Showing posts with label Paramara. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paramara. Show all posts

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. 
1. Sanchi - World Heritage Series by ASI
2. Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent - Takeo Kamiya
3. Upenn

MP Diaries: Bhojeshwar Temple Bhojpur, The Never Finished Ediffice

Bhojpur is home to the magnificent temple of Bhojeshwar dedicated to Lord Shiva, built by Raja Bhojadeva of Paramara Dynasty during 11th century AD. The temple lies incomplete due to unknown reasons. Though there are various hypotheses with regards to the unfinishedness of this massive structure, the truth behind it being incomplete is still a mystery. It is hard to digest the fact that this temple was never finished, considering the efforts, planning and the resources that have been put in for the construction. The most accepted principle in temple construction is that the installation of the idol in the garbagriha or the sanctum sanctorum is carried out only after the temple is wholly constructed. Thus, to declare this temple was never finished itself seems a myth. Another angle to this could be that the Shiva Linga was installed here much before the Paramara period and Raja Bhojadeva only decided to build a grander temple than the already existing one. As per traditional belief, the huge Shivalinga here is associated with the Pandavas and this surely speaks about the antiqueness of the Linga.  Somehow we still remain skeptical about the temple being incomplete. There is a possibility that the temple was damaged due to an unexpected natural catastrophe or even the angle of enemies of the Paramaras such as the Chalukyas, Kalachuris or the Sultans of Delhi/ Gujarat having successfully attempted to destroy the temple cannot be discarded. Whatever the case may be or whichever theory we may adopt to give a rational explanation of this temple, the Shiv temple at Bhojpur today is a standing example portraying the exemplary architectural skills and techniques the Medieval Indians possessed.
Bhojeshwar Temple, Bhojpur
Bhojeshwar Temple, Bhojpur
Nandi Mandapa 
The Mighty Shiva Linga
As we continued from Ashapuri towards Bhojpur, the mighty Bhojeshwar temple was visible from far and seemed inviting. We were awestruck to witness this colossal edifice. As we entered the temple, the only intriguing thought that arose in our minds was that of the excellent execution and workmanship, considering the enormity of this structure. There are various evidences found here that give us a general idea about the temple construction. The ramp attached at the rear of the temple is one such, along with the line drawings exhibiting the plan of the temple with its various parts. The Bhojeshwar Linga is a gigantic one, sitting pretty on a huge platform. The Linga is considered to be one among the tallest and the grandest of all. Unlike other temples built by the Paramaras, this temple is devoid of a mandapa in front of the Garbhagriha (Sanctum) and houses a rectilinear roof instead of a curvilinear Shikara, again raising more questions about the purpose of this temple.
Sculptures on the Door Jamb
Shiva Parvati 
Shaiva Dwarapala
The Mighty Linga 
The Ceiling 
Bhojeshwar temple is square in plan and built on a platform with a grand door jamb. The walls of the temple lack any kind of ornamentation and is window less, comprising three balconies on its three sides. The balconies are beautifully carved and supported by massive brackets. The ceiling of the temple rests on four monstrous pillars, of which the damaged one was replaced by an alternate pillar by the ASI during its restoration. Thanks to their effort, we can today enjoy viewing this masterpiece. Hereon we moved towards the site close-by to the temple which carries the line drawings of the temple plan and its various segments. Though witnessing such line drawings was our first, they only left us wondering about how and why the temple construction was discontinued (if so) as the drawings go on to depict the temple details very meticulously. 
Map Depicting the Line Drawing Spots 
Line Drawing of the Pillar
The Unfinished Glory
 Distance from major town: 28 km from Bhopal
Accommodation: The best option would be to stay at Bhopal and plan the journey towards Bhojpur.

Where to eat: There are few road side eateries serving Poha and Jalebi with hot Chai.


1. RBS Visitors Guide India -  "Madhya Pradesh"
2. Wikipedia 
3. Temples of Madhya Pradesh - K K Chakravarty 

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

MP Diaries: Ashapuri, A ruined Capital City

Ashapuri is one of the best kept secrets of Madhya Pradesh. Being very close to the capital city of Bhopal and located between two of the most prominent tourist places of Bhimbetka and Bhojpur, this place is hardly visited by tourists. We too were unaware of this place until a board at Midway Retreat in Bhimbetka displayed it. A quick research about the same on google helped us gather more information. We were more than happy to visit this place as it was located on the way to our next destination of Bhojpur. The sign board put up by Madhya Pradesh Tourism made it easier for us to reach this place, which is located about 22 km from Bhimbetka towards Bhojpur.
Ruins of Ashapuri with lake in the background 
Pink Lotus 
Ashapuri was the temple laboratory of the Pratihara and Paramara clans during 9th century AD. The numerous temples that are now in ruins bear a testimony to this. As we entered the Bhootnath temple complex, the care taker walked down the steps towards us with the visitors book in hand. After gathering details from us, he doubled up as our guide. As we maneuvered through the ruins, we stumbled upon the main temple complex of Bhootnath, built on the banks of a lake. The complex houses 26 uniquely styled temples of varying proportions. The locals are bound to the belief that this place was razed to dust by Mughals and hence is in ruins. The site is well maintained by the ASI and temples are systematically numbered from 1 to 26. Temple number 5 is the main temple of this complex and is dedicated to Bhootnath (Lord Shiva). The remains of this temple speaks volumes about the art and architecture of Pratiharas, who contributed majorly towards the temple construction. A large number of idols and other segments of the temples, most of which are partially damaged are kept spread wide across the temple complex, while many others are displayed at the museum nearby.
Remains of  BhootnathTemple 
Andhakasura form of Shiva 
Ruins all the Way
Our guide also mentioned about the presence of another temple dedicated to Goddess Durga at a fair distance (about 400 meters) from the Bhootnath complex. This temple too lies in a  ruined state with fragments of idols spread across the temple. Just outside the Bhootnath temple complex is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Hereon, we drove towards the museum during lunch time and realised it was closed. We inquired about directions to another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Billota temple at the entrance of the village. Unfortunately, this temple too was closed. A big Shiva linga is seen outside the temple with many small lingas carved on it, called as the Sahasralinga. A beautifully carved but broken pillar base is also seen in this complex, with a carving that exhibits the various avatars of Lord Vishnu. Thus ended our exploration. It is good to know that a joint effort has been initiated by Madhya Pradesh Government in collaboration with the World Monuments Fund towards restoring Ashapuri back to its glory.
Goddess Durga Temple
Lord Brahma 
Shiva Temple, Billota 
Parshuram (6th Avatar of  Lord Vishnu)
Vamana (5th Avatar of  Lord Vishnu)
Distance from the nearby town: 36 km from Bhopal. 
Accommodation: There are no accommodation options here. The best would be to plan for an overnight stay at Bhopal. 
Where to eat: The nearest eateries are about 6 km from here, at Bhojpur

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