Bhojpur is a town of historical and religious importance in Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh, India. The site is located on sandstone ridges typical of central India, next to a deep gorge through which the Betwa River flows. Two large dams, constructed of massive hammer-dressed stones, were built in the eleventh century to divert and block the Betwa, so creating a large lake. Bhojpur is situated on the Betwā River, 28 km from Bhopal, the state capital of Madhya Pradesh. Bhojpur takes its name from king Bhoja (reg. c. 1000–1055 CE), the most celebrated ruler of the Paramāra dynasty. There is no archaeological evidence from Bhojpur before the eleventh century, a fact confirmed by local legends which recount how Bhoja made a vow to build a series of dams “to arrest the streams of nine rivers and ninety-nine rivulets”. A location was found in the kingdom that allowed the king to fulfil this vow and the dams were duly built at Bhojpur. Although the dams were constructed of cyclopean masonry, one of them was opened on the orders of Hoshang Shah of Malwa in the fifteenth century. According to Persian chronicles, he ordered the dam to be broken at the request of local merchants in Bhopal and Vidisha whose caravans were being raided by bandits taking refuge at an inaccessible spot protected by the lake.




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