Mundeshwari Devi Temple is the Oldest Hindu Temple in India.
Maa Mundeshwari Temple is located at Ramgarh village on Mundeshwari Hills of Kaimur plateau along the Son river in Bihar
The temple is dedicated to the goddess Durga in the form of Devi Mundeshwari. It is considered the oldest functional Hindu temple in India.
History of Temple
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has declared the temple protected since 1915. Information plaques found at the temple site suggest the dating of the temple at least 625 CE.
Moreover, some Hindu inscriptions were also found at the temple dated 635 CE.
In 2008 the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) found some inscriptions and the date of the inscription was established to be the 30th year of the Saka era (108 CE).
The ASI dated the structure to 108 CE, making it the oldest Hindu temple in the country.
The findings of the Archaeological Survey of India have also revealed that Mandaleshwar, the Lord Shiva temple, was the main shrine. Moreover, it was discovered that there was a religious and educational center spread across the hill.
The great Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang has written about the shrine during his visit to India between 636 – 38 CE. A shrine on a hilltop flashing light southwest to Patna. The location is only Mundeshwari.
The first part of the broken Mundeshwari Inscription was discovered by Bloch during a survey by the East India Company in 1891-92.
The second part of the inscription was discovered while clearing the debris around the temple in 1903
The royal seal of Sri Lankan king Dutthagamani (101-77 BCE), written in Brahmi script, was discovered by Varanasi-based historian Jahnawi Shakhar Roy. This discovery changed the earlier findings about the history of the place. It was done in 2003.
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The Architecture of Mundeshwari Devi Temple
The temple is built in the Nagara style of temple architecture. It is the earliest exhibit of Nagara architecture in the state of Bihar.
The construction of the temple in an octagonal shape is in itself very rare.
There are doors or windows on four walls of the temple. The Shikhar or tower of the temple has been destroyed. But a flat roof has been made as a part of the renovation work.
The Interior of the wall has beautiful carvings and moldings. The entrance of the temples has carvings of Dvarapalas, Ganga, Yamuna, and many other murtis.
Main Deity in the Temple
The main deities in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple are the Devi Mundeshwari and Chaturmukh (four-faced) Shiva Linga.
Lord Shiva linga is installed in the center of the sanctum but the main presiding deity is Devi Mundeshwari.
Devi Mundeshwari is seen with ten hands holding symbols riding a buffalo, attributed to Mahishasuramardini.
Murtis of gods Ganesh, Surya, and Vishnu are also present inside the temple.
Festivals in the Oldest Hindu Temple in India
A big annual fair is held nearby during the Navaratra. It is visited by a large number of pilgrims each year, particularly during the festivals of Ramnavami and Shivratri.
How to reach Mundeshwari Temple
Temple can be reached by road via Patna, Gaya, or Varanasi.
The nearest railway station is at Mohania – Bhabua Road railway station from where the temple is 22 km by road.
Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Varanasi is the nearest airport, located at a distance of 102 km from the Temple.