Madhya Pradesh: The Heart of India
Khajuraho is World Heritage Site and an example of amazing ancient architecture.
In the temple architecture of India, the Khajuraho complex remains unique. One thousand years ago, under the generous and artistic patronage of the Chandela Rajput kings of Central India, 85 temples, magnificent in form and richly carved, came up on one site, near the village of Khajuraho. The amazingly short span of 100 years, from 950 AD - 1050 AD, saw the completion of all the temples, in an inspired burst of creativity. Today, of the original 85, only 22 have survived the ravages of time; these remain as a collective paean to life, to joy and to creativity; to the ultimate fusion of man with his creator. Why did the Chandelas choose Khajuraho or Khajirvahila - garden of dates, as it was known then - as the site for their stupendous creations? Even in those days it was no more than a small village. It is possible given the eclectic patronage of the Chandelas and the wide variety of beliefs represented in the temples, that they had the concept of forming a seat of religion and learning at Khajuraho. It is possible that the Chandelas were also believers in the powers of Tantrism; the cult which believes that the gratification of earthly desires is a step closer to the attainment of the infinite. It is certain however, that the temples represent the expression of a highly matured civilization. Yet another theory is that the erotica of Khajuraho, and indeed of other temples, had a specific purpose. In those days when boys lived in hermitages, following the Hindu law of being "brahmacharis" until they attained manhood, the only way they could prepare themselves for the worldly role of 'householder' was through the study of these sculptures and the earthly passions they depicted.
Myth & Historical Fact
The creators of Khajuraho claimed descent from the moon. The legend that describes the origin of this great dynasty is a fascinating one: Hemavati, the beautiful young daughter of a Brahmin priest was seduced by the moon god while bathing in the Rati one evening. The child born of this union between a mortal and a god was a son, Chandravarman. Harassed by society, the unwed mother sought refuge in the dense forest of Central India where she was both mother and guru to her young son. The boy grew up to found the great Chandela dynasty. When he was established as a ruler, he had a dream-visitation from his mother, who implored him to build temples that would reveal human passions, and in doing so bring about a realization of the emptiness of human desire. Chandravarman began the construction of the first of the temples, successive rulers added to the fast growing complex.
Places of interest
The architectural style of the Khajuraho temples is very different from the temple prototype of that period. Each stands, instead of within the customary enclosure, on a high masonry platform. Combined with the upward direction of the structure, which is further accentuated by vertical projections, the total effect is one of grace and lightness, reminiscent of the Himalayan peaks. Each of the chief compartments has its own roof, grouped in such a way that the highest is in the centre, the lowest over the portico, a triumph of skill and imagination in recreating the rising peaks of a range. The temples of Khajuraho are divided into three geographical groups: Western, Eastern and Southern.
THE WESTERN GROUP:
This is certainly the best known, because it is to this group that the largest and most typical Khajuraho temple belongs: The Kandariya Mahadev. Perfectly symmetrical, it soars 31 km high. Though the four temples that stand at the corners of the main shrine are now in ruins, the main shrine has an exquisitely carved entrance arch with a multitude of themes. Celestial beings, lovers serenading musicians... movements captured in stone, frozen in time, yet retaining a quality of warm, pulsating life. The very stone seems to have taken on the living, breathing quality of the carved figures.
Beyond the archway of the Kandariya Mahadev, lie the six interior compartments; the portico, main hall, transept, vestibule, sanctum and ambulatory. The ceilings are particularly noteworthy and the pillars supporting them have intricately carved capitals. The transept's outer walls have three horizontal panels showing deities of the Hindu pantheon, and groups of lovers, a pageant of sensuousness, vibrantly alive.
Also in the western group is the Chaunsat Yogini, the only granite temple in the Khajuraho group. Dedicated to Kali, it is also unique in being quadrangular in plan. Only 35 of the original 65 cells remain and no image of Kali has survived: Not surprisingly, since this is the earliest surviving shrine of the group dated to 900 AD. Another Kali Temple (originally dedicated to Vishnu) is the Devi Jagadambe Temple.
