Sep 20, 2012

Off the beaten track- Udaypur, Somanath of East

Off the beaten track ... the places on the less traveled path. There are numerous such places in India, specifically ancient temples and forts. One of those gems is Udayeshwar, also known as Neelakantheshwar temple in Udaypur, Madhya Pradesh. The place is around 90KM from Bhopal perfect for daylong excursion. The 11th century AD temple is one of the finest examples of Paramara Architecture. This functioning  temple is sometimes called as Somnath of East for its architecture.

I took a train from Sanchi to Ganj Basoda the nearest Railway station. From here I took a local private bus to Udaypur. After a slow and bumpy ride in the crowded bus I reached Udaypur. A very short walk from Bus stand I entered the courtyard. I saw the unexpected ... I was stunned to see the jaw-dropping beauty ... Built in red sandstone with the proportionate architectural design and the intricate carving, the beauty of this temple is unparalleled. I have not seen a temple as beautiful as this one till date!

The Neelakantheshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This early 11th century temple stands on a high lofty platform and has a well proportioned shikhara (spire) over the garbhgriha (shrine). This spire is ornate with intricate carvings of Hindu gods and goddesses, and also celestial beings. The high shivalinga is covered in a golden (or may be brass) cap with a human face. Very beautiful and shining in the dark shrine.

There is a sabha mantapa (hall) which has beautifully and profusely carved pillars. The entrance also has a small hall with pillars. Every inch of the whole temple surface, outside and inside as well, is ornate with intricate carving. One can take any number of pictures here. Every piece of stone here has life and beauty.

The priest greeted me with a wide smile and chatted with me for some time. He spoke about the temple, the village, the difficulties in reaching place and so on. He was ready to have his lunch with a friend. He invited me to have some food. He also told me that visitors can order lunch before hand. I politely refused his offer, wished him a good lunch and went around for few more pictures.

In Udaypur, other than Neelakantheshwar temple there is a small Pisanhari-ka-mandir which is a moderate walk through the village.  Be careful, the dogs keep barking at you. This temple is very small and not  much attractive so skipping it wouldn't matter much. On the way, there is a fenced platform where ancient archeological artefacts are displayed in open. Also are few masjids, mahals and fort ruins, noteworthy among them is Barakhambi which is another few minutes walk from Pisanhari-mandir.

There are only street-side stalls selling aloo-vada, samosa, jalebi etc. and no other restaurants. There are no hotels for overnight stay in Udaypur. Sanchi which is 54KM away has few good hotels to stay with restaurants.

Udaypur is a great place for a day-long outing from the city of Bhopal (90KM) or Sanchi (54KM). It is better to take your own vehicle or rent a taxi otherwise one has to keep track of train and bus timings. Take your own food and water. I didn't see mineral water in any of the street-side stalls. It is a very dry and hot place and so taking enough water would be wise. But, the beauty of this temple is worth all the pain!

Way back there was a mini bus to Ganj Basoda which was uncomfortable but, I had to catch the train back to Sanchi! I reached in time for the train. It was an unforgettable experience visiting this exquisite temple in the very less known Udaypur of Madhya Pradesh. After feasting on this medieval beauty I was looking forward to the natural beauty of Pachmarhi, my next destination.

Leave a comment to share your beautiful thoughts :)

Click HERE to check out more places on Off the beaten track. Click HERE to read complete Backpacking India series.

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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  1. Very intricate design. Which dynasty built this temple and how old is this?

    1. Well, it dates back to early 11th century built in aryan architecture style by a local King.

  2. I adore your passion for the less explored destinations. Another lovely post from Madhya Pradesh. A few more post on MP and am sure they will consider you as their tourism ambassador. Great going Kusum!!

    1. Thank you Niranjan for your kind words. Yes, I did go an extra mile on the less travelled path!

  3. Wow! Such delicate carving well preserved till today.

  4. Really Amazing art form it is very attractive temple.
    Thank You,


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