RATANPUR: A PICTORIAL JOURNEY
Ratanpur, thought in state of obscurity today, was once an important seat of power. Kalchuri Kings commanded Dakshin Koshala, area covering major part of Chhattisgarh state today, from Ratanpur. Thus Ratanpur was historic capital of Chhattisgarh and as such it has an important place in history and culture of Chhattisgarh state. In fact, even before Kalachuri Kings started ruling from Ratanpur, it has its own importance of being a city having its existence in all four yuga. It was known as Manipur in Stya Yuga and Dwapar Yuga, as Heerapur in Treta Yuga, as Ratnapur in early Kaliyuga and as Ratanpur in modern times.
Ratanpur as a mythological city –
Ratanpur city has been mentioned in Ashwamedha Parva of Mahabharat has links with Ramayana and has also been mentioned in Satyanarayan Katha.
There are many mythological stories connected to Ratanpur –
a) Kapardidev, husband of Ravana’s sister Surpanakha was ruling from this place in Treta Yuga. He kidnapped devi Parvathi and consequently was killed by lord Shiva. Surpanakha wept so much on her husband’s bereavement that tears rolling from her kajal decorated eyes formed a pond of dark coloured water. This pond is known as Kajal Talab of Ratanpur.
b) This place is considered birth place of Kaushalya, mother of Lord Rama.
c) During Mahabharat period King Murdhwaj was ruler of Ratanpur. His son prince Tamradhwaj stopped the horse of Ashwamedha Yajya of Pandav King Yudhisthir and defeated great warrior Arjun in following battle.
d) Mythology also has it that the shoulder of Lord Shiva’s consort Sati fell at Ratanpur making it one of the shaktipeeths.
Ratanpur as a historical city –
Major role of Ratanpur in history started with Kalachuris. Kalachuris were one of the most prominent Rajput rulers of Medieval India. They ruled in various parts of India between 7th century to 18th Century. They had many branches. Most prominent ones are known as Kalachris of Mahismati, Kalachuris of Tripuri, Kalachris of Suryapur and Kalachuris of Ratanpur. Near 1000AD prince Kalingaraja of Tripuri branch established his capital at Tamman and thus founded Ratanpur dynasty of Kalachris. This branch of Kalachris also called themselves Haihaivavanshis. Around 1050 AD King Ratandev shifted capital of Kalchuri kingdom from Tumman to Ratanpur. Various Kings of this dynasty ruled over Dakshin-Koshala (the area now known as Chhattisgarh) for over 700 years from Ratanpur. The rulers of the dynasty was as under- Kalingraja→Kamalaraja→Ratnadev→Prithvidev→Jajjwaldev→RatnadevII etc. Among later kings Kalyan Sai was most prominent who was contemporary of Mughal King Jehangir. During their long rule Kalchuris left various powerful imprints in the area, which can be traced in and around Ratanpur.
Lets stroll around Ratanpur :
1. RATANPUR FORT :
This is entrance of the Ratanpur Fort also known as Gaja Kila. This fort was built by King Prithvi Dev.
Just after entering the gate at right side we find many sculpture carved on wall. This one is depicting a mythological story when Ravana, to appease Lord Shiva, offered his ten heads during penance. The sculpture is of 13th century AD and is made of purple sandstone.
This is Ganesh Gate of the Fort. The wall of the Gate is ornamented with a series of small size statues which was mark of almost all medieval age Rajput architecture.
Jagannath temple and Lakshmi Narayan Temple are most prominant temples of theFort. This is inside view of Laksmi Narayan Temple. Idols are of Narayana, Lakshmi and Garud. The idols are made of white marble.
This one is another temple adjacent to Lakshmi Narayan Temple.
There is no idol in this temple. Someone has stolen it. But the structure signifies the Nagar style of temple architecture prevalent in those days.
There are many structures inside the fort built in different eras, maximum portion of all of them has collapsed today and are in dilapidated conditions.
This one though also in dilapidated conditions looks imposing. Like a fort inside the fort.
In one of the palace while almost all of the structure has collapsed, these stairs has withstood the onslaught of time. The stairs are very narrow as was prevalent in forts of medieval India.
Childeren play cricket inside the fort and unknowingly damage these important ruins which has a very important place in history of Chhattisgarh.
One of those innumerable Lalits has tried to immortalise his name by scrubbing them on one of the walls of the Fort. We Indians have to go a long way before our history and civilisation could be proud of us.
The Fort is also being used as general pathway by local people and sadly this area is also being used as a public tiolet.
This remains of a huge structure is placed at the Gate of the Fort. This is supposed to be image of Kalyan Sai, one of the prominent king of the dynasty.
2. This is Budhheshwar Mahadeo Temple.
The temple was built by Prithvidev II. The linga here is swayambhu (i.e. created by nature). This linga is unique in the way that no matter how much water is poured on this linga water level does not increases. Also in summer when adjacent locality suffers from scarcity of water, level of water in linga remains constant. The priest of the temple informed that actually this is not linga but jata i.e. hair lock of shiva.
This is close up view of the Shiva Jata of Budhheshwar Mahadeo Temple.
MAHAMAYA TEMPLE –
Ratnapur is a sacred place mainly due to Mahamaya Devi temple. This is a shaktipeeth. Mythology of Shaktipeeths is that once King Daksha father-in –law of Lord Shiva observed a yajna. He invited various kings but not Lord Shiva. Sati considering it an insult of his husband jumped in sacrificial fire and died. Enraged Shiva held the charred body of Sati and started Tandav Nritya with intention to destroying the whole universe. Lord Vishnu with benevolent intention of saving the universe and bringing back Lord Shiva out of the trance threw his sudarshan chakra and cut the body of sati in pieces. These pieces fell at 51various places on the earth forming 51 shaktipeeths. It is believed that shoulder of Sati fell at Ratanpur and the area became a shaktipeeth. Ratnadev I constructed Mahamaya Temple in around 1050AD. The temple has dual idol of Mahalaksmi and Mahasaraswati in garbhagriha. The idol-duo is unique. A small idol of Mahakali is installed at back of the temple completing the sacred trio of goddesses. The temple has been a place of tantric practices from ancient time. Rise of the temple has been decorated with symbol of human skull.
Photography of the Garbhagriha of the temple is prohibited but photographs are available at internet. One of them can be viewed at http://www.mahamayaratanpur.com/photos.htm
There is a story behind shifting of Kalchuri capital from Tumman to Ratanpur. Once king Ratnadev was on a hunting expedition and was in area where Mahamaya Mandir of Ratanpur is located when night fell. As the area was a deep forest and full of wild animal the king decided to spend the night at branch of a tree rather than returning to his capital. During the night the king saw Goddess Kali holding her court with other goddesses beneath the tree. After returning to Tumman the following night the king again saw Goddess Kali in his dream and considered it as call of Goddess and decided to shift his abode from Tumman to Ratanpur. More interestingly, around 1000 years on, the tree is still traceable and is located in Mahamaya Temple complex.
to be continued……
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