Hindus have been overjoyed with the discovery of a Shivalinga in the Wuzukhana of the Gyanvapi Masjid. The majority population hopes to worship Mahadev in His ancient temple after reclaiming it. Amidst this exhilaration, we have forgotten another ancient temple of Shiva in our land that was attacked by Islamist invaders repeatedly and has been under lock for years.
We are referring to the historical Raisen fort in Raisen, Madhya Pradesh, and the ancient temple of Bhagwan Shiva on its premises which has been locked for many decades. The temple, known as Someshwar Shiva temple, is open to devotees only once a year, on the occasion of Mahashivaratri and for twelve hours only. It stays closed the rest of the year. The Shivalaya has recently come under discussion, and many politicians are raising this issue. However, not many know about its exciting history.
Raisen Fort, located 45 km from Bhopal, and spread over ten square km atop a 1500 feet high hill, tells a unique story. The 11th-century fort was attacked over 12 times by various Islamist invaders. The amazing fact is that even after being attacked by cannons and bullets, this historical fort stands tall to date. Historians say that the construction of Raisen Fort dates to 1000 BCE and that the invaders had damaged the temple to a great extent.
Though many devotees have their faith attached to the Someshwar Dham, the temple was locked after it came under the archaeology department. In 1974, locals united and started a movement to open the temple and reinstate the honour of Shivlinga. During that time, the then Chief Minister Prakash Chandra Sethi arrived at the temple on Mahashivaratri. Since then, this Shivalaya has been opened for the devotees every year on Mahashivaratri. A huge fair is also held here for the devotees coming for darshan.
Here’s a list of the Islamist invaders who had attacked this fort through the centuries
- Altamash in 1223 CE
- Sultan Balwan : 1250 CE
- Jalal Uddin Khilji in 1283 CE
- Alauddin Khilji in 1305 CE
- Malik Kafur in 1315 CE
- Sultan Mohammad Shah Tughlag in 1322 CE
- Sahib Khan in 1511 CE
- Humayun Badshah in 1532 CE
- Sher Shah Suri in 1543 CE
- Sultan Baj Bahadur in 1554 CE
- Akbar in 1561 CE
- Aurangzeb in 1682 CE
- Faiz Mohammadin in 1754 CE
The fort is also historically significant because after Bahadur Shah ran it down on January 17, 1532, Rani Durgavati of Raisen performed Jauhar with 700 Rajputana ladies. Many other brave Rajput women, along with their children, also sacrificed their lives for the fort and its honour in June 1543 after the treacherous attack carried out by Sher Shah Suri.
Suri couldn’t conquer the fort even after four months of siege; he had resorted to deception to conquer this fort that Maharaj Parimal was then ruling. When Maharaj Parimal learned that Shah had conquered the fort, he beheaded his queen Ratnavali to save her from falling into the hands of the Islamist invader and being dishonored.
The fort’s walls boast a unique echo sound system that was ahead of its time. If you whisper into a wall, the echo is heard by someone having their ears glued to the opposite wall. The distance between these two walls is 20 feet. The technique and phenomenon continue to be a topic of research even today. It is also believed that many things like the Paras stone are protected in this mysterious fort.
The walls of the mighty fort, standing on a sandstone cliff, feature ancient inscriptions; there are nine gates and thirteen turrets of the fort. Apart from the Someshwar Mahadev Temple inbuilt in the fort complex, there is also a Hawa Mahal, Rani Mahal, Jhanjiri Mahal, Varadari, Shiladitya’s Samadhi, Dhobi Mahal, Kachhari, Chamar Mahal, Bala Qila, Hammam, Madagan Talab inside the massive fort.
Recently, the discussions about permanently opening the Shivalaya have been picking intensity after Pandit Pradeep Mishra from Sehore brought this topic to the fore. He raised the demand to free Bhagwan Shiv from the locks while addressing an audience from Katha Manch. He also requested the government and administration to free Bhagwan Shiva from this imprisonment. According to reports, the Shivalay was locked up after independence. Pandit Mishra’s requests were backed by BJP leader and former Chief Minister of the state Uma Bharati.