MP Diaries - Vultures of Orchha, One of the very few Vulture Sanctuaries in India

Indian Vultures Perched on Chaturbhuj Temple, Orchha
Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1994 along the river Betwa with the main objective of conserving the critically endangered species of Vultures. Vultures are listed as critically endangered in the International Union for Conversation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.  Sadly, the vulture population declined in the 1990's due to unregulated use of the toxic diclofenac in cattle.  As per vulture census conducted here in the year 2013, 125 vultures have been found belonging to 4 different species. While having a casual interaction with one of the forest guards here, we were informed that the current estimate of vultures is close to about 400 and is definitely showing an upward trend with every passing year, which is good news! While the task of working towards increasing vulture population remains challenging owing to its slow breeding rate (a female vulture lays a single egg per every breeding season), it is worthwhile noticing that much awareness is being spread around this region about the importance of vultures and their role played in balancing the environment. Bundelkhand region has many breeding sites where vultures have found a safe home for themselves. There are a few sanctuaries across India for protection and conservation of vultures, one such is found in the Ramanagar district of Karnataka.
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More details on Orchha in the next post.
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MP Diaries: Bateshwar Temples, A Legacy of ASI Chief KK Muhammad

Bateshwar, a small uninhabited village about 2 km from Padhavali is home to 300+ temples in a complex spread across 20 acres. This place reminded us much of Aihole, another beautiful place where temples outnumber the houses in the village. The group of temples at Bateshwar were built between 6th - 12th century AD by Pratiharas and Kacchapaghatas kings. The temples here were restored due the efforts of  the ASI chief Mr. KK Muhammad during his service, who took a lot of pain in getting this place back to its shape. While the majority of temples here are dedicated to Lord Shiva, a  few  are dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Bateshwar Group of Temples
Bateshwar Temple Complex
Bateshwar Group of Temples
 
Tandeshwara on the Vestibule 
A Complete Temple Here
Forest, Hill and Temples 
The many temples here showcase various stages of temple construction from an early stage characterized by  flat roofs to temples with curvilinear shikaras. The largest temple here, known as Bhutesvara temple is a perfect example of Pratihara architecture. There are a few temples also dedicated to Lords Surya, Ganesha and Anjaneya. While most of the temples here are simple and plain in outlook without much carvings or decorations on its outer walls, a few portray exquisite carvings on them. The architecture here resembles that of the later Gupta architecture, which was further improvised.
An Interesting Carving of Lord Ganesha 
Sundaris and Lord Surya 
Lord Anjaneya 
 Most of the temples here have only garbhagrihas with shikaras, housing a Shiva Linga or an idol of Lord Vishnu, while a few remained empty. This complex was ruined and in a damaged state when a team of ASI archaeologists lead by Mr. KK Muhammad reached out to rescue the complex. This site had remained inaccessible due to dacoits who had made this place their hideout. Few rounds of negotiations between Mr. KK Muhammad and the leader of the dacoits finally paved way to the development of this site. The care taker here takes pride in sharing the stories of Mr. KK Muhammad and also shows us the photos of before and after of this place. Mr. KK Muhammad retired few years ago, which consequently led to a slow down in the progress of the restoration work here.
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How to reach Bateshwar: Reach Nurabad which is located on the Gwalior-Agra Highway, take right turn towards Padhavali, about 2 km from here is Bateshwar. It is about 32 km from Gwalior.
Entry Fee: Entry is free
Accommodation: There are as such no accommodation options here, though one can stay at Morena or Gwalior where options are plenty and make a day trip to this place. 
Where to eat: There are a few road-side eateries in Padhavali that make tasty chats, especially Aloo Tikki. 
References:
1. Madhya Pradesh - Unknown Attractions Around Known Destinations
2. RBS Visitors Guide India - Madhya Pradesh
3. Ghumakkar
                             

The Grand Hoysala Temple: Shri Bucheshwara Temple, Koravangala, Hassan

Sri Bucheshwara Temple, Koravangala
Sri Bucheshwara Temple, Koravangala
As a part of the annual day celebrations of Canadia Trust, the team makes sure to visit a place located close by to Bangalore. During one such occasion, we had a chance to visit the beautiful Sri Bucheshwara temple of Koravangala. Koravangala is a small sleepy village located off the Hassan - Arsikere highway. 'Sri Bucheshwara temple' is a grand Hoysala temple built in 12th century AD by Bucha, the younger brother of Govinda, an officer working under King Narasimha I. This is a dwikuta temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of Linga as its principal deity and Lord Surya as a secondary deity. The temple consists of 2 garbhagrihas with 2 antaralas, a sabhamandapa and navaranga  with 2 mukhamandapas.
Mukhamandapa 
Hoysala Emblem and Dravidian Shikara  
Shaiva Dwarapalas 
Wall Decked Up With Carvings of Various Gods and Goddess 
 The dravidian shikara on the main garbhagriha is a grand structure with 3 talas, surmounted by a vedika and kuta roof with a kalasa. The navaranga is square and stands on four central lathe turned round pillars. The ceiling of the navaranga has 9 ankanas decorated with different types of mouldings. The outer walls of the temple are decorated with various forms of Lords Shiva and Vishnu. The open sabhamandapa is star shaped, standing on four central lathe turned round pillars. The Hoysala emblem adorns the vestibule of this temple. There are two sculptures of standing elephants in front of this temple at both the entrances. There is also a big inscription stone inside the temple compound. The ASI has done a great job in maintaining this temple. The care taker of this temple also doubles up as a guide.
Kalinga Mardhana 
Govardhana 
Goddess Durgi 
Lord Surya 
Lord Umamaheshwara 
Lord Surya 
Other Places to visit nearby:  Group of Hoysala Temples at Mosale, Shanthi Grama, Arsikere, Belur and Halebidu, Shettihalli Church, Gorur Dam, Sanka Hoysala Temple, Kondajji Hoysala Temple, Doddagaddavalli Hoysala TempleGarudanagiri FortMaharajanadurga Fort and many such.
How to Reach Koravangala: Located off the Hassan - Arsikere Highway, about 13 km from Hassan. 
Entry Fee: Entry is free. 
Accommodation:  There is no option of accommodation in Koravangala; one can stay at Hassan where there are plenty of options to suit one’s budget. We usually choose Hotel Suvarna Regency, which is quite affordable with all modern amenities. One can also choose to stay at Hotel Hoysala Village Resort which is an upscale resort located close by. 
Where to Eat: There are no eateries here, although one can stop by at Hassan which is close by with plenty of options to suit one’s taste. Recommended ones are Hotel Suvarna Sagar, Hotel Kadamba and Hotel Sri Krishna.
References:
1. Temples of Karnataka - A book written by Dr.K.M. Suresh

MP Diaries: Garhi Padhavali, A Magnificent Shiva Temple

Mandapa Heavily Decked up with Carvings
The countless peacocks around Padhavali kept us busy for a long, until we realized it was time to explore the ancient temple of Padhavali which is located in the outskirts of the village. We were welcomed by two lions guarding the entrance of the fort gate on either sides. A flight of  steps laid in stone leads us to the remains of the magnificent Shiva temple. The  medium sized mandapa decked up with intricate carvings everywhere was unbelievably beautiful . This temple is believed to be dedicated to Lord Shiva and was built in 10th century by the Kacchapaghatas. The temple was later fortified by the rulers of Jat Ranas of Gohad in the 19th century. The care taker of this temple doubles up also as the guide for this place. He goes on to describe in depth each of the minute carvings here.
 Entrance to the Fort
Padhavali Temple
Remains of Lord Shiva Temple, Padhavali 
Lord Brahma , Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu  along with Stories from Krishna's Life in the Bottom Panel 
Depiction of Lord Surya in the Top Panel with  Lords Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu in the Bottom Panel
Panel depicting Umamaheshwara along with War Scenes in the Bottom Panel 
Depiction of Goddess Chamundi in the Top Panel and Worship of Lord Shiva by Lord Rama in the Bottom Panel
Lord Ganesha with his Consort, Lord Karthikeyan in the Centre (probably) and Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati as Ardhanareshwara
Depiction of Samudra Manthan, Trivikrama , Mohini and Lord Vishnu killing Rahu 
Lords Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu with their Consorts seen in the depiction stories from the Ramayana in top Panel 
Dashavatara Panel  - Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki 
Pillar Capital decked with Gandharvas 
Beautiful Carvings on the Ceiling
Pillar with Inscriptions 
How to reach Padhavali:  Reach Nurabad which is located on the Gwalior-Agra Highway, take right turn towards Padhavali, about 30 km from Gwalior. 
Entry Fee: Entry is free
Accommodation: There are as such no accommodation options here, though one can stay at Morena or Gwalior where options are plenty and make a day trip to this place. 
Where to eat: There are a few road-side eateries that make tasty chats, especially Aloo Tikki. 
References:
1. Madhya Pradesh - Unknown Attractions Around Known Destinations
2. RBS Visitors Guide India - Madhya Pradesh