district Headquarters of Janjgir-Champa, Janjgir is located in the state of Chhattisgarh. It has been referred as Jehangir, probably on the name of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, in the Indian Atlas as stated by J D Beglar who visited this town in 1873-74 CEThe city is also known as the city of Maharaja Jajawalya Dev of Kulchury dynasty and was established on 25th May 1998. Janjgir was formerly an old town, which has records dating back to the 11th century, marking its existence. It is also said that the destination was under the reign of Maharaja Jajawalya Dev, who belonged to the Kulchury dynasty.
It is also believed that during the 12th century, the city was under the rule of the Hayhay Vansh dynasty. Every year, a cultural programme is organised in Janjgir, known as Jajwalya Dev Lok Mahotsav, held in the gratitude of King Jajwalya. In addition, the place is known for being the residence of a Christian Missionary, Miss A.C Funk., who died while on the Titanic. Besides its history, the tribal culture of Janjgir attracts tourists from all over the world. The city has its own distinct dance style, music and cuisine, which have helped Janjgir gain importance at the state level. Some of the most prominent dance forms of the destination include Raut Nacha, Soowa and Panthi. One of the most prominent tourist attractions of the region is the Vishnu Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Constructed in the 12th century, the temple still stands erect representing the architectural skills belonging to that period. In addition, tourists can also head towards Pithampur Shiv Mandir, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located on the banks of Hasdeo River, the Kaleshwaram Temple is another popular attraction of Janjgir. At this temple, a ten day festival is organised, which draws pilgrims in large number. The festival is considered as one of the best times to visit Janjgir for those who wish to explore the local culture.
From archaeology perspective, I am not very sure about the excavations however the existing monuments are not of antiquity prior to twelfth century CE. Which further suggests that the town was probably founded by Jajalladeva I in twelfth century CE.
Monuments – There are two temples of interest, one incomplete and other complete.
Incomplete Vishnu Temple – This profusely carved temple is constructed over a high raised platform. Temple construction above a high-raised platform is very common among the temple in Chhattisgarh. This east facing temple is dedicated to Vishnu. A local tradition states that one fine day Vishvakarma, the celestial architect, started the construction at dusk to be finished by the dawn. However he was unable to finish the temple so the temple is left incomplete, without tower (shikhara). Many small miniature panels are embedded into the platform walls. Scenes of Ramayana and Krishna-life are the common theme of these panels. Among these panels, you will notice Rama shooting arrow through seven trees to display his strength to
Sugreeva, Rama and Lakshmana chasing golden deer, Rama killing the deer with his arrow, monkeys carrying stones to build a bridge, Rama worshipping Shiva-lingam at Rameshvaram etc. Secular panels like musician and dancers are also found along with these religious panels.The temple stands in middle of a quite wide and large floor of a platform. It consists of a mandapa (hall), antarala (vestibule) and garbha-griha (sanctum). An elephant frieze and a lion/vyala frieze run above the usual temple basement elements. Two large horizontal friezes adorn the wall of the mandapa and vimana all around the temple. The continuity is broken with large niches at regular intervals. Various celestial icons are depicted in these two large friezes.
Various incarnations of Vishnu are found on the external walls, Varaha, Narasimha, Krishna, Rama, Vamana etc. There would have been astha-dikpalas on the eight corners of the temple however I was not able to locate all the eight, as few seems to be missing or broken-off. Among the ashta-dikpalas, you will find Agni, Yama, Nrrtti, Varuna, Vayu. Various apsaras and celestial maidens are adorning the walls of the temple, which looks very familiar to the Khajuraho like conception.Few Shiva icons are also present, like Shiva as Ardhnareeshvar. Harihara and Shiva in his usual iconography. Lakshmi and Saraswati are few goddesses who can be spotted among the icons. Brahma and Surya are present in the main central niches of north and west vimana walls respectively. In overall aspect, the temple walls are deluged with carvings and decoration.The main door to the temple has life-size images of river goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna. They are accompanied with similar size images of dvarapala and ayudha-purusha (anthropomorphic conception of weapons) of Vishnu. This makes three images on each side. An image of Vishnu is in centre of the door lintel, while Brahma and Shiva are on either extreme sides. In between these are nava-grhas (nine-planets). An image of Vishnu riding over Garuda is present in the second slab of the lintel.
Shiva Temple – This small Shiva temple is located near to the Vishnu temple, opposite side of the road. Though it is a complete temple however it appears that it might have been repaired in later times. The shikhara (tower) is executed in Nagara style. An image of Shiva is put in the center of the door lintel while images of Brahma and Vishnu are placed at the extreme ends. In between are placed nava-grhas (nine planets). Shiva in Nataraja posture is put up in the second slab of the lintel. Life-size statues of the river goddesses are present over the door jambs, along with similar size dvarapala images.Though the exterior walls of the temple are simple however two niches on each side are present over the vimana and two niches on each side of mandapa. Various Shaiva icons are decorating these niches which includes, Kartikeya, Ganesha, Chamunda, Gajasamharamurti, Harihara Veenadhara etc. Entrance to the temple inside is restricted with barbed wires at present.
How To Reach
Travelling to Janjgir is not much of a hassle owing to the presence of flights, buses and trains. The nearest airport serving the destination is Raipur Airport, which has connectivity with some of the major cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. On the other hand, tourists can board trains to Naila Railway Station, which is located at a distance of 5 km from Janjgir. From Raipur, buses are also available to Jangir. Post monsoon season, which extends from the month of October to November, is considered the best time to explore the destination.