BY SHWETA PORWAL
The Mundeshwari Temple also spelled as Mundesvari temple is situated on an isolated hill at an elevation of 608 feet in Ramgarh Village of the Kaimur district in the state of Bihar. The temple is the oldest specimen of the Nagara style of temple architecture.
The temple is best known for its unique historical, archaeological, cultural, and religious features. The ASI (Archaeological Survey Of India) dates the temple of 108 AD making it the oldest functional temple in the world. The temple has been protected by ASI since 1915.
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The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, Shakti and also has deities of Ganesha, Surya, and Vishnu. The temple has four entrances in which one has been closed and one is half-open. The major attraction of the temple is the Panchukhi Shivling constructed with a special stone that changes its color along with the position of the sun and stone. People usually visit the temple in Navratri when the temple holds a mini-fair of 9 days.
According to the local folks, the temple was made and ruled by Chanda and Munda the two brothers who were the chieftains of Demon Mahishasura. Munda made goddess Mundeshwari Bhawani temple while the other brother Chanda made Chandeswari temple at the top of Madurana Hill.
But the historical facts have a different story to narrate. According to the source, Dr. NG Majumdar and Dr. KC Panigarhi say that the temple was built earlier than the 4th century AD. The recovery of the royal seal of the Great Shri Lankan emperor changed history in 2003. It established that royal pilgrims or monks from Shri Lanka once visited the place during their journey to Sarnath from Bodh Gaya sometime between 101BC to 77BC and lost the seal here.
Later on, Bihar State Religious Trust Board (BSRTB) organized a national seminar of eminent experts at Patna in 2008 and the date of Mundeshwari inscription was fixed 108 AD.
636-38 AD: Chinese visitor Huen Tsang writes about a shrine on a hill.
1790 AD: Daniel brothers Thomas and William visited the temple and provided its first portrait.
1888 AD: Buchanan visited the region in 1813.
1891-92 AD: First part of the broken Mundeshwari Inscription was found.
1903 AD: Second part of the inscription was found.
2003 AD: Royal seal of Shri Lankan Emperor Maharaju Dutthagamani was discovered.
2008 AD: The date of the inscription was established 30th year of the Saka Era (108AD).
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How To Reach:
One can easily reach Mandeshwari temple by road and air. It can be reached by road via Patna, Gaya, or Varanasi. The nearest railway station to the temple is at Mohina- Bhabua Road railway station.
By air, Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Varanasi is the nearest airport located at a distance of 102 KM from the temple.