Situated around 40 km from Raipur, Arang is renowned as the temple town of Chhattisgarh. An ancient town, Arang was once ruled by the Haihayas Rajput dynasty. Today, it is noted for a number of Hindu and Jain temples belonging to the 11th and 12th centuries – Bhand Deval Jain Temple, Panchmukhi Temple, Hanumana Temple and Mahamsmaya Temple. It was during an archaeological excavation that a copper plate, Arang Plate of Bhimasena II of the Rajarsitulya clan, with an inscription that dated back to the period of Gupta empire was unearthed here. It established that historically the town was a Hindu and Jain religious centre.

The name arang is made from two words – ara meaning saw and anga meaning body. Legend has it that Lord Krishna, disguised as a Brahmin, appeared before king Muratdhwaja who offered him dakshina. But Krishna as a Brahmin had other plans and asked for one half of the body of the king who instructed him to be sawed in two. Just as he was about to be cut, a drop of tear fell from his eyes on which Lord Krishna asked him if he regretted his decision. The king replied in negative and told the Brahmin to take dakshina from the half from which no teardrop fell. It was then that Lord Krishna revealed his true identity and gave blessings to the king. During the archaeological findings, a few Jain images made of gemstones were found.

The Bhand Deval temple, revered by the Jains, is a major tourist attraction here. It features beautiful black stone sculptures of Jain tirthankaras, and the shrine is believed to be one of the rare spots where the images of all 24 Jain tirthankaras can be found engraved on one stone. The Bhag Deval temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is worth a visit too. It was built in the 11th century in the same style as the Khajuraho temples in Madhya Pradesh.

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