Gravity-defying Lego temple

It’s an obsessive habit of mine to plan and define an itinerary before I step out for any trip – doesn’t matter if its a solo trip, a group trip like in Bhutan where we had to adjust our itineraries because of logistics, or a trip taken after 2 years of house arrest! I can ammend myself on the road and that’s fine. But I just have to have a very definite idea before I can agree to ammend and adjust. A travel experience is usually a learning experience, a fact that you tend to overlook because you get back to planning after 2 years of being a couch (and grouch) potato! A chance moment, and you discover another favourite listing…isn’t that the best feeling? And all because of a picture from your phone library!

I usually distrust an itinerary that I haven’t planned or verified. Mostly because people either try to sell a place that will require me to trek, or it ends up being a overhyped place that just underwhelms me and gives me a migraine. But I was so glad that I was proven wrong so beautifully!

Morena, Madhya Pradesh (65 kms from Gwalior)

March 2022

Kakanmath Temple

Kakanmath. An unusual name, and an equally unusually structure. From the distance, Kakanmath Temple looks like one of those lego movies coming alive, tetthering on shaky foundations, standing out against its surrounding. As you start walking closer, you realise the sheer gradeur and magnificence that has withstood the test of time, and how lucky you are that you get to see it! The more you look at it, the more unusual you will find it, and you will realise your first impression was correct – It is a lego building; built by bricks stacked upon each other, without any binding (like concrete, cement or lime) or locking sytem in place, all in careful balance.

The name Kakanmath was derived from Kanak, meaning gold, and matha, meaning shrine. Built in a pyramidal structure, with a design resembling Khajuraho group of temples, Kakanmath has been rightfully classified as a Monument of National Importance by ASI. Located 65 km from Gwalior city in a small town called Sihoniya in the district of Morena, the Kakanmath temple was built by a Kushawaha ruler Kirtiraj to fulfill the desires of his Queen Rani Kakanwati, who was a ardent Shiv devotee. Since the Queen’s wishes were fulfilled, the temple gained a popularity amongst the locals for fulfilling all wishes. Records indicate that Sihoniya or Suhoniya, also known as Simhapaniya in ancient times, was once the capital of the Kushawahas of the Kachchhapaghata or the Kachwaha Kingdom established around the 11th century.

An inscription found on the Sas-Bahu temple in Gwalior records the building of a Shiva temple at Simhapaniya


Standing at a grand height of 115 feet on an ornate platform, with two-storeyed mandapa, the temple is a rich repository of beautiful wall carvings, and ornate pillars that will easily keep you engrossed for hours.

The temple may look like its standing on bare skeletons, but somehow it adds more charm to the whole monument. Maybe that’s why the popular notion that ghosts built the temple in one night has become the lore of the town. The villagers believe that the ghosts took off in the morning when they saw humans, and that is why the temple remains incomplete to this date. The villagers even say that the temple will automatically crumble down one day when a marriage procession of 7 deaf grooms will be taken out in front of the temple at the same time.

Lore aside, the skeletal structure has been there for over 1000 years, withstanding time, invaders and nature – maybe a lesson for us puny humans to take stock of what we have conveniently forgotten. Or maybe its a lesson of perseverance during this time of pandemic! Whatever the lesson maybe, this was one of the best surprises to receive at the very start of a trip!!

Related (and not-so related) Posts:

Madhya Pradesh

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