Harshnath Temple Complex: A visual walkthrough

Nestled within the scenic landscapes of the Sikar district in Rajasthan, the sacred site of Harshnath Temple Complex (10th-18th centuries CE), perched atop the Harsha Hill, holds a storied past that intertwines local folklore, historical narratives, and architectural marvels, offering a captivating glimpse into the spiritual traditions of ancient India. Archaeological excavations reveal a complex network of shrines and sculptures that once adorned the Harsha Hill, attesting to its significance as a religious hub, with traces of Brahmanical and Vaishnavite influences interwoven into the fabric of the temple complex. Central to this site is the Harshnath Temple, a historical edifice dedicated to Lord Shiva, which is likely to have been constructed in the latter half of the 10th century CE. The temple houses a self-manifested linga known as Pancha-mukhi Mahadeva, representing the five aspects of Shiva. Surrounding this central shrine are remnants of other temples, once dedicated to deities like Surya, Vishnu, and various Yoginis, indicating the diverse religious landscape of the site. Among these relics, the Harshnath Temple stands out with its intricate architectural features, adorned with friezes depicting celestial beings and deities.

Legend has it that the genesis of the temple complex is intertwined with the poignant tale of Harsha, a wise man who, along with his beloved sister Jina, found solace in each other's company after being orphaned at a tender age. Their unbreakable bond faced a test when Harsha's marriage led to discord with his jealous wife, prompting Jina to seek refuge on the Kali-Shikhara hill in Sikar. Undeterred, Harsha established his abode nearby, later christened as Harsha-giri, where he fervently worshipped the self-manifested shivalinga known as Pancha-mukhi Mahadeva, earning the blessings of Lord Shiva as Harsha Bhairon. Today, the Harsha Hill draws thousands of devotees annually to pay homage to Harsha Bhairon, revered as the family deity of many local castes and the patron deity of Sikar. Despite its dilapidated state, the temple is a living temple site.

The image gallery is a visual tour of archaeological and architectural remains scattered across the Harshnath Temple Complex.

This 18th-century CE temple is raised on a high platform and located at the entrance of the temple complex, next to the ancient Harshnath Temple. The temple is a living temple.
This 18th-century CE temple is raised on a high platform and located at the entrance of the temple complex, next to the ancient Harshnath Temple. The temple is a living temple.
The plaque reads ‘The temple of Shiva Harshnath, the family deity of Chahamana rulers, situated on the Harsha-giri depicts the Maha-Maru style. According to an inscription dated V.S. 1030 (CE973), it was built by a Shaiva ascetic Bhavarakta, alias Allata, in CE 956 during the reign of Vigraharaja I of the Chahamana dynasty. Chand Shiva was the chief architect. The temple complex consists of garbhagriha, antarala, rangamandapa with kakshasana and porch with a separate Nandi mandapa.
The plaque reads ‘The temple of Shiva Harshnath, the family deity of Chahamana rulers, situated on the Harsha-giri depicts the Maha-Maru style. According to an inscription dated V.S. 1030 (CE973), it was built by a Shaiva ascetic Bhavarakta, alias Allata, in CE 956 during the reign of Vigraharaja I of the Chahamana dynasty. Chand Shiva was the chief architect. The temple complex consists of garbhagriha, antarala, rangamandapa with kakshasana and porch with a separate Nandi mandapa.
 Shafts of a pair of columns that once surmounted a torana or doorways at the entrance of the temple complex. Verse-12 of the Harshnath stone inscription records ‘Resembling (in height) the peak of Meru, it is pleasant on account of an excellent torana-dvara (arched doorway), and well-carved Nandi, and is full of manifold objects of enjoyment.’
Shafts of a pair of columns that once surmounted a torana or doorways at the entrance of the temple complex. Verse-12 of the Harshnath stone inscription records ‘Resembling (in height) the peak of Meru, it is pleasant on account of an excellent torana-dvara (arched doorway), and well-carved Nandi, and is full of manifold objects of enjoyment.’
A white stone image of Nandi, Shiva’s bull, placed over the Nandimandapa facing the Harshnath Temple. The image could be a later replacement of the original image. The Verse-12 of the Harshnath stone inscription records ‘Resembling (in height) the peak of Meru, it is pleasant on account of an excellent arched doorway (torana-dvara), and well-carved bull (Nandi), and is full of manifold objects of enjoyment’.
A white stone image of Nandi, Shiva’s bull, placed over the Nandimandapa facing the Harshnath Temple. The image could be a later replacement of the original image. The Verse-12 of the Harshnath stone inscription records ‘Resembling (in height) the peak of Meru, it is pleasant on account of an excellent arched doorway (torana-dvara), and well-carved bull (Nandi), and is full of manifold objects of enjoyment’.
This is a fascinating and rare image of Narasimha depicted in a dancing stance. He stands on one foot placed over what appears to be a prostrating figure, possibly a woman. With one hand raised in the air, he forms a lap above which the slain demon king is placed. He has eight arms and is accompanied by a dwarf warrior whose dynamic movement complements the dynamic posture of Narasimha.
This is a fascinating and rare image of Narasimha depicted in a dancing stance. He stands on one foot placed over what appears to be a prostrating figure, possibly a woman. With one hand raised in the air, he forms a lap above which the slain demon king is placed. He has eight arms and is accompanied by a dwarf warrior whose dynamic movement complements the dynamic posture of Narasimha.
 Kartikeya, with three visible faces, resting on his vahana, a peacock, placed on the devakostha (wall niches).
