Bhadravati or Bhandak is a large and flourishing village in Waroda tahsil of Candrapur district lying some 25.74 km. (16 miles) north-west of Candrapur and 16 km. south-east of Waroda, on the Candrapur-Waroda-Nagpur road. Its ancient name was Bhadravati which was later changed to Bhandak by which name it continued to be known until 1940 in which year its original name was restored. It was done at the request of the Jain community of Candrapur whose place of worship Bhadravatl has now become. In fact Bhadravatl today is better known
to the general public as a place of Jain religious importance than
for its Historical importance or for that matter its archaeological
remains. Though the name of the village itself has been changed, the railway station lying about 3.21 Km. (two miles) north of the main settlement continues to retain the name Bhandak.
It occupies the top of a low broad plateau of rock thickly covered with soil. The population in 1961 was 5,492. The village is long and straggling extending over one and a half kilometres in length and now contains only 1,219 households, but in former days must have been a large and prosperous place extending about three and a quarter kilometres from north to south and over one and a half kilometres from east to west. It is one of the oldest settlements in the district and is closely connected with some of the mythological stories told in Mahabharata. Numerous antiquar an remains of the times of Buddhism and Jainism found here throw much light on the spread of these faiths among the people. We are told that in ancient times Bhadravati was a beautiful city With running streams and strewn with lakes and temples; but time has reduced it to a village now. It is supposed to be identical with the great city of Bhadravati referred to in the Mahabharata extending from Bhatala in the north to Jharpat river on the south and the scene of battle for the Syamkarna horse which was eventually borne away by Bhima, the second Pandav, for the performance of Asvamedha sacrifice by Dharmaraja, the king. The story told is that Bhadravati was the capital of the King Yauvanasva, who owned a horse by name Syamkarna. Bhima who came along with Meghavarna and Rsiketu to take away the horse was asked to desist from doing so upon which a battle ensued in which Yauvanasva was defeated and Syamkarna taken to Hastinapur (the capital) of the Pandvas), the modern Delhi. This sacrifice has been described at length in a separate work devoted to the subject named Jaimini Asvamedha.
The architectural remains in and around the village are of remote antiquity and great interest. Among the principal ones there is the old fort, which is on the west side of the village and is partly ruined, only the entrance gate remaining in a fairly good condition. Inside are found idols and images of deities, Bodhisatvas, Yaksas, flying gandharvas or heavenly choristers, some broken, others intact. At a short distance to the south of the village is the temple of Bhadranag. It was rebuilt in the early 1880's partly from the materials of the old temple and partly with fresh materials. It is in a good condition and its entrance is flanked by two lion statues. A small courtyard and a dharmasala, the latter of which was built by Hayagriva Svami of Canda, are attached to it. Many old sculptures are built into the front wall, and lie loose about the courtyard such as Ganapati, Varaha, Visnu, Laksmi-Narayana, Siva-Parvati and many more. The object of worship is the Naga and there is a belief that on the annual fair day, Mahasivrdtra, a live white snake makes its appearance in the temple. In the temple premises
were discovered two inscription slabs, one of which was in a very curious
character and hence undecipherable. In its environment there is an old stepped well. On the south of the village and adjoining it is a rock-cut cave now mostly tilled with earth and rubble. It is unfinished, and consists of a long verandah supported outwardly by two heavy, massive octagonal pillars. Off the back wall are three unfinished cells. A ten-handed Devi has been installed in the cell at the north end. About a mile and a half to the north-west of the village in the hill of Wijasan is a very curiously planned Buddhist Cave. A long gallery is driven straight into the hill to a distance of 21.641 metres (71 ft.) at the end of which is a shrine containing a colossal Buddha in padmasana on a bench. On the right and left of the entrance to this gallery, other galleries one on either side are driven in at right angles to this first one, and each of these has a shrine and colossal Buddha in a similar pose. These are now lying in a much defaced and disfigured state. Local legend has it that the central Buddha is Pandu, that in the right his son and in the left his nephew. On the scarped side of the approach to the entrances to these galleries is a much erased inscription. Another belonging to the ninth century has been removed to the Nagpur museum. To the east of the village near the main road is a lake by name Dolara spread over an approximate area of 16 to 17 acres. In its centre stands an island which is connected with the mainland by an old bridge constructed of massive columns in two rows with great heavy beams spanning the tops of these both transversely and longitudinally. Its length is about 136 ft. and width nearly 7' 2". From the lake were discovered numerous idols of different deities belonging to different religious faiths. There are numerous images lying about among them a collection of beautiful Jain images, the Sesa or serpent god on which Visnu reclines and a very significant image of the skeleton goddess Mahakali lying at the old ruined temple of Candika Devi which is represented with three heads and six hands. This is a most unusual representation. Nearabout this temple lie scattered many broken images which once must have been fine pieces of art. On one of its walls there is a much erased inscription.
To-day Bhadravati is known as a centre of Jain pilgrimage on account of the imposing and majestic temple of Parsvanatha with a dharmasala attached to it. It is said that before the year 1910 the place where the temple stands was a jungle-infested area with the temple fragments scattered all over the place. One day a missionary padre stumbled across the huge Parsvanatha image half buried under ground. The discovery was reported and the archaeological department took possession of it. Later still one Sri Caturbhujbhai Punjabhai of Sirpur was told in a vision to find the idol at Bhadravati and make arrangement for its housing. The idol then was taken possession of along with 21 acres of land from the government and aided by the more affluent amongst the Jains the present temple was
built. The temple is very well maintained with its floors paved
with marble walls painted with beautiful paintings and entrance
door-frames plated with silver richly ornamented with creeper and other delicate patterns. Its main entrance is flanked by two huge elephant figures and the sikkar painted and decorated with figure-fined niches and temple replicas. The idol in padmasana posture is about six feet tail and is elegantly adorned by gold ornaments. Fine gardens have been laid out and maintained around the temple. A trust looks alter the management. It is visited by the jams from all over India. The fairs celebrated in honour of Parsvanatha are largely attended.
Not far away from the main road is the Gaurala hamlet where is a ruined shrine of Ganapati on a hill top. The idol is broken and hollow and is believed to have contained gold inside. It is also said that it was the one worshipped by Yauvanasva Raja. All these remains speak of the glorious period which Bhandak or Bhadravati once enjoyed.
However Bhandak has assumed importance all the more because of the setting up of an ordnance factory supplying munitions to the armed forces of the country. It was begun in 1963 and completed within a period or three years. It has provided a large number of skilled and unskilled persons with employment. A large number of refugees from East Pakistan have been rehabilitated here. The village is surrounded except on the west by pan gardens, tanks, old groves and jungle, towards the west the country is bare, but the barrenness is redeemed by the picturesque temple crowning the hill of Wijasan. There is a large community of Barais and Dhimars here who take a special interest in the cultivation of pan (betel-leaves) and halad (turmeric). A brisk trade is carried on in these commodities. Rice is also grown successfully. An annual fair in honour of Bhadranaga Svami is held in Magha and lasts for about three weeks. This formerly ranked next to the Mahakali fair at Canda, but its commercial importance declined owing to the competition of the fair held at Wun. The Bhadravati fair is now largely religious, and is attended by nearly 2,000 persons, including the traders who sell provisions to the pilgrims. In February 1908 Bhandak became a railway station when Waroda-Canda railway was opened for traffic. Bhadravati has a high school, besides the primary schools, a post office, a primary health centre and a veterinary dispensary. A family planning centre has also been set up. There is also a training school imparting training in the craft of pottery. A weekly bazar is held on Wednesdays.