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Kalinjar is a fortress-city in the Bundelkhand region of central India. Kalinjar is located in Banda District of Uttar Pradesh state, near the temple-city and World Heritage Site of Khajuraho. The fortress is strategically located on an isolated rocky hill at the end the Vindhya Range, at an elevation of 1,203 feet (367 m) and overlooks the plains of Bundelkhand. It served several of Bundelkhand’s ruling dynasties, including the Chandela dynasty of Rajputs in the 10th century, and the Solankis of Rewa. The fortress contains several temples dating as far back as the Gupta dynasty of the 3rd-5th centuries.

Kalinjar means The destroyer of time in Sanskrit. ‘Kal’ is time and ‘jar’ destruction. Legend says that after manthan Hindu God, Lord Shiva, drank the poison and his throat became blue (hence the name Neel (blue) Kantha (throat)) and he came to Kalinjar and overcome the ‘Kal’ i.e. he achieved victory over death. This is the reason the Shiva temple at Kalinjar is called Neelkanth. Since then, the hill has been considered a holy site, casting its shadow across the patches of grasslands as well as the densely forested valley. The natural splendor of the surroundings makes it an ideal place for penance and meditation and, surprisingly, a strange mystique still pervades all over the hill.

The majesty and grandeur witnessed within Kalinjar’s precincts is due to the Bargujar rulers’ creative imagination, their highly developed aesthetic sense and religious fervor. Though they were great devotees of Lord Shiva, they also showed great interest in the construction of temples of other deities. The massive rock cut sculptures include figures of various gods and goddesses from ancient mythological themes. Wherever the Bargujar established their reign they left their mark in the form of fine works of art, stone images, and sculpture.The western part of the fort contains the temple of Neelkanth Mahadev, which allows views of a shivalinga through a cave-like opening. Just above the temple is a natural water source that never dries up and water continually drips onto the shivalinga. The priests, who have been Chandela Rajputs since the time of the Chandela kings have pointed out that the neck of the sculpture of Lord Shiva on the shivalinga, though made of solid rock, is always moist to touch. This is a reminder of the “neelkantha” or drinking of poison story from the epic Bhagavata Purana.

Close to the Shivlinga Cave stand the idols of Bhairava and goddess Parvati, made of black stone. Images of numerous gods and goddesses are carved on both sides of the gateway. A number of broken pillars are set at regular distances on which it is said six-storey constructions were raised, but later demolished. There are numerous rock-cut sculptures showing neglect and the ravages of time.
Another sight is the Palace of Prince Aman Singh who was the descendant of King Chhatrasal. A number of legends are associated with this Mahal whose big lawns and walls unfold the long history of Chandela culture. Thousands of broken and decayed images made of granite and sandstone have been collected here in an informal museum.

There are also many Trimurti images showing the faces of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva). Some distance away is a massive figure of Vishnu lying in the ocean of milk, enclosed within the coils of the Sheshnag. The images depict Lord Shiva, the god of love Kamadeva and Indrani the wife of Indra amongst others and show the influence of diverse cultures and religions. It also indicates that the creation of the Chandela culture was not the handiwork of artists from one region.The Bargujar princes who ruled before the Chandelas were influenced by the ‘Shaiva’ cult. Therefore, among the rock-cut and stone images are mostly those of Shiva, Parvati, Nandi and the Shivlinga. Shiva is seen at times in his dancing posture of tandava and at others in a close embrace with goddess Parvati.There are other attractions including the Venkat Bihari Temple, the ‘pond of million tirthas’, which is said to cure skin ailments along with aquatic features such as the Sita-kund, Pandu-kund, and Patal-ganga.Metalled roads have been built through the mountainous passage along which people can travel to reach the fort. Alternatively, an old beaten track cuts its way through the rough and rocky terrain with seven magnificent gates along its course.