It is a Temple of the Arts, Sciences, Speech and Music; but the complex of Maihar, sitting atop a wooded hill, has no faculty, no school, college, or university. It attracts thousands of people to the long streams of pilgrims who pour into Maihar everyday, their eyes fixed fervently on the white shrine atop a wooded hill, are driven by a single desire. They want to have a darshan, a merit-enhancing sight, of the sacred idol of Sharda Mata: Mother Sharda'. Statues of a golden lion and lioness stand atop the gateway on either side of a small image of Sharda Mata.
Two more statues of guards, painted bright The tarred motor road starts from one side of the pedestrian complex fronting the gateway, and winds up the hill. At the upper end of this soaring road, a flight of 194 canopied steps, with protective railings, zig-zags up to the temple. Atop the steps is a flat, paved, area with a tree shading a shivling. Beyond the shixlilng and at the end of the paved yard, a short flight of steps rises to the railed queues stretching past the sanctum holding the revered idol of Sharda Mata. The sanctum glitters with embossed silver.
The idol is in the centre of the silver sanctum and is covered in garlands so that only her black face, and silver crown are visible. Her eyes are almond-shaped and glisten in a manner that is a feature of most idols of tribal, and not necessarily Brahmanical, deities. Like many old religions, Hinduism has absorbed the traditions of faiths pre-dating the worship of Brahmanical deities in an unquestioningly tolerant and eclectic.