Is Indian Parliament Inspired By The Architectural Style Of Chausath Yogini Temple?

Standing atop an isolated hill, the Chausath Yogini temple has an imposing view, in a small village called Mitaoli in Madhya Pradesh. Built by Kachchhapaghata king Devapala around 1055 – 1075 CE, the temple is said to be a venue for imparting knowledge in astrology and mathematics based on the transit of the Sun. Yogini cult is thought to have emerged in the 7th century, was in practice until the 15th century and is a part of the tantric landscape in the eastern part of India. The cult combined complex astrological theories with spiritual beliefs, in which Yoginis are perceived as cosmic energies that move in all directions at all times in a day. It is believed that the Yoginis attract the ‘buddhi’ and ‘ahankara’ of a devotee by viewing them, transforming them by bestowing increased powers and helping them achieve the final union (moksha) with the Supreme Soul or ‘Brahman’. Although the cult was quite popular in its heyday, Yogini temples are extremely rare and only four known structures remain, two in Odisha and two in Madhya Pradesh.  

Indian Parliament
Image Credits: Mint

Chausath means sixty-four and it’s a number of spiritual value in octal numeral societies. In the case of the temple in Mitaoli, there are 64 chambers that had the sculptures of various Yogini figures, however, most have either been stolen or lost now. But, its most imposing feature is its circular structure. It is externally circular in shape with a radius of 170 feet and within its interior part, it has 64 small chambers. Within the main central shrine, there are slab coverings, which have perforations in them to drain rainwater to a large underground storage. The pipelines from the roof leading the rainwater to the storage are visible as well. The design of the temple has withstood the shocks of earthquakes, without any damage to its circular structural features, despite being situated in a seismically active zone for the past several centuries.  

More than its unique circular architecture, the temple has drawn comparisons with the Indian parliament. After looking at the structure, the viewer cannot ignore certain similarities between the two structures. The regional archaeologist KK Muhammad, who oversaw the restoration of the temple, claims that there are two opinions among historians on the issue of the architectural style of the parliament building and other structures on the Raisina hills. One side claims that architects such as Lutyens and Hebert Baker were inspired solely by the Roman style of architecture, whereas others claim that the architects sought to combine the western style with the Indian, of which there are several examples. So, it is quite possible that the inspiration for India’s parliament must have come from the Chausath Yogini temple. 

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