Showing posts with label Mosque. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mosque. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

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.
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.
1. The Guide to the Architecture of the Indian subcontinent by Takeo Kamiya.
2. RBS Visitors Guide India - Madhya Pradesh.

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

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

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. 
2. Vidisha Municipal Site 

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

Sunday, February 5, 2017

MP Diaries - Mandu, Symbol of Immortal Love

Mandu is the largest fortified area in India, second only to the great city of Hampi. This romantic city which is also well known for its history is situated about 37 km from Maheshwar. Mandu has also been known by various names previously such as Mandapa-Durga and Mandavagarh. The original fort was built by Paramara kings in 6th century AD. This region attained unparalleled glory, especially under Kings Munja and Raja Bhoj who ruled from both Ujjain and Dhar. Mandu was founded as a fortress and retreat  by Raja Bhoj and later King Jayavaram transferred the seat of the Paramara from Dhar to Mandu, finally falling into the hands of Khilji of Delhi Sultanate.  Mandu came on its own later under Hoshang Shah who shifted his capital from Dhar to Mandu and renamed Mandu as Shadiabad - City of Joy. Even amidst his arduous wars with the neighboring powers, Hoshang Shah raised the architectural splendor of the kingdom to its greatest heights. A period of expansion and prosperity was witnessed under the later rulers, Mahmud Shah and Ghiyasuddin, until the end of 14th century AD.  In the next century, Mandu collided with various kingdoms of Gujarat and Rajasthan. A series of deadly warfare followed there after and one such change led to Baz-Bahadur assuming power. Baz-Bahadur almost gave up fighting after being overpowered by Rani Durgavati during one of the wars. He devoted himself to music in which the famous and beautiful Rani Rupmati proved to be his most loving associate and consort. The selfless and devoted love between them even today is a favorite theme in the folk songs of Malwa. Rani Rupmati is said to have committed suicide rather than succumb to the powerful army of Akbar. In late 17th century this fort came under the control of Marathas under Malhar Rao Holkar and from then on remained under the Marathas.
Mandu Ravines
Rupmati’s Pavilion: Rupmati’s/Roopmati’s pavilion is situated atop the hill to the south of Baz-Bahadur’s palace overlooking the Nimar valley. It is believed that Rani Rupmati, Baz-Bahadur’s beloved enjoyed the view of the much revered river Narmada from this pavilion. The arched pavilion is a Baradari, a building with 12 doors with 3 doorways on every side and is crowned by a fluted dome.
Rupmati's Pavilion, Mandu
Rupmati's Pavilion 
Baz-Bahadur’s Palace: To the east of Rewa Kund is the Baz-Bahadur’s Palace, built on the hill slope. A Persian inscription on its entrance arch states that the palace was built by Nasiruddin in 1508 AD. The palace has a spacious courtyard with a beautiful water tank at its center fed by Rewa Kund. It is quite interesting to know that Rewa Kund situated close by, was frequently visited by Rani Rupmati, which justifies the king’s choice of this place as his palace.
Baz Bahadur Palace, Mandu
Baz-Bahadur's Palace 
Rewa-Kund: This is a reservoir built by Baz-Bahadur whose origin is associated with the love story of Baz-Bahadur and Rupmati.
Rewa Kund, Mandu
Jali Mahal: Jali Mahal is a tomb built on a square plan with three arched openings on each side. Except for the entrance, the arches on the other three sides are filled with latticed screens carrying various geometric/ornamental patterns giving this tomb the name Jali Mahal.
Jali Mahal, Mandu
Jali Mahal
Malik Mugith'sMalik Mughith's Mosque: This mosque was built by Malik Mugith, father of Mahmud Khilji in 1432 AD. The projecting front porch of the mosque built on a high plinth is now mostly in ruins. The exterior walls are in the form of an arcade at the lower level while colonnades are seen in the corridors inside. It is clearly evident from the pillars of the corridor that the mosque was built by utilizing materials from destroyed Hindu temples/buildings, which is considered as the first phase of Muslim architecture in Malwa. The mosque houses three domes above its main portion with turrets at the corners. During our visit, restoration work was in progress to save the remnants of the structure.
Mosque of Malik Mughith, Mandu
Mosque of Malik Mughith
Caravan Sarai: Built in 1437 AD, Caravan Sarai comprises of a huge court surrounded by rooms and halls that served as places of accommodation and storage. 
Caravan Sarai, Mandu
Caravan Sarai
Dai-Ki-Chhoti-Behan-Ka-Mahal: This tomb associated with a lady is built on a highly raised double terraced platform in an octagonal plan with four entrance arches and is crowned by a dome. Remains of blue tiles with which the dome was originally decorated with, is clearly visible.
Dai Ki chhoti behan ka mahal, Mandu
Dai-Ka-Mahal: This is a tomb of a lady and stands on a high platform having rooms with arched openings. The tomb is square in plan. The lower portion of the dome is octagonal in shape and is decorated with miniature arches while small projecting structures are seen at the corners.
Dai Ka Mahal, Mandu

Lal-Bagh: A beautiful garden and pavilion, with traces of cisterns and cascades laid during the Mughal rule.

