Ambikeshwar Mahadev Temple or Ambikeshwar Mandir in Amer town is more like a protagonist.
As per local legend, Amer or Amber as some people prefer to write is named after the Ambikeshwar Mahadev temple in Amer Town. The word Amer is synonymous with Amer Fort and Rajput kings like Raja Man Singh I, Bharmal, Jai Singh II for their bravery and valor. Amer has a history of the Rajput rule of 600-700 years. Their valiant stories and close association with the Mughal rulers are well documented in history.
History of Ambikeshwar Mahadev Temple
Initially, Amer was a territory of Meena chieftains. According to the historians Kachhawa Rajput, the clan that ruled Amer and Jaipur, snatched Amer from the Meenas with deceit and force. As per the legend, Kakil Deo, a Kachhawa Rajput ruler heard a strange incident through his informant. One of the cows would give milk only at a certain spot. The curious kind ordered his men to dig up the spot. Upon digging, a Shivling was found. Thereafter, the king had a temple constructed at this very site which is now known as Ambikeshwar Temple.
Many people claim that this temple is 5000 years old. In reality, it’s a laughable claim. History of Rajput rule over Amer town itself dates to 1070 AD. From my personal experience, such false claims and stories are created by the priest community for understandable reasons. Their livelihood is dependent on devotees. Using such tricks they want to ensure that devotees keep coming back. Claims of a temple being 2000 or 5000 years old are rubbish and cannot be proven with facts. If you ever come across such claims, corroborate the same with logic and facts. As per historians, Ambikeshwar Temple dates to the 10th century. It is also known as Unda Mahadev.
Ambikeshwar Mahadev Temple occupies an important place in the town of Amer. Its a well-known spot in this small settlement. Ambikeshwar Chowk is a large open area in front of this temple.
In a town characterized by small lanes, having a large open area points to the fact that provision was made for the large congregation at this spot. Maybe a victory or religious parade was routed through this temple. Rajput rulers participated in a large number of battles fighting for the Mughal ruler and winning many. It’s quite likely that blessing was sought after or before such battles. There are no records to prove this theory, though. It’s also likely that Ambikeshwar Mahadev Temple was the most important temple hence a large gathering of public warranted such space. Chowk in Jaipur and elsewhere in Rajasthan is a public space where people can sit, meet and socialize. These are also meant for community celebrations like Jagran, Holi celebration and so on. There is no recorded information about Ambikeshwar Chowk. My presumption is that it indicates the importance of Ambikeshwar Mahadev Temple for Amer town.
Upon entering temple one finds is a small courtyard having a residential quarter of the priest family.
Beyond this residential section is temple section. The floor of temple area is at least 6 feet below the road level. The temple is adorned with a prominent Shikhar.
Shiva Temple is at the entrance housing the Shivling which is below the floor level; uncommon for the Shivling. As per the local legends, this entire area gets submerged in water during the monsoon season. While I have not seen this personally, I have come across a picture in a book.
There are more temples in this complex. It is strange that none of these temples have idols and they are not active i.e. Puja ritual is not performed. Something that I also came across in Bhangarh which is famed for being the most haunted place in India. The architecture and construction indicate that these temples are ancient possibly dating to 10-12 the centuries. There are some idols randomly placed in the temple compound. These are old and are currently not worshipped! I could not find any reliable information about these temples and idols.
This region was largely following Vaishnavism. There are very few temples built by the royalty dedicated to Shiva. In stark contrast, there are many temples commissioned by the royalty dedicated to Lord Krishna which shows dedication to Vaishnav following. Amer town has temples dedicated to a variety of deities.
However, Ambikeshwar Temple being a prominent temple shows that before shifting their capital to Jaipur, the Kacchawa rulers were not ardent followers of Vaishnavism. This is just a personal deduction. The Dwaja Stambh (flag pole) also is an important pointer that exists in no other temple in the vicinity.
Read another related post on the most beautiful heritage temple in Amer town: Jagat Shiromani Temple
I don’t recommend everyone to visit Ambikeshwar Temple because it’s not grand or opulent. Nor it is beautiful. It will not interest a tourist. But surely worth a visit for the traveler, history buff, heritage lover and people who love to explore.
What about the story of Maharajah Kakil Deo that I mentioned above? Frankly, I’m not sure if that was Kakil Deo or some Meena chieftain because in history books the place is known as Amer only. If the town was named during the Rajput rule, what was it called before? Yet to be answered!! But the temple holds special significance to Kachwaha Rajputs probably as a bridge between the history of their community & this region.
In the end, let me share a picture of the beautiful wall of Ambikeshwar Mahadev Temple featuring a procession of Maharaja’s army.
Read all related posts on Heritage Temples of Jaipur