Eran, located on the bank of Bina river in Madhya Pradesh is the ancient town and an archaeological site of India. The name has been derived from the word ‘Eraka’ meaning tall grass, which is prevalent in this region. This Hindu site was of great importance from the 2nd-1st centuries B.C.E till the Gupta period in the 4th-5th centuries C.E. The town lost its legacy after the Gupta period, but what it left behind was its glory.
The antiquities of this town was discovered by Alexander Cunningham which was followed by few notable researchers with records dated from Chalcolithic to late medieval.
1. Varaha Temple - Built by King Dhyana Vishnu between 485-500 C.E., it is believed to be the colossal representation of the Varaha legend. The boar today stands under the open sky which once would have been inside a small temple. The statue is engraved with 1185 figures of sages and saints of Hinduism. From the figure of Saraswati, Vishnu to Hindu zodiac signs, various carved symbols reflect Hindu decorative art.
2. Vishnu Temple - Probably built in 5th or 6th C.E., the temple is mostly ruined, however, houses the impressive 13 feet high image of Vishnu and the door jambs with images of Yamuna and Ganga, the river goddesses of India.
3. Bhima Pillar - Locally known as Bhim Gada, it is a symbol of cosmic pillar. The pillar is around 43 feet high which was built in 484/485 C.E. Garuda, the vahana of Vishnu, is depicted with two human images, standing with one facing the east and other the west. Cunningham referred that these figures were known as of Ram and Lakshman. Another theory suggests that Bhima, a hero of the epic Mahabharata, who was worshipped for his strength and his attribute, the gada can also be a symbolic meaning of this pillar.
4. Eran enjoyed the title of 'minting town' of India. It minted various coins like punch marked, die- struck and cast coins. Over 3,000 coins have been unearthed dated between 300 BCE to 100 CE with square coins being its speciality. The common motifs on the coins include goddess Lakshmi, Swastika, dharmachakra, tri-ratna and the Ujjain symbol. One of the coins with the Mauryan King name Dharmapala stamped on it in Brahmi script is regarded by Cunningham as among the earliest inscribed coins in India.
5. Several inscriptions of rulers have been found here, suggesting that this site was under control of many dynasties. To name a few the inscriptions are of the Saka king Sridharavarman, who ruled in central India circa 339-368 CE. The Eran Inscription of Samudragupta in red sandstone. The pillar incription of Buddhagupta, a Vaishnava inscription. And the Eran boar inscription of Toramana, King of the Alchon Huns.
6. The first evidence of sati is found in a stone pillar inscription in Eran that shows of the Gupta Era-510 CE. The Bhanugupta inscription mentions a noble Goparaja who accompanied his king Bhanugupta in a battle with the Maitras that took place in Eran. Goparaja was killed in that battle and his wife committed sati on his funeral pyre. Many Sati pillars existed on this site from the ancient to modern period, some found and some lost.
Today, Eran remains as an isolated town in the heart of India but its value can never be detached from the history of India. All one could wish for is, a site with such significance and splendid heritage could be more known and preserved.