North of it facing eastward to the rising sun, is the Chitragupta temple, dedicated to the sun-god, Surya. The image of this powerful deity in the inner sanctum is particularly imposing: 5ft high, and driving a seven-horsed chariot. The group scenes depicted are equally spectacular: royal processions, elephant- fights, hunting scenes, group dances. The lavish lifestyle of the Chandela kings and their court is here in all its pomp and glory.
Similar in plan to the Kandariya Mahadev is the Vishwanath Temple. Lions flank the northern steps and elephants the southern, leading up to the temple. Within, there is an impressive three headed image of Brahma. The exteriors are profusely carved.
Facing the shrine is a Nandi Temple with a massive, 6 ft high Nandi bull.
Since the first few Chandela rulers were devotees of Vishnu, there are some important Vaishnavite temples in the Khajuraho group, the finest of which is the Lakshmana Temple. The lintel over the entrance shows the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, with Lakshmi, Vishnu's consort. The sanctum is richly carved and has a three-headed idol of Vishnu's incarnations, Narsimha and Varaha. The boar incarnation also appears in another Vaishnavite shrine, the Varaha Temple. The statue here is a mammoth 9 ft high one, its surface covered with figures from the Hindu Pantheon.
The Khajuraho temples are no longer living places of worship, with a few exceptions. The Matangeswara Temple for example is still a place of worship. Dedicated to Shiva it has an 8 ft high lingam. South of this temple is the open air Archaeological Museum, which has a beautiful displayed collection of statues and friezes collected from the area: the remains of long vanished temples.
THE EASTERN GROUP:
Hindu and Jain temples make up the Eastern Group, which lies close to the Khajuraho village. The largest Jain temple, Parswanath, is in this group. Exquisite in detail, the sculptures on the northern outer wall make this temple perhaps the finest in the group. The themes of these carvings are the timeless ones of every day, mortal activity. A woman sits bent pensively on a letter; a lovely young girl removes a thorn from her foot, the master craftsmen of Khajuraho display here their deep understanding of the trifles that make up a human life. Within, the sanctum has a throne, which faces a bull : emblem of the first tirthankara, Adinath. The actual image of Parswanath from which the temple derives its name was installed as recently as 1860. The other Jain temple in this group is the Ghantai Temple. Though almost in ruins now, it still bears evidence of its original splendour. Particularly, arresting is the frieze which depicts, in graphic detail, the 16 dreams of Mahavira's mother and a multi-armed Jain goddess riding on a winged Garuda. North of Parswanatha is the more modestly sized Adinatha Temple. The three Hindu temples in the Eastern Group are the Brahma, Vamana and Javari Temples. A double row of apsaras, celestial nymphs, adorn the outer walls of the Vamana temple. A variety of sensuous attitudes: languid, provocative, mischievously inviting, give credibility to the theory that Khajuraho's erotica were meant to test the devotees who came to worship their gods at the temples.
THE SOUTHERN GROUP:
5 km from the Khajuraho village, lies the Southern Group of temples. The fine Chaturbhuj Temple in this group has a massive intricately carved image of Vishnu in the sanctum. Duladeo Temple, another of the southern group, is a little away from the road to the Jain group of temples. Though remains of temples belonging to the Khajuraho group have been discovered at Jatkari, 3 km away and even at Maribag in Rewa, it is at the 3 main groups that the imperishable glory of Khajuraho, the sensuous celebration of life, the aspiration towards the infinite, remains.
THE LIGHTS AND SOUNDS SHOW:
This fascinating Son-et-Lumiere spectacle evokes the life and times of the great Chandela Kings and traces the story of the unique temples from the 10th Century to the present day.Mounted in the complex of the Western Group of temples, the 50-minute show runs in Hindi and in English every evening. Amitabh Bachchan, the Indian super star, narrates the story of Khajuraho in his mesmerising voice.
