Bhojpur is named after its founder, the Parmara king Bhoj. Bhojpur is situated 28 km from Bhopal on the banks of river Betwa. Bhojpur is famous for the incomplete Bhojeshwar temple, which is dedicated to Shiva. The temple houses the largest Shiva lingam in India, which is 5.5 m (18 ft) tall and 2.3 m (7.5 ft) in circumference and is crafted out a single rock.
Today, the ruined and incomplete Bhojeshwar Temple still humbles the mind. Constructed in the latter part of the 11th century, its great stone blocks encompass a doorframe, which towers ten meters high and five meters wide. Four titanic pillars, richly carved, rise to support an incomplete dome. The high noon sun lances through the dome, illuminates a massive pedestal made of three stepped blocks of sandstone, seven meters square. An iron ladder ascends this huge pedestal to reach the uppermost platform, directly beneath the high roof, open to the sky. Dominating this platform and the great brooding temple is a magnificent lingam more than five meters high and over two meters in circumference.
In the temple, religion and architecture, sculpture, drama and a weird vision combine in a compelling assertion of reality. There is a brooding imminence about this great black temple that demands attention and reverence; and streams of school girls, as bright as moving garlands of flowers, moved up and down the ladder seeking the blessings of the great monolith, bowing to mumbled prayers from an ochre-robed, white-bearded priest who stood near like a vision of a benevolent and slightly portly Father Time.
If the incomplete temple can evoke such awe, how much reverential fear would have been evoked by the final work of Raja Bhoja? But the savant king was fated never to complete his imposing shrine. For, at the glorious end of the Paramara era in 1060, the Chalukyas of Kalyani and Gujarat combined with Lakshmi-Karna of the Kalachuri dynasty attacked Raja Bhoja's capital. In that fierce battle, Raja Bhoja died defending his kingdom. And so today, only the temple stands, and beyond it, a damaged Jain colossus rides in a whitewashed building. Stones still lie around partially carved as they had been when the sculptors fled nine centuries ago when Bhoja fell. Eagles still wheel in the wide sky as they did over that ancient bloody battlefield. And a train chuffs and mourns across the plain like a sad spirit of a warrior, slowly departing.
But Bhoja's forty-two-year reign is still celebrated in myth and legend as well as in this time-defying monument. For, as long as the temple stands, and the doorway towers and the sculptures enchant and the great lingam broods with implacable power in the 900-year-old Bhojeshwar, so long will the memory of King Bhoja shine like a diadem.
Shri Shantinath Digambar Jain Atishaya Kshetra Bhojpur is situated at a distance of 30 km from Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, State of India, surrounded by dense forests of Vindhyachal Mountain Range. This Kshetra is famous for miraculous idol of Bhagwan Shantinath (16th Teerthankar) 22½ feet high in standing posture; this was installed here by the consent of ‘King Bhoj’, the famous King of ‘Dhar’ during 11th century. According to the inscription on idol, it was reverenced in year 1100 AD.
This Kshetra is related to ‘Acharya Mantunga’, who was the writer of famous ‘Bhaktamar Stotra’. Acharya Mantunga’s place of penance – Siddha-Shila (a flat rock) and his shrine is also here. At the place of shrine, a pair of foot images is reverenced. Acharya Mantunga (an introduction): - King Bhoj seated on the throne of Dhara Nagari presently city of Dhar) in year 1100 AD. Great poet ‘Kalidas’ was one of the members of his assembly – Royal Court. One Jain poet ‘Dhananjaya’ was also becoming famous those days in the city. One day King Bhoj called Dhananjaya in his royal court and get introduced with him and praised him for his poems & wisdom.
Shri Dhananjaya told the king very politely that his all wisdom & knowledge was due to his teacher (Guru) Acharya Mantunga – a Jain Muni (Saint), he said that all the knowledge is due to the blessings of Acharya Mantunga. After knowing about the praise worth Acharya Mantunga, King Bhoj desired to meet with Acharya. King Bhoj ordered his servants to bring Acharya Mantunga to his royal court with honor. At that time Acharya were staying at Bhojpur and doing Tapa (Penance) for self – realization – purification. Servants of King Bhoj reached there, prayed Acharya again & again to go with them to city of Dhara to meet their King Bhoj. But ascetic saints have no purpose in meeting with King or any other persons. So Acharya gave no reply to servants and engrossed in deep Tapa or meditation. Servants returned to King and told about their failure. So the King Bhoj became angry and he ordered to bring the Acharya forcefully in his royal court. Servants do the same and thus Acharya were brought before King Bhoj. The king praised Acharya and requested to give some religious precepts to the audience present there. But up to that time looking unfavorable situations, Acharya decided to remain silent during such conditions. So all the prayers & requests of King were all in vain, so King became angry and he ordered to his soldiers to place the Acharya in prison. Thus Acharya were placed in prison.
In the prison Acharya Mantunga started the prayer of Bhagwan Adinath (the 1st Teerthankar), thus he wrote in Sanskrit language a great poem – the ‘Bhaktamar Stotra’ having 48 Chhanda (Verse), this is very popular Stotra among Jains, daily recited in so many families. It is supposed that every verse (Chhanda) of this Stotra has the power of Mantra and is helpful in getting the dreams materialized.
Due to the effect of Bhaktamar Stotra, Acharya Mantunga automatically came out of prison. The watchman saw this miracle, but thinking about the self-ignorance, he again closed Acharya in prison and checked the locks firmly. But after sometime locks of prison again opened and Acharya were free again. Seeing this the watchman hurried to the king and told him about the event. King came there and he ordered the soldiers to tie Acharya firmly with strong chains and kept in the prison having 48 locks. Acharya again recited Bhaktamar Stotra and all the 48 locks with chains broken. Acharya automatically came out of prison. Looking this miracle, King Bhoj felt down in the feet of Acharya, he pardoned for his mistake again & again.
After this, Acharya Mantunga entered the city of Dhara, due the effect of preaches & Tapa of Mantunga, so many people’s accepted Jain Dharma (religion).
Later on Acharya Mantunga stayed at Bhojpur he practiced for penance & meditation, tried to get rid of worldly affection & aversion. At the end, he accepted ‘Sallekhana Vrit’ and give up his body doing Tapa. Shrine of Acharya Mantunga and his Siddha Shila (a rock where Acharya seated for Tapa & meditation) is also here in Bhojpur. A pair of footprints of Acharya Mantunga are installed on the shrine.
At a distence of 13 km from Dhara, in the village ‘Ahu’, ruins of 48 pillars may be seen where Acharya were kept during prison. Later on a huge temple of Bhagwan Shantinath was constructed here by the consent of King Bhoj and 22½ feet high standing idol of Bhagwan Shantinath was installed in the huge sanctum of temple.
This huge temple was established in year 1100 AD. The miraculous idol of principal deity Bhagwan Shantinath in standing posture (22½ feet in height) is installed in the huge sanctum of this temple. On the both sides of this idol, 2 standing beautiful idols of Bhagwan Parshvanath & Suparshvanath (7th Teerthankar) 8 feet in height each are installed. Near the feet of Bhagwan Shantinath, artistic whisk bearers are carved on both sides.