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Sirpur is a historical town in Mahasamund district in the state of Chhattisgarh 78 km away from Raipur and 35 km from Mahasamund city on the banks of the river Mahanadi. The town of Sirpur (aka Shirpur) has been mentioned in ancient epigraphic records, dating back to the 5th to the 8th centuries A.D. The city was once the capital of the Sarbhapuriya and Somvanshi Kings of Dakshin (south) Kosala state.
It was an important centre of Buddhist from the 6th the 10th century A.D. and was visited by Hieun Tsang, the 7th Century Chinese Pilgrimist and Scholar. The beauty of this magical place has beckoned the presence of His Holiness Dalai Lama too in March 2013.
It is believed that a devastating earthquake buried the ancient town under mud and debris in the 12th century.
The 7th century Laxman Temple (dedicated to lord Vishnu) is considered as one of the finest brick temples of India with a stone doorframe. First discovered in 1872 by Lord Cunningham,  the temple is famous for its interesting carvings. Recent excavations have uncovered 12 Buddh Viharas, 1 Jain Vihara, monolithic statues of Buddha and Mahavira, 22 Shiv temples and 5 Vishnu temples, an Ayurveda treatment centre, underground granary market and a sixth century ‘Ayurvedic snaan kund’ (ancient spa).
Other famous attractions of Sirpur are the Gandheshwar Temple and the Buddha Vihara.
- 1 Tourist Attractions
- 2 Sirpur National Dance and Music Festival
- 3 H. H. Dalai Lama’s visits to Sirpur
- 4 Transport
- 5 Image gallery
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Relieve history and let art steal your breath away as you visit one of India’s finest brick temples ever created, the magnificent Laxman temple. A remarkable product of unique Symmetry, precise construction and exquisite carvings, the Laxman temple is a portrayal of ageless art and devotion. Explore Indian mythology as the beautiful Sheshnaag serving as an umbrella to Lord Shiva catches your attention at the entrance. The ‘Panchrath’ type of a temple boasts of a Mandapa (shelter), Antral (passage) and the Garbha Griha (the main house). Exquisite carving work on pillars depicting religious segments like Vatayan, Chitya Gawaksha, Bharwahakgna, Aja, Kirtimukha and Kama Amalak breathe life into the exterior walls of the temple. The many incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Krishna leela ornamental symbols and erogenous pictures give the temple a uniquely sacrosanct appeal. It feels as if the walls, pillars, arches are telling stories of the Gods that hailed the rich land. Inside the main house, sits a beautifully crafted statue of Naagraj. Believed to be constructed by the mother of Mahashivgupt Balarjun Vasta, the Laxman temple was built in the memory of her husband Harshgupta in 650 A.D.
A treasure trove of enthralling historic remains, the artistic Gandheshwar temple is situated on the banks of the Mahanadi River. An endless galore of interesting architectural remains from ancient temples and viharas, the temple mesmerizes tourists with an impeccable collection of rare statues. The statue of Buddha touching the earth, Natraj, Garud Narayan and Mahishasur mardini are very rare and equally enchanting. Tourists flock to visit the rare face of Ravan, a popular attraction of this temple. The many Shiva-Leela pictures at the top of the entrance are just a glimpse of the wonders that are waiting to be explored inside.
The rising popularity of Sirpur can be accredited to the various Buddhist excavations discovered here. Truly blessed with the scenic beauty, the Buddha Vihara exudes warmth and portrays religious harmony. Brick constructions and underground rooms stand testimony to a mystical era. The tone blend reminds of the Gupta dynasty’s temples and residential buildings. Witness unmatched designs and architectural brilliance as you come across the six feet tall statue of Buddha touching the earth and let mystery enchant you as many residential, meditation and study rooms give you a glimpse of Lord’s long lived glory. The Buddha Vihara is also the meeting point of Awlokiteshwar and Makarwahini Gange. The Buddha Vihara flaunts wonderful inscriptions which reveal that the ardent Buddha follower bhikshu Anandprabhu created the shelter during the period of Mahashivgupt Balarjun. 14 marvellous rooms have been built in the Vihara having welcome gates with dwarpals on either side carved in the stone pillars. Named after the creator, this shelter is called as ‘Anandprabhu Kutir Vihara’. The world of the lord continued to reveal itself with the ‘Swastika Vihara’ that was also excavated to reveal a huge Buddha statue and metal idols relating to the Buddhist era.