A Unesco World Heritage site Bhimbetka is situated in foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains in central Indian plateau. Within massive sandstone outcrops, above comparatively dense forest, in the natural rock shelters, displaying paintings that appear to date from the Mesolithic Period right through to the historical period. The cultural traditions of the inhabitants of the twenty-one villages adjacent to the site bear a strong resemblance to those represented in the rock paintings.Executed mainly in red and white with the occasional use of green and yellow, with themes taken from the every day events of aeons ago, the scenes usually depict hunting, dancing, music, horse and elephant riders, animals fighting, honey collection, decoration of bodies, disguises, masking and household scenes. Animals such as bisons, tigers, lions, wild boars, elephants, antelopes, dogs, lizards, crocodiles, etc. have been abundantly depicted in some caves. Popular religious and ritual symbols also occur frequently.The colours used by the cave dwellers were prepared combining manganese, hematite, soft red stone and wooden coal. Sometimes the fat of animals and extracts of leaves were also used in the mixture. The colours have remained intact for many centuries due to the chemical reaction resulting from the oxide present on the surface of the rocks.
Paces of Interest
The superimposition of paintings shows that the same canvas was used by different people at different times. The drawings and paintings can be classified under seven different periods:
PERIOD I - UPPER PALEOLITHIC:
These are linear representations, in green and dark red, of huge figures of animals such as bisons, tigers and rhinoceroses.
PERIOD II - MESOLITHIC:
Comparatively small in size, the stylised figures in this group show linear decoration on the body. The depiction of communal dances, birds, musical instruments, mother and child, pregnant women, men carrying dead animals, drinking and burials appear in rhythmic movement.
PERIOD III - CHALEOLITHIC:
Similar to the paintings of Chaleolithic pottery, these drawings reveal that during the period the cave dwellers of this area had come in contact with the agricultural communities of the Malwa plains and started an exchange of their requirements with each other.
PERIOD IV & V - EARLY HISTORIC:
The figures of this group have a schematic and decorative style, and are painted mainly in red, white and yellow. The association is of riders, depiction of religious symbols, tunic-like dresses and the existence of the scripts of different periods.
PERIOD VI & VII - MEDIEVAL:
These paintings are geometric, linear and more schematic, but they show degeneration and crudeness in their artistic style. The colours used by the cave dwellers, prepared combining manganese, haematite, soft red stone, wooden coal and also sometimes by animal fat and extracts of leaves is still remains intact.
Sanchi is a World Heritage site and a Buddhist pilgrimage Destination.
The Sanchi hill goes up in shelves with Stupa 2 situated on a lower shelf, Stupa 1, Stupa 3, the 5th century Gupta Temple No.17 and the 7th century temple No. 18 are on the intermediate shelf and a later monastery is on the crowning shelf. The balustrade surrounding Stupa 2, carved with aniconic representations of the Buddha, was added in the late 2nd century BC under the Satavahanas.
The adjacent Gupta temple no.17 was hailed by Sir John Marshall as one of the most rationally organized structures in Indian architecture. Though small, it was a herald of all the principles which went into the engineering of an Indian temple in the early medieval period. The Buddhas in the perambulatory surrounding Stupa 1 are not contemporary with the Stupa but belong to the Gupta period in the mid-5th century AD. The monastery and the temple with the tall pillars adjacent to Stupa 1 and the temple near the monastery on the crowning shelf illustrate the evolution of the architectural form after the 5th century Gupta temple.
A Chunar sandstone pillar fragment, shining with the proverbial Mauryan polish, lies near Stupa I and carries the famous edict of Ashoka warning against schism in the Buddhist community. Stupa 1 was found empty, while relics of the two disciples of Buddha enshrined in the adjacent Stupa 3 were carried away to England. The nearby modern temple has a reliquary containing the remains of a Buddhist teacher from another Stupa outside Sanchi.
