India is home to numerous temples, but few can match the enigmatic allure of the small, mysterious shrine located atop a hill in the middle of a forest. This unique temple, situated on Dholkal Mountain in the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, stands at an elevation of 3,000 feet above sea level. Hidden for centuries, it was only rediscovered in 2012 by an archaeologist.

The Dholkal Ganesha of Dantewada

This remarkable idol of Lord Ganesha, brilliantly carved from stone, resides on Dholkal Mountain in Dantewada. At a height of approximately 3,000 feet, the idol has faced its share of challenges, including systematic vandalism by Maoists in 2017. Despite this, the idol's divinity and the mountaintop's sanctity remain intact, attracting devotees who undertake a strenuous trek to reach it and offer their worship.

Following India's independence, the idol faded from public memory until a journalist's trek in 2012 brought it back into the spotlight. This rediscovery turned the Dholkal Ganesha temple into a popular destination for pilgrims, trekkers, and history enthusiasts. The local tribes also saw an opportunity for prosperity as increased tourism brought employment and income. Many locals found work as tour guides and operators, revitalizing the dense forest area from the base camp at Farsal.

Dholkal – History and Mystery

According to legend, Lord Parshuram once sought to meet Lord Shiva. However, Lord Shiva had appointed Lord Ganesha as a guard, who denied Parshuram entry. In a fit of rage, Parshuram tried to force his way in, leading to a confrontation where Ganesha threw him to earth, landing in the Bailadila mountain range. Upon regaining consciousness, a battle ensued between Parshuram and Ganesha. Parshuram, wielding his weapon Farsa, managed to cut one of Ganesha's teeth, giving rise to Ganesha's epithet, Ekdant. The nearby village of Faraspal derives its name from Parshuram's weapon. It is also believed that the Bailadila mountain range is rich in iron ore due to Parshuram’s Farsa falling there.

The exact origins of the beautifully carved and heavy Ganesha idol on this remote hill remain a mystery.Archaeologists speculate that it dates back to the 9th-11th century during the Nagwanshi rule in the region.

The Maoist Attack

The rise in prosperity brought by the Dholkal Ganesha idol was intolerable to the Maoist terrorists in the Bastar region. In January 2017, they destroyed the idol by pushing it off the 3,000-foot-high Bastal hilltop, shattering it and crushing the hopes of the local tribes. The Maoists' aim was to halt the region's economic development and deter visitors.

The Bastar Police launched an investigation to recover the shattered pieces of the idol from the Maoist-dominated foothills. They concluded that the destruction was intended to stymie economic progress in the area, following the state government's announcement of a Rs 2 crore investment to develop the site as a tourist attraction.

On February 2, 2017, the Archaeological Survey of India, with the help of local religious leaders, restored the Ekadanta idol to its original site atop Dholkal hill.

Source / Image Credit : The Pamphlet, Times of india, HerZindagi