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Markanda Mandir – Markanda Mahadev Temple Complex Chamorshi Gadchiroli

Markanda Mandir is a temple complex at Chamorshi in Gadchiroli District in Maharashtra. The most famous among the group of temples is the Markanda Mahadev Temple. The temples spread over 40 acres of land is located on the left bank of Wainganga River in Markanda Village, 216 km southeast of Nagpur in Maharashtra.

As per the local tradition, the place is called Markandi or Markanda Deva. Two of the major temples here are attributed to Markanda Rishi and his father Mrkunda.

Most temples in the Markanda Mandir group contain Shivlinga.

Sir Alexander Cunningham, during his archeological research conducted in 1873-74, noted twenty four temples in the group, but now there are eighteen. Of these, Markandeshwara (Markandeya Rishi Temple), Yamadharma temple, Mrkunda Rishi Temple and Shankara Temple are important.

Chamorshi Markanda Mahadev Temple

Markanda Mahadev Temple at Chamorshi is the main temple of the group and is considered to be a 11th – 12th century AD structure based on architecture considerations. This temple faces east and is cruciform in plan, with two additional entrances with ardha mandapas (smaller halls) to is north and south. These mandapas (halls) give access to the sabhamandap (inner hall for the devotees), which is slightly raised and approached by a flight of steps. The pillars in the mandapa are not elaborately carved. The antarala (vestibule) is rectangular and leads to the shrine, which is sunken.

In the center of the shrine is a linga, which is popular as Markandeshwara or Markand Mahadev.

The adhisthana (basement) of the temple has numerous moldings. The shikhara (tower) is mostly ruined but the extant remains suggest that it was curvilinear and was capped by amalaka (circular ribbed pattern) and kalasha (pot-like finial of a tower). The roof of the antechamber, known as sukanasa, is intact and consists of intricate designs combined with human and animal motifs.

The exterior of the temple is lavishly carved with sculptures, which include the images of gods and goddesses, representing several aspects of Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Other deities include Ganesha, Surya, Vishnu, Lakshmi and Ashta Dikpalas, besides apsaras.
In front of the eastern doorway of the temple is a Nandi mandapa with its roof missing but pillars still standing.

Yamadharma Temple

Yamadharma temple is a small structure which stands close to the north of Markanda Mahadev Temple. It has sunken shrine which contains a Shivling in the center of the floor.

The entrance doorway is profusely carved with Kirtimukha motif and at the base are Shaiva dwarapalakas and the River Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna. The façade is flanked by two pilasters with purna ghata motif.

The exterior of the temple is simple and plain. However, the pyramidal shikhara is of the rekha deul type in Odisha style.

Mrkunda Rishi Temple

Mrkunda Rishi temple faces east and irrespective of its name, is dedicated to Shiva in the form of a linga in the garbhagriha.

The principal niches on the exterior wall are adorned with the images of Chamunda, Surya, Gajaharamurti. The antarala has two niches with images of Shiva Parvati and Ganesha. The interior pillars are profusely carved with decorative geometrical patterns, such as rhomboidal rosettes, lozenges, and the images of Brahma, Bhairava and other deities.

Shankara Temple

Shankara Temple combines the features of Yamadharma and Mrkunda Rishi temples. The temple has been largely renovated. The panels on the exterior in the north, west an south walls contain worn out images of Chamunda, Surya and Gajasura Vadha Murti of Shiva.