Places of interest
Below the hill, the Archaeological Survey of India Museum houses some of the earliest known stone sculptures in Indian art from the 3rd to the 1st century BC.
GREAT STUPA NO. 1:
The oldest stone structure in India. 36.5 mt in diameter and 16.4 mt high, with a massive hemispherical dome, the stupa stands in eternal majesty, the paved procession path around it worn smooth by centuries of pilgrims.
THE EASTERN GATEWAY:
Depicts the young prince, Gautama leaving his father's palace on his journey towards enlightenment and the dream his mother had before his birth.
THE WESTERN GATEWAY:
Depicts the seven incarnations of the Buddha.
THE NORTHERN GATEWAY:
Crowned by a wheel-of-law, this depicts the miracles associated with the Buddha as told in the jatakas.
THE SOUTHERN GATEWAY:
The birth of Gautama is revealed in a series of dramatically rich carvings.
STUPA NO. 2:
The stupa stands at the very edge of the hill and its most striking feature is the stone balustrade that rings it.
STUPA NO. 3:
Situated close to the great stupa. The hemispherical dome is crowned, as a mark of its special religious significance, with an umbrella of polished stone. The relics of Sariputta and Mahamogallena, two of the Buddha's earliest disciples, were found in its inmost chamber.
THE ASHOKA PILLAR:
Lies close to the Southern gateway of the Great Stupa, and is one of the finest examples of the Ashokan pillar and is known for its aesthetic proportions and exquisite structural balance.
THE BUDDHIST VIHARA:
The sacred relics of the Satdhara Stupa, a few km away from Sanchi, have been enshrined in a glass casket on a platform in the inner sanctum of his modern monastery.
THE GREAT BOWL:
Carved out of one block of stone, this mammoth bowl contained the food that was distributed among the monks of Sanchi.
THE GUPTA TEMPLE:
In ruins now, this 5th century AD temple is one of the earliest known examples of temple architecture in India.
The Archaeological Survey of India maintains a site museum at Sanchi. Noteworthy antiquities on display include the lion capital of the Ashokan pillar and metal objects used by the monks, discovered during excavations at Sanchi.
Gwalior's tradition as a royal capital continued until the formation of present day India, with the Scindias having their dynastic seat here. The magnificent mementoes of a glorious past have been preserved with care, giving Gwalior an appeal unique and timeless. Gwalior's history is traced back to a legend. In 8 A.D, a chieftain called Suraj Sen was stricken by a deadly disease. He was cured by a hermit saint, Gwalipa, and in gratitude founded a city which he named after the saint who had given him the gift of new life. The new city of Gwalior became, over the centuries, the cradle of great dynasties and with each, the city gained new dimensions from warrior kings, poets, musicians and saints, contributing to making it a capital renowned throughout the country.Since then, Gwalior is considered to be a city where a rich cultural tradition has been interwoven into the fabric of modern life. Also where a princely past lives on in great palaces and their museums. And where a multitude of images merge and mix to present to the visitor a city of enduring greatness.
Places of Interest
The entire city is a visual and aesthetic feast, for the builders of Gwalior were great architects. Take a walk through the streets of the city and you will discover old havelis with exquisitely carved doorways and windows; at almost every street crossing you will find statues of the Scindia family. Museums and art galleries are treasure houses and beautifully maintained palaces give the city its inimitable regal flavour. Sightseeing in Gwalior is a magical trip into the centuries gone by.
Standing on a steep mass of sandstone, Gwalior Fort dominates the city and is its most magnificent monument. It has been a scene of momentous events : imprisonments, battles and jauhars. A steep road winds upwards to the Fort, flanked by statues of Jain tirthankaras, carved into the rock face. The magnificent outer walls of the Fort still stand, two miles in length and 35 feet high, bearing witness to its reputation for being one of the most invincible forts of India. This imposing structure inspired Emperor Babar to describe it "the pearl amongst the fortresses of Hind." Within the fort are some marvels of medieval architecture. The 15th century Gujari Mahal is a monument to the love of Raja Mansingh Tomar for his Gujar queen, Mrignayani. After he had wooed and won her, so the story goes, Mrignayani demanded that he build her a separate palace with a constant water supply from the River Rai, via an aqueduct. The outer structure of the Gujari Mahal has survived in an almost total state of preservation; the interior has been converted into an Archaeological Museum.
Also built by Raja Mansingh is the Man Mandir Palace, built between 1486 and 1517. The tiles that once adorned its exterior have not survived, but at the entrance, traces of these still remain. There is a charming frieze here of ducks paddling in turquoise waters. Within, the palace rooms stand bare, stripped of their former glory, mute testimony to the passing of the centuries. Vast chambers with fine stone screens were once the music halls, and behind these screens, the royal ladies would learn music from the great masters of the day. Below, circular dungeons once housed the state prisoners of the Mughals. The Emperor Aurangzeb had his brother, Murad, imprisoned, and later executed, here. Close by is Jauhar Pond, where in the Rajput tradition, the ‘ranis’ committed mass ‘sati’ after their consorts had been defeated in battle. Though the major portions of the Fort were built in the 15th century, references to this gigantic complex can be traced back to 425 AD. Older than the city is the Suraj Kund within the Fort walls, the original pond where Suraj Sen, or Suraj Pal as he was later known, was cured by the Saint Gwalipa.
THE SOUND AND LIGHTS SHOW, GWALIOR FORT :
For many decades now, the Fort of Gwalior has slumbered in silence, broken now and then by the patter of curious feet and awed tones.
Come sundown, the deserted Fort is once again left with only memories for company. But now it comes alive every night. Well remembered incidents, and well-loved voices once more echo through its lonely corridors and its dark and sad facade now glows with the colours of life. Red-gold, blue-green lights illuminate every nook and cranny of the superbly tiled 'Man Mandir'. The Gwalior Son-et-Lumiere has begun. The Sound and Light show at the Man Mandir Palace of Gwalior Fort gives you a glimpse into its glorious past. The story of this 'pearl' begins with the sonorous and eloquent narration by Amitabh Bachchan as Gopachal, the sutradhar (narrator).
Taking you back in time is the legend of Suraj Sen, the Rajput chieftain who was hunting in the hills and forests around Gwalior. Hopelessly lost and terribly thirsty, Suraj Sen came across the sage Gwalipa who directed him to a pool which would quench his parched throat. After drinking the cool, healing waters of this 'kund', Suraj Sen was cured of a long time ailment-leprosy.
In utter gratitude, according to Gwalipa's wishes, he built a tank and a fort on the site and named the city after this great sage. The Rajputs constructed palaces and temples in the precincts of the fort of which the Sas Bahu ka Mandir and Teli ka Mandir are fine examples. Prolifically carved out of local sandstone, these temples are within the fort itself.
For a brief period in history Gwalior stood witness to Turkish invasion and tragic Rajput defeats. Sieges by Mehmood Ghazni and other Muslim kings have been realistically created by the Son-et-Lumiere and 'Jauhar' scenes where Rajput women immolate themselves, are lighting marvels, so life-like they seem to cast a sombre glow over kings who rode out to their last battle.
However, the Rajputs, a fierce and resilient people, did not lose much time in reconquering a lost treasure, and with the Tomar dynasty firmly in the saddle, Gwalior was on the threshold of a great and glorious era. During the reign of Man Singh, the Tomar king, Gwalior saw a flowering of Indian classical music and art. The exquisite 'Man Mandir', Palace of Dreams, was built in his time and so began the most romantic epoch of the Gwalior Fort. Man Singh, a popular and just ruler, married a courageous Gujari village belle, Mrignayani, and the tale of their meeting has been beautifully played out in the Son-et-Lumeire. A constant friend and companion, Mrignayani was the perfect consort. Music was their mutual passion and the legendary Baiju Bawra their common guru.
In the Son-et-Lumeire, Pt. Jasraj, Bhimsen Joshi and Kumar Gandharva recreate the spiritual grandeur of the Dhrupad tradition as sung by Baiju and Tansen. An illustrious son of Gwalior, Tansen, one of Akbars 'nine jewels' lies buried in the heart of the city, and his tomb is a splendid example of early Mughal architecture. The Son-et-Lumeire vividly reconstructs Mughal rule, at a time when the fort had become a royal prison. The release of Guru Har Gobing Singh has been graphically described as has been the incredible story attached to it.
Then came to power the last dynasty to rule Gwalior before the post -Independence era-the Marathas under Mahadji Scindia. In between, the fort passed briefly into the hands of the British, Laxmibai of Jhansi and Tatiya Tope. But soon enough the Scindias restored Gwalior to its former glory. The imposing Jai Vilas Palace, situated in the city, below the hill top fort, is proof of the Scindia sway. The late Madho Rao Scindia, the architect of modern Gwalior made it one of the best administered former princely states.
Entry fees: Foreign Adult: Rs. 250/- Foreign child: Rs. 150/- Indian Adult: Rs. 75/- Indian Child: Rs. 40/-
TELI KA MANDIR:
The Teli ka Mandir is a 9th century edifice, towering at 100 ft high. This is a Pratihara Vishnu temple of a unique blending of architectural styles. The shape of the roof is distinctively Dravidian, while the decorative embellishments have the typically Indo-Aryan characteristics of Northern India. Also dedicated to Vishnu is the graceful little Sas-Bahu-ka-Mandir, built in 11th century. Another landmark is the historic Gurudwara Data Bandhi Chhod built in the memory of Guru Hargobind Sahib, the 6th Sikh Guru who was imprisoned here by Jehangir for over two years. At the time of his release, he wanted 52 Hindu kings who were his fellow prisoners, released with him. Jehangir was very impressed with the Guru and agreed to his condition. And, finally, within the Fort complex, housed in the erstwhile barracks of the British soldiers, is Gwalior's unique gift to modern India : Scindia School. Acknowledged as one of the finest schools in India, it is only fitting that the country's young citizens receive the best educational grounding surrounded by monuments to a past which is a constant inspiration.
JAI VILAS PALACE:
A splendour of a different kind exists in the Jai Vilas Palace, current residence of the Scindia family. Some 35 rooms have been made into the Scindia Museum, and in these rooms, so evocative of a regal lifestyle, the past comes alive. Jai Vilas is an Italianate structure which combines the Tuscan and Corinthian architectural modes. The imposing Darbar Hall has two central chandeliers, weighing a couple of tonnes, and hung only after ten elephants had tested the strength of the roof. Ceilings picked out in gilt, heavy draperies and tapestries, fine Persian carpets, and antique furniture from France and Italy are features of these spacious rooms. Eye-catching treasures include: a silver train with cut-glass wagons which served guests as it chugged around on miniature rails on the tables; a glass cradle from Italy used for the baby Krishna each Janamashtami; silver dinner services and swords that were once worn by Aurangzeb and Shah Jehan.
There are, besides, personal mementoes of the past members of the Scindia family: the jewelled slippers that belonged to Chinkoo Rani, four-poster beds, gifts from practically every country in the world, hunting trophies and portraits. The Scindia Museum offers an unparalleled glimpse into the rich culture and lifestyle of princely India. Open everyday except Wednesday from 10 am to 5.30 pm. Entry fees are Rs. 40/- for Indian and Rs. 300/- for foreign visitors.
The father of Hindustani classical music, the great Tansen, one of the ‘nine Jewels’ of Akbar’s court, lies buried in Gwalior. The memorial to this great musician has a pristine simplicity about it, and is built in the early Mughal architectural style. More than a monument, the Tansen’s Tomb is part of Gwalior’s living cultural heritage; it is the venue of a music festival on a national scale held annually in November-December. Leading musicians of the country gather here to give performances during the festival. More opulent than Tansen’s Tomb, is the sandstone mausoleum of the Afghan prince, Ghous Mohammed, also designed on early Mughal lines. Particularly, exquisite are the screens which use the pierced stone technique, as delicate as lace. The earliest freedom fighters, Tatya Tope and the indomitable Rani of Jhansi, are commemorated in memorials in Gwalior. There are cenotaphs at major public crossings, memorials to Scindia kings and queens. Throughout the city, there are these reminders of a proud past, of the great men and women of Gwalior who have their place in the nation’s roll of honour. Located near the Residency at Morar, the newly constructed Sun Temple takes its inspiration from the famous Konark Sun Temple in Orissa.
ART GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS:
The Gujari Mahal Archaeological Museum houses rare antiquities, some of them dating back to the 1st century AD. Even though many of these have been defaced by the iconoclastic Mughals, their perfection of form has survived the ravages of time. Particularly worth seeing is the statue of Shalbhanjika from Gyraspur, the tree goddess, epitome of perfection in miniature. The statue is kept in the custody of the museum's curator, and can be seen on request. The museum is open every day except Monday, from 10 am to 5 pm. The Kala Vithika is another treasure house of the arts. It remains closed on Sunday and public holidays. The Municipal Corporation Museum, which is open all days except Mondays, has a very fine natural history section.
The old ancestral house of the legendry Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan has recently been converted into ‘ Sarod Ghar’ – Museum of Music by the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Memorial Trust under the patronage and guidance of his great son and sarod maestro Ustad Amzad Ali Khan.
Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh combines scenic beauty, historicity and modern urban planning. It is situated on the site of an 11th century city, Bhojapal, founded by Raja Bhoj. Bhopal today presents a multi-faceted profile; the old city with its teeming market places and fine old mosques and palaces still bear the aristocratic imprint of its former rulers; among them the succession of powerful Begums who ruled Bhopal from 1819 to 1926. Equally impressive is the new city with its verdant, exquisitely laid out parks and gardens, broad avenues and streamlined modern edifices.
The founder of the existing city was Afghan soldier Dost Mohammad (1708-1740). Fleeing from Delhi in the chaotic period that followed Aurangzeb's death, Dost Mohammad met the Gond queen Kamlapati, who sought his aid after the murder of her consort. A charming legend relates how the queen would recline in a lotus barge that, on moonlit nights, would drift across the lake. The two lakes of Bhopal still dominate the city, and are indeed its nucleus. Bordered along their shores stand silent sentinels that testify to the growth of a city.
Places of interest
Gold spikes crown the minarets of this beautiful mosque built in 1837 by Kudsia Begum.
The Taj-ul-Masjid is one of the largest mosques in Asia, built by Nawab Shahjehan Begum around a courtyard with a large tank in the centre and with an imposing double storeyed gate-way with 4 recessed archways and 9 imposing cusped multifoiled openings in the main prayer hall. The Quibla wall in the prayer hall is carved with 11 recessed arches, while the mimber is made of black basalt.The structure is enlivened by the limpid expanse of water in the tank outside the northern wall. The monumentality of this structure was much greater originally when it faced the towering bastions of the Fatehgarh Fort. A three-day Ijtima congregation held here annually draws people from all over the country.
Architecturally akin to Delhi's Jama Masjid, this imposing mosque was built by Sikander Jehan, daughter of Kudsia Begum, in 1860.
SHAUKAT MAHAL AND SADAR MANZIL:
Situated at the entrance to the Chowk area in the heart of the walled city, Shaukat Mahal is an architectural curiosity. Its mixture of styles in Occidental idioms sets it apart from the predominantly Islamic architecture of the area. It was designed by a Frenchman, said to be a descendent of an offshoot of the Bourbon Kings of France. Post Renaissance and Gothic styles are combined to charming effect here. Nearby is the elegant once-opulent Sadar Manzil, Hall of Public Audience, of the former rulers of Bhopal.
Situated behind Shaukat Mahal on the banks of the Upper Lake is Gohar Mahal, which is an architectural gem dating back to the times of Kudsia Begum, also known as Gohar Begum, who built this sprawling palace in 1820. The Mahal is a magnificent expression of the fusion of Hindu and Mughal architecture.
One of the most unique national institutes in India, Bharat Bhawan is a centre for the performing and visual arts. Designed by renowned architect, Charles Correa, the contours of Bharat Bhawan merge in exquisite harmony with the landscape creating a visual impact of spacious and natural elegance. The centre houses a museum of the arts, an art gallery, a workshop for fine arts, a repertory theater, indoor and outdoor auditoria, a rehearsal room and libraries of Indian poetry, classical and folk music. Open from 2 pm to 8 pm every day except Mondays.
INDIRA GANDHI RASHTRIYA MANAV SANGRAHALAYA (A POST COLONIAL MUSEUM):
The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (National Museum of Mankind) is a unique Museum, spread over 200 acres of undulating land on the Shamla Hills on the Upper Lake front. It is situated in a prehistoric site and may be the only museum in the world strewn with numerous prehistoric painted rock shelters. It is a post-colonial museum of communities rather than objects, dedicated to in situ revitalisation of local knowledge systems and life enhancing traditions rather than ex situ display of objects. It is engaged in recollection rather than collection. The museum display has been curated directly by the folk and tribal communities, camping at site, to create a miniature presentation of Indian folk ways through display of eco-specific habitations & subsistence practices in the tribal, coastal, desert, and Himalayan habitats. The library, audio-visual archive, computerised documentation and the collection of ethnographic specimens in the Museum, though modest in size are among the best in the world.
GOVERNMENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM:
A fine collection of sculptures are on display here from various parts of Madhya Pradesh. Highlights of the collection are: paintings of various schools, copies of paintings from the Bagh caves near Mandu and the statues of Alakshmi and the Buddha. The museum is closed on Mondays.
LAXMI NARAYAN TEMPLE AND MUSEUM:
This beautiful temple on the Arera Hills has a Museum attached to it which houses a collection of sculptures from Raisen, Sehore, Mandsaur and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh. The museum is open from 9am to 5pm every day except Mondays.
This safari-park is located on a hill adjacent to the Upper Lake, with an area of 445 hectares. In these natural surroundings, wildlife watchers can view a variety of herbivorous and carnivorous species. Open everyday, except Friday, (Timings: 1st April to 30 September, from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM and 01 October to 31 March, from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM)
REGIONAL SCIENCE CENTRE:
Basically a science museum, located on the picturesque Shamala Hills, Regional Science Centre houses about 300 participatory exhibits distributed equally in ‘Invention’ & ‘Fun Science’ galleries, and a ‘taramandal’ (Planetarium).
The museum remains open from 10.30 am to 6.30 pm on all days except Mondays.
In the heart of the city, the Chowk is lined with old mosques, havelis, reminds of a bygone era. The shops in its narrow alleys are treasure troves of traditional Bhopali crafts : silver jewellery, exquisitely fashioned beadwork, embroidered and sequined velvet fashioned purses and cushions.
UPPER AND LOWER LAKES:
The Upper Lake is divided from the Lower Lake by an overbridge. M. P. Tourism’s Boat Club on the Upper Lake provides facilities for exciting trips by sail, paddle and motor boats.
Facing the Lower Lake, the fish-shaped aquarium houses a number of fascinating species of fish in all shapes and sizes.
Burhanpur is a hidden jewel in the annals of medieval Indian Architecture. Today a small town in Madhya Pradesh, barely 20 kms from the Maharashtra Border, its history is one battle, conquest and change, interspersed with burst of peace that allowed for a rich aesthetic to flourish. Burhanpur was founded in 1400 AD by the Faruqi King, Nasir Khan, on the northwestern banks of the Tapti. