Do you know about the oldest Hindu temple in the world?
Mundeshwari Devi Temple in the Kaimur district of Bihar is one of the oldest Hindu temples in the world. According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the inscription near the temple says that the temple has been existing since 108AD. The temple is located amid the beautiful Kaimur range at 600 feet on Mundeshwari Hills. The temple is dedicated to Maa Shakti & Lord Shiva. People say “It is the oldest functional temple of the world, as the temple rituals are being carried out for a long.”
I had been planning to explore the Kaimur Range of Bihar for a long. In my earlier blog series of Kaimur District, I have shared about my wonderful and mesmerising trip to Karamchat Dam & Shergarh Fort. On the next day of it, we (my sister, brother-in-law and Eili) planned to explore the Kaimur range, the long road trip and drive on hills in Bihar. I always dreamed about the road trip in Bihar that goes on the hill with some hairpin bends. But before starting this incredible road journey of the Kaimur range, which also encloses a beautiful Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary, we must visit a famous temple at Bhabua town of Kaimur district, which suddenly turn out in my mind after researching about Kaimur.
Way to the Temple
We decided to visit Mundeshwari Devi Temple early in the morning. Bhabua is a very small and beautiful town in the Kaimur district. It is well developed with wide roads, many malls, hotels and restaurants. I found a very good ambience and people in the town after staying for two days. I feel good talking to people, they are very helpful.
We started early in the morning for the temple from Hotel Sivoy in Bhabua. Mundeshwari Hills site is just 15km from the city centre toward Bhagwanpur. The temple of located above 600 feet, a very narrow and steep road merely of 2 km, made for a car or other small vehicle to reach the temple. The walking trail to the temple is just 1km. I suggest you take the walking trail to reach the temple during the late daytime as a rush in the narrow road make the road jam. As we reach early in the morning around 8:00 AM, so we did catch any traffic while taking the road. There is very limited parking space on the top.
Inside the temple: Abode of Shiva and Shakti
The temple is unique with its octagonal plan, bold masonry, and with few stone carvings that belongs to Gupta period. It deceits Nagara style of temple architecture. There is some fine latticed stonework on the northern window and the temple door facing the porch is a fine specimen of architecture with various types of stone craving. At the entrance of the temple, the door jambs are seen with carved images of Dwarapalas (Gatekeepers) Ganga, Yamuna and many other statues of Devis. The main deities in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple are of the Devi Mundeshwari and Chaturmukh (four-faced) Shiva linga. There are also two stone vessels of unusual design. The temple also has murtis of other popular gods such as Ganesha, Surya and Vishnu. Several statues and rock-carved figures on the eastern slope of the hill reveal that the place was once the site of a cluster of temples and educational institutions and Mundeshwari Bhawani temple was the main shrine.
The rituals in this temple have been performed non-stop for many years. The aboriginal tribe of Cheros worshipped Maa Mundeshwari Bhawani called Shakti, or Durga. She was made the main deity of the temple. The Mukhalingam, or Lord Shiva also occupied centre stage have four faces are also worshipped in the same temple. Grand celebration takes place during Navratri. The other important day in the temple is Shivratri and Ramnavami as well. These days devotees rush to the temple in large numbers from different corners of the town as well as outside.
Other oldest temples of the world
The other oldest temples in the world are Changu Narayan Temple in Kathmandu, Lingaraj Mandir Bhubaneswar, Prambanan Temple Indonesia, Brihadeeswarar Temple Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. Chennakeshava Temple Karnataka, Tungnath Temple Uttarakhand, Varadaraja Perumal Temple Tamil Nadu and Konark Sun Temple, Odisha.
- Mundeshwari Mahotsava is celebrated annually on 7 and 8 April, full of spirituality.
- The devotees visit the temple in large numbers during Navratri, Shivratri and Ramnavami.
How to reach
The Bhabua town is well connected by road as well as rail. The nearest railway station is Bhabua Road (Mohania), with frequent trains from Patna, Gaya and Mughal Sarai. If you want to visit via road, it would be much better, as Bhabua town is connected by Grand Trunk road. The GT is very well connect with Gaya, Varanasi, Patna and Sasaram. If you are coming from Patna I will suggest you take Ara, Jagdispur, Dinara routes to reach Mohania and then Bhabua. This route is just excellent to drive around 200 Km to reach Bhabua in 3 to 4 hours.