Kartikeya, with three visible faces, resting on his vahana, a peacock, placed on the devakostha (wall niches).
Architectural fragments affixed on a late medieval structure on Harsha Hill. Loose fragments include remains of a superstructure, a panel depicting dancing figures, etc.
Architectural fragments affixed on a late medieval structure on Harsha Hill. Loose fragments include remains of a superstructure, a panel depicting dancing figures, etc.
Late medieval structure on Harsha Hill. Several 10th-century CE sculptures are placed inside the structure.
Late medieval structure on Harsha Hill. Several 10th-century CE sculptures are placed inside the structure.
This sculpture is arguably the oldest at the shrine, dated by Ambika Dhaka to the 8th century CE The sculpture thus significantly precedes the Harshnath Temple, which was built in the second half of the 10th century. The figure exhibits standard iconographic features of the Sun God, such as fully bloomed lotuses in two hands, a long tunic, boots and retinue figures in pairs like his companions - Danda and Pingala, his wives and his sons, Ashvins.
This sculpture is arguably the oldest at the shrine, dated by Ambika Dhaka to the 8th century CE The sculpture thus significantly precedes the Harshnath Temple, which was built in the second half of the 10th century. The figure exhibits standard iconographic features of the Sun God, such as fully bloomed lotuses in two hands, a long tunic, boots and retinue figures in pairs like his companions - Danda and Pingala, his wives and his sons, Ashvins.
 The shrine of Harsha Bhairon is now an epicentre of spiritual activities at Harsha Hill. This late medieval structure has an enclosure wall, upon which sculptures are affixed both inside and outside.
The shrine of Harsha Bhairon is now an epicentre of spiritual activities at Harsha Hill. This late medieval structure has an enclosure wall, upon which sculptures are affixed both inside and outside.
These pillars, popularly called Govardhan pillars, are quite common in several regions of Rajasthan, particularly the more arid regions of Thar and Maru. Although they may not always feature the image of Govardhan-Krishna in all cases. The top of the pillar is shaped like a temple and the niches on three sides have images of Ganesha, Vishnu and Shiva, while what appears to be the principal face has two niches.
These pillars, popularly called Govardhan pillars, are quite common in several regions of Rajasthan, particularly the more arid regions of Thar and Maru. Although they may not always feature the image of Govardhan-Krishna in all cases. The top of the pillar is shaped like a temple and the niches on three sides have images of Ganesha, Vishnu and Shiva, while what appears to be the principal face has two niches.
It is likely a figure of the dikpala Agni (the God of fire) holding a kamandalu (pot) in his left hand. The image of a directional deity that once adorned the temple wall and is now affixed on a late medieval structure on Harsha Hill.
It is likely a figure of the dikpala Agni (the God of fire) holding a kamandalu (pot) in his left hand. The image of a directional deity that once adorned the temple wall and is now affixed on a late medieval structure on Harsha Hill.
The dikpala or directional deity Kubera is depicted on the niche of the right-hand side, while the adjoining figure on the left is of Ishana. Vyala is depicted on the subsidiary offset of the temple wall. The image of a directional deity that once adorned the temple wall is now affixed on a late medieval structure on Harsha Hill.
The dikpala or directional deity Kubera is depicted on the niche of the right-hand side, while the adjoining figure on the left is of Ishana. Vyala is depicted on the subsidiary offset of the temple wall. The image of a directional deity that once adorned the temple wall is now affixed on a late medieval structure on Harsha Hill.
A structure of a very late date on Harsha Hill with some architectural remains from the 10th century CE placed inside.
A structure of a very late date on Harsha Hill with some architectural remains from the 10th century CE placed inside.
These pillars, which were once part of the mandapa of a temple, have been affixed on this late medieval structure. The purna-kalasha is beautifully carved.
These pillars, which were once part of the mandapa of a temple, have been affixed on this late medieval structure. The purna-kalasha is beautifully carved.
Fragments of a superstructure featuring two bhumis and an amalaka, affixed on a late medieval structure on Harsha Hill.
Fragments of a superstructure featuring two bhumis and an amalaka, affixed on a late medieval structure on Harsha Hill.
Around a dozen of sub-shrines were built on Harsha Hill in the 10th and 11th centuries CE. These were dedicated to various Brahmanical deities, as indicated by the architectural fragments. Unlike a Panchayatan temple or a planned temple complex, the irregular placement and size-proportions of these sub-shrines suggest a random and unplanned construction process over an extended period of time.
Around a dozen of sub-shrines were built on Harsha Hill in the 10th and 11th centuries CE. These were dedicated to various Brahmanical deities, as indicated by the architectural fragments. Unlike a Panchayatan temple or a planned temple complex, the irregular placement and size-proportions of these sub-shrines suggest a random and unplanned construction process over an extended period of time.
This enigmatic deity, seemingly Shaiva, is depicted with six heads and twelve hands. Although all hands are broken, one appears to hold an attribute in the form of a trident. The waist portion is buried in the earth. The headgear includes a jatamukuta on the four side heads typically associated with Shiva, and a kirita-mukuta on the front and back heads, typically associated with Vishnu.
This enigmatic deity, seemingly Shaiva, is depicted with six heads and twelve hands. Although all hands are broken, one appears to hold an attribute in the form of a trident. The waist portion is buried in the earth. The headgear includes a jatamukuta on the four side heads typically associated with Shiva, and a kirita-mukuta on the front and back heads, typically associated with Vishnu.
 A four-armed Vishnu is depicted seated in the lalitasana posture. He carries a mace and a chakra in his upper right and left hands, respectively, while the lower right and left hands hold a mala and possibly a citron, respectively.
