Showing posts with label the heart of incredible India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the heart of incredible India. 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: 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

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

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

MP Diaries - Udayesvara temple, Udaipur, Nectar in Stone

It was a race against time to reach Udaipur before sunset. Driving through the narrow lanes of Badoh, we reached the village road that connects to Udaipur which was about 12 km from here. We reached the temple of Udayesvara  just as the sun went down and the care of the taker of the temple closed the gates. Hurriedly, I dropped my wife at the gate and went in search of a parking place. While she requested them to open the temple gate, the care taker advised her to stay outside the temple till I arrived for safety purposes. He informed us that we had reached late and it was time to close the temple as it had started to get dark. However, he agreed to give us about five minutes to see the temple as we had come from so far. Without wasting any time, we had a glance at the temple and clicked a few photographs, though there was not enough lighting. The Udayesvara temple is one of the most beautiful temples in Madhya Pradesh and a true representation of the Paramara architecture. The sculptural splendour of Udayesvara temple is comparable with that of Khajuraho temples. This temple was built in 1080 AD by king Udaydita of the Paramara dynasty. There is a small Nandi mantapa in front the main temple. The ASI has maintained this temple quite well. Given a chance, we would surely love to revisit Udaipur just to the enjoy the sheer grandeur of this temple.
Silhouette of Udayesvara Temple, Udaipur 
Udayesvara Temple Complex
Entrance fee: Entry is free.
Distance from nearby major town: 70 km from Vidisha via Ganj Basoda. 
Accommodation: There are no lodges in Udaipur, however, the closest and a better choice would be Gateway Retreat at Sanchi maintained by MPSTDC. There are a few small lodges in Ganj Basoda.
Where to eat: There are a few small roadside eateries here.  
References: 
1. Architecture of the Indian Sub-continent by Takeo Kamiya 

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