Showing posts with label Jainism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jainism. Show all posts

Anjaneri Fort Trek, Nashik, Maharasthra

'Anjaneri' is believed to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman, similar to the hill of Anjanadri near Anegundi. However, it is very difficult to ascertain the original birth place of the Lord among these two. Anjaneri is believed to be the birth place of Goddess Anjani Matha, the mother of  Lord Hanuman/Anjaneya.  There is an ancient temple at Anjaneri dedicated to the goddess. It is unique as it is believed that there is no other temple built for this goddess. We can ascertain that this place has some association with Lord Hanuman. However,  Lord Hanuman is believed to have spent most of his time at a place named Kishkinda/Kishkinde. Kishkinda of Ramayana has been identified as Anegundi and its surrounding areas in the state of Karnataka. Although there are a few other places claiming as the birth place of Lord Hanuman, Anjanadri Betta of Kishkinda is the closest in relation as per the Ramayana. Nashik too has a deep connection with Lord Rama. It is at this place Lord Rama's brother Lakshmana cut the nose of Shurpanakha (Ravana's sister) leading to the kidnapping of Sita Matha. It would be wonderful to trace the route taken by Lord Rama from Ayodhya to Sri Lanka during in his exile.
Anjaneri Hill from the Bus Stop
Good Morning
Anjaneri Landscape
 My initial plan was to trek the fort at Harihar which a much popular trekking destination and therefore booked a cab for the same through an app. However, the driver had cancelled the booking due to some reason for which no notification was sent to me. I woke up in morning only to find out that the cab booking was canceled and the next cab pick-up would easily take at least 45 mins. Thus I dropped the plan of trekking Harihar fort and instead decided to go to Trimbak, a popular pilgrimage center and one among the 12 Jyotirlingas. Meanwhile, I stumbled upon the fort of Anjaneri which is located en-route to Trimbak from Nashik and is a popular trekking destination. It is worthwhile to mention that the bus connectivity between Nashik and Trimbak is commendable and available throughout the day and night. I boarded the 5 am bus in the morning and after a journey of about 45 mins, I got down at the Anjaneri cross bus-stop from where the trek base was about good 2km. I had to cover this distance by foot since no vehicle was available in the early morning hours.
Sun Over Anjaneri
Anjaneri Lake
Contrasting Colors of Life
There are well laid roads up to the trek base. However, I took the shorter route by foot used by the locals  and reached the trek base. What lovely sight it was! On one side was a big lake with blue waters and other encompassed a mesmerizing sunrise. Finally after a good 30 min walk I reached the trek base where there were a few shops and none were open except one that was just getting opened. An elderly person who ran this shop told me to wait for 5 minutes while he prepared some hot tea for me. Here, there were few boards giving details about the ecological importance of Anjaneri apart from being protected as a vulture sanctuary. I filled up my water bottle while the hot tea was getting ready. Though I generally do not prefer drinking tea, the tea here was probably the best that I have ever had. Steps are laid from here till the plateau and in between at a few places, railings have installed for support. Many locals ascend the hill on a regular basis to offer prayers and  perform for daily pujas to Goddess Anjani Matha.
Jaina Cave Temple
Lord Parshvanatha Tirthankara
Goddess Anjani Matha Temple
Lake on the Anjaneri Hill
More Trek Options Near Nashik
Navara Navri Fort
 The first temple that I came across here was a small Jaina cave temple dedicated Lord Parshvanatha. There are 2 murtis of the Lord caved in 2 separate chambers of the cave. A short climb from here leads to a plateau region from where one has to walk for about 10 minutes to reach the temple dedicated to Anjani Matha. After offering prayers to the goddess, it was time for another cup of hot tea. A further ascent hereon leads us to the peak of Anjaneri hills. Though no fortification exist here today, once a grand fort was erected which was destroyed by the British. At the beginning of the next series of steps is a small water pond in contrast to the big lake seen below. There are a few cave temples here which I wanted to explore while descending. I continued my climb and reached the peak in about 20 minutes. The views from here were  breathtaking and no words can describe it enough. There is a small temple at the peak which is believed to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman.
Goddess Anjani Matha
Birth Place of Lord Hanuman
Hanuman Gupha
Tales of Two Lakes
CONTINUED HERE ...

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2.A road trip to Kolhapur and Satara from Bengaluru
3. Discovery of India - Amhednagar Fort

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

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MP Diaries: Jain Temples Budhi Chanderi, A lost Wonder

Every other artifact present at the ASI Museum of Chanderi was associated with the place of Budhi Chanderi, which increased our curiosity about the historical significance of this place. As Budhi Chanderi was only about 16 km from Chanderi, we decided to explore this place post lunch. Being much older than the town of Chanderi, Budhi Chanderi (Old Chanderi) is believed to be the town of Chaidnagar which finds its mention in the Puranas, signifying its antiqueness. The Old Chanderi lies inside the forested area and is believed to house more than 55 Jain and Hindu temples, most of which are in ruins. The ASI has collected more than 2500 artifacts from Budhi Chanderi and its surrounding areas, most of which are preserved at the ChanderiMuseum. The temples here are believed to have been built between 9th - 11th centuries by the Pratihara kings. 
The Jain Temple Complex, Budhi Chanderi
The Jain Temple Complex, Budhi Chanderi 
The drive to this place was pleasant and the winding roads only added to our excitement. We had enough company on the roads as it was the first day of New Year. We were welcomed by the ruins of fort walls and as we continued our drive, we reached a temple which seemed to be functional. We drove further to investigate the surroundings and found an ancient temple complex. My wife took the lead to check if this was the site we are on the lookout for. A flight of steps led to the entrance of the temple complex. On entering the complex, she noticed the presence of numerous temples enclosed inside the compound wall and very excitingly invited me and our little to come and witness the same.
Inside Jain Temple Complex, Budhi Chanderi 
Beauty in Ruins 
 The guide at the complex confirmed it to be Jain temple complex and the same was evident from the images and sculptures here. The architecture is similar to that of the Badoh Pathari Jain temple. Sadly, the ASI has repeated its shoddy restoration work here, with the walls resembling a jigsaw puzzle. Nevertheless, it has been successful in bringing back the temple complex to shape, for us to at least realize its grandeur. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring this temple complex. All the five temples here are dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras. After spending a good time, we decided to head on to our next destination after thanking and bidding a good bye to the care taker. He handed us a register in which we were supposed to enter the details of our visit and as we did it, we realized that we were the first registered visitors of the year 2017 to this place!
Intricately Carved Door Jamb 
Jain Tirthankara Parsvanatha
Jain Tirthankara Parsvanatha 
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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.