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This article is about the municipality in Madhya Pradesh, India. For its namesake district, see Vidisha District.
Gupta Empire

Coordinates: 23°32′N 77°49′E / 23.53°N 77.82°E / 23.53; 77.82Coordinates: 23°32′N 77°49′E / 23.53°N 77.82°E / 23.53; 77.82

Country India
State Madhya Pradesh
District Vidisha
 • Member Of Parliament Mrs.Sushma Swaraj
 • Member Of Assembly Mr.Raghav ji Bhai
 • Mayor Mrs. Jyoti Shah
Elevation 424 m (1,391 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 155,959
 • Official Hindi
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)

Vidisha is a city in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, located near the state capital Bhopal. Vidishā is the administrative headquarters of Vidisha District. The city was also known as Bhilsa during the medieval period.


Vidisha is located at 23°32′N 77°49′E / 23.53°N 77.82°E / 23.53; 77.82.[1] It has an average elevation of 424 metres (1391 feet).


As of 2011 India census,[2] Vidisha had a population of 155,959. Males constitute 53.21% of the population and females 46.79%. Vidisha has an average literacy rate of 86.88%, higher than the national average of 74.04%: male literacy is 92.29%, and female literacy is 80.98%. In Vidisha, 15% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Religion in Vidisha
Religion Percent
Distribution of religions
Includes Sikhs (1%), Buddhists (less than 0.5%).

Historic Places and Monuments

Vidisha is exceptionally rich in ancient monuments and historic places. A short distance to the north of the present town are the remains of the ancient town, known as Besnagar. Not far from Besnagar are the Udayagiri Caves with sculptures and inscriptions dating to the time of the Gupta Empire.

Close to the ruins are the remains of votive pillars with palm-leaf capitals; the only one that still stands is the Heliodorus pillar, also known as Khamba Baba. A monolithic free-standing column, the pillar bears an inscription which states that it was Garuda Pillar, raised in honour of Vasudeva by Heliodorous, a resident of Taxila, who had been sent to the court of Bhagabhadra as an envoy of Indo-Greek monarch, Antialkidas. This inscription is a valuable historical record, revealing both the relations that existed between the region and the Greek kingdoms of the Punjab, and the fact that the Greek ambassador had become a follower of Hindu god Vishnu. The inclusion of the name of Antialkidas dates the erection of the pillar to approximately 140 BC.

Bijamaṇḍal. Near the eastern edge of the old town are the remains of a large temple of the late Paramara period known as the Bijamaṇḍal. The building was probably started in the second half of the 11th century. That it was never finished is shown by carved niches and unfinished architectural pieces found round the base of the temple plinth.[3] On top of the plinth is a small mosque made using pillars that date, primarily, to the 8th and 9th centuries; one pillar has an inscription of king Naravarman (circa 1094-1134). It is a devotional inscription recording his reverence to Carccikā (i.e. Cāmuṇḍā) [4] The miḥrāb suggests the mosque was constructed in the late 14th century. To one side of the Bijamaṇḍal is a store house of the Archaeological Survey of India containing many sculptures collected in the neighbourhood. A step-well of the 7th century is in the same campus and has, beside the entrance, two tall pillars with Kṛṣṇa scenes. These are the earliest Kṛṣṇa scenes in the art of central India.

Lohaṅgī Pīr. One of the most striking features of Vidiśā is the prominent rock known as Lohaṅgī Pīr. With sheer cliffs on all sides, it towers over the town. The rock takes it name from Shāykh Jalāl Chishti, a saint locally known as Lohaṅgī Pīr. His tomb is a small domed building with ruined structures round about. Two Persian inscriptions have been found here, one dated AH 864 (CE 1460) from the time of Maḥmūd I of the Malwa Sultanate and the other of Akbar dated AH 987 (CE 1583). Also on the hill is a tank and a large bell-capital of about the 1st century BCE. Less striking are the remains of a medieval temple which survives as a pillared crypt. It is now dedicated to the goddess Annapūrṇā.

Sanchi. Just south of Vidisha is the ancient Buddhist complex of Sanchi. It flourished from the Maurya period until the end of Rajput rule. It was sometimes termed Vedisagiri, because of its closeness to Vidisha.[5]


The town is situated east of the Betwa River, in the fork of the Betwa and Bes rivers, 9 km from Sanchi. The town of Besnagar, 3 km from present-day Vidisha on the west side of the river, became an important trade centre in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, under the Sungas, Nagas, Satavahanas, and Guptas, and was mentioned in the Pali scriptures. The Emperor Ashoka was the governor of Vidisha during his father's lifetime. His Buddhist Empress Vidisha Devi who was also his first wife was born and brought up in Vidisha. It finds mention in Kalidasa's immortal Meghdoot.

Emergence as Bhelsa

Besnagar was abandoned in the 6th century. It came into prominence again as Bhelsa during the medieval period. It became famous for the temple of Sun god Bhillasvanin.[6] It was ruled by a later Gupta Devagupta and Rashtrakuta Krishna III. The name is first noted in an inscription of 878 AD by a merchant Hatiaka of Paravada community.[7] Tri-shashthi-shalaka-purusha-charitra mentions an image of Bhillasvamin at Vidisa, along with a copy of Jivant Swami buried in the sand.[8] Minhajuddin's Tabaqat-i-Nusiri states that the temple was destroyed by Iltutmish in A D. 1233-34.[9] It thus, passed on to the Malwa Sultans and then to the Mughals and the Scindias.

Vidisha or Besnagar as it is called in the Pali scriptures, once the prosperous capital of the western dominions of the Sungas, contains some remarkable antiquities that throw light on the considerable architectural development of the period.


The District Vidisha lies on the Vindhyachal Plateau off the main Vindhyachal Range, which throws several spurs towards North and North-East. The Plateau slopes towards the North and it is drained by a number of rivers. These rivers have formed their valleys between the spur fanges. Most of the Vidisha lies in the Valley of Betwa River which flows from South to North. This valley is bordered by the Garhi-Teonda Range in the East and Ganiari-Raghogarh Range in the West. Both these ranges form part of the ranges of Vindhyachal on the Malwa plateau and extend from South to North.

The physical features of the district can be divided into the five following divisions : 1. The Valley of the Betwa 2. The Bina valley 3. The Eastern Range 4. The Western Range 5. The Sindh Valley


The District Head Quarters town as it stands today is different from the old town of Vidisha or Besnagar. Till 1956, its name was Bhilsa. After that it was renamed as Vidisha for its close proximity to that glorious city of great antiquity.

The places of tourist and archaeological interest include Vidisha, Gyaraspur, Udaypur, Badoh-Pathari and Sironj.

To Reach Vidisha

Vidisha is a railway Station on the Delhi-Chennai, Delhi-Mumbai main line of the Central Railway, at a distance of 54 km from Bhopal, the State capital of the Madhya Pradesh State. Sanchi on the Jhansi-Itarsi section of the Central Railway, and Vidisha, 9 km from Sanchi, are more convenient.

Regular bus services connect Vidisha, Udaypur, Gyraspur, Sanchi with Bhopal. Tongas and tempos for Udayagiri and Khambha Baba are also available from Vidisha which are tourist spot. Gyaraspur has wonderful monuments like Maladevi and Hathkhambha. This place is more or less having temples like khajuraho but underexplored, gyaraspur can be visited by one day trip from vidisha.


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