The Oldest Hindu Temple? We all know that Ankor Vat (built in 12th century) in Cambodia is the biggest Hindu temple complex in the world (in fact, it is the biggest religious structure in the world!!!). But where is the oldest Hindu temple? The question of finding an answer to the oldest Hindu temple is a bit difficult. Each temple that is considered to be the oldest is questioned by another set of people claiming their temple to be the oldest one. Early worships used to take place in caves, so it is quite probable that the most ancient temple has to be a cave temple. Therefore, here I present a possible candidate: Cave No. 19 of the Bhaja Caves, Lonavala, Maharashtra. Even though the 2200 years old Bhaja Caves are primarily a Theravada Buddhist site, it seems that, like is the case with many other ancient cave temples, these caves too were shared by Buddhists and Hindus alike. In cave no. 19 we find 2200 years old rock carvings of Surya (the Vedic Sun God) on his chariot, Indra (the Vedic Thunder God) on his Airavata elephant and Lord Parashurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, which is enough evidence for us to speculate that cave no. 19 was used as a temple by people following the Vedic traditions. This makes it most probably the most ancient Hindu temple to be found intact today.
Pic: 1. 2200 years old rock carvings of Surya (the Vedic Sun God) on his chariot, Indra (the Vedic Thunder God) on his Airavata elephent in cave no. 19, Bhaja Caves, Lonavala, Maharashtra. 2. Buddhist Chaitya at the main cave entrance, Bhaja Caves, Lonavala, Maharashtra.

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