The Oilman’s Temple


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“If we want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out.
To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.”
(Mother Teresa of Calcutta – Albanian born Indian Missionary. Nobel Prize for Peace in 1979. 1910-1997)

The Telikā Mandir or “oil-man’s temple” located in the complex of Gwalior fort, in Gwalior in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, was built in the late eighth century.
Elevating to the height of 100 feet ( about 30m), Teli Ka Mandir is the tallest temple in the confines of the Fort.
The building was erected just as the Gurjara Pratihāras were asserting their power over central India.
It is actually dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the form of his mount, Garuda and this unusual image makes the circlet of the doorway.
The structure of this Rajput temple presents a perfect fusion of the northern and southern architectural styles of India.
The ‘shikhar’ (spire) of the temple is undeniably Dravidian in its style, whereas the ornamentation is done in the Nagara style (specific to North India).
Unlike other temples, Oilman’s Temple doesn’t have any ‘mandap’ or pillared hall.
The temple comprises a sanctum sanctorum accompanied by a porch and a doorway imprinted with elaborate carvings (amorous couples, coiled serpents, gods and goddesses).
The weird and wonderful arrangement of two architectural styles show how Teli Ka Mandir boasts about the heritage and rich culture of India.

“Teli Ka Mandir” sounds as an unusual term, but it has several theories behind its name.
According to one of the legends, Rashtrakuta Govinda III seized the Gwalior Fort in 794.
He handled the service of religious ceremonies and rituals to Telang Brahmins and as a result of this, the temple acquired its name.
Another legend says that oil merchants or the men of Teli Caste took the initiative of temple’s construction and due to it, the temple got its name.
The third speculation reveals that name is linked with Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh.
This revelation also approves with the synthesis of Dravidian and North Indian architectural styles.

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