A four-armed Vishnu is depicted seated in the lalitasana posture. He carries a mace and a chakra in his upper right and left hands, respectively, while the lower right and left hands hold a mala and possibly a citron, respectively.
A four-armed Ganesha is depicted in the lalitasana posture, holding an axe, lotus, bowl of sweets and other attributes.
A four-armed Ganesha is depicted in the lalitasana posture, holding an axe, lotus, bowl of sweets and other attributes.
The fragment likely served as the background frame behind the independent image of the sanctum, is affixed on a late structure.
The fragment likely served as the background frame behind the independent image of the sanctum, is affixed on a late structure.
On the main offset, there is a carved image of a directional deity inside the niche, such as Vayu. In the recess, there is a vyala figure and a lion rider. It is affixed on a late structure.
On the main offset, there is a carved image of a directional deity inside the niche, such as Vayu. In the recess, there is a vyala figure and a lion rider. It is affixed on a late structure.
 A figure of Uma Maheshwar inside a niche. Shiva is seated in the lalitasana posture, while Parvati is comforted in his lap. It is affixed on a late structure.
A figure of Uma Maheshwar inside a niche. Shiva is seated in the lalitasana posture, while Parvati is comforted in his lap. It is affixed on a late structure.
This is one of the many images of yoginis found at the site, hinting at a lost yogini temple compound. The placid expressions of this two-armed yogini seated in the lalitasana posture suggest her benevolent nature. Contextualizing this image with several other relevant images suggests a maturity of Shakti and tantric traditions at the site.
This is one of the many images of yoginis found at the site, hinting at a lost yogini temple compound. The placid expressions of this two-armed yogini seated in the lalitasana posture suggest her benevolent nature. Contextualizing this image with several other relevant images suggests a maturity of Shakti and tantric traditions at the site.
Two separate devakostha niches are present. The larger one houses Ganesha, while the smaller one houses Parvati. Ganesha is depicted dancing and four-armed holding a goad, a vessel of sweets, etc. Parvati is standing erect in sambhanga with a jata-mukuta. She is depicted with six arms, holding a trident, akshayamala, spear, etc.
Two separate devakostha niches are present. The larger one houses Ganesha, while the smaller one houses Parvati. Ganesha is depicted dancing and four-armed holding a goad, a vessel of sweets, etc. Parvati is standing erect in sambhanga with a jata-mukuta. She is depicted with six arms, holding a trident, akshayamala, spear, etc.
There are many loose architectural fragments scattered within the Harshnath Temple Complex. In this fragment, musicians are depicted singing or playing a variety of musical instruments. At the centre is a male with long hair and a beard, playing the drum.
There are many loose architectural fragments scattered within the Harshnath Temple Complex. In this fragment, musicians are depicted singing or playing a variety of musical instruments. At the centre is a male with long hair and a beard, playing the drum.
Inside one of the late medieval structures on Harsha Hill, the idol is in active worship. It is excessively smeared with paint and silver, making it challenging to determine its dating or identification.
Inside one of the late medieval structures on Harsha Hill, the idol is in active worship. It is excessively smeared with paint and silver, making it challenging to determine its dating or identification.
A fragment depicting an image of a dwarf male.
A fragment depicting an image of a dwarf male.
Outside the entrance of the Harsha Bhairon shrine on Harsha Hill, this image of Durga-Mahishasuramardini is in active worship. It is smeared with black paint and clothed, which obscures the details of the image. It is one of the many images contemporaneous to the Harsha shrine, affixed in the enclosure of the Bhairon shrine.
Outside the entrance of the Harsha Bhairon shrine on Harsha Hill, this image of Durga-Mahishasuramardini is in active worship. It is smeared with black paint and clothed, which obscures the details of the image. It is one of the many images contemporaneous to the Harsha shrine, affixed in the enclosure of the Bhairon shrine.
 One notable architectural fragment affixed on the structure is a row of elephants (seen below the closed window), which must have once been part of the temple’s base moulding.
One notable architectural fragment affixed on the structure is a row of elephants (seen below the closed window), which must have once been part of the temple’s base moulding.
 The loose architectural fragments in front of the Harshnath Temple include a pillar with a band of dancers and musicians, a four-armed image of Shiva, which was once part of a devakostha niche, featuring a snake and a trident in the two hands above and another niche of smaller size depicting Bhairav holding a sword and a skull-headed spear.
The loose architectural fragments in front of the Harshnath Temple include a pillar with a band of dancers and musicians, a four-armed image of Shiva, which was once part of a devakostha niche, featuring a snake and a trident in the two hands above and another niche of smaller size depicting Bhairav holding a sword and a skull-headed spear.
It seems that the beam, richly carved with human figures, was likely placed on the varandika of the temple, the adjoining portions between the temple walls and the spire. The protruding offsets typically feature mithuna figures inside the niches, while the recess between the two offsets is beautifully carved with images of apsaras or women engaged in different actions such as carrying children, weapons, etc
It seems that the beam, richly carved with human figures, was likely placed on the varandika of the temple, the adjoining portions between the temple walls and the spire. The protruding offsets typically feature mithuna figures inside the niches, while the recess between the two offsets is beautifully carved with images of apsaras or women engaged in different actions such as carrying children, weapons, etc
It seems that the beam, richly carved with human figures, was probably placed on the varandika of the temple, the adjoining portions between the temple walls and the spire.  The male figures are often depicted with weapons and in the company of female companions. This fragment is one of the loose architectural fragments on Harsha Hill.
