Buddhist Stupas found in Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh

Context: Buddhist stupas have been found in the ongoing excavation in the Bandhavgarh Tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Many dynasties have ruled this region, including the Gupta, Pratiharas and Kalachuris.


image 197
  • The stupa serves as the most fundamental of Buddhist architectural monuments. It symbolises a sacred space for the community as it represents Buddha’s burial mound. 
  • Great Stupa at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh, which was originally commissioned by the emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire in 3rd century BCE, served as an architectural prototype for all others that followed. This historical site is a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Stupa Architecture

  • The most basic stupa, as an architectural representation of a sacred burial site, has three fundamental features:
  • A hemispherical mound (Anda): Domed shape recalls a mound of dirt that was used to cover the Buddha’s remains. 
  • A square railing (Harmika): It is inspired by a square railing or fence that surrounded the mound of dirt, marking it as a sacred burial site.
  • A central pillar supporting a triple-umbrella form (Chattra): The central pillar represents the pivot of the universe, the axis mundi along which the divine descends from heaven and becomes accessible to humanity. The three circular umbrella-like disks represent the Triratnas of Buddhism: (a) Buddha; (b) dharma (Buddhist teachings or religious law); and (c) sangha (monastic community).
  • Secondary Features: 
  • Toranas (gateways): Enclosure wall with decorated gateways at the cardinal directions. 
  • A circular terrace (Medhi): It likely served as a platform for ritual circumambulation. 
  • Building material: Unburnt bricks were used at the core and burnt bricks were used on the outer face that was covered in a thick coating of plaster. 
  • Decorations: To embellish Medhi and Toran, wooden sculptors were used. 
  • Pradakshinapatha (Circumambulatory pathway): As a form of worship, devotees walk around the pradakshina patha, or open ambulatory pathway. Wooden railing that capped the stupa also encircled the Pradakshinapatha.
  • The earliest stupas contained actual relics of the Buddha. Over time, it has taken a grander symbolic association, “the mountain home of the gods at the centre of the universe”. 

Kalachuri Dynasty

image 198
  • Two branches of the Kalachuri dynasty were: 
  • The earlier rulers were called the Kalachuri Dynasty of Mahishmati. They ruled in Central-Indian region between the 6th-7th centuries AD. 
  • The Later Kalachuri dynasty ruler was known as the Kalachuri dynasty of Tripuri that ruled between the 7th-13th centuries AD.

Kalachuri Dynasty of Mahishmati

  • The Mahishmati Kalachuri rulers are known as the Haihayas. 
  • The inscriptions also mentioned about the three important rulers of the dynasty: Krishna Raj, Shankargana, and Buddharaj.
  • Literary references have suggested their capital was situated at Mahishmati in the Malwa region.  
  • Territories controlled: 
  • The Kalachuri inscriptions mentioned that the Kalachuri dynasty ruled over the Ujjayni, Vidisha, Anandapura, and parts of Vidarbha.
  • The dynasty controlled Vidarbha, where they succeeded the Vakataka and the Vishnukundina dynasties.
  • In addition, the Kalachuris conquered northern Konkan (around Elephanta) by the mid-6th century. Here, they succeeded the Traikutaka dynasty.

Krishnaraj (c.550-575)

  • He is the earliest known ruler of the dynasty. 
  • Coins: Featured Brahmi script legends, imitated the designs of earlier coins issued by the Gupta Kings. For example, coins featuring a bull are based on the coins issued by Skandagupta. These coins have described him as ‘Parama-Maheshvara’ (Devotee of Shiva). 
  • Shankaragana’s inscription described Krishnaraja as the devotee of Pashupati (Shiva).  
  • He commissioned, the Shaivite monuments at the Elephanta Caves and the earliest of the Brahmanical caves at Ellora. 

Shankaragana (c.575-600)

  • He is the earliest ruler of the dynasty to be attested by his own inscriptions, which were issued from Ujjain, which is regarded as the earliest epigraphic record of the dynasty. 
  • He adopted titles similar to the Gupta emperor Skandagupta, which suggests he conquered western Malwa (formerly under the Gupta authority).
  • He probably extended control over the parts of the present-day Gujarat.


  • Shankaragana was succeeded by Buddharaja, the last known ruler of the early Kalachuri dynasty. 
  • Chalukyan Invasion: 
  • The first Chalukyan invasion was undertaken by king Mangalesha, somewhere around 600 CE.
  • However, the invasion did not result in a complete conquest, as evident by the Vidisha and Anandapura grants of Buddharaja. 
  • During the second invasion by Mangalesha, Buddharaja lost his sovereignty. 

Cultural contributions of Kalachuri Dynasty

  • Elephanta Caves, Mumbai
  • These contain Shaivite monuments, along the Konkan coast.
  • Historical evidences suggest Krishnaraja was associated with these monuments. For example: Silver and copper coins of Krishnaraja have been here, suggesting he was the patron of the main cave temple on the island.
  • Ellora Caves
  • The earliest of the Hindu caves at Ellora have been built during the reign of Kalachuris. For example, earliest coin found at Ellora, in front of Cave No. 21 (Rameshvara), was issued by Krishnaraja.

About Bandhavgarh National Park and Tiger Reserve 

  • Location: It is situated on the Eastern Satpura hill, between two other major protected areas of Madhya Pradesh, Kanha Tiger Reserve on the southern side and Sanjay National Park on the north eastern side. 
  • The National Park was included in the Project Tiger network in 1993. The Panpatha Sanctuary was merged into the core area of Tiger Reserve, there-by increasing its core area.  
  • Weather: According to Koppen’s Scheme, it lies in Monsoon type with Dry Winter Climate.
  • Historical significance: Famous Bandhavgarh fort, ancient Caves, rock paintings and carvings are found inside the Protected Area.
  • Fauna and Flora:
  • It is best known for ever-green Sal forests
  • Some of the wildlife in the region, prominently figure in the IUCN red list of Endangered species: Tiger, Leopard, Dhole (Indian Wild Dog), Bengal or Indian Fox, Sloth Bear, Smooth-coated Otter, Rusty Spotted Cat, Fishing Cat, Gaur and Wild Elephant. 

Practice MCQ

Q. With reference to the Indian history, consider the following statements:

1.Ujjain inscription is regarded as the first epigraphic record of the Kalachuris of Tripuri.

2.The western Malwa region was conquered during the reign of Krishnaraja of Kalachuri dynasty.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a)1 only

(b)2 only

(c)Both 1 and 2

(d)Neither 1 nor 2

Scroll Down for answer










Answer: (d)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 20 MB. You can upload: image, document, archive, other. Drop files here

Online Counselling
Today's Current Affairs
This is default text for notification bar