Showing posts with label Mughal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mughal. Show all posts

Saturday, May 20, 2017

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.
1. RBS visitors Guide India Madhya Pradesh
2. DK Eyewitness Travel India

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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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