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Chamba > Shakti Temple Chhatrarhi


The temple of Shakti Devi at Chhatrarhi  belongs to the same period as that of lakshana, is a good specimen of the Hill shrine described above. The outer doorway, however, is evidently a later addition, and the coarse frescoes on the walls of  the cella are of quite recent date. The ornamentation of the inner door-way is very similar to that of the Lakshana Temple. Here  also we find, over the entrance, a row of flying figures --four on each side-the two in the centre carrying a crown, whereas the remaining six are accompanied by female figures each seated on the hip of its companion. Beneath these there is a row of thirteen cross-legged figures, of which nine represent the Nava-grahas, i.e, the Sun, the Moon, the five planets-Mars, Mercury, Julpiter, Venus and Saturn-the eclipse-demon Rahu and the comet Ketu. Rahu is represented by a demon's head without a body, in agreement with the myth told in the Puranas. It is said that Rahu stealthily partook of the nectar (amrita ) produced by the churning of the ocean, but was betrayed by the Sun and the Moon, who had noticed the theft. He was beheaded by Vishnu, but the head had become immortal by the use of the nectar. Since then the Rahu head persecutes the Sun and the Moon and causes them to eclipse. The four remaining figures at the two ends possibly represent the Guardians of the Four Regions (Lokapalas).

Along the door-jambs we find a double row of standing figures on each side of the entrance. Those of the two outer rows alternate with crouching animal-headed figurines, which act as Atlantes, and presumably are meant either for Rakshasas or for the Ganas of Shiva. Among the standing figures we notice to the right the six-faced Karttikeya with his peacock, and Indra the rain-god holding a thunderbolt        ( vajra ) and accompanied by his vehicle the elephant (Airavata ) ; and to the left the four-armed Brahma, carrying a rosary and a water-pot and accompanied by a pair of geese. The inner rows consist each of four figures. On the left side we recognise Vishnu three-faced, the side faces being a lion's and a boar's; and Durga slaying the Buffalo-demon ( Mahishasura). The two lowermost figures are again Gangla and Yamuna, the personifications of the sacred rivers of India. In the upper corners of the door-way we notice the same winged dragons as are found on the Lakshana temple.

The wooden pillars, with their pot-and-foliage capitals, supporting elaborately carved bracket-capitals in which couchant bulls and other animals have been introduced, deserve special notice.

Related Keywords

Temples of Bharmaur  Temple at Saho. Architecture of Hill Temples  
Oldest Devi temples     Shakti Temple Chhatrarhi Chamunda temple Devi Kothi