Showing posts with label Rajputs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rajputs. Show all posts

MP Diaries - The Temples of Orchha, A Medieval Legacy in Stone

Orchha - The Land of Palaces and Temples
Orchha - The Land of Palaces and Temples
 We had to drop our plan of visiting Naresar as it was late in the evening and already dark. We bade goodbye to Bateshwar and moved ahead towards our next destination of Orchha. A long drive of about 3 hours during a winter evening in the northern part of Madhya Pradesh was quite challenging! We reached Orchha and zeroed in on a hotel to rest for the night.  Orchha seemed very calm and quiet during the night and we were pretty sure of an exciting day ahead. We woke up to chilly morning and had to wait for quite some time for the fog to clear off to start exploring Orchha. Orchha is a small historical town situated on the banks of river Betwa and is about 130 km from Gwalior
Good Morning Orchha
Chaturbhuj Temple Engulfed by Fog
Orchha was the capital city of Bundela Rajputs and was founded by Maharaja Rudra Pratap in 1531 AD. The Bundelas migrated from Varanasi to Garh Kurar and then to Orchha and were considered to be great builders, strong warriors and patrons of art. The Bundelas had to deal with Mughals who were in great command especially in the mainland region of India. Sometimes they fought against the Mughals, and sometimes they expressed great friendship with them, and such behavior always ensured that the Mughals were constantly alert and vigilant. The histories of the opposition towards Mughals by Champartai, his son Chhatrasai, Diman Hardaul, Vir Singh Deo and others deserves mention and have been successful at times in keeping the opposition at bay. The Bundelas kings were great builders with remarkable acumen and foresight.  Among the Bundelas, Vir Singh Deo built the maximum number of temples and is considered to be the best among them. The temples built by them today stand as a testimony to the skill they possessed and their devotion towards religion. The legends of Rani Ganesh Kunwari and Madhukar Shah, and Hardaul to this day are impregnated in the walls of Orchha and capture every traveler’s imagination. In this post we make an attempt to list all the temples we visited here.
Chaturbhuj Temple as Viewed from Raja Mahal
Chaturbhuj Temple: Chaturbhuj temple is one among the grandest temples built in India post 16th century when the Mughals were ruling the larger part of India. This temple was initially built to house the murti of Lord Rama that Rani Ganesh Kunwari bought from Ayodhya, but Lord Rama remained in Rama Raja Temple. This temple stands on a huge stone platform and currently houses murtis of Radha and Krishna.
The Mighty Chaturbhuj Temple, Orchha
The Mighty Chaturbhuj Temple
Chaturbhuj Temple
Rama Raja Temple: This could be the only temple where Lord Rama is worshiped as a King and not as a god, and also can be considered to be one among the unusual temples of India. This palace turned temple has an interesting legend associated with it. It is the most lively temple in this historical town and is a must visit to every tourist visiting Orchha. 
Ram Raja Temple, Orchha
Rama Raja Temple
Shiva Temple: This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and may have been built during the 17th century on the basis of its architecture features. The temple is located outside the fort complex near the river Betwa. The Shivalinga and the images of Shiva have been shifted to Rama Raja temple. 
Shiva Temple, Orchha
Shiva Temple
Vanvasi Rama Mandir: This temple is dedicated to Lord Rama and was constructed during the reign of Maharaja Vir Singh. Like that of the Shiva temple, murti of Lord Rama has been shifted to Rama Raja temple. The Shikara of this temple is of Bhumija style of temple architecture.  
Vanvasi Rama Mandir, Orchha
Vanvasi Rama Mandir
Radhika Vihari Temple: This temple is dedicated to Radhika Vihari and was constructed during the reign of Maharaja Vir Singh. The Garbhagriha of this temple has panchrathi projections and a spire decorated with urushringas (subsidiary towers) of Khajuraho Style. This beautiful temple is the one of the best specimens of Bundela architecture.
Radhika Vihari Temple, Orchha
Radhika Vihari Temple
Panchmukhi Mahadeva Mandir: This temple is located inside a fortified square courtyard. This temple also can be dated to 17th century AD based on its architectural features. The temple architecture is representative of the Astabhadra (octagonal) plan of Bhumija style of Architecture.  The other temple in this complex is of a similar plan, but of a smaller size. 
Panchmukhi Mahadeva Mandir, Orchha
Panchmukhi Mahadeva Mandir
Lakshmi Temple: This beautiful temple is rectangular in plan and was built by Vir Singh in 1622 AD. The inner walls and hemispherical ceilings of this temple are profusely decorated with paintings depicting lives of the kings and queens and stories from the epics of Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita.
Laxmi Temple, Orchha
The Grand Lakshmi Temple
Krishna and Gopikas
Painted Walls of Laxmi Temple, Orchha
Beautifully Decked Up Wall of Lakshmi Temple

 To be continued…

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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.
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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