Bhitargaon – A Village Of Brick And Terracotta Temples

Bhitargaon is a small village adorned by brick and terracotta temples. Situated at Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, it has a unique historical significance with its array of ancient Hindu temples dating back to the 5th century. Locals believe that in the earlier days a city existed by the name of Pushp-Pur (city of flowers). It had two parts, the inner part was known as Bhitargaon and the outer part which was known as the Barigaon. Bhitargaon in colloquial language means the inner village.

The Largest Indian Temple of Bricks

Bhitargaon is of immense popularity within tourists, interested in ancient Indian history, mainly because of the Bhitargaon Brick Temple. It is one of the oldest temple belonging to the Gupta period of the 5th century AD. The temple has survived 16 centuries which suggests the strength of the materials used for construction. Though the temple had suffered damages but it was reconstructed and renovated and granted the look which we can observe now in the modern era.

The temple was discovered by Alexander Cunningham when he visited the place in 1877 and 1878. He was phenomenal in recovering the temple from its ruins and preserving the prestigious heritage of India. During the excavation work conducted by him and his team, many terracotta panels and bricks were discovered which were utilized for the restoration work of the temple. The temple is now under the protection of the Archaeological Department of India.

The base of the temple is square shaped supporting a two story pyramidal sanctum. The height of the temple is about 68.25 feet above the ground level and with no windows. The walls of the temple are adorned with terracotta sculptures of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. It is an architectural marvel of intricate carvings made of terracotta and bricks. Many parts of the temple ruins were originally sent to various museums for preservation. It is estimated that there were 143 decorative terracotta panels inside the temple, a unique feature which attracts tourists interested in archaeology and architecture.

The Behta Bujurg Temple

You can also visit another ancient Hindu temple located at the Behta Bujurg village, about 4.3 km away from Bhitargaon. The temple is also preserved and protected by the Archaeological Department of India. Lord Jagannath is the principal deity of the temple along with his brother Lord Balabhadra and his sister Goddess Subhadra.

The structure of the temple is dome shaped with a simple architecture. The locals belief that the temple was constructed by the great King Harshavardhana in 600 CE. The idols inside the temple are carved out of black stone. Each idol is placed above a pedestal made of stone. The entire temple is placed on an 8 feet high platform. You can find a Blue Discus at the top of the temple with the yellow and saffron flag similar to that of the famous Puri Jagannath temple.

A unique feature of the temple is the seepage of water from its ceiling before the arrival of the monsoons. The belief is that when the water droplets are less, the area will experience moderate rainfall and when the water droplets are more the rains will be heavy. Every year the farmers depend on the temple to prepare themselves for their farming and predict the harvest. Another popular belief is that the Discus protects the place from thunderstorms due to its magnetic effect.

The Best time to visit Bhitargaon

The best time to visit Bhitargaon is between the months of October and March. The weather is pleasant and comfortable, perfect to tour around the place and indulge into the architectural marvel of the village. Summers are not convenient as the place experiences hot and humid weather. It is tough to stroll around the village. The area experiences heavy rainfall during the monsoons which turns the weather humid and wet, inconvenient for sightseeing.

How can you reach Bhitargaon?

The nearest airport is at Kanpur from where cabs and buses are available to reach the village. The nearest railway station is Kanpur Central. You can avail local transport from the station to reach Bhitargaon. The city of Kanpur is located about 43 km from the village. Tempos, cabs and buses are available frequently from the city to Bhitargaon.

Important tips before planning for a visit to Bhitargaon

  • There are no hotels in the small village hence it is advisable to reside at Kanpur and then travel to the village for a visit to the temples
  • Food is also available in few snack shops in the village, it is better to carry your own food and water bottles during the visit
  • Wear caps and sunglasses to avoid the sun rays and dust
  • Apply sunscreen lotions for protection against the heat
  • Wear light cotton clothes and comfortable shoes as you need to walk around the village to appreciate the historic beauty

Bhitargaon is a small village but the history it uplifts of ancient India is symbolic and significant. It is our responsibility to preserve and protect the temples and spread awareness among the people to visit the place to indulge into its architectural value.

Featured Photo of ‘Heritage through Terracotta paragons – Bishnupur’ by SHANTANU DUTTA under CC BY-SA 2.0

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