It seems that the beam, richly carved with human figures, was probably placed on the varandika of the temple, the adjoining portions between the temple walls and the spire. The male figures are often depicted with weapons and in the company of female companions. This fragment is one of the loose architectural fragments on Harsha Hill.
It appears that the beam, adorned with intricately carved human figures, was probably placed on the varandika of the temple, the adjoining portions between the temple walls and the spire. The male figures are usually shown with weapons and accompanied by female companions. This fragment is one of the loose architectural fragments on Harsha Hill.
It appears that the beam, adorned with intricately carved human figures, was probably placed on the varandika of the temple, the adjoining portions between the temple walls and the spire. The male figures are usually shown with weapons and accompanied by female companions. This fragment is one of the loose architectural fragments on Harsha Hill.
The protruding offsets typically feature mithuna figures inside the niches, while the recess between the two offsets is beautifully carved with images of apsaras or women engaged in different actions. The male figures are usually shown with weapons and accompanied by female companions.
The protruding offsets typically feature mithuna figures inside the niches, while the recess between the two offsets is beautifully carved with images of apsaras or women engaged in different actions. The male figures are usually shown with weapons and accompanied by female companions.
The protruding offsets typically feature mithuna figures inside the niches, while the recess between the two offsets is beautifully carved with images of apsaras or women engaged in different actions. The male figures are usually shown with weapons and accompanied by female companions.
The protruding offsets typically feature mithuna figures inside the niches, while the recess between the two offsets is beautifully carved with images of apsaras or women engaged in different actions. The male figures are usually shown with weapons and accompanied by female companions.
It is likely that the beam, richly carved with human figures, adorned the varandika of the temple, the adjoining portions between the temple walls and the spire. The protruding offsets typically contain mithuna figures inside the niches, while the recesses between the two offsets are beautifully carved with images of apsaras.
It is likely that the beam, richly carved with human figures, adorned the varandika of the temple, the adjoining portions between the temple walls and the spire. The protruding offsets typically contain mithuna figures inside the niches, while the recesses between the two offsets are beautifully carved with images of apsaras.
The elaborately carved temple ceiling features a panel on the right carved with multiple male and female figures. In the centre is a prominent bearded male figure holding a drum. The central portion of the panel is significantly defaced.
The elaborately carved temple ceiling features a panel on the right carved with multiple male and female figures. In the centre is a prominent bearded male figure holding a drum. The central portion of the panel is significantly defaced.
A Scene of warriors in action. This fragment is one of the loose architectural fragments on Harsha Hill.
A Scene of warriors in action. This fragment is one of the loose architectural fragments on Harsha Hill.
This interesting fragment depicts a senior ascetic, likely a Shaiva ascetic, positioned in the extreme right corner, delivering a sermon to a lady. To his left, there appears to be his disciple showing reverence to his guru. Following them, there is a series of garland bearers and musicians facing the venerable guru.
This interesting fragment depicts a senior ascetic, likely a Shaiva ascetic, positioned in the extreme right corner, delivering a sermon to a lady. To his left, there appears to be his disciple showing reverence to his guru. Following them, there is a series of garland bearers and musicians facing the venerable guru.
The lintel of the doorway of the sanctum. At the lalata is a figure of Lakulisha. The frame is richly carved with musicians and dancers. The current lintel on the doorframe of the Harshnath temple is likely a later replacement. This lintel, depicting Lakulisha, may have belonged to the Harshnath Temple.
The lintel of the doorway of the sanctum. At the lalata is a figure of Lakulisha. The frame is richly carved with musicians and dancers. The current lintel on the doorframe of the Harshnath temple is likely a later replacement. This lintel, depicting Lakulisha, may have belonged to the Harshnath Temple.
A figure of the dikpala Agni is positioned at one of the karna (corner projection) of the Harshnath Temple. It is on the karna of the southeastern corner, accompanied by his vahana, a ram. On either side of him, surasundaris occupy places at the pratirathas and salilantara-recesses.
A figure of the dikpala Agni is positioned at one of the karna (corner projection) of the Harshnath Temple. It is on the karna of the southeastern corner, accompanied by his vahana, a ram. On either side of him, surasundaris occupy places at the pratirathas and salilantara-recesses.
Elegant surasundaris are shown raising their right leg with their left arm, at the southeast corner of the wall of the Harshnath Temple.
Elegant surasundaris are shown raising their right leg with their left arm, at the southeast corner of the wall of the Harshnath Temple.
 The doorway of the garbhagriha consists of five panchashakha (jambs) of the Harshnath Temple. Pairs of dvarapala (door guardian) and river goddesses (Ganga-Yamuna) occupy their standard positions at the bottom of the jamb. Mithuna figures are carved on either side in their typical positions.
The doorway of the garbhagriha consists of five panchashakha (jambs) of the Harshnath Temple. Pairs of dvarapala (door guardian) and river goddesses (Ganga-Yamuna) occupy their standard positions at the bottom of the jamb. Mithuna figures are carved on either side in their typical positions.
 The lintel over the door jambs of the sanctum of the Harshnath Temple depicts the trio of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesha, with Vishnu occupying the central position. Art historian Ambika Dhaka is of the view that this lintel might have been a later replacement of the original lintel featuring an image of Lakulisha at the centre.
The lintel over the door jambs of the sanctum of the Harshnath Temple depicts the trio of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesha, with Vishnu occupying the central position. Art historian Ambika Dhaka is of the view that this lintel might have been a later replacement of the original lintel featuring an image of Lakulisha at the centre.
