Dated back to 625 CE, Mundeshwari Temple, located at Kaura in Kaimur (Bhabua) district of Bihar, is considered to be the oldest Hindu temple in India. It is also the oldest functional temple of the world. The temple is situated at the height of 608 feet on ‘Pawra hills’ (commonly referred to as Mundeshwari hills). The temple is built in Nagara style of temple architecture. Its architecture and idols are challenged to be of the Old Saka era. The time period for this era is estimated sometime in the 1st millennium BCE as ancient Buddhist, Jaina and Hindu use its name in their inscriptions and texts. Though its adjact time of this is a subject of dispute among scholars. Even great historian ‘Alexander Cunningham’ has mentioned about Mundeshwari Temple and its historical value in one of his book.
The temple is built of stone on an octagonal plane. It is a very rare kind of structure. Its entrance has door jambs with carvings of Ganga and Yamuna. It has the unique Mukhalingam (lingam with four faces), which is the major point of fascination for the visitors. Though the main presiding deity is Devi Mundeshwari deified inside a niche (a cave kind structure). Her idol is seen with ten hands holding symbols, riding a buffalo, attributed to Mahisasuramardhin. The worship of Shakti in the form of Devi Mundeshwari in the temple is also indicative of tantric cult of worship, which is practised in Eastern India. It also has idols of other popular gods such as Ganesha, Surya and Vishnu.
The chanting sound of bells around the temple walls is truly satisfying. This temple is known to the world for its mysterious animal sacrifice. Here no animal gets killed while sacrificing. I know you are confused as well as amazed but it’s true. In this temple instead of killing the animal, the priest laid down the animal and keep a flower on it. As the flower was kept, the animal falls into unconsciousness and don’t get up till the time the flower is there. After the pooja or rituals get finished, the flower will be removed, and the animal will be awake again. How and why this happens is a mystery? Though the devotee who visits this place believes it a blessing from deity Mundeshwari.
The present condition of the temple is not very acceptable as it’s been repeatedly destroyed at different times by different rulers. It can be observed and experienced by the scattered ruins (Shilalekh) near and around the temple. Since 1915, the Archaeological Survey Of India had adopted the monument and taking care of it consistently. They conducted numerous excavation on this site, during which many ancient idols of Ganesh and Shiva were found; together with some parts or ruin of the temple. Approx 97 such pieces, which were found in that excavation then kept in ‘Patna Museum’ and ‘Kolkata Museum’ for its watch and safety.
[divider]Also read: 7 Facts You Must Know About Nalanda University[/divider]
It is not just a religious destination but this place is an incredible option to cherish your weekend. The way to reach there will get accompanied with natural beauty, village aesthetic, historical essence as well as sacred zest. Situated between Gaya and Varanasi, this place can be reached by means of road along with railways. This temple is a must to visit the site at the time of Dashera, Ramnavami and Shivratri.