Like two brothers residing in the beloved company of each other, the Ram temple is situated close to the Laxman temple. The Ram temple charms visitors with a unique star-like projection at the top. Crafted with brilliance, this star-like structure gives the temple, its own artistic appeal. Interestingly, the records say that the two temples have a gap of several decades in their construction.
History lovers and explorers have a treat waiting for them at the museum established by Archaeological Survey of India in the Laxman temple premises. Passionately crafted pieces of art related to the Shaiva, Vaishnav, Buddha and Jain religions can be found here. Stautues collected from Sirpur narrate soul stirring sagas of the land’s rich history. Among the rare architectural memoirs and statues is the ‘Chaturmukhi Shivalinga’, sculpted with intricate details in black rock, and sacrosanct statue of Goddess Mahishasurmardini.
Sirpur was known for the mastery of creating metal idols in the 7th-8th A.D. Metal idols were discovered in Sirpur as early as in 1939. Metal idols found here are showcased in Raipur, Nagpur, New Delhi museums and Mumbai’s Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan. Sirpur has always been in international limelight for its amazing excavations including the metal idols. These idols have also been sported in Germany, England and America. Sirpur’s metal idols include Buddha, Avlokiteshwar, Padmapani, Vajrapani, Manjushri, Tara and intricately crafted Vishnu and Rishabhnath idols. These statues are sculpted with such excellence that the tranqility on their faces, the peacefully closed dove eyes and intricately carved out palms and fingers depict unmatched artistry and faith!
During the period of 2000-01, Sirpur saw another glorious excavation. This majestic palatial finding was discovered by Dr. A. K. Sharma who gave it name ‘Rajmahal’. A beautifully constructed residential structure, the Rajmahal is magnificent and extremely strong in built. Between 2001 to 2004 Dr. Arun Sharma, Retired Indian superintendent of ASI, carried on his work along with the help of archaeological survey of India and Nagarjuna Bodhisattva Organization, Mansar. The mesmerizing findings here were:
- Buddha Vihara (Teevar dev Maha Vihara):
Today popular as the biggest monastery in Dakshin Kosala, this Vihara is located at about 1 km away from the Laxman temple. Complete in every sense, this monastery reflects the entire Buddhist culture and emanates a sense of pride for the entire nation. It is beautifully crafted in every sense and has stood the test of time with its amazing brick construction.
- Shiva temple 1: The Shiva temple excavated in the premises nearby boasts of a 4.5 feet tall Shiva statue installed within. Wonders to marvel at, these were creations of an era which saw many art forms foster. They are great discoveries revived from the earth and a single visit here is sure to enchant one forever.
- Shiva temple 2: Situated near the Anandprabhu Kuti Vihara, on the way to Senkapat, the Shiva temple also flaunts a Garbha Griha and beautiful Shiva linga.
- Shiva temple 3: Built according to the Pancharath style, this sacrosanct temple has a 4 feet tall Shiva statue installed in the Garbhagriha.
Baleshwar Mahadev temple
The name of this excavated temple complex is probably put to commemorate the great king Mahashivgupt Balarjun whose inscriptions are found all over Sirpur. He is also attributed to have built most of the monuments at this site. There are about 3-4 temples in the complex, at each corner. All the temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and are built upon Jagati, high rise platform, similar to Laxman temple. Beautiful stories are carved on the pillars and inscriptions allure you with an incessant mystery.
- Barnawapara: 15 km away from Sirpur, Barsur opens up an invigorating land of lush greens! The Barnawapara Wildlife sanctuary derives its name from the two forest villages- Bar and Nawapara, which form the heart of the sanctuary. A visit to the Barnawapara wildlife sanctuary is an adventure ride through undulating terrains and dense forests. The Indian bison (Gaur), cheetal, sambhar, neelgai, wild boar are common sightings in this sanctuary. Home to over 150 species of birds, this site promises unlimited thrill and adventure for tourists.
- Narayanpur: Narayanpur is situated on the way from Sirpur to Kasdol. 7–8 km away from Thakuriya village, Narayanpur provides shelters and good accommodation to tourists. Located on the shores of Mahanadi, Narayanpur also has a beautiful ancient Shiva temple worth a visit.
