Showing posts with label ASI Museum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ASI Museum. Show all posts

MP Diaries: Gwalior, The crown of Madhya Pradesh

A chilly Gwalior welcomed us after a hectic drive from Shivpuri. The temperature here was below 10 degree centigrade, typical of the Northern Indian climate in January. We checked into Hotel Ambassador and decided to rest for the day due to the weather and the temperature only kept going down, creating uneasiness to our little one. As he started to catch cold, he became more uncomfortable and woke up from his sleep crying loud. We tried to comfort him and gave him the required medicines. As the hotels there did not have a heater installed in rooms, we had no other choice but to request for a separate heater and only wished their response was positive. Fortunately, he obliged to the request and did the needful, which helped us much that night. Our little one felt much better after getting the room heater and slept peacefully for rest of the night. We woke up late the next morning only to realize it was totally foggy outside and decided to stay indoors until the situation improved. We stepped out at around 10.30 am to check out the town of Gwalior, though it remained foggy with a slight drizzle too.
Gwalior Fort
This is How Gwalior Fort Looked at Noon 
Gwalior always has been in our list of places to visit for various reasons, right from its role in India's first war of Independence to the Nanda dynasty rule of Pataliputra during early 6th century BC. The state of Gwalior rose to prominence with Chieftain Suraj Sen. He met saint Gwalipa who lived on the hilltop where the fort now stands and was cured of his disease by the saint. In return, Suraj Sen founded the city and named it after the saint. Thus Gwalior was founded. Man Singh Tomar, the great ruler of Tomar dynasty improved the fort here and built the most famous palace of Gwalior, the Man Mandir Palace. Later this fort was captured by the Mughals and remained under them for a long period, after which in 1810, it came under the control of the Scindia dynasty and finally the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, led by Tantya Tope and  strongly supported by Rani Lakshmi Bai. Both the brave warriors gave up their lives during the struggle for independence of this great country.
The Scindia Chhatris: The lesser known Chhatri complex of Scindia rulers stands mute in the busy lanes of Gwalior. This was the first place we visited in Gwalior and reaching this place was easy. We were greeted by two huge and magnificent cenotaphs. The larger Chhatri was built in 1817 to commemorate Maharaja Jiyaji Rao Scindia and the smaller Chhatri was built in 1843 in memory of Maharaja Janakaji Scindia.
Scindia Chhatris of Gwalior
Maharaja Jiyaji Rao Scindia Chhatri 
Gwalior Fort: This most impressive structure of Madhya Pradesh is built on a small hillock. Other monuments inside the fort are the Man Mandir Palace, Hathi Pol, Karn Mahal, Vikram Mahal, Gujari Mahal, Shah Jahan Mahal, Jahangeer Mahal and many such.
Gwalior Gate
Qila Gate/ Gwalior Gate 
Blue Tiled Walls of Gwalior Fort 
Man Mandir Mahal
Inside Man Mandir Palace 
Saas-Bahu Temple (Mother-in-law Daughter-in-law Temple): Built in the 11-12th century by Mahipala Kachhwaha, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Saas - Bahu Temple Complex, Gwalior
Saas - Bahu Temple Complex 
Chaturbhuj Temple: Here is the world's first written zero found! The inscribed slab is believed to be of a much earlier period than the temple which was built by Pratiharas in 9th century.
Chaturbhuj Temple 
World's First Written Zero
World's First Written Zero 
 Teli Ka Mandir: This 9th century temple built by Pratiharas is the tallest temple, with its unusual shikhara.
Teli Ka Mandir, Gwalior
Teli Ka Mandir 
Jain Rock Cut Temples:  These were built over 800 years, from the 7th century and are dedicated to various Jain Tirthankaras. The tallest murti (idol) here is that of the first Jain Tirthankara, Adinath.
Lord Adinath
Moti Mahal: This 19th century palace built by the Scindia kings was the Secretariat of Madhya Bharat government back then. There is a beautiful garden with a neatly done network of fountains in front of this palace.
Moti Mahal, Gwalior
Moti Mahal 
Tomb of Mohammad Ghaus: This huge building crowned with a large dome is dedicated to the 16th century Muslim saint Mohammad Ghaus.
Tomb of Mohammad Ghaus
 Tomb of Tansen: It is a small tomb dedicated to the greatest classical singer Tansen, who was the leading singer in Akbar’s court. He was also one among the navaratnas (nine gems). The tomb is in the same complex as that of the Tomb of Mohammad Ghaus and is much smaller in size. The tomb is located besides a tamarind tree, whose leaves were chewed by Miyan Tansen for a sweet voice.
Tomb of Tansen and Famed Tamarind Tree 
Light and Sound Show:  Every evening the MPSTDC runs an hour’s light and sound show at the Man Mandir Palace inside the fort in the two languages of Hindi and English.
Lit Gwalior Fort during Light and Sound Show
Lit Gwalior Fort 
Others Places to Visit: Jai Vilas Palace Museum, Nag Dev Mandir, various parks, and many more.
Entry Fee: The Entry fee collected for various sites are as below,
A. Man Mandir Palace - Rs 15/- for Indians and Rs 200/- for Foreigners
B. Royal enclosure - Rs 15/- for Indians and Rs 200/- for Foreigners
C. Gujari Mahal/ ASI Museum - Rs 5/- for all, Monday Holiday
D. Light and Sound Show - Rs 100/- for all
E. Jai Vilas Palace Museum - Rs 60/- for Indians and Rs 350/- for Foreigners
Accommodation:- We stayed for a day at Hotel Ambassador which offered very basic amenities and held a decent and friendly staff, though not very clean. Our second day accommodation was at Hotel Shelter, a bit upscale hotel with nice ambiance, centrally located, mid-range and friendly staff. Being a popular tourist destination, there are many options tailored to meet the varying budgets. Hotel Tansen Residency is another good one being maintained by MPSTDC.
Where to eat: Options are many. There should be no difficulty in finding a suitable place for meals.
 References:
1. RBS visitors Guide India Madhya Pradesh
2. DK Eyewitness Travel India

PS: A new page has been added to our blog, which has a collection of our Vlogs. Click here to view.

MP Diaries: Chanderi Ashoknagar, A backpacker's Paradise

The last day of 2016 was quite eventful, long and hectic. A few places we visited around Bhopal and Vidisha were that of Sanchi, Udayagiri, Gyaraspur, Badoh - Pathari and Udaipur. Hereon, our next destination was Chanderi and as we were done for that day, we had to drive to Chanderi and halt for the night. Chanderi will always remain close to our hearts for various reasons which will become evident as the story progresses. After a light evening snack at Ganj Basoda, we were on our way to Chanderi which was about 130 km from here. Our quiet and uneventful ride was interrupted by a fox crossing the road! What a sight it was! Sadly, it didn't stay long and gave us no chance of capturing it on camera. We continued with our journey hoping to sight more wild life and lo! we spotted a Jackal couple enjoying their private moments on the road only to be disturbed by us. We stopped our vehicle in an effort to let them be and tried not to disturb them. This great moment lasted for a few minutes with the jackals vanishing into thick woods.  We reached Chanderi and found a room to settle down for that night. However, we had to drive ahead to Hotel Tana Bana maintained by MPSTDC for dinner. The hotel was booked priorly and decked up for the new year celebrations. We had our buffet dinner which was a part of the new year feast and rested for the night.
Chanderi Town
Our next morning began with a hunt for a place to have break fast and as we finalised on one, we had to reverse our vehicle to stop by that place. While doing so, a biker collided with our vehicle's rear end. Though not much damage occurred, the biker began to exaggerate the situation. Luckily, since it was not our mistake, many locals gathered around and began to assess the situation. They told the biker to check for any physical injuries or damage to the two wheeler and when they realised it was nothing major, they adviced us to leave the place immediately. The biker had no choice but to leave silently. We proceeded further in search of another place for break fast and thought that we were lucky to have overcome this situation rather easily as such instances are known to be an easy mode of exhorting money, with the victims falling prey to it.
Chanderi is a small town located in Ashoknagar district of Madhya Pradesh and famous for its sarees. The Chanderi saree also finds its mention in the great epic of Mahabharata, thus proving its antiqueness. There are many weaving centers across Chanderi today producing these sarees. The Bundela Rajputs built the existing Chanderi city in 11th century AD. There are various temples, Jain temples, Baolis and other structures here. Later in 13th century AD, the Malwa Sultans captured Chanderi from the Rajputs and refined and rebuilt the city, its forts and palaces. It changed hands many times between the Mughals, the Rajputs and the Marathas before finally falling into the hands of the British after which  the  Sindhias ruled till Indian Independence.
Bird's Eye View of Chanderi Town
Badal Mahal Darwaza: This beautiful gateway to the hill fort was built in 1460 by the Sultans of Malwa as a memorial to commemorate their victory over the Bundela Rajputs. The gateway consists of an arched entrance above which is another arch comprising of intricately carved Jali of geometrical designs and two gradually tapering circular towers. This place is very serene, thanks to the well maintained gardens surrounding it.
Badal Mahal Darwaza, Chanderi
Badal Mahal Darwaza 
Jama Masjid: This huge Friday mosque built around 15th Century has a spacious open court with a sanctuary in its west and arched cloisters in the north and south, with the eastern portion being damaged. The mosque is not associated with any minarets, making the structute quite unique. The entrance to the mosque has a few delicate carvings.
Jama Masjid, Chanderi
Jama Masjid 
ASI Museum: The museum is a big and modern building, housing various collections found during excavations in and around Chanderi. Photography is prohibited inside the Museum.
Chanderi Museum 
Koshak Mahal: This beautiful monument was built during the 15th century AD by the Sultans of Malwa. Only 3 storeys of this palace survive today,  which originally was a 7 storey palace. Built in Afghani style in the shape of the Greek Plus, it has four symmetrical divisions. The grandness of this place is limited to our imagination. The balconies in all directions adds to its grandeur.
Koshak Mahal, Chanderi
Koshak Mahal 
Jain Temple, Khandaragiri: This place has a beautiful 45 feet tall rock cut murti of the first Jain Tirthankara Rishabhnath, popularly known as Adinath. There are many cave temples in the surroundings.
Rock Cut Murti of Jain Tirthankara Rishabhnath
Kati Gati: This is the southern gateway to the city of Chanderi built by cutting solid rock, thus the name Kati Gati. There are a few inscriptions here that tell us about the construction of this gateway by the order of Jiman Khan in 1490 AD.
Kati Gati 
Chakla Baoli: It is believed that around 1200 stepped wells were built in Chanderi by the Chandela Rajputs and the Sultans of Malwa. Chakla Baoli is one such, built during 15th century by the Sultans and later additions to these were the two Chhatris built  by the Rajputs in end of 17th century.
Chakla Baoli, Chanderi
Chakla Baoli 
Purani Adalat (Old court): The Haveli of Bundela kings built in 17th century was later converted into a temple of justice, which was under use till independence.
Purani Adalat 
Madrasa (School): An old Madrasa here was built during 15th century by the Sultans to impart Islamic education to children.
Madrasa 
Chanderi Fort: The major tourist attraction here is the Chanderi fort built by Kirttipala, a Pratihara king in 11th century, due to which this place gets the name Kirttidurga. There are two tombs here, one dedicated to the renowned musician Baiju Bhawara who probably was the only singer to defeat Tansen, one of the greatest musicians in Akbar's court and the second is the Johar tomb dedicated to all the Rajput ladies who scarified their lives rather than being captured by Babur's Army.
Khooni Darwaza
Chanderi Fort
Chanderi Fort 
Other places of Interest: Jageshwari Temple, Parameshwar Lake, Shahzadi Ka Rauza, Shahi Madrasa, Singhpur Palace, Battisi Baoli, and many more.
Entrance fee: Entry is free
Distance from nearby town: 36 km from Lalitpur, 60 km from Ashoknagar.
Accommodation: We stayed at Hotel Shri Kunj which was quite a decent place for stay having various option for all types of travelers. This apart, there is a Hotel Tana Bana maintained by MPSTDC which  is also an equally good option and a PWD rest house.
Where to eat: Hotel Tana Bana is the only decent option along with various other road side eateries.
References:
1. The Guide to the Architecture of the Indian subcontinent by Takeo Kamiya.
2. RBS Visitors Guide India - Madhya Pradesh.
3. Chanderi.org

PS: A new page has been added to our blog, which has a collection of our Vlogs. Click here to view.

MP Diaries: Vidisha, A town lost in oblivion

After exploring the world heritage site of Sanchi followed by the caves of Udayagiri, our next destination was Vidisha, a town lost in oblivion.  As we were extremely hungry, we decided to break for a quick brunch on reaching the town of Vidisha. We zeroed in on a small eatery just at the entrance of the town and had a tummy full brunch of Poha with Kachori. Vidisha has its own place in the history of Central India right from the times of Samrat Ashoka, but sadly this place doesn't attract any tourists. We found out the way to 'Vijay Mandir', also popularly known as the 'Bijamandal' and reached there. The history of Vijay Mandir is rather unique and represents the historical affairs back then. The temple was initially built during 8th century AD and further improvised by the Paramara King Naravarman in 11th century AD.  Later, this temple underwent a series of destructive attacks between the 13th and 16th century AD finally falling into the hands of Aurangzeb, who brought down the temple until its platform and built a mosque during 1700 AD. The mosque was under worship till 1965, after which a ban was imposed on offering prayers here by the then chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Dr Dwarka Prasad Mishra as the ASI declared Bijamandal as a protected monument. However, an alternate arrangement was made for construction of a separate Idgah nearby. This place was first reported by Sir Alexander Cunningham, the director of ASI in 1874 who acknowledges the presence of Vijay Mandir, and its demolition by Aurangzeb who converted the temple into Bijamandal.
ASI Information Board 
Pathway to Bijamandal 
Bija Mandal, Vidisha
 Remains of the Huge Platform of Vijay Mandir
Dancers carved on the Platform
 The ASI has done a fair job in maintaining all the idols/sculptures found during excavations in the temple complex. However, it seems that a lot more history is hidden and needs to be further explored as this place was closely associated with Samrat Ashoka, Gupta Kings and the Paramara dynasty. Samrat Ashoka was the governor of Vidisha during his father Bindusara's rule. His first wife Devi was the daughter of a rich merchant of Vidisha. This place also played a significant role during the reign of Gupta kings, though there are no architectural references to prove the same. The place then rose back to prominence under the Paramara kings in the 11th century  AD. This temple originally is believed to have been massive in size, comparable with Konark's Sun Temple in Orissa. The same was quite evident from the huge platform of this temple. We enjoyed exploring Bijamandal and only wondered how grand the original temple would have been. A small baoli (step-well) belonging to the 8th century AD is situated in the temple complex. There are two exquisitely carved pillars at the entrance of the Baoli. We also spent some time exploring the ruins, which are kept  in a systematic manner inside the complex.
Bijamandal Mosque 
Inside the Mosque
Pillar Capital 
Baoli (Step-Well )
Exquisitely Carved Pillar 
Entrance fee: Entry is free. 
Distance from the nearby major town: Vidisha is a district head-quarter and  is about 55 km from Bhopal.
Accommodation: There are some small lodges here, but better options would be Gateway Retreat at Sanchi maintained by MPSTDC. 
Where to eat: There are plenty of options to eat here. 
References: 
2. Vidisha Municipal Site 


PS: A new page has been added to our blog, which has a collection of our Vlogs. Click here to view.

MP Diaries: Sanchi Stupas A Buddhist Master Piece

On the last day of the year 2016, we began our journey early in order to explore Bhopal and around to the maximum extent possible. Having explored many interesting places like Bhimbetka, Ashapuri and Bhojpur the previous day, we awaited the exploration of Sanchi with equal curiosity. Sanchi was always on our wish list of  places to visit as it is proudly one among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. Sanchi is located in Vidisha district of Madhya Pradesh and is situated close to the Tropic of Cancer, which is encountered on the Bhopal-Sanchi highway. Unfortunately, we missed the exact location of the Tropic of Cancer and weren't ready to travel back. A drive of around 50 minutes from Bhopal brought us to Sanchi. We were one amongst the few early visitors to this place and  as the crowd was thin giving us an opportunity to  enjoy the calm and serene environs of Sanchi.
Buddha Dharma Sangha
Dharma-Chakra, Yaksha and Tri-Ratna 
Sanchi is one of the few places that played a pivotal role and prevailed through out the Buddhist era in India, with its history spread across 1300 years. Sanchi has witnessed the genesis, rise and fall of Buddhism. There are many stories associating Sanchi with various kingdoms, right from Ashokan era to the reign of Paramaras. Sanchi seemed a perfect site to build the Stupas owing to its strategic location between the towns of Vidisha and Ujjain and its proximity to the place of confluence of  Bes and Betwa rivers. Post Ashokan period, Sanchi came under the control of Kshatrapas which was conquered later in 4th century AD by the Guptas. Sanchi regained importance under the Gupta rule with development and construction activities  progressing in full swing. The down fall of Sanchi began only in the 12th century AD and  the exact reason for its downfall is unknown and remains a mystery. Though the accepted theory is that the rise of Brahmanism led to the extinction of Buddhism in the land of its birth, the same may not be true, since there are evidences of  places like Ellora and Badami, where both the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism peacefully coexisted for several hundred years.
Sanchi Place to Visit in Madhya Pradesh
Temple No 18
In 1881, General Taylor discovered  the ruins and found a few intact stupas, thus bringing this place to light. Though many people visited this place later, it was only in 1881 that Major Cole took charge and  initiated a large scale repair work towards restoration and preservation of these monuments. It was Sir John Marshall, the then Director General of Archaeology in India between 1912 and 1919 who was responsible for restoring  Sanchi to its present condition. Various excavations carried out later by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Bhopal circle,  have made interesting revelations.
Monastery 46
Stupas are simple tomb like structures housing relics, better than burial tombs which were used by Buddhists and Jains. A Stupa generally comprises of torana/s (gateways), vedika (stone fence railing), pradakshina-patha (circumambulatory walkway), a cylindrical base  or foundation, stairway, medhi (upper pradakshina patha), anda (hemispherical flattened dome), harmika (kiosk),  yasti (mast)  and a chattra (spire/umbrella). When Buddha left for heavenly abode, his ashes were buried in eight different stupas. It is said that Ashoka further divided and placed them in 84 stupas, most of  which have vanished with the weakening of Buddhism.
Large Stone Bowl
Stupa 1 and Toranas - The largest stupa here is stupa 1, also known as the 'Great Stupa'. Though the size of this stupa was originally half its current size when  initially built during the Ashokan period, it was later improvised in the 2nd century AD during the reign of Shunga Dynasty. The four gateways here have magnificent toranas (gateways) belonging to 1st century BC. The gateways are in the form of three long and thin flat suspended stones standing on two pillars, portraying scenes from Jataka tales. Various scenes from Buddha's life and the subsequent history of Buddhism are depicted on the gateways here. The gateways of stupa 1 are truly an outstanding work of art on stone. This Stupa has a large dome with a  three tiered chattra or umbrella at its top.
Sanchi Stupa
Stupa 1
Stupa 3 - Situated very close to stupa 1, this stupa is much smaller and simpler in style with the presence of a single torana in its  front and houses a simple umbrella at its top, unlike stupa 1.
Stupa 3
Stupa 2 - Situated at the foot of the hill, this stupa  is similar to Stupa 3 with smaller dimensions and devoid of any torana. The chattra here lies broken.
Stupa 2
Temple 17 - This belongs to the Gupta period (5th century AD) and is one among the earliest temples of India. The temple is flat roofed  with a square sanctum  having a portico supported by 4 pillars.
Temple 18 - This is an apsidal shrine built in the 7th century AD on the earlier  remains of  a hall  belonging to the Mauryan empire. The temple has undergone restoration during 10th century AD with  an addition of carved door jambs.
Temples 17 and 18
Monastery 51 and the Stone Bowl - Monastery 51 is a large ruined structure comprising of various rooms surrounding a courtyard. The shrine was located right across the entrance. There is a giant stone bowl close by to this monastery.
Monastery 51
Monasteries 46 and 47 - These two monasteries are interlinked with each other, Monastery 47 being the larger of the two.  While Monastery 47 has many rooms, a pillared verandah that leads to an antechamber and a shrine, Monastery 46 has fewer rooms and can be reached through a doorway from the verandah of Monastery 47.
Monastery 46
Temple and Monastery 45 - This temple belonging to the medieval period was originally built during the 8th century AD along with the monastery and probably restored during the 11th century AD. The door jambs of this temple  have beautiful carvings depicting the river goddesses of Ganga and Yamuna.
Buddha Inside Monastery 45
Pillars - There are many pillars here of which, Pillar 10 is the most important and the oldest pillar erected by Ashoka.  While only the base of the pillar remains insitu, the  fragments of the shaft are placed in a shelter nearby and its capital is preserved  in the museum. Pillar Nos. 25 and 26 belonging to a later period also bear significance.
Ashoka Pillar
Ashoka Pillar 10
Building 43 - This ruined building having a peculiar round bastion at four corners,  is considered to be among the last built structures here.
Building 43
ASI Museum -  The Museum is situated at the base of the hill and houses various collections of artefacts found during excavations at Sanchi.
Ashokan Column  Lion Capital
Ashokan Column - Lion Capital 

Entrance Fee: Rs.30/- per head for Indian citizen and Rs.500/- per head for others. Entry is free for Children aged up to 15 years.
Distance from nearby major town:  48 km from Bhopal
Accommodation: Options for accommodation are few, with Gateway Retreat maintained by MPSTDC being a reasonable one. Alternatively, one can also stay at Bhopal overnight.
Where to eat: While there are many roadside eateries here, Hotel Sambodhi International is one of the better options. 
References:
1. Sanchi - World Heritage Series by ASI
2. Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent - Takeo Kamiya
3. Upenn