A temple in the countryside
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The ancient shiva temple is situated in a village called Khekparta of Lohardaga district, Jharkhand. The recognition as a protected monument by Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) is a recent step which led to restoration of the damaged, missing, worn out and dilapidated sandstone temples and repairing of the stone platform and stairs including installation of the M.S. Railing in around the stone platform of Shiva temple at Khekparta thus drawing the attention of travelers and believers. The site is fenced and also has a boundary. Archaeological activities in places that fall in today’s Jharkhand remained neglected for long in the undivided Bihar days. The Patna circle of the ASI had its hands full with the high-profile sites and monuments found in present-day Bihar. The creation of the Ranchi circle a couple of years ago came as a boost to the state’s prospects. At present, the ASI is responsible for the protection of 11 sites in the state and shiva temple Khekparta is one of them. There are in total 117 stairs leading to the temple while offering the view of countryside which is full of greenery, mountains and ponds. This temple is made by local boulders, erected directly on the surface of the hill without having any foundation instilling a sense of wonderment to its viewers. There is a narrow entrance of one meter height to the temple facing east. A shiva- linga is installed in the garbhgriha which is the presiding deity of the temple. The shikhara of the temple is crowned with an amalaka(The amalaka is the disc like crown of a Temple and symbolizes the passage to heaven; it is the architectural symbol of the celestial world.). The height of the temple is about four meters. This temple has the same style and affinity with those of type of shrines of Orissa that have come up during the medieval period.
One can visit the temple with ease as there are vehicles in an every hour or so from the town, and it takes approximately 30 minutes to reach. But I felt that potholes riddled roads act as an discouragement and it needs to be improved. Those travelling for the first time, without having anyone to guide can find themselves clueless because the sign boards put up by ASI are now covered in dirt and mud barely readable. But once one reaches the temple compound all the tiredness of journey vanishes leaving pure joy behind. The guards, posted on 24*7 basis, greets you at the entrance and registers your name and time of entry, there is also a section Remarks where one must pen down their thoughts before leaving the compound. Since being a countryside area, it doesn’t offer any food or staying facility but there are benches to rest on and running taps for water. We were informed by guards that they are witnessing fall in numbers of visitors during summer due to the heat.
Whether one is of the faith, of glorious past and architectural beauty or peace seeker in the laps of nature, the ancient shiva temple at Khekparta is worth a visit for all.