Dakshin Kosal to Patliputra – a journey through excavated history


Going to Neverland
October’ 2014: My brother had shifted from the peaceful environment of Abu, Rajasthan to the hotbed of naxal activities at Bastar, Chhattisgarh and I drove his car alongwith him all the way to Raipur, Chhattisgarh. The journey was beautiful and was chronicled and posted on this forum which can be accessed through this link: http://www.bcmtouring.com/forums/threads/road-trip-to-raipur-chhattisgarh-via-dholpur-lalitpur-sanchi-bhojpur-bhimbetka.62178/

May’ 2016: Again, my brother was shifting his base from Chhattisgarh to Muzaffarpur (for the uninitiated, Muzaffarpur is one of the chosen cities for Smart City Project of Bihar). Again he needed to take his car from Bastar to Muzaffarpur. Again he asked me to accompany him, in return he promised to take me to the hinterlands of Northern Chhattisgarh. I lapped up the idea of visiting some remote parts of Chhattisgarh.

We started researching for the best possible routes to be undertaken for reaching Patna. The direct route from Raipur to Patna was about 750 kms in distance which could have been stretched in a single day or at the most in two days of leisure driving. In the end, we covered a distance of 1300 kms between Raipur and Patna. The pointers my brother gave me made me realize that we will need three to four days to cover what all we intended to visit. Places of our interest were, Sirpur, Sheorinarayan, Malhar, Tala, Kawardha, Pali, Dipadih and Netarhat(Jharkhand). There were few more places which we were interested to visit but lack of time and detours restricted us.

Accordingly, I booked air-ticket for 27th May evening for Raipur and return by 1st June evening flight from Patna. We had almost 5 complete days in our hand to explore the area. Hence a travel from Dakshin Kosala to Patliputra ensued.

Dakshin Kosala or Southern Kosala was ruled by Kosala kings and their empire extended to present day Chhattisgarh state and regions of Western Odisha. In ancient times, Ikshvaku dynasty ruled Kosala with Ayodhya as their capital city. Later, Lord Ram Chandra became king of Kosala Pradesh. After Lord Ram, the kingdom was divided among his two sons, Lav and Kush. North Kosala went to Lav as his share with Shravasti as his capital while Kush received South Kosala. He established his new capital, Kushasthalipura on the river Kushavrate. Kushasthalipura is identified as near Malhar in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh.

I enquired from my brother about the weather. ‘Hot’ was the reply. We had to brace the dry hot weather for the next few days. However, my cousin sister who lives in Netarhat, Jharkhand came to know about our plan and insisted that we must visit her on our way back to Patna and to spend some time there with them.

Netarhat is a small village which is about 150 kms from Ranchi. Netarhat has now become a famous hill station of Jharkhand. However, its recognition is due to the Netarhat Residential School which was established in 1954. It is one of the most prestigious schools of undivided Bihar. My brother in law is teaching English since last 27 years there.

We gleefully accepted the invitation however, it meant that we had to alter our plans and route to include Netarhat in our journey.

The flight was delayed by 30 minutes and I reached Raipur by 8.00 pm. My brother has started in the morning and drove around 300 kms to pick me up from Raipur. The initial plan was to stay for the night at Raipur and start early in the morning for Sirpur, our first destination in journey. Sirpur is about 75 kms from Raipur airport. However, we had to save time to include Netarhat in our itinerary hence we decided to drive directly to Sirpur. We took SH 6 and covered the distance in about 90 minutes. We had pre-booked Hiuen Tsang resort in town, which is run by the Chhattisgarh Tourism. We reached Sirpur by 9.30 pm and found it difficult to find the resort. We managed to reach the huge gate of the resort through its unlit approach road but found the gate to be locked. We could hardly see the resort building from the closed entry. We honked but got nothing. We somehow found a number from the booking confirmation, however could not connect. In a stroke of luck, we managed to get through that number. However, the number belonged to someone who was managing the resort earlier. He was helpful and messaged us the number of the caretaker of the resort. We called them and found them to be surprised to see us. The resort was huge with big rooms and the entire resort was empty. There was an eerie silence which was making us a tad uncomfortable. We were hungry and requested for some food. Initially, the staff hesitated as they said the kitchen was closed. But later they prepared simple meal of rice, chapatti and aaloo jeera which was delicious. Around midnight, we called it a night.