The jangha or wall portions of the sanctum are nearly in ruins. The temple lacks the pitha but begins from a single plinth course. The vedibandha is damaged in some areas, but otherwise, it had kumbha with intricate udgama motifs, with a small central box carrying a figure.
The jangha or wall portions of the sanctum are nearly in ruins. The temple lacks the pitha but begins from a single plinth course. The vedibandha is damaged in some areas, but otherwise, it had kumbha with intricate udgama motifs, with a small central box carrying a figure.
The temple, which is in a ruinous condition, consists of a mulaprasada of tri-anga specification, joined by a rangamandapa. It lacks the pitha but starts from a single plinth-course. The vedibandha is damaged in some places but otherwise had a kumbha with intricate udgama motif and a small central box carrying a figure. The jangha, which is almost totally ruined, had dikpalas at the karnas, as evidenced by remains in the northeastern corner.
The temple, which is in a ruinous condition, consists of a mulaprasada of tri-anga specification, joined by a rangamandapa. It lacks the pitha but starts from a single plinth-course. The vedibandha is damaged in some places but otherwise had a kumbha with intricate udgama motif and a small central box carrying a figure. The jangha, which is almost totally ruined, had dikpalas at the karnas, as evidenced by remains in the northeastern corner.
The ghata-pallava pillars above the kakshasana and vedika of the mandapa and porch, Harshnath Temple. The pillars display exceptional craftsmanship.
The ghata-pallava pillars above the kakshasana and vedika of the mandapa and porch, Harshnath Temple. The pillars display exceptional craftsmanship.
The ghata-pallava pillar, showcasing remarkable craftsmanship, depicts a lion and an elephant engaged in combat.
The ghata-pallava pillar, showcasing remarkable craftsmanship, depicts a lion and an elephant engaged in combat.
Inside the sanctum of the temple, beautiful sculptures of nayikas (female dancers) adorn the walls. Placed at the centre of the principal/back wall, a colossal image of Parvati in penance or the panchagni tapa. She stands erect on an iguana and is hence labelled as Godhasana Gauri. On either side of her are two standing and two sitting female attendants.
Inside the sanctum of the temple, beautiful sculptures of nayikas (female dancers) adorn the walls. Placed at the centre of the principal/back wall, a colossal image of Parvati in penance or the panchagni tapa. She stands erect on an iguana and is hence labelled as Godhasana Gauri. On either side of her are two standing and two sitting female attendants.
The four-faced linga, known as the Pancha-mukhi Mahadev, situated in the sanctum of the Harshnath Temple, is actively worshipped at the site. It features three benevolent faces, while the one facing northward is fierce. One face is considered to be at the top of the linga. They collectively represent the Sadashiva form of Shiva.
The four-faced linga, known as the Pancha-mukhi Mahadev, situated in the sanctum of the Harshnath Temple, is actively worshipped at the site. It features three benevolent faces, while the one facing northward is fierce. One face is considered to be at the top of the linga. They collectively represent the Sadashiva form of Shiva.
The trio of Ganesha, Surya, and Chandra is one of the several loose sculptures that were affixed on the later structures at the site. The three figures may have once been part of a larger panel depicting the nine heavenly bodies or the navagraha. While the dancing Ganesha is four-armed, the images of Surya and Chandra have only two arms, broken in both cases.
The trio of Ganesha, Surya, and Chandra is one of the several loose sculptures that were affixed on the later structures at the site. The three figures may have once been part of a larger panel depicting the nine heavenly bodies or the navagraha. While the dancing Ganesha is four-armed, the images of Surya and Chandra have only two arms, broken in both cases.
On the northeast corner of the Harshnath Temple wall, dikpala Ishana is depicted with his vahana, a bull. A dwarf figure feeding the bull from a vessel is an interesting feature of the image. A dwarf figure feeding the bull from a vessel is an interesting feature of the image.
On the northeast corner of the Harshnath Temple wall, dikpala Ishana is depicted with his vahana, a bull. A dwarf figure feeding the bull from a vessel is an interesting feature of the image. A dwarf figure feeding the bull from a vessel is an interesting feature of the image.
On the eastern face of the Harshnath Temple wall, dikpala Indra is depicted holding a vajra in his left hand.
On the eastern face of the Harshnath Temple wall, dikpala Indra is depicted holding a vajra in his left hand.
A surasundari holding a veena is depicted on the northeastern corner of the antarala of the Harshnath Temple.
A surasundari holding a veena is depicted on the northeastern corner of the antarala of the Harshnath Temple.
A surasundari on the antarala holding a flute. At the bottom is a dwarf holding a drum. In the adjoining recess, there is another image of a surasundari.
A surasundari on the antarala holding a flute. At the bottom is a dwarf holding a drum. In the adjoining recess, there is another image of a surasundari.
A red sandstone panel with various segments separated by pillarlets, with various musicians and dancers placed in each panel, is affixed on the platform of the 18th century CE Shiva Temple.
A red sandstone panel with various segments separated by pillarlets, with various musicians and dancers placed in each panel, is affixed on the platform of the 18th century CE Shiva Temple.
Inside of the gumbada or dome of the 18th century CE Shiva Temple.
Inside of the gumbada or dome of the 18th century CE Shiva Temple.
The temple is in active worship. Since the temple is located near the entrance, it serves as the initial focal point for devotional acts on the hill.
The temple is in active worship. Since the temple is located near the entrance, it serves as the initial focal point for devotional acts on the hill.
