The Medieval City in Madhya Pradesh – Vidhisha alias Besnagar or Bhelsa

Vidhisha is an ancient city in Madhya Pradesh state in India. It is also the administrative capital of the district with the same name. It was known as Besnagar in ancient times. Vidhisha city was known as Bhelsa during the medieval period.

Heliodorus pillar near Vidhisha

Heliodorus Pillar alias Khamba Baba or Kham Baba is situated at around four kilometers distance form the Vidisha town, on SH-14 towards Ganj Basoda. It is a 20 feet and 7 inches tall stone column, believed to be erected by the Greek ambassador of King Antialcidas, the Indo-Greek King of ancient times. It is located on the northern banks of River Vais. The inscriptions on this stone pillar tells us that  it was built to pay homage to Lord Vishnu.

Emperor Ashoka the Great of Maurya Dynasty, served as the governor of Vidisha during his father’s regime. His first wife and Buddhist Empress Vidisha Devi was brought up in Vidisha. (Great Emperor Ashoka was the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Dynasty.)

There are many ancient Hindu temples in this city.

Vidhisha Museum or Vidhisha District Museum

The museum at the city has sculptures from the 9th to the 10 th century CE. There is also terracottas and coins, belonging to the first millennium. Harrappan art also finds a place in this heritage museum.


Bijamaṇḍal is an eleventh century temple ruin in the city. Archaeological Survey of India has a store on one side of this ancient temple, where sculptures collected from the neighborhood are stored. A seventh century step-well is also there in the same temple compound. It is one of the massive ancient temples in India.

Lohangi Pir Rock Tomb

Lohangi Pir Rock Tomb is a large rock tomb of Lohangi Pir.  It has got Persian inscriptions on it, which  dates back to 1460 BC and 1583 BC. Locally known as Lohangi Pir, he  was a saint who was officially known as  Shaykh Jalal Chishti.  Remains of a medieval temple, dedicated to Goddess Annapurna, can be seen very close to this rock tomb. Both of these are  situated close to the Vidhisha railway station.


At around 10 kilometers from this ancient city lies Udaygiri. Gupta Era rock cut sculptures of Hindu and Jain gods can be seen here (i.e. period between the 4th and 5th century AD). More than twenty caves exists here. It is believed that Tirthnkara Sheetal nath attained nirvana here. Nirvana means enlightenment, liberation, salvation, etc.

Maladevi Temple

Maladevi Temple is at a round 40 kilometers distance from the city of Vidisha. It is massive temple situated on the eastern slope of a hill, which gives superb view of the valley. NH-86 passes close to this ancient 9th century temple.

There are many many other ancient temples in and around Vidisha city.


Vidisha city is considered as one among the sacred Puranakshetras.  Puranakshetras are linked to the  lives of great Jain saint or savior or spiritual teacher. Shitalanatha, the 11th tirthankar is believed to have been born here. Ttirthankar  means a savior and spiritual teacher.

There are 14 Jain temples in the city.

How Do I Go to Vidhisha or Bhelsa or Besnagar?

Vidhisha city is at around 60 kilometers from Bhopal city, the capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is situated at a distance of around 9 kilometers from Sanchi.

Vidhisha railway station is situated in the town. It is on the main line connecting Delhi to Chennai and Mumbai. The railway station is at around 54 km from Bhopal. Sanchi railway station on the Jhansi-Itarsi section is another nearby railway station.

Bhopal airport is the nearest airport to Vidhisha city.

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