Sirpur National Dance and Music Festival
Popular for its internationally acclaimed archaeological excavations, Sirpur has always been the grounds for celebrations. It has also retained its importance as pilgrimage site for the followers of Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism as well as for art lovers. Intricate carvings, elegant statues and highly innovative discoveries have made this land the perfect abode for art. All this makes it the most preferred venue for the wonderful Sirpur National Dance and Music Festival. It brings together artists from various platforms in a cultural extravaganza. Along with the dance and music festival, three important workshops based on folk dances, handicrafts and musical instruments of Chhattisgarh are organised. Painting competitions for school children are also conducted during the festival. This festival is supposedly country’s biggest national platform of this kind. It has also established its own unique identity and created a sense of international and national cultural amity. The Sirpur Mahotsav is becoming popular and it will soon become as renowned as Khajuraho and Konark dance festivals, drawing more people to Chhattisgarh.
Glimpses of Sirpur festival 2013
- Soul stirring performances like Saila Nritya and on Kabirpanthi songs.
- Spiritual performance of vibrant percussion ensemble by Buddhist monks.
- Padma Vibhushan Pt. Chhannulal Mishra’s performance based on Thumri, Kajri, Jhoola, Chaiti etc.
- Tribal dances of Bastar,Panthi nritya, Pandavni performances by Teejan Bai, Odishi dance by Padmashree Madhavi Mudgal and group.
- Padmashree Prahlad Singh Tipanya’s performance of Kabirpanthi and Nirguni songs.
- Musical extravaganza staged by the team of Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia (on Flute), Shubhankar Bannerjee (on Tabla) and Jayanti Gosher (on Guitar).
- Other classical, folk and tribal dance performances from allover India, especially from the state of Chhattisgarh.
Glimpses of Sirpur festival 2014
- The magnificent and artistically crafted Laxman temple provided an excellent backdrop for this festival held on 4 January 2014.
- Celebrated artists like Shubha Mudgal (Hindustani classical music), Sufi singers and musicians- Wadali brothers, Teejan bai (an exponent of Pandavni) set the stage on fire. Many local artists and talented tribals got an opportunity to showcase their mind blowing creativity. Classical, folk, tribal dance performances continued in this year’s festival as well.
H. H. Dalai Lama’s visits to Sirpur
The beauty of Sirpur has beckoned the presence of His Holiness Dalai Lama too in March 2013. The spiritual guru and Nobel prize winner has quoted that he felt eternal peace in Sirpur and would love to meditate here for an hour. In January 2014, the Dalai Lama meditated for 20 minutes at the ‘Chanda Dai caves’ near Sirpur on the hills of Singhadhurva in Mahasamund district. These hills are located around 17 km from the town of Sirpur and house more than 15 caves. According to the Archaeological experts, Nagarjuna, who is considered the most prominent Buddhist philosophers after Lord Buddha, had meditated in these caves somewhere between first and second century. This was the second visit of Dalai Lama in Sirpur within 10 months. In 2013, the Dalai Lama was enchanted by the Vaishnav, Jain and Shaiva cultures and had expressed his desire to visit Sirpur again in 2014. The Tibetan spiritual leader travelled to Sirpur by road amid tight security. The troopers were deployed at every few hundred metres between Tumgaon and Sirpur.
Raipur is the nearest railway station on the Mumbai- Howrah main line while Mahasamund Railway station is the nearest railway station on the Raipur- Waltair line. Mahasamund city is well connected to Mumbai, Delhi, Raipur, Bilaspur, Durg, Nagpur, Vishakhapatnam, Puri, Bhubhneshwar, Ahemedabad, Jodhpur, Ajmer, Sambalpur, Titilagarh
- Sirpur raipur.gov.in
- SIRPUR : A Goldmine of History Prasar Bharti
- Sirpur, a land of temples and monasteries BBC News
- "7 Wonders of India: Laxman Temple". YouTube. 2008-12-28. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "Sirpur - historical Buddhist site of world heritage". Cgspice.net. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "SIRPUR- A Goldmine of History". Newsonair.nic.in. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
Sirpur Archaeological Survey (Hindi) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81sV01vPles