Did This Shiva Temple In MP Inspire India’s Parliament House Design?

As part of the government’s ambitious Central Vista redevelopment project, India may get an all-new Parliament building soon. Construction of the current Sansad Bhavan began in 1921. Exactly hundred years after that, work will begin on its replacement.

The Parliament of today will then be a piece of heritage. While a lot will be written about the design of the new Parliament house, here’s an interesting theory behind where the original came from. And that takes us all the way to the town of Morena in Madhya Pradesh.


India Parliament House design

The current British-era structure was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, the architects who planned and built much of New Delhi. Most notable in the design of the Parliament are the 144 columns. Indian touches in the architecture include the use of fountains, balconies and marble lattice screens. The building is surrounded by large gardens, and the perimeter is fenced off by sandstone railings.

But what’s most interesting is that the Parliament House bears an uncanny resemblance to a temple in Madhya Pradesh. So much so that visitors (and some experts) are convinced that it served as inspiration for the design of India’s Sansad Bhavan.

Temple of Democracy inspired by a Hindu temple?

The Chausath Yogini Temple in Morena district’s Mitawali village, near Gwalior, is believed to have been built by Kachchhapaghata king Devapala (1055 – 1075), which makes one thing certain—it predates India’s Parliament building.


The circular design and pillars around the Parliament and the temple are their most prominent similarities. Photo: Varun Shiv Kapur/Wikimedia Commons

The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva stands atop an isolated hill around 100ft high. One look at its architectural style will make the similarity between the two buildings clear—they are both circular in structure with pillars lining their outer walls and a central chamber.

Despite the obvious similarities and popular belief that the Madhya Pradesh temple did indeed serve as inspiration for India’s Parliament building, there’s no historical proof saying so. There is no evidence to show that either Lutyens or Baker visited Morena, or that their design was inspired by the temple. The official website of the Parliament of India also does not acknowledge the temple as a source of design inspiration.


Source: Condé Nast Traveller India