Sirpur is a small town, 84 kms away from Raipur. It is well known for its archaeological monuments. Situated on the bank of mahanadi, it has a rich background of traditional cultural heritage and architecture. The Laxman temple Anand Prabhu, Kuti Vhar, Swastik, Vihar and other historic mouments are the main attractions here for the visitors.
The archaeological remains of Sirpur still echo to Bhagwat, Param Maheshwar of Panduvansh and Tathagat albiet, most of the remains are considerably eroded now However, whatever little is left, is still a pride for this region. The first traces of ancient Sirpur were were found in the copper inscriptions of Sharabhpurya, Emperors Pravar Raj and Mahesudeo Raj, which divulged that they had donated the land of shripur. Since then, this place was established as a significant historic, cultural and political Centre. During the 57 year long rule of Mahashivgupt Balarjun, a number of temples, Buddha Vihars, ponds and gardens were constructed. The great scholar and traveller from China, Huien Tsang had visted Sirpur in the 7th century There were 100 Sangharams at the time in which some 10,000 followers of Mahayan community used to live Mahashivgupt Balarjun was himself a follower of ‘shaiva’ yet he patronised Buddha Vihar because of his generosity .
Sirpur remained a well-known centre of study and art due to its political stability and religious tolerance. After Mahashivgupt Balarjun, the political and cultural significance of sirpur started diminishing and the folden era of south kosal was soon over. Over the ages, the natural calamity took a heavy toll and most of the historic temles and vihars were devastated reducing them to heaps of clay and stone. In the archaeological splendour of Sirpur, Mahanadi and its green surroundings have also contributed tremendously.
What to see
Laxman Temple: This brick structured temple is one of the finest brick temples of the country. Its original pattern exquisite carvings and precise construction with terrific symmetry si unique. This ‘Panchrath’ type temple has a Mandap (shelter), Antraal (passage) and the Garbha Grih (the main house). In the exterior walls and pillars the religious segments of a temple namely- Vatayan, Chitya Gawaksha, Bharwahakgana, Aja, kirtimkh and Kama Amalak are engraved of the pillars. The entrance is absolutely eyecatching. As it has the Sheshnaag-serving as an umbrella to Lord Shiva, on the top.
On either side of the entrance there are many incarnations of lord Vishnu, Krishna Leela ornamental symbols, erogenous pictures and Vaishnava Dwarpal, to give the temple a purely historic look inside the main house the statue of Naagraj is installed This temple was believed to be constructed by the mother of Mahashivgput Balarjun Vasta and Magadh emperor Suryavaman in 650 A.D.
Gandheshwar temple : The historic name of this temple was Gandheshwar. Situated on the bank of Mahanadi, this Shiv temple was built through the architectural remains of ancient temples and vihars. Although the temple is not basically known for its architecture, yet the collection of different historic remains are quite artistic The statue of Buddha touching the earth, Natraj, Shiv, Garud Narayan, Mahisasur Mardini are the rare ones in the premises. There are various pictures of Shiva-Leela on the top of the entrance to attract the visitors.
The peculiar face of Ravan is another attraction here .Thousands of devotees assemble here during festivals.
Buddha Vihar : Sirpur is known for its Ruddha Vihar built through historic remains. The excavation also unearthed the remains made-up of bricks, having underground rooms. They have a toneblend of Gupt dynasty temple and residential building There are mainly residential rooms, meditation room and study rooms and A six feet tall statue of Buddha touching the earth is installed inside the vihar here The place is also known as the meeting point of Awlokite shwar and Makarwahini Gange. The inscription on these vihars had been built by one follower of Buddha Bhikshu Anandprabhu during the period of Mahashivgupt Buddha Balarjun. There were fourteen rooms in the vihar having a welcome gate with Dwarpals on other side carved in the stone pillars. The shelter of Anand-prabhu was also built near the vihar, as the inscription reveals. Another vihar also came into light through excavation This vihar is known as Swastik Vihar. The Buddha idol, touching the Earth is installed here also. Apart from the stone-carved statues. Related to Buddhism, ther were metal idols also collected during the excavation.
Ram temple : This broken and shattered temple is close to the Laxman temple. The top of the Ram temple has a star-like projection through vertical angles and arms. The temple has no pinnacle at the moment , still its artistic appeal can be experienced. These two temples have a gap of several decades in their construction, according to the records available.
Museum : The Archaeological Survey of India has established a museum in the Laxman tempale piremises ,wher some of the rare statues collected in shirpur hav been kept along with several others Architectural memories. These pieces are related to Shaiva, Vaishnav, Buddha and jain religion
Arang: Situated 49 k.m from sirpur and 25 km from Raipur on the main NH6 Arang is famous for 11th– 12th century temple. The Bhanddeval mandir Baghdeval Mandir , Mahamaya Mandir , Chandi Mandir are Wrouth seeing.
Barnawapara sanctuary : Barnawapara Widlife sanctuary , is named after Bar and nawapara forest villages, which are in the heart of the sanctuary . it is a land mass of undulatings terrain dotted with Numerous low and high hillocks well forested are of North-eastern corner of Raipur district . The Tributaries of Mahanadi are the source of water . River Balamdehi forms the western boundary and jonk river. Forms the north-eastern boundary of the Sanctuary .the well stocked forests of the Sanctuary Classified as Teas sal and mixed forests .This sanctuary is famous for the frequent sighting of the Indian bison (Gaur) Cheetal,Sambhar ,Neelgai ,Wild boar are commonly seen.Bar-Nawapara boosts of over 150 species Birds.
A large religious fair is annually held here for three days since 2006, beginning on Shivaratri (January / February) near the Candheshvara Temple.
HOW TO REACH
By Air : Nearest airport is Raipur (154kms) Connected with Mumbai, Delhi, Nagpur ,Bhubneshwar,Kolkata, Rachi, Vishakhapatnam and Chennai.
By Rail : Raipur is the nearest Railway station on the Bombay- Howrah main line Mahashmund is the nearest railway station on the Raipur- Waltair line.
By Road : Regular Buses from Raipur and Mahashmund to Sirpur. Taxis are available at Raipur and Mahashmund.
Where to stay
CTB has constructed a tourist resort at Sirpur.
Another nearest Tourist Resort is Hareli Eco Resort, Barnavapara.