Three sculptures of Jain tirthankaras in the Bhand Dewal Temple
|• Total||23.49 km2 (9.07 sq mi)|
|Elevation||267 m (876 ft)|
|• Density||710/km2 (1,800/sq mi)|
|• Official||Hindi, Chhattisgarhi|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
Arang is a town and a Nagar Panchayat in Raipur District in the state of Chhattisgarh, India. It is situated near the eastern limits of Raipur City. Arang is an ancient town, which is famous for its many Jain and Hindu temples that belong to llth and 12th centuries; these are the Bhand Deval Jain temple, Mahamsmaya temple, Panchamukhi temple and Hanuman temple. Archaeological finds have established that the town has an ancient history as a Hindu and Jain religious centre, which was then under the rule of Hindu kings.
The Bhand Deval Jain temple is the most ancient of these temples dated to 11th century where three huge images of nude tirthankaras are deified in the sanctum sanctorium; these are carved in black stone and polished.
Arang, a prosperous town, is located on the west bank of the Mahanadi River at . It has an average elevation of 267 metres (876 ft). It is 36 kilometres (22 mi) from Raipur on National Highway 6 (N.H.6), a four lane expressway to Durg passing through Arang. It 15 km from Mahasamund city. There is also a two lane road from Arang to Tumgaon. The nearest airport is the Mana Airport near Raipur, which is about 25 km away from Arang. Raipur is also another rail-head, apart from Mahasamund station.
The name Arang is formed of two words ara meaning "saw" and anga meaning "body". According to a legend, king Moradhvaja of the Haihaya dynasty severed his son's body with a saw and offered it to the pet lion of the god Krishna at the latter's directive.
Arang was ruled in ancient times by the Haihayas Rajput dynasty. Archaeological finds establishes that the town had an ancient history as the centre of Hindu and Jain religious faiths. Arang also finds mention in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
An archaeological antiquary in the form a copper plate inscription dated to the Gupta period, known as the Arang Plate of Bhimasena II of the clan of Rajarsitulya was unearthed at Arang. It attests to the reign of this dynasty over Chattisgarh, particularly of Bhimasena II and five rulers who preceded him. It is inferred that they were vassals of the Gupta Empire.
Archaeological finds in Arang also included few Jain images made of gem stones, which are now preserved in the Digambar Jain temple at Raipur.
Another historical legend attributed to Arang in particular, and Chattisgarh in general, relates to the princess Chandini and her lover Lorik. This legend is in the form of folk-poetry which is widely sung in the state. A memorial statue in their honour exists near Arang.
As of 2001[update] India census, Arang had a population of 16,593. Males constitute 51% of the population and females 49%. Arang has an average literacy rate of 64%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; with 60% of the males and 40% of females literate. 16% of the population is under 6 years of age. As of 2011, the population reported was 19,091, an increase of 1.3% over the 2001 figure, which gives a density figure of 812.7/km² over the Nagar Panchayat area of 23.49 kilometres (14.60 mi).
Economic activity is in the form of small scale industries of rice and pulse mills. Religious tourism is one of the activities which has been proposed to be improved by enhancing the infrastructure facilities to better the economic conditions in this temple town. It is a commercial town where various types of forest products are marketed.
Arang is one of the three locations chosen for community development in its Chandkhuri development block.
The ancient temples in Arang which are tourist attractions are: the Baghdeval temple, the Bhanda Dewal temple, the Mahamaya temple, the Danteshwari temple, the Chandi Maheshwari temple, the Panchmukhi Mahadev temple, and the Panchmukhi Hanuman temple. Of these, the Bhand Dewal temple and Bagh Deval temple are particularly ancient and well-known.
Bhand Dewal temple
Bhand Dewal temple, a Jain temple dated to the late eleventh century, is in the Mahakosala area of Arang. It is built in the Bhumija style of architecture. The plinth of this temple has detailed ornamentation. It is a socle plinth that supports a pedestal, and two rows of sculptures on the wall. The temple layout plan is of a star shape known as stellate (meaning shaped like a star, having points, or rays radiating from a center) with six "offsets" and rises to five floors, which is considered an unusual feature.
The temple faces west and is in rundown condition. In the past, a mandapa (an outdoor pavilion) and a porch probably existed as part of the temple. The damaged front fascia of the temple tower has been plastered without any decoration and also white washed. The north-east and south-east faces of the temple tower, which were also dilapidated, have been redone in brick and mortar, but in a crude fashion. However, the overall view of the tower is still pleasing. At some stage, this temple was used as a survey marking station. As there was a tendency for the upper half of the tower to structurally burst by its seams, a metal strap bracing has been wound round the tower at the middle section to give it stability. A similar strap has been wound round at the top of the tower. The exterior faces of the temple have been carved with images which are exquisitely embellished.
The temple has three free standing very large images of Jain tirthankaras deified in the garbha griha or sanctum sanctorum. These are carved ornately in black stone and highly polished. The three tirthankaras are Ajitanatha, Neminath and Shreyanasanatha. The central figure is adorned with the symbol of a wheel holding two deers in the left hand, and a globe on the right hand. The base of this image has a "winged figure" carving. Carved images also embellish the exterior faces of the temple.
A large number of images carved on the exterior and interior faces of the temple are erotic. The bigger images are carved in two lines. Above these lines of bigger images, a row of carvings of smaller images have been sculpted. At the base of the larger images is a row of highly decorated depiction of inscription panels, flowers and a royal march of horses, animals and people.
Bagh Deval temple
Mahamaya temple has also three very large images of tirthankaras. There is also a large single stone sculpture with images of all 24 tirthankaras carved on it in the temple.
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