Kalanjara – A Profile by: B.N. Roy

Kalanjara* – A Profile

B.N. Roy
Ex. Head, Deptt. Of History, Pt.J.N. College, Banda


The ancient name occurring in the epigraphic records and some early texts, is “Kalanjara”. The word has been interpreted to suggest an aspect of Lord Shiva, who conquered Kala, the force of decay and destruction- "Kalam Jayanti iti Kalanjarah". It may be noted that in the various aspects of Shiva Mahadeva his attribute to destroy the evil and the unwholesome elements is also discernible.

The region of the Vindhyatavi where kalanjara is situated became famous as a center of Shiva worship. The Agamic and Tantric text, supported by the archeological evidence, attest to this. The source material reveals that Saiva monastery was established in Kalanjara during the early centuries of the Christian era .This is  suggested by the clay sealings and literary references. The representative Mahadeva of Kalanjara was held in esteem not only in the Vindhya region but also outside the Vindhya periphery. The deity of the Kalanjara area is referred to in several records of the Gupta Age and of the early medieval period. He was worshipped in several areas of the country as the supreme Lord.  

From the Post-Gupta to the late medieval period Kalanjara developed both as a religious center and as a political center of strategic significance. During the rule of the dynasties of the Gurjara-Pratiharas, the Kalachuries and Chandellas, several rulers of these dynasties took pride in the sanctity of their land. They contributed largely to the enrichment and preservation of the religious centers and to the economic and cultural development of their territories. The credit goes to them to the acharyas and to the business communities for the advancement of the Vindhya area, of which Kalanjara had become and important center during the post-Gupta period.

          It may be pointed out here that, apart from the four Varnas residing in the Vindya region, the area was largely inhabited by the aboriginal people. They were the Pulindas, their Lord, Kalanjarapuravaradhisa. The ruling kings honoured the faith of the tribals and caused to be carved out in the hillock of Kalanjara colossal statues of Lord Mahadeva and other deities associated with him. Some of the magnificent images  of the Siva, Durga, Ganpati and others are a pointer to this direction.

         The early medieval architectural and sculptural art at Kalanjara is imbued with the idea of a harmonious fusion between ethics and aesthetics. The aspect of Yogi in numerous images of Siva, Visnu and other deities at Kalanjara is remarkable indeed. The Tantric impact is visible on the stone art of the site. It can be seen in the grandiloquent forms and in the symbolic  and decorative aspects of images. The Saiva Acharyas, who were responsible for the development of the center at Kalanjara left no stone unturned in making it an attractive center for the people of faiths. The idea of equality and goodwill among the followers of various faiths continued for centuries at Kalanjara. The art remains and the epigraphical evidence confirm this statement.

         The art of Kalanjara furnishes valuable material for the study of the iconography of the Saiva pantheon, of the Panchdevas and also of the Vyantara Devetas. Numerous figures of the Nagas, the Yaksas and of the river goddesses have been discovered in and around Kalanjara. Several of them bean interesting iconographic traits along with regional peculiarities of environment and form.

          The number and scope of the syncratic images in the area during the period of c. 900 A.D. is limited. But subsequently their number increases. There was a distinct growth in the number of syncratic images in the period between c. 900 and 1300 A.D. This was largely due to factors of religious assimilation and increase in Tantric beliefs.

          The Chandellas have immortalized themselves by contributing to the creation of temple architecture and sculpture of an abiding rhythm and beauty. The efflorescence at Khajuraho. Mahoba and Ajaygarh were the political centers of the Chandellas. Kalanjara was the religious seat par excellence , where Saivism made a remarkable progress. The Saiva philosophical doctrines made progress at Kalinjara, where the art creations supplemented the spiritual spirit of this great religion.

          Kalanjara, inspite of occasional raids and destruction, has preserved the prestige heritage of Indian religious life and thought to this day. The monuments at Kalanjara reminds us of the glorious times of Indian rulers, who made an endeavour to uplift themselves and their people to the desired heights of ethical conduct and aesthetic consciousness. Along with the religious aspect, the art relics at Kalinjara throw interesting light on several secular facets of Indian society during the early medieval times.



1. In ancient works and inscriptions the site is mentioned as “Kalanjara”, Kalanjara-adri, Kalanjarapura-vara etc.

2. A good number of records of historical and religious importance have been found at Kalanjara. An inscription of the Gurjara-Pratihara ruler Mihirabhoja (836-85 A.D.) is incised at the site with the royal titles of the ruler. The Barah copper-plate inscription of this ruler makes a reference to the Kalanjara madala (D.C. Circa Select Inscription, Vol. II, 1983, pp 233-34). The Khajuraho stone inscription of Chandella Dhanga mentions that Dhanga ruled over the territory bounded by Kalanjara, Vidisa on the Malava-nadi (Betawa), the bank of Yamuna, the Chedi region and Gopagiri (Gwalior). The inscription closes with the adoration to Vasudeva (Krishna) and Savitri (Sungod). (Circa, Ibid. pp. 63-65). In the Garra Copper-plate record (no1) of Chadella Trilokya-Varman of Sam. 1261 (1205 A.D.) the monarch in mentioned as Parama-maheshvara ( great devotee of Shiva) and Kalanjara-adhipati (ruler of Kalanjara). ( Circa, Ibid, pp 319).  

3. On the account of its deep association with Lord Siva the fort and town of Kalanjara has been eulogized in the inscriptions of the regional dynasties and also of the other regions.



* Here Writer refers Kalinjar as Kalanjara 

Courtesy:: KALANJARA- A Historical and Cultural Profile by: B. N. Roy