Welcome to one of the most religiously-celebrated, architecturally superb and culturally rich temple of south-east India: Shri Mahamaya Devi Mandir, Ratanpur. From many decades since, the temple and the town of Ratanpur have attracted the attention of scores of historians and archaeologists.Surrounded by lush green hills and housing more than 150 ponds, the town is flocked – twice a year – by hundreds of thousands of devotees every year, who visit here in Navrataras to get darshan of the awe-inspiring dual-statue of their beloved goddess: Mahamaya Devi. Situated at 25 km away from the city of Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh) on the Bilaspur-Ambikapur state highway, the Mandir and the relics of scores of ancilliary temples, domes, palaces and forts – now rundown by the time and natural forces – seem to tell a story. Once the capital of the Kalchuri kings, Ratanpur – then, Ratnapur – has almost a millenium of history.Built on the Nagar school of architecture, the temple is surrounded by a 18 inch thick boundary wall. Supported by sixteen stone columns, the temple is believed to be built around 12th century AD. Many of the statues and motifs used in the temple have been taken from rundown or broken temples of earlier centuries, some of them were Jain temples. The main campus of temple has the smaller statues of Mahakali, Bhadrakali, Surya Dev, Lord Vishnu, Lord Hanuman, Bhairav and Lord Shiva. It is believed that the first puja and abhihek of Devi was performed at this place by Kalinga king Ratna Dev in 1050 AD, when he shifted his capital from tuman to Ratnapur. Because of its strategic geographical status, King Ratna Dev and his heirs made Ratnapur their capital and built up palaces, fort and temples, the remnants of which can be seen still today.