The Bhima Devi Temple Complex, nicknamed Khajuraho of North India for its erotic sculptures, comprises the restored ruins of an ancient Hindu temple dating from between 8th and 11th century AD, together with the adjacent 17th-century Pinjore gardens (a variant of Mughal gardens), located in Pinjore town in Panchkula district of the state of Haryana, India. Old temple was destroyed by the islmic invaders and the present 8-11th CE temple is likely built on the same place under the old name, and the nearby ancient baoli still has old Hindu pillars. Bhimadevi belongs to the Shakti tradition that was derived from the Buddhist tantric goddess. Further, in the Devi Mahatmya it is said that in the Western Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh (Pinjore region adjoins Himachal Himalayas), Bhimadevi appeared in an enormous form of Bhimarupa (Bhima’s form) and gave protection to the sages (munis in Sanskrit).
The Bhima Devi temple was sculptured during the reign of Gurjara-Pratiharas. Most of the comprising sculptures and architectural, which were ruined during Mughal period under Aurangzeb, are of the times of the Gurjara-Pratiharas. Archaeological excavations done in 1974 revealed the temple, which was subsequently dated to 8th century to 11th century AD and declared as a protected monument under the ‘Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act-1964’. The unearthed findings cover over 100 antiquarian sculptures, apart from a layout plan indicating a five temples complex, including the main central shrine representing the Panchayatana architectural style, similar to the styles seen in the contemporaneous Khajuraho and Bhubaneshwar temples. The temple complex adjoins the Pinjore Gardens, also known as Mughal gardens built by Aurangzeb’s foster brother using much of the ruins of the Hindu temples destroyed by the Muslim invaders from the 13th century onwards till the 17th century.
Muslim invasions of Pinjore town started with Nasiruddin Mahmud (Iltumish’s grandson) in 1254 AD, continued with other invaders like Timurlane and lasted till Governor of Sirhind Fidai Khan Koka’s (foster brother of Aurangzeb) onslaught in 1666. These islamist invasions were responsible for the wanton destruction of this ancient hindu temple complex. The Pinjore gardens (now renamed as Yadvendra Gardens after Yadavindra Singh Maharaja of the former princely state of Patiala) developed in the 17th century, by Fidai Khan (was also the architect), was reportedly constructed partly with ruins of destroyed temple. This garden is considered as a lovely Mughal garden, one of the oldest in northern India.
An open-air museum with the Bhima Devi temple ruins (85 % of the ancient sculptures have been aesthetically installed at different places of the open-air museum). Integrated with the Yadavindra Gardens, it has been developed with attractive modern illumination arrangements. The garden and the temple complex laid in an open-air museum are integrated through well laid out and well drained (to remove any water logging) pathways and the whole complex has been beautifully illuminated. A heritage train has been introduced to visit all the monuments and the gardens in the complex.