Mundeshwari Temple


The Mundeshwari Devi Temple is located at Kaura in Kaimur district of Bihar state. The temple is located on the Mundeshwari Hills at an elevation of 608 feet (185 m).  Beside the ancient temple, there are many archaeological relics on the Mundeshwari Hill. One of the oldest hindu temple in Bihar, dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva and Shakti.  The ancient temple is said to be dated around 105 A.D. known to be Saka era, prior to Gupta dynasty rule (320 A.D.) according to the Administrator of the Bihar Religious Trust Board. The inscription of an information plaque erected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at the site indicates the dating of the temple to 108 AD.  The temple, a protected monument under ASI since 1915, is substantially damaged and under restoration.

Temple Architecture
The temple, built of stone, is on an octagonal plan which is rare. It is the  earliest specimen of the Nagara style of temple architecture in Bihar. There are doors or windows on four sides and small niches for the reception of statues in the remaining four walls. The temple shikhara or tower has been destroyed. However, a roof has been built, as part of renovation work. The interior walls have niches and bold mouldings which are carved with vase and foliage designs. At the entrance to the temple, the door jambs are seen with carved images of Dvarapalas, Ganga, Yamuna and many other murtis. The main deities in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple are of the Devi Mundeshwari and Chaturmukh (four faced) Shiva linga. There are also two stone vessels of unusual design. Even though the Shiva linga is installed in the centre of the sanctum, the main presiding deity is Devi Mundeshwari deified inside a niche, which is seen with ten hands holding symbols riding a buffalo, attributed to Mahishasuramardini.  The temple also has murtis of other popular gods such as Ganesha, Surya and Vishnu. A substantial part of this stone structure has been damaged, and many stone fragments are seen strewn around the temple. However, under the jurisdiction of ASI, it has been the subject of archaeological study for quite some time.

It is believed that rituals and worship have been performed here without a break, hence Mundeshwari is considered one of the most ancient functional Hindu temples in the world. The temple is visited by a large number of pilgrims each year, particularly during the Ramnavami, Shivratri festivals. A big annual fair (mela) is held nearby during the Navaratra visited by thousands. The worship of shakti in the form of Devi Mundeshwari in the temple is also indicative of tantric cult of worship, which is practiced in Eastern India.

Renovation and restoration
The Archaeological Survey of India is restoring the temple under instruction from the Union Ministry of Culture. Restorative works include the removal of soot from the temple interior via a chemical treatment, repair of damage to religious murti and cataloging and documentation of scattered fragments for later reuse. Other works include installation of solar powered lighting, displays for antiquities and provision of public amenities. The Government of Bihar has allocated Rs 2 crore to improve access to the temple.

How To Reach
It can be reached by road via Patna, Gaya, or Varanasi. The nearest railway station is at Mohania – Bhabua Road railway station from where the temple is 22 km by road.

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