We got up early and had an early breakfast. We had to cover a lot of distance and places today. Again breakfast was simple but good. We cleared our dues and started for the sightseeing town had to offer, which was quite a lot in number. It was around 9 in the morning it was getting unbearably hot already.

entrance of the guest house

reception area

open front space

high ceilings and huge gallery

big lawns inside the guest house

hugest dining hall


reserved room of H.H. Dalai Lama


Going to Neverland
We started scouting the area. It was full of old temples, Hindu and Buddhist and archeological excavation sites. Sirpur is a historical town in Mahasamund district in the state of Chhattisgarh about 75 km away from Raipur and 35 km from Mahasamund city situated on the banks of river Mahanadi. Sirpur is derived from the ancient name Sripura which was once the centre of power of South Kosalas during the rule of Sarabhapuriyas and Panduvamsis from 6th to 8th century AD. The archaeological remains in and around Sirpur consists of both Hindu and Buddhist monuments in the form of temples and monasteries.

Gandheshwar Temple:

We started with Gandheshwar Temple. It is also called 'Gandheshwar Mahadev' because the Shiva Linga here produces a pleasant fragrance every morning. The temple is situated on the banks of Mahanadi River. However the river was completely dry. Interestingly, it is said that this is the only Shiva Linga which is worshipped even today while thousands of other Lingas found in Sirpur are not. There were traces of Buddhist influence as well at the temple.



no trace of water in River Mahanadi

inner sanctum of the temple

traces of buddhism in the shiva temple





Buddh Vihar:

Next we visited Buddhviharas found on the other side of the town. Some extremely prominent buddhist monuments and viharas have have been found in this region. These viharas are in a state of shambles without any roof over them. However, these viharas contain exquisite carvings which are absolutely unmatched in workmanship and splendor. First to visit was Swastik Vihara belived to be built during 7th Century AD during the reign of King Mahashivgupt Balarjun. It was made of bricks. Then we moved on to Anandprabhukuti Vihar, made of bricks, again built during 7th century AD during the reign of King Mahashivgupt Balarjun. It was resdince of Buddhist monk Anandprabhu, hence the name. We visited Tivar dev Vihar after going through Surang tila temple and Balesvara Mahadev Temple. Tiver dev vihar by far was the most preserved of the viharas and contains mesmerizing sculptures and exquisite carvings of all viharas in Sirpur.

Swastik Vihara




Anandprabhukuti Vihara










Tivar Dev Vihara



impressive entrance


eroticism at Buddh Vihara? i find it totally misplaced.. watch the next picture









Going to Neverland
Surang Tila - Shiva temples:
It seemed to be an interesting looking temple and a different name which had our attention. Surang Tila was excavated in the year 2006. It was already known because an inscription was found which talked about a temple here. The inscription said that it was built in 7th Century AD. It was a panchayatan temple style of construction - the main temple in the centre and four in the corners. The entry gate is before the steps. The material used in the temple is sandstone. There are 32 pillars on top of the temple where the Shivlingas are installed. The roof has now collapsed and only the pillars remain.
An interesting fact about the Surang Tila is a Shiva temple and there four different types of shivlingas - white, black, red and yellow. White was installed a Brahmin, by Red was by Kshatriya as he deals with blood, Yellow by Vaishya as he deals with Gold and Black by Shudra. However, all of them worshipped all the Shivlingas.








front view of the temple

right flank






Balesvara Mahadev Temple Complex:
This is a 6th Century Shiva temple built by Mahashivgupt Balarjun. This is also a Panchayatan Shiva temple – two temples in centre and four in the corner. The Garbha griha was star shaped. All pillars were made with dolomite which is one of the hardest stone and also most difficult to carve. Another interesting fact about this temple complex is that there are two temples because the king had two wives – one from Chhattisgarh and the other one from Karnataka. The 48 sculptures found at the temple explain in detail the perils of having two wives. These temples are known as Balasvara and Udaisvara Mahadev temples.



unfortunately the domes and shikharas has been lost to the vagaries of the time










Lakshmana Temple:
It was the last of the temple we visited in Sirpur. It was baking hot and walking on the stone pathways with bare foot was getting next to impossible. The east facing Lakshmana temple was built by Vasata, the mother of Mahasivagupta Balarjuna in 7th century AD. It is one of the most well preserved brick temple with a stone door frame. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this brick temple stands on a high massive platform accessible by steps in the north and the south. The exquisitely carved doorframe depicts figures of Seshnag shaiyya Vishnu along with his other incarnations. This temple is one among the best examples of brick temples of ancient India.








the stone doorframe


carvings on the ceiling






Super User
Beautiful log @Alpha =D>
I haven't seen many logs from this part of the country. Nice to see you exploring the unexplored (as by normal people). Our ancient craftsmen were truly amazing. Such delicate stonework, designs are amazing.