
The naming of these temples as Devrani Jethani Temple has been attributed to Prasannamatra who built these two temples for his daughters-in-law. Devrani (elder sister in law) and Jethani (younger sister in law).
Amongst the two temples, this is slightly in a better condition as you can see some existing structures, which make it look like a temple in the first place. This is a Shiva temple, which you can clearly make out by the depictions on the inner walls of the temple.
The temple is built with red sandstone and apart from the raised foundation; the columns are still very much visible. What is missing is the temple roof, which now stands covered to protect the interiors of the temple. The various sections of the temple are also visible. The walls surrounding the temple have exquisite stone carvings and are still very much clearly visible as that of leaves, flowers and various patterns.
One of the unique pieces of architecture which you can see right outside the temple is the stone sculpture Shiva in its unique “Rudra” position. Unlike any other Shiva structure, you will surely not be able to understand the significance of this unless someone tells you about it.
This version of Shiva tells the various personalities of him. All throughout the sculpture, you will find various animal figures, which may symbolize the whole life form in the universe evolving from Shiva himself. The whole structure is covered with various human and non-human faces. Some refer to this as the tantric version of Shiva never seen anywhere else in India.
Located right next to the Devrani Temple is another temple structure known as the Jethani Temple. This temple similarly is also covered on top with metal corrugated sheets but very little of the main temple remains visible. What is only visible is the base foundation of the temple and various stone structures, which gives us some glimpse of the grand temple that this once used to be. The two stone elephants are one of the grandest and truly tells you what the temple must have been when it was functional.
The temple resembles a massive chariot and the elephants were carved to show the chariot being drawn by these elephants.
How to Reach Devrani Jethani Temple?
Bilaspur is the main hub from where you can easily reach Tala. There are no busses or auto services thus the best option would be to book a car and take you to this place. This place is located right next to Maniyari River. The actual name of the village is Talagao and apart from this ancient temple, there is a small park developed next to the river where you can enjoy the view of the river.
I would like to thank The Aananda Imperial for inviting me along with other bloggers and vloggers to experience their hospitality and to explore in and around Bilaspur. Other team members included Anusreea Paul Mukherjee & Swarnava Mukherjee, Luna Chatterjee, Amrita Sen, Prithwiraj Ghosh, and Raj Dey.