This is a fortified temple built on a hill in the 17th century, hosting Krishna, Balabhadra and Subhadra as the main shrines. It is a miniature version of Jagannath temple are Puri. A lot has changed in this temple since I last saw it. It was gorgeous when I was a young girl, in school, fascinated with anything that remotely looked like a fort with chambers and gardens, and temples with idols and flags.
We used to regularly visit this temple, every Sunday, without fail. For me it was an outing, always fresh in the mind, always beautiful and full of surprises, much as i always knew what to expect of this temple. We used to drive down every morning, around 9.30 to the temple and park the car way down near a Hanuman shrine at the bottom of the hill.
Climbing this hill was more exciting than tough. Coming to think of it, the hill was pretty small, but the climb was worth all the fun. A mud road led up to a part of the main hill which is rocky and has two kinds of staircases leading up to the main fort. Walking up the mud road was easy, and one always got to see the same old beggars lined up every morning with hope for a meal that morning from a devotee passing by. Most of them were really beggars, with leprosy and all the worlds deseases known to mankind. Apart from the road dotted with these guys, there always stood one very ancient car, the Rath of the Gods.
Painted green, I always wondered whether there was any life left in it. It definitely was not the juggernaut one would expect to see. It permanently stood inclined along its own axis, trying to maintain its center of gravity well within its frame, for it titled so badly, that I really wondered, how the pujari even dared to sit on it while they pulled it up the same hill during the mela (the only time we never visited the temple). This was a task to pull the Rath, in one piece hoping it would not fall apart like a pack of cards, leave alone moving and crushing anything on its way. It gave me no hope that it would withstand the passing of time, the pull of the ropes during the mela, forcing it to climb the inclination of the hill a few feet forward, and of course its own misplaced weight which fell on wheels that inclined a good 45 degrees, making it purely miraculous that the Rath, still stands for another mela, surely making it up the hill once again next year.
We always climbed by the rocky way, thought there was a good staircase in cement on the other side. Rocks always looked more appealing. The climb was always 10 minutes up when one came upto a courtyard, with the wind in the trees, and a stairway leading up to the main gate(picture above). This opened into a courtyard that hosted a small temple, with the shrines inside it. Cant remember too much but I remember having seen, Hanuman inside on one of the niches, and I think Garuda was the vahana outside. Brick walled and whitewashed, the interiors were bare, and dark as one walked into the main shrine lit up in lamp lights revealing the big eyes of the Gods smiling broadly at us every time. Later of course, the main temple tower got the wrath of the Gods, no it was not a canon ball that blew the roof off, but lightening that destroyed the main temple vimana, leaving a smaller one to replace it(below).
Whats interesting about this fort is the subshrines within each of the towers that protrude out of the main fort wall. These housed shrines of Hanuman, Kali and other deities all smeared with vermillion, withstanding the test of time, lightning or otherwise. This temple was worth it all, my introduction to architecture, introduction to fortification, and a remote location that just dreams can bring alive. It had everything, gods, forts, the view of the plains from the rocky hillside to see the oncoming armies march up to the hill and the main tower with the red flag for ever victorious, for ever flying... truly breathtaking!