Bhima Devi Temple, Pinjore
The Bhima Devi temple was sculptured during the reign of Gurjar Pratihars. Most of the comprising sculptures and architectural, which were ruined during Mughal period under Aurangzeb, are of the times of the Gurjar Pratihars.
Archaeological excavations done in 1974 revealed the temple, which was subsequently dated to 8th century to 11th century AD and declared as a protected monument under the ‘Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act-1964’. The unearthed findings cover over 100 antiquarian sculptures, apart from a layout plan indicating a five temples complex, including the main central shrine representing the Panchayatana architectural style, similar to the styles seen in the contemporaneous Khajuraho and Bhubaneshwar temples. The temple complex adjoins the Pinjore Gardens, also known as Mughal gardens built by Aurangzeb’s foster brother using much of the ruins of the Hindu temples destroyed by the Muslim invaders from the 13th century onwards till the 17th century.
Muslim invasions of Pinjore town started with Nasir-u-Din Mahmood (Iltumish’s son) in 1254 AD, continued with other invaders like Timurlane and lasted till Governor of Sirhind Fidai Khan’s (foster brother of Emperor Aurangzeb) onslaught in 1666. These invasions were responsible for the wanton destruction of this ancient temple complex. The Pinjore gardens (now renamed as Yadvendra Gardens after Yadavindra Singh Maharaja of the former princely state of Patiala) developed in the 17th century, by Fidai Khan (was also the architect), was reportedly constructed partly with ruins of destroyed temple. This garden is considered as a lovely Mughal garden, one of the oldest in northern India.
An open-air museum with the Bhima Devi temple ruins (85 % of the ancient sculptures have been aesthetically installed at different places of the open-air museum). Integrated with the Yadavindra Gardens, it has been developed with attractive modern illumination arrangements.
This saber's luxurious hilt is embellished with enamel and diamonds. Its blade, of European manufacture around 1600, was inlaid later in gold. Along the back edge, there is an inscription in Arabic and Persian (fourth picture), and on the outer side there is a parasol (fifth picture). The inscription mentions the name of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (reigned 1658–1717) and the sixteenth year of his reign, corresponding to 1673. The parasol is an ancient symbol of the dome of heaven and was long used in the Middle East and India as a symbol of royal authority. A parasol mark on a blade thus signifies royal provenance and implies that the weapon belonged to a divinely appointed and protected monarch, in this case Emperor Aurangzeb.
Saber (Talwar) with Scabbard. Indian. Blade dated A.H. 835/ A.D. 1673; hilt, 19th century (36.25.1591a, b). Photos: Joe Coscia