Several pillars dating back to the 10th century CE were reused in various late medieval and modern structures within the compound of the Harsha Bhairon shrine. Additionally, several sculptures were affixed on the walls of the compound.
Several pillars dating back to the 10th century CE were reused in various late medieval and modern structures within the compound of the Harsha Bhairon shrine. Additionally, several sculptures were affixed on the walls of the compound.
 The fragments, on Harsha Hill, depict several human figures in diverse actions, although it is unclear if they form a coherent narrative. The left extreme fragment is defaced, followed by a depiction of a female figure reclining on a couch and being served by numerous female attendants. This scene evokes the Krishna-story panels quite popular in various temple sites of Rajasthan from the 8th century CE, with some references probably dating even earlier.
The fragments, on Harsha Hill, depict several human figures in diverse actions, although it is unclear if they form a coherent narrative. The left extreme fragment is defaced, followed by a depiction of a female figure reclining on a couch and being served by numerous female attendants. This scene evokes the Krishna-story panels quite popular in various temple sites of Rajasthan from the 8th century CE, with some references probably dating even earlier.
A life-size female figure standing erect with broken hands which could have originally been in a gesture of veneration, in the sanctum of the Harshnath Temple. Her identity is unknown.
A life-size female figure standing erect with broken hands which could have originally been in a gesture of veneration, in the sanctum of the Harshnath Temple. Her identity is unknown.
The ceiling beam in the sanctum depicts an array of warriors marching towards the right on its side, while the lower face of the beam is richly carved with vegetation foliage.
The ceiling beam in the sanctum depicts an array of warriors marching towards the right on its side, while the lower face of the beam is richly carved with vegetation foliage.
Inside the sanctum of the Harshnath Temple, beautiful sculptures of nayikas (female dancers) adorn the walls. Most of them are inscribed with epithets in the 10th century CE Kutila script.
Inside the sanctum of the Harshnath Temple, beautiful sculptures of nayikas (female dancers) adorn the walls. Most of them are inscribed with epithets in the 10th century CE Kutila script.
In the frieze (of the ceiling of the Harshnath Temple sanctum) of the drumming and dancing gods, is Indra seated on his elephant Airavata, accompanied by a warrior holding a sword and shield and an apsara. This image resonates with verse 7 of the Harsha stone inscription of Vigraharaja II which mentions that the Lord Harsha (Shiva) is worshipped on the hill by a joyous divine host, Indra.
In the frieze (of the ceiling of the Harshnath Temple sanctum) of the drumming and dancing gods, is Indra seated on his elephant Airavata, accompanied by a warrior holding a sword and shield and an apsara. This image resonates with verse 7 of the Harsha stone inscription of Vigraharaja II which mentions that the Lord Harsha (Shiva) is worshipped on the hill by a joyous divine host, Indra.
This is a depiction of Shiva in the form of lingodhbhav-murti. This is one of the most iconic and celebrated images of lingodhbhav-murti, reputed for its delicacy of the figures, sense of movement and visual impact. Within the incorporative landscape of Harsha Hill, including shrines dedicated to various deities, this image marks the Shaiva domination and supremacy at the complex.
This is a depiction of Shiva in the form of lingodhbhav-murti. This is one of the most iconic and celebrated images of lingodhbhav-murti, reputed for its delicacy of the figures, sense of movement and visual impact. Within the incorporative landscape of Harsha Hill, including shrines dedicated to various deities, this image marks the Shaiva domination and supremacy at the complex.
Housed in the Government Museum, Sikar, it is identified as the figure ’Killing of Asavathama elephant by Pandava prince, Bhima’ on the label. However, the identification has little support beyond speculation. Given the size of the figure and its delicate rendition, another speculation arises, suggesting it may depict Shiva as Gajantak, the killer of the demon elephant.
Housed in the Government Museum, Sikar, it is identified as the figure ’Killing of Asavathama elephant by Pandava prince, Bhima’ on the label. However, the identification has little support beyond speculation. Given the size of the figure and its delicate rendition, another speculation arises, suggesting it may depict Shiva as Gajantak, the killer of the demon elephant.
 Broken fragment of a navagraha panel, now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar, depicting (from right to left) a female figure, Ketu, Rahu and two other planetary gods depicted akin to rishis.
Broken fragment of a navagraha panel, now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar, depicting (from right to left) a female figure, Ketu, Rahu and two other planetary gods depicted akin to rishis.
A four-armed figure of a seated Lakshmi with lotuses in her upper two hands, while her lower left hand holds a pot and the lower right is in the varada mudra. She is referred to as Goddess Leeliya on the museum label. She is accompanied by female attendants holding flowers on either side.
A four-armed figure of a seated Lakshmi with lotuses in her upper two hands, while her lower left hand holds a pot and the lower right is in the varada mudra. She is referred to as Goddess Leeliya on the museum label. She is accompanied by female attendants holding flowers on either side.
The 12th century CE Sanskrit inscription found in Sikar. It records the death of an individual named Mahipal.
The 12th century CE Sanskrit inscription found in Sikar. It records the death of an individual named Mahipal.
A four-armed Ganesha, once adorning the temple wall on the Harsha Hill is now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar It is depicted holding an axe and a mala in his lower two hands. The upper two hands carry a bowl of sweets and possibly a flower.
A four-armed Ganesha, once adorning the temple wall on the Harsha Hill is now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar It is depicted holding an axe and a mala in his lower two hands. The upper two hands carry a bowl of sweets and possibly a flower.