Lal Bagh Mandu
Hathi Mahal (Elephant Palace): The Hathi Mahal is a mausoleum with its name being attributed to the enormous pillars that resemble the legs of an elephant, supporting the dome above.
Hathi Mahal, Mandu
Hathi Mahal
Darya Khan's Main Tomb: The most beautiful structure in Mandu is the tomb dedicated to Darya Khan. This tomb is built of red sand stone in a square plan. There is a Darya Khan Mosque, Sarai Kothari, Kharbush Tomb and Somvati Kund nearby the Main tomb.
Darya Khan's Tomb, Mandu
Darya Khan's Tomb
Sarai Kothdi, Mandu
Sarai Kothdi
Jami Masjid (Friday Mosque): This is one of the largest structures in Mandu. The construction was started by Hoshang Shah and completed by Mahmud Khilji in 1454 AD. Simple in its style, this mosque has a huge prayer hall facing the courtyard. The Mihrab (a niche in the wall of a mosque towards which people face to pray) and Mimbar (a platform used by the preacher in a mosque) in the prayer hall are elaborately designed. A striking feature here is the chain of domes and arches in the enclosing walls of the courtyard.
Jami Masjid, Mandu
Jami Masjid 
Hoshang Shah's Tomb: This mausoleum built with white marble is India's first marble edifice. The construction was started by Hoshang Shah and completed by Mahmud Khilji in 1440 AD. The tomb is a massive structure situated at the center of a large courtyard. The tomb is crowned by a huge dome with smaller sized domes at its corners. The noteworthy features in the interiors are the intricately designed lattice screen works and decorative moldings.
Hoshang Shah Tomb, Mandu
Tomb of Hoshang Shah
Ashrafi Mahal (Madrassa) and Tower of Victory: Khilji built the Madrassa (school) facing the mosque (Jami Masjid), which is now deserted. It also has the Tower of Victory, originally a seven storeyed tower built in celebration of victory over an enemy which is now in ruins with only one storey having managed to survive.The tomb of Mahmud Khilji is also situated in this complex.
Tower of Victory, Mandu
Tower of Victory
Khilji's Tomb, Mandu
Khilji's Tomb
Jahaz Mahal (Ship Palace): This magnificent palace standing between two man-made lakes of Munj and Kapur is beautifully designed. The palace resembles a ship floating on water and hence the name. The interconnected water-ways/channels from the lake to the water ponds of the Mahal and its garden is fascinating.
Jahaz Mahal, Mandu
Jahaz Mahal
Kolhu (Crusher): Kolhu was a very popular traditional device used for crushing solid materials into smaller pieces, usually manually or animal driven. Different materials such as lime stone, jaggery, and other building materials were mixed together and crushed/ground to form a uniform powder which was then used for construction purpose.
Gadashah's Palace and Shop: These buildings probably were built for a person named Gadashah who played a significant role in the royal family. Both the buildings are sadly now in ruins.
Gadashah's Shop
Ancient Baoli: A beautiful well belonging to the Paramara period.
Ancient Baoli
Hindola Mahal (Swinging Palace): This mahal is 'T' shaped in plan and has sloping side walls by virtue of which it is also known as the Swinging Palace and served as an audience hall. The exteriors are mostly plain with two-storeyed arches placed between huge pillars that slope inward. The overhanging balconies are enclosed (jharokhas) and carry on them floral carvings and lattice designs.
Hindola Mahal, Mandu
Hindola Mahal
Champa Baoli and Royal Palace: This is an underground well that served as a reservoir. Square in shape, it is surrounding by eight arches that giving it a circular appearance. This place was used by the royal ladies as a summer retreat. The Royal palace is very big building where the royal family resided.
Champa Baodi, Mandu
Champa Baoli
Hammam (The Bath): The Hammam houses separate waterways for supply of hot and cold water. The queens enjoyed a luxurious bath here. The ceiling of the hammam is dome like, having circular and star shaped perforations for light to pass through and hot steam to pass out. The techniques used for water flow system into the Hammam are quite intriguing.
Hammam, Mandu
Domed Roof  Hammam
Jal Mahal (Water Palace): This beautiful palace is built on the banks of lake Munj, on the opposite side of Jahaz Mahal. It is an interesting structure with water channels running across the mahal to feed the water ponds and gardens. The view of Jahaz Mahal from Jal Mahal is astonishing.
Jal Mahal, Mandu
Sunset Behind the Jal Mahal
Darwazas (Gateways): The 40 km long fort wall that encircles the city of Mandu houses 12 Darwazas or Gateways, notable ones being the Tarapur Gate, Jahangirpur Gate, Rampol Darwaza, Delhi Darwaza, Alamgir Darwaza and Bhangi Darwaza.
Tarapur Gateway, Mandu
Tarapur Gate
Other Places of Interest: Sapth Kothari, Lohani Caves and Gate, Taveli Mahal, Dilawar Khan's Tomb, Nilkanth Palace and Temple, Chhappan Mahal, Lal Mahal, Kakra Khoh, Ram Mandir, Jain Mandir and many more.
Distance from the nearby Major Town: 90 km from Indore
Entrance Fee: A fixed entrance fee is charged to visit the Royal Enclave, Jami Masjid and Rupmati's Mahal. Rs 15/- for Indian Tourists and Rs 200/- for Foreigners, an additional fee is charged for video shooting.
Accommodation: We didn't stay here, but there are many options for accommodation here. The better ones are the Malwa Resort and Malwa Retreat, both maintained by MPSTDC.
Where to eat: We had lunch in Malwa Retreat, a multi cuisine restaurant and our lunch bill was around Rs.700/-. Food was good and tasty. Card payments are accepted.
1. The Guide to the Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent - By Takeo Kamiya
2. RBS Visitors Guide India-"Madhya Pradesh"
3. Latest Tourist Guide Mandu - By J.P.Sharma

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