Chausath Yogini Temple

Chausath Yogini Temple | Inspiration behind the Indian Parliament building

A 11th-century temple in Morena district of Madhya Pradesh, Chausath Yogini Temple, Mitaoli is also called Ekattarso Mahadeva Temple. India has only a few Yogini temples that are well-preserved. An open Mandapa is in the center of the circular courtyard, sacred to Shiva, formed by a circle of 65 rooms, apparently for 64 yoginis and Devi.

Chausath Yogini Temple on a hilltop

It is located in Mitaoli village (also spelled Mitauli or Mitawali), 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Gwalior. An inscription from 1323 CE records that the temple was built by the Kachchhapaghata king Devapala (1055 – 1075). Education was provided in astrology and mathematics under the ministry of the temple, based on solar transits. A monument of ancient and historical significance, the temple has been declared by the Archaeological Survey of India under Act No. LXXI of 1951, dt.28/11/1951


Central shrine

There is a circular walkway once adorned with images of Yogini, now displaying Shiva Linga images. The temple is built on top of a hill that’s about 100 feet (30 m) high; there are 100 steps to the entrance. Within it are 65 small chambers that have an open mandapa and a facade of pilasters and pillars, while it has a radius of 170 feet (52 m). Shiva’s central shrine has a flat roof, as does the circular courtyard surrounding the ring of shrines; this courtyard is open to the sky, with an open porch serving as the entrance. According to legend, the parliament building of India was modeled after this temple.

The exterior surface of the outer wall was decorated with statues flanked by ladies, unlike that of most other Yogini temples that are quite plain. Most of these statues have been damaged or lost.

Each chamber of the perimeter wall now contains an image of Shiva. Originally, the temple contained 64 images of Yogini and an image of Devi. That is why it is called Chausath Yogini Temple (Chausath means “sixty-four” in Hindi]). The roofs of the 64 chambers and the central shrine were originally adorned with towers, as the Chausath Yogini Temple at Khajuraho still has, but these were removed during later modifications.

Despite being located in Seismic Zone III, the temple has been spared only minor damage after several earthquakes. 

The circular shape of the Parliament House, with its design, suggested to be based on Mitaoli’s temple, was cited as evidence against an earthquake effect by the Indian Parliament.

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