A four-armed Indra placed inside a devakostha-niche, easily identifiable by his vahana, an elephant. The loose architectural fragment from Harsha Hill is now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar. Although the two hands on the left side are broken, the upper right holds an ankush and the lower one gracefully rests on his right leg.
A four-armed Indra placed inside a devakostha-niche, easily identifiable by his vahana, an elephant. The loose architectural fragment from Harsha Hill is now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar. Although the two hands on the left side are broken, the upper right holds an ankush and the lower one gracefully rests on his right leg.
The two-armed yogini is seated in the lalitasana posture. She holds a mala in her right hand and a cup in her left hand. Her head is lost. The yogini is holding a cup in her left hand, often associated in tantric traditions with the cup containing the symbolic nectar of spiritual bliss attained after the completion of tantric sadhana.
The two-armed yogini is seated in the lalitasana posture. She holds a mala in her right hand and a cup in her left hand. Her head is lost. The yogini is holding a cup in her left hand, often associated in tantric traditions with the cup containing the symbolic nectar of spiritual bliss attained after the completion of tantric sadhana.
The four-armed seated figure, likely of Shaiva affiliation, occupies a central place in the architectural fragment. He holds a trident and likely a staff in his upper two hands, while the lower hands hold a citron in the left hand and an unclear object in the right. While the figure lacks an ithyphallic representation, it could still be interpreted as Lakulisha.
The four-armed seated figure, likely of Shaiva affiliation, occupies a central place in the architectural fragment. He holds a trident and likely a staff in his upper two hands, while the lower hands hold a citron in the left hand and an unclear object in the right. While the figure lacks an ithyphallic representation, it could still be interpreted as Lakulisha.
An inscribed medieval memorial stone from Sikar.
An inscribed medieval memorial stone from Sikar.
 The memorial stone, in the Government Museum Sikar, bears an unpublished epigraph recording the death of an individual named Mahipal. A niche carved on the top of the panel depicts a Shaiva ascetic on one side of a shivalinga and a devotee, likely perhaps Mahipal, standing on the other side.
The memorial stone, in the Government Museum Sikar, bears an unpublished epigraph recording the death of an individual named Mahipal. A niche carved on the top of the panel depicts a Shaiva ascetic on one side of a shivalinga and a devotee, likely perhaps Mahipal, standing on the other side.
The unpublished 11th-century inscription records the pilgrimage to the hill.
The unpublished 11th-century inscription records the pilgrimage to the hill.
The four-armed Goddess depicted here appears to be Goddess Bhairavi. She holds a staff crowned with a skull and an attribute resembling a mace in her right hand. The left arm above is broken and the lower one is placed near her vahana, a dog. The panel below depicts dancers and musicians.
The four-armed Goddess depicted here appears to be Goddess Bhairavi. She holds a staff crowned with a skull and an attribute resembling a mace in her right hand. The left arm above is broken and the lower one is placed near her vahana, a dog. The panel below depicts dancers and musicians.
The four-armed Goddess, likely Parvati, seems to be standing on a vahana resembling an iguana. Two attributes certainly identifiable are a mala and a flower. The panel below depicts two figures engaged in a discussion, over a text.
The four-armed Goddess, likely Parvati, seems to be standing on a vahana resembling an iguana. Two attributes certainly identifiable are a mala and a flower. The panel below depicts two figures engaged in a discussion, over a text.
The pillars in the mandapa of the Harshnath Temple lack homogeneity and may have been replaced at a later date. This pillar does not feature any images of goddesses in the niches. Instead, it displays a panel of musicians and dancers.
The pillars in the mandapa of the Harshnath Temple lack homogeneity and may have been replaced at a later date. This pillar does not feature any images of goddesses in the niches. Instead, it displays a panel of musicians and dancers.
Independent sculpture of yogini affixed on the Bhairon compound near the entry of the main shrine in the basement. This is one of the many images of yoginis found at the site hinting at a lost yogini temple compound. Contextualizing this image with several other relevant images suggests a maturity of Shakti and tantric traditions at the site.
Independent sculpture of yogini affixed on the Bhairon compound near the entry of the main shrine in the basement. This is one of the many images of yoginis found at the site hinting at a lost yogini temple compound. Contextualizing this image with several other relevant images suggests a maturity of Shakti and tantric traditions at the site.
Medieval epigraph at the porch on a pillarlet on the right side of the entrance.
Medieval epigraph at the porch on a pillarlet on the right side of the entrance.
Medieval epigraph at the porch on a pillarlet on the left side of the entrance.
Medieval epigraph at the porch on a pillarlet on the left side of the entrance.
Adorning the walls within the sanctum of the Harshnath Temple are exquisite sculptures of nayikas. Most of them are inscribed with epithets of the 10th century CE Kutila script.
Adorning the walls within the sanctum of the Harshnath Temple are exquisite sculptures of nayikas. Most of them are inscribed with epithets of the 10th century CE Kutila script.
A four-armed Parvati is depicted holding a kamaṇdalu and mala in her lower hands and likely flowers in the upper two hands. Flanking her on both sides are attendant dwarfs. Below this scene, an ascetic with long matted hairs is shown in deep adoration to Shiva.
A four-armed Parvati is depicted holding a kamaṇdalu and mala in her lower hands and likely flowers in the upper two hands. Flanking her on both sides are attendant dwarfs. Below this scene, an ascetic with long matted hairs is shown in deep adoration to Shiva.
Close to the Harshnath Temple complex lies the Bhairon shrine featuring a semi-iconic rock revered locally as the Harsha Bhairon. He is believed to be a manifestation of the folk hero, Harsha, who decided to settle at the hill to worship Shiva. He is believed to have been blessed by Shiva to be worshipped as Bhairon on the hill.
Close to the Harshnath Temple complex lies the Bhairon shrine featuring a semi-iconic rock revered locally as the Harsha Bhairon. He is believed to be a manifestation of the folk hero, Harsha, who decided to settle at the hill to worship Shiva. He is believed to have been blessed by Shiva to be worshipped as Bhairon on the hill.
This Shaiva figure was possibly part of a devakostha or sculptural niche placed on the walls of a now-lost Shaiva shrine. It is now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar. The four-armed seated figure holds a trident and a staff in the upper two hands, while the lower two hands are considerably damaged. The figure is ithyphallic, symbolizing the Urdhvareta aspect of Shiva, indicating mastery over the vital energies through ascetic vigour.
This Shaiva figure was possibly part of a devakostha or sculptural niche placed on the walls of a now-lost Shaiva shrine. It is now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar. The four-armed seated figure holds a trident and a staff in the upper two hands, while the lower two hands are considerably damaged. The figure is ithyphallic, symbolizing the Urdhvareta aspect of Shiva, indicating mastery over the vital energies through ascetic vigour.
This elegant Shaiva figure, originally part of a devakostha or sculptural niche adorning the walls of a now-lost Shaiva shrine, is now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar. The figure is depicted with four hands, the upper two hold a skull-scepter and cobras, while the lower left-hand holds a cup, or rather a skull, with the fingers of the right hand dipping into its contents. On the left is an image of a vyala, which was once placed in the salilantara recess of the temple wall.
This elegant Shaiva figure, originally part of a devakostha or sculptural niche adorning the walls of a now-lost Shaiva shrine, is now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar. The figure is depicted with four hands, the upper two hold a skull-scepter and cobras, while the lower left-hand holds a cup, or rather a skull, with the fingers of the right hand dipping into its contents. On the left is an image of a vyala, which was once placed in the salilantara recess of the temple wall.
The panel depicting Shiva in his dancing form, Natesha, might have once been placed at the ceiling of a lost Shaiva temple on Harsha Hill. It is now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar. In the depiction, Natesha is surrounded by various dancers and musicians. He gracefully holds a damru in his right hand and likely a trident in his left hand, which is significantly damaged.
The panel depicting Shiva in his dancing form, Natesha, might have once been placed at the ceiling of a lost Shaiva temple on Harsha Hill. It is now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar. In the depiction, Natesha is surrounded by various dancers and musicians. He gracefully holds a damru in his right hand and likely a trident in his left hand, which is significantly damaged.
This particular image of Shesashayi Vishnu, or Vishnu reclining on the serpent. It was obtained from Harsha Hill and is now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar. Lord Shesa, likely served as the main cultic image inside a now lost Vaishnava shrine. Atop the image are representations of the nine planets, while Vishnu is attended to by Lakshmi at his feet. Three ayudhapurusa, personification of his weapons, are placed behind him.
This particular image of Shesashayi Vishnu, or Vishnu reclining on the serpent. It was obtained from Harsha Hill and is now housed in the Government Museum, Sikar. Lord Shesa, likely served as the main cultic image inside a now lost Vaishnava shrine. Atop the image are representations of the nine planets, while Vishnu is attended to by Lakshmi at his feet. Three ayudhapurusa, personification of his weapons, are placed behind him.
This important image of Vaikuntha Vishnu reveals the presence of the Pancharatna form of Vaishnavism at Harsha hill. Pancharatna had spread to various regions of Rajasthan from the 8th century CE onwards, with its most notable manifestations in temples like the Harshatmata Temple of Abhaneri. This image signifies its influence, albeit in a limited manner, up to the region of Shekhavati.
This important image of Vaikuntha Vishnu reveals the presence of the Pancharatna form of Vaishnavism at Harsha hill. Pancharatna had spread to various regions of Rajasthan from the 8th century CE onwards, with its most notable manifestations in temples like the Harshatmata Temple of Abhaneri. This image signifies its influence, albeit in a limited manner, up to the region of Shekhavati.
This is a rare image of Vinayaki, the feminine aspect (consort in some traditions) of Vinayaka or Ganesha. Only a partial image is visible as the lower portion was subsumed by the stairways built next to it. She is holding a cup in one of her hands, an attribute found in many of the Shaiva and Shakta images of the site and associated with the tantric tradition.
This is a rare image of Vinayaki, the feminine aspect (consort in some traditions) of Vinayaka or Ganesha. Only a partial image is visible as the lower portion was subsumed by the stairways built next to it. She is holding a cup in one of her hands, an attribute found in many of the Shaiva and Shakta images of the site and associated with the tantric tradition.
This majestic image of Surya, now in the Akbari Fort and Museum in Ajmer, must have once been placed inside the sanctum of a lost Surya shrine. Coupled with multiple other Surya images at the shrine (Surya, Chhaya, etc.), it suggests the maturity of the Surya tradition at the hill, present there at least from the 8th century CE, much before the emergence of the Harshadeva-Shiva as the royal shrine at the hill.
This majestic image of Surya, now in the Akbari Fort and Museum in Ajmer, must have once been placed inside the sanctum of a lost Surya shrine. Coupled with multiple other Surya images at the shrine (Surya, Chhaya, etc.), it suggests the maturity of the Surya tradition at the hill, present there at least from the 8th century CE, much before the emergence of the Harshadeva-Shiva as the royal shrine at the hill.