The Kopeshwar temple is located at some 60 odd kilometers from Kholhapur in Maharashtra. it is situated in the village of Khidrapur on the banks of river Krishna and its located on the border of two states i.e Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The history of this temple is unknown as to who built it or when it was built. Just the stories tells the tale. The moment you enter the premises of the temple you are spell bound to the magnificent architecture that stands still in front of you. The temple was built in the seventh century AD during the reign of the Badami King Chalukya.
It was later patronised by the Silhara King between the twelfth and thirteenth century AD.Later the renovation and construction took place during the time of the succeding dynasty the Seuna Yadavas of Devgiri.
The temple stands firm with all its glory of 95 elephants and 108 pillars. These pillars are arranged in such a way that it with holds the entire structure of the temple. The 95 elephants on the outer side of the temple have been dressed in different forms with different gestures no one is similar to each other.
The pillars are intricately carved with figures of Gods,Godesses, Man, Women, Flowers and other creatures. The Mythological story of the Kopeshwar temple is Sati the daughter of King Daksha was married to Lord Shiva. The King did not like his son in law shiva so, when Daksha was about to perform a yagna (hindu ritual performed along with the holy fire) he did not invite Sati and Shiva. Sati felt bad and went to meet her father asking the reason on not inviting her. In return, King Daksha insulted shiva due to which Sati got angry and jumped in to yagna (holy fire). hearing this Shiva got furious and punished Daksha by cutting of his head. Later Shiva took back his curse and granted Daksha life with the head of a goat. It is believed that angry Shiva was bought to this temple to cool off his anger.
Hence, the name KOPESHWAR where KOP (anger) and ESHWAR (Lord Shiva). The temple is built with Basalt stone(black stone). Legand says that this stone was transported from south India through the water channels of the river Krishna.
The temple is star shaped and devided into four units
- Antral kaksha (Vestibule) : its the entrance before the shirine of the Lord
- Sabhamandap (assembly hall) : the pillars in the sabhamandap depict the stories from epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and The Panchatantra stories are carved on the pillars.
- Swargamandap (Antechamber/porch) : this is built on 48 pillars in a circular arrangement which has an open sky roof. It is assumed that yagnas (hindu ritual performed along with the holy fire) where performed with the smoke making way to the sky (Swarga-Heavens) as the offerings to the Gods.
- Garbha griha (interior) : where Lord Shiva’s idol is placed.
- The whole temple has beautiful carvings specifically of women in various poses that depict various joyful emotions.
- Unfortunately, the sculptures are destroyed by islamic invaders in the later centuries. the legend go that Aurangzeb’s daughter came across the temple and she was so enchanted that she refused to leave the temple complex. The emperor came personally to fetch her. She asked him to destroy the beauty of the temple so that the temple remained unstached. Some more pictures of this beautiful temple:
- Route- Kholhapur (off pune banglore highway) – Sangli – Jaysingpur – Narsobachi wadi – Kurundwad -Khidrapur