Just 23 kilometers northwest of Udaipur is the sleepy little town of Nagda, a site of ancient ruins nestled on the banks of Lake Bagela. This town is believed to have founded by Nagaditya of Guhilot, the fourth Mewar king during the 6th century. He named the place ‘Nagahrida’ and became the capital of Mewar. Today, there is no trace of the old capital except for the ruins of Shiva, Vishnu and Jain temples. The place is still adorned with many great temples rich in art, the main highlight being the ‘Sas-Bahu’ temple and the Jain Adbudji temple.
Nagda became very famous for this temple that was built way back the 10th century. The name ‘Sas-Bahu’ means ‘mother-in-law’ (Sas) and ‘daughter-in-law’ (bahu). Despite its name, the temple is said to be dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. The temple consists of two structures, one for the mother-in-law and the other for the daughter-in-law. But some people believe that Sas-Bahu is a corruption of Sahastrabahu, a contemporary to Lord Rama.
The main temple entrance is a door with carved lintels and a multiple lobed arch in its center. Both structures are laid out on the same plan with an altar, a prayer hall or mandapa and a porch. Delicate carvings inside are recognized to be imbibed from the epic of Ramayana. The walls are typically plain and not filled with much work, although the projection is just mind blowing with its fine sculptures.
You will notice the sculptures are built in two steps. On the first step are the images of Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and on the next step are the images of Balarama, Rama and Parashurama. The ‘Sas’ temple is noticeably bigger than the ‘Bahu’. The Bahu temple has an octagonal ceiling, festooned with finely carved eight female figures.
The Sas temple has an archway (torana) infront. Both temples are built on a common stand, facing towards the east. The other temple in Nagda that will also capture your attention is the Jain temple. There are two Jain edifices at this town, the Adbudji temple and the Parsvanatha.
The Adbudji temple got its name from ‘Adbhut’, meaning strange, possibly because of the strange idol inside the temple that is nine feet in height. Dedicated to the Jain Saint Shantinath, this temple was built during the rule of Rana Kumbha. The other Jain shrine is the Parsvanatha. It consists of a cella, four halls and an attached porch. The temple displays the common type of superstructure with exquisitely carved ceilings having floral and figure decorations.
Between the years 1222 and 1229 A.D., Nagda was plundered by the Altamash (Iltusmash) and destroyed the temples to a large extent. After such attack, the locals left the place and moved to Ahar close to Udaipur. Today, only the ruins of the temples were left but still, they boast of their extraordinary artistic architecture.
Exploring around Nagda, you can find other places of interest like the ruin of the town, the Bagela tank, the Cave of Bharat Hari, the Inderarower, the Samadhi of Bappa Rawal and the temple of Harita. You can reach this place by renting a car in Udaipur.