Raja Bhoja (1000-1055 A.D.) the greatest monarch of the Paramara dynasty, being a magnificent patron of learning, founded a college at Dhar which subsequently came to be known as Bhojshala, where students from far and near flocked to quench their intellectual thirst.

Remnants of this Bhojshala or the temple of Saraswati are still seen in the famous Kamal Maulana Mosque which was turned into mosque by the subsequent Muslim masters of Dhara. The mosque consists of a large open court with a porch in front colonnades at sides and a large prayer hall at the back in the west. The carved pillars used over the mosque and delicately carved ceilings of the prayer hall appear to have belonged to Bhojshala. Valuble compositions have been recovered from engraved slabs of stones fixed to walls of the mosque.

These slabs contains two odes to the Kurmavtara or crocodile incarnation of Vishnu written in Prakrit. Two sarpabandha pillar inscriptions, one containing Sanskrit alphabet and the chief inflectional terminations of nouns and verbs and the second containing personal terminations of the ten tenses and moods of Sanskrit grammer, are also at the site. These inscriptions, are in the characters of the 11th-12th Century A.D. Above this there are two Sanskrit stanzas in Anustubh metre engraved. The first of them praises Udayaditya and Narvarman the Paramara kings who immediately succeeded king Bhoja. The second stanza states that the pillar inscription was put up by Udayaditya. This leaves no doubt that the King Bhoja’s college or temple Saraswati was here and it was developed by his successors.

Close exploration and inspection has brought to light the fact that the reverse side of two of the great black stone slabs forming the lining of mehrab were found inscribed. These inscriptions are a dramatic composition in classical Sanskrit. It was inscribed during the reign of Arjunavarma Deva (A.D. 1299-10 to 1215-18). This drama was composed in poetry by Royal Tutor Madana the disciple of the famous Jain scholar Ashadhara who also adorned the royal court of the Paramaras and taught Madana Sanskrit poetry. The drama is called Karpuramanjari and it was meant for reproduction at Dhara in spring festival. It is in honour of Arjunvarma Deva whom he taught and whose court he graced. The play refers to the wars between the Paramaras and the Chalukyas which were ended by matrimonial alliance.

“A glimpse is given of the high states of civilization and refinement then prevailing in Dhara which is described as the city of palaces having beautiful pleasure gardens on the hills surrounding the city. The people prided themselves on the glories of Bhoja who made Dhara as the Queen of Malwa.” The excellence of musicians and scholars of Dhara is also mentioned. This shala, established probably by Bhoja and patronised by his worthy successors, was converted into a mosque in the 14th Century A.D.

It was originally the temple of Saraswati (the goddess of learning) to which poet Madana probably refers to in his said drama. The temple was said to be the ornament of 84 squares of Dharanagari, the city of palaces, temples, colleges, theaters and gardens. The image of the goddess Saraswati is now in London Museum. The vicinity of Dhar had yielded another image of Saraswati, which views well with the former image of the goddess.

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