Showing posts with label Asoka. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Asoka. Show all posts

MP Diaries - Heliodorus Pillar, Vidisha - The Khamba Baba

The ASI care taker at Vijay Mandir, Vidisha gave us directions to the 'Heliodorus Pillar'. This site was included in our list of places to visit around  Bhopal. A five minute drive from Vidisha brought us to the Heliodorus pillar. The Heliodorus pillar is locally known as the 'Khamba Baba' and was erected in 150 BC by Heliodorus, a Greek ambassador to the court of Bhagabhadra from Takshashila. This pillar bears two inscriptions in Brahmi and Prakrit scripts. One of the inscriptions here records that this pillar was setup as a 'Garuda pillar' in the  honor of Lord Vasudeva (Vishnu). Heliodorus embraced Hinduism as his way of life, after being impressed with Lord Vasudeva. He called himself as 'Bhagavata', meaning a  follower of the Vaishnava sect. It is quite interesting to note that this  is the first recorded instance of a westerner being converted to Hinduism. This pillar resembles the Ashoka pillar, though much smaller in size and is located very close to Sanchi, which again speaks volumes about the religious tolerance that prevailed back then. The ASI has built a compound in order to to protect this pillar and also has appointed a care taker for its maintenance.
Heliodorus Pillar Vidisha
Heliodorus Pillar
 
Brahmi inscriptions
Brahmi Inscriptions
Prakrit Inscriptions
Heliodorus Pillar Vidisha
Entrance fee: Entry is free. 
Distance from nearby major town: 2 km from Vidisha.
Accommodation: There are some small lodges in Vidisha, but a better choice would be Gateway Retreat at Sanchi maintained by MPSTDC. 
Where to eat: There are plenty of options to eat in Vidisha. 
References: 
1. RBS Visitors Guide India, Madhya Pradesh

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.

Madhya Pradesh, The heart of Incredible India

             "God Made Madhya Pradesh Beautiful. 
     We made it comfortable" 
   - Madhya Pradesh Tourism 

Madhya Pradesh (MP), often referred to as the 'heart of Incredible India' owing to its location in the centre of India is the second largest state of India in terms of area and the fifth largest, in terms of population. As a state, MP  boasts of being a mixed bag of well known destinations  and certainly has a lot to offer to an avid traveler. It has without doubt left a great lasting impression on us. Catch a glimpse of this wonderful state through our lens. Summarized below are ten of the most notable facts and the best ones we experienced during our journey.

1. Roads - The state of MP probably has the best of roads in India and surprisingly is one of the few states wherein the state highways, major district roads and village roads are far better than the National highways. Two of our most favorite stretches were the four laned 140 km stretch of state highway connecting Dewas to Bhopal and the two laned 105 km stretch of major district road connecting Saleha to Tigawa.  Driving across MP was thoroughly enjoyable primarily due to its good roads.
Mandu
Village Road
2. Food - POHA (flattened rice) and Jalebi (saffron colored sweet coil) branded as the national food (intentionally called so)  of Madhya Pradesh as they have it on all occasions of break fast, lunch, snack and dinner . Invariably, all road side eateries serve only Poha, Jalebi along with its savory and snack counterparts of Samosa/ Kachori and Sev, at all times.
Poha
Break Time Poha
3. History - The history of MP dates back to the Mesolithic period (as per artifacts found in Bhimbetka), early Buddhist era (Stupas of Sanchi), early Hindu temple architecture (Tigawa, Nachna, Ashapuri), Medieval temple architecture (Bateshwar, Gwalior, Khajuraho), Jain architecture (Gwalior, Pathari, Khajuraho), Islamic architecture (Mandu, Chanderi), British architecture (Asirgarh, Raisen), Cenotaphs (Orchha, Gwalior, Shivpuri) and freedom struggle for Indian independence. As per legend,  Lord Rama and Sita  spent most of theirs years of exile in their 14 year exile period in Chitrakoot (now in state of Madhya Pradesh). In most of the places we traveled, we always found and explored other lesser known places that played a significant role during the reign of various kings and dynasties.
Badal Mahal, Chanderi
Badal Mahal, Chanderi 
4. Wildlife/ Nature - Undoubtedly MP is a state blessed with natural wealth and wildlife, and popular   among the tourist population for wildlife sighting, especially the Royal Bengal Tiger. A wide variety of wildlife can be sighted in the national parks of Bandhavgarh, Panna, Pench, and Kanha and in the sanctuaries of Satpura and Chambal apart from other smaller reserves. Sighting wildlife came easy to us as we spotted a fox, jackal and  wolves on different nights during our  travel  across this state (national parks or sanctuaries  not being a part of the roads we traveled). Our sighting of Vultures  at Orchha, Indian Skimmers at Chambal and the lovely Peacocks with their families at  Bateshwar will always remain close to our hearts.
Indian Skimmers
Indian Skimmers at Chambal
5. Rivers - Many rivers flow across the state, with Narmada following the longest path, Chambal being the cleanest and Shipra being the holiest. All rivers were flowing with glory and pomp owing to the good monsoons of last year. Being one of the water rich states of India, MP enjoys vast stretches of fertile land.
Sunset at the Lake of Pathari 
6. Agriculture - The vast stretches of agricultural lands that MP encompasses were dedicated to rabi crops owing to the current season, mostly Wheat, Mustard, Bengal gram (Channa) and Tur. The state's predominant  dependence on agrarian economy was clearly evident even on the out skirts of major towns like Bhopal and Indore, where the agricultural lands were filled with standing crops. Thanks to them because of which we were always surrounded by greenery.
Mustard Fields 
 7. Tourist Infrastructure - True to their tag line "God Made Madhya Pradesh Beautiful. We made it comfortable", the tourism department of Madhya Pradesh has done a very credible and appreciable job in providing the best infrastructure possible and surely deserve all the applause for their commendable work. From accommodation to providing tourist information along with all other necessary facilities for tourists across all locations were perfectly managed by the tourism department. This is definitely something that every other state in India can learn to follow. On the flip-side, most the information boards with regards to directions and distance were seen in the language of Hindi, which would hinder or rather make it more difficult for foreign tourists and travelers from the southern most region of India to navigate around.
Midway Treat, Bhimbetka 
8. Diesel Pricing - Strangely, the only hurdle during our road trip was the high priced diesel in MP. They were presumably the highest compared to the other states we have traveled across. Apart from their high prices, its variation was drastic across the state. While diesel at Indore was priced at  Rs 62/- per liter, the same was Rs.67/- at Nowgaon, Chattarpur. This difference is quite high when compared to all the other states we've traveled, where the maximum difference was less than a rupee.
9. Bus Rapid Transit - Indore and Bhopal are two cities in MP where the BRT system has been successfully implemented. Very few Indian cities have this system of separate lanes for buses. It was good to witness that this system was being followed very strictly, not interfering with other travelers on road.
10. People - The locals were very kind and helpful in many ways. To quote an instance, while we decided  to stop by at a particular place for breakfast in Chanderi, we had to reverse our vehicle and while doing so, a biker collided at the rear end of our vehicle. Though it was not a serious collision, the biker tried to exaggerate the entire incident, seeing which the locals gathered in order to help us as they were aware that the fault was not ours. They assessed the situation and convinced the biker to just move on as nothing serious had occurred and  politely told us to carry on. We were thankful to them and just wondered how people elsewhere would have behaved in the same situation. That apart, in most of the places we observed that people minded their own business and seemed least interested in others. Also, there was selfie madness everywhere with people being engrossed admiring their beauty.
Photo on Demand 

This blog post will be followed by a series of posts under 'MP Diaries'.

In Search of Kanakagiri's Ashokan Edicts -2

While researching about this place, our inquisitiveness about King Bindusura (Father of Ashoka) increased. To our surprise, sadly, very little has been found out about him or documented as compared to king Chandragupta Maurya (Father of Bindusura) and Ashoka himself. Though Bindusara was the key person responsible for the consolidation of the Mauryan empire post Chandragupta era, it seems somehow the life story of Bindusura is missing. It is also quoted at many places that Sushima (elder brother of Ashoka) was the choice of Bindusura as the next heir of Mauryan empire. But Ashoka killed him and 5 other brothers to gain the throne. King Ashoka's life may be divided into two phases, that during pre Kalinga war and post Kalinga war, the war being the turning point.. Ashokan edicts give us the insight of Ashoka's second half of his life, the Buddhist way of life. The edicts are present even today across India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. There are 9 such documented Ashokan edicts in Karnataka, all of which have been visited by and written about by a fellow blogger. (Link: Ashokan edicts).
Major Rock Edicts of Ashoka, Dhauli Orissa
Minor Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Gavi Matha Koppal 
In continuation with our previous post, our perseverance was finally rewarded with a piece of information being disclosed by people at the temple about a rock inscription near Kattle Basavanna temple, though it wasn't sure whether  it was the same one we were looking for. They also gave us directions to this temple. We reached the temple and searched for the inscription, but found none. A person directed us to a few stones close by the temple. On close observation, we found one of them to be inscribed and poured water for further investigation that revealed inscriptions in Kannada language.
Kannada Inscriptions Near Kattle Basavanna Temple
 We closely checked all the rocks around the temple but found nothing. We went back and inquired  with people at the temple regarding the edicts. The same person who showed us an inscription near the temple also told us that there are some inscriptions atop a hill located close by. This information gave us goose bumps since Ashokan edicts are located on/close to hills. On asking him for more details about the same, he accepted our invitation to join us in our quest. Hereon, we headed towards the Lakshmi Narasimha hill, situated about 2 km from Kanakagiri. And our search for the edicts continued!....
Lakshmi Narasimha Hill 
PS: A new page has been added to our blog, which has a collection of our Vlogs. Click here to view.

In Search of Kanakagiri's Ashokan Edicts

Our quest to find the surviving Ashokan Edicts in Karnataka took us to the elusive Ashokan edicts at Kanakagiri. Probably there is no Ashokan edicts here or the information on the internet is incomplete regarding the same. 'Kanakagiri', translated as 'Hill of Gold' is located about 30 km from Gangavathi in Koppal district. After visiting a friend's place at Gangavathi, we got a chance to go in search of the edicts. Early next morning we headed towards Kanakagiri. From various sources of information, we had learned that the Ashokan Edicts are placed inside the temple though unaware of its exact location.
The Main Entrance
Kanakagiri is referred at many places as "Ashoka's Swarnagiri". Our task of finding the edicts began as we entered the the first temple which was the Kanakachalapathi temple. This temple was built during the Vijayanagar period by the Nayakas of Kanakagiri. While our eyes were eagerly in search of the edicts, a room in front the main Gopuram caught our attention. On carefully inspecting the room interiors for the presence of any edicts, we found none. A beautiful stone slab depicting a scene involving the king and queen was placed in front of the room.
Shri Kanakachalapathi Temple , Kanakagiri
Shri Kanakachalapathi Temple 
The Stone Panel Depicting a Scene between King and Queen
As we entered the temple we sighted three big inscription panels, a close examination of them revealed that they had nothing related to emperor Ashoka. This temple is dedicated to Lord Kanakachalapathi, a form of Vishnu. The Sabhamantapa has beautiful pillars and stories from Ramayana etched at the top of the wall. The temple has been maintained very well, but no one here had any idea about the Ashokan edicts. The priest was not all in the mood to discuss about Ashokan edicts and the temple manager along with others present around too confirmed that there is no such edicts present here.
The Stone Inscriptions 
The Sabhamantapa
The Dwikuta Temple
A Scene from Ramayana

On showing them the book we referred to on Kanakagiri that spoke about the edicts, they remained unconvinced, until one among them finally gave in.....
PS: A new page has been added to our blog, which has a collection of our Vlogs. Click here to view.

Brahmagiri and Ashoka Siddapura

 After having an adventurous time at Jating Rameshwara we went in search of the Ashokan edicts of Ashoka Siddapura. The locals here on inquiring directed us towards another site of the same kind at Brahmagiri, which was supposedly much easier to locate than Ashoka Siddapura. (The edicts of Ashoka Siddapura  is situated in the interiors, far away the village and is not very popular as the Brahmagiri among locals). At Brahmagiri, we were greeted by the ASI care taker who volunteered cheerfully to be our guide for the afternoon. First, we visited the edicts of Brahmagiri, one amongst the best preserved and maintained Ashokan edicts in Karnataka. The symbols of the script are quite clear. He then showed us the translated meaning with the message it carried. The edict here generally speaks about peace and kindness to be shown towards all living beings.
Sign Board 
Enclosure Built To protect the Edict
Ashoka's Message of Peace
 
Kannada Translation of the Edict
  After carefully examining the edict, our guide took us to an ancient grave yard. Here we were able to witness a huge number of Dolmens belonging to the 2nd century BC, attributed to the Mauryan Empire. The ASI has built a compound in order to conserve these structures, few of which are intact. Though, beyond the compound limits, there are many such dolmens waiting to be preserved. Hereon, we were privileged to visit a place where accidentally, the ASI team discovered an URN burial (which is believed to be the grave of small children) as the ground had been washed away during monsoons.This discovery was accidental  and intriguing.
Dolmen with missing top slab
Intact Dolmens
Burial site outside the ASI enclosure
URN burial
We next moved on to find the edicts of Ashoka Siddapura. Our guide was kind enough to join us along  as he was much aware of its location. We had to walk about ten minutes though the fields to locate a cluster of boulders named as "Emme Thammana Gudda" on which the edicts are etched. Unfortunately, the edicts here are equally in a disturbed state as in Jating Rameshwara. They too spread the message of  peace and kindness, though the size of was comparatively smaller to Brahmagiri. Without our guide, reaching this place would have been impossible. He gave us information about the recent findings of Hindi inscriptions just behind these boulders, which probably hints us of the existence/beginning of Jainism during that period. The presence of a Jain temple in this environ also enhances this feel.
Edict of Ashoka Siddapura
Enclosure built to Protect the Edicts
View of Brahmagiri Hill from Emme Thammana Gudda
Hindi Inscriptions
Related Posts: