By no means is drought a reason to celebrate. Especially the ones that come once in thirty years or so. This is a disclaimer right at the beginning of the post to ward off any meandering thoughts about the way I look at this world. It is the same as everyone and the basic necessity of water has to be fulfilled for every human.
Moving on, how many times have you heard of a river bed drying up and so much that submerged temples emerge from it? The thought itself is awkward! This awkward moment came on one march morning when I was reading a press article about some Peshwa era ( about 300 yrs old) temples emerged from the Godavari river bed. The place was close to Nashik at a village called Chandori. The photo above was attached as proof with the article.
As an architect the first thought that comes to mind is – why would anybody build a temple in the middle of a river bed? What is the story? Which god/godess is worshipped in this fashion. The next set of questions arises from geography and a little knowledge that I have from it. The begin with, did the river change its course? Or was a dam built that raised the level of water. If the dam was the reason, Godavari must have been a small rivulet as per the photograph. Too many questions and theories and only one way to ascertain. Visit the place.
It took us about 20 days to plan the trip. We assumed that if the river bed is dry, it would stay the same until may or the next monsoon atleast. So the 20 days delay was because of syncing the time schedules with the crew. We came to regret it later.
The only guide to the whole thing and very surprisingly was Google Maps. There is no other internet reference to the place on the internet apart from the press report I read. The Google maps did show the’shikhars’ of the 4 temples, right in the centre of the riverbed. This was the only cue in our hands.
We set off. The drive is same as the one we had to take to go to Sula wines near Nashik. Detailed description of the drive can be read on the post here. Chandori is further down on this Agra highway and the turn for the village is about 25 kms ahead. Turning on the GPS is absolutely recommended as the turn is not a prominent one and can be missed easily.
On reaching we had to enquire a but about the way to the riverbank, but the villagers led us there without any hassles. The first sight there was disappointing. It was like dreams shattering in the eyes. The water had been releases from the dam! The temples were partly submerged again! They were non accessible! We moved ahead to inquire about the drought and the same was confirmed by an elderly man sitting along the banks, women washing clothes and a fisherman. Our trip was cut short right then and there.
However, we found evidence of the temples. We could see more part of the temples than what usually people could see otherwise. This was also corroborated with the salt deposits along the banks which were higher than the current water level (see picture). The dam theory was proved beyond a doubt. The fact that the river was a small stream or it changed course still remains to be seen. There was clear weathering on the higher side of the river bank, which incidentally also forms the inner line of the curve of the river. The river was not free flowing which gave rise to the doubt that there is probably a smaller dam further down the course of the reservoir. This gave rise to a mini reservoir at Chandori which submerged the temple. We were able to corroborate the same on site and with the locals.
In terms of architecture, whatever little we could study is part of the blog post as photos. We did not get access to the temples, nor were the peshwa era river banks visible above the water to make any conclusions around the same. However, there was an interesting point raised with regards to a settlement from that era. There was no material evidence apart from these temples that supports the fact that there was an old settlement along the banks. The marks must have been erased in the course of history.
The villagers were did not know about, nor excited enough to discuss with us. There was an obvious sense of amusement in their looking at us ‘tourists’. We had taken this as an expedition to find something new. We sure did find it, thiugh not completely we witnessed something that was never heard of before. This was one of the very clear reasons why we travel. For the search of the unknown, to learn the unknown. The only qualm left is that someday I would like to flip through history books in a library to find evidence of such settlementand learn more about the thriving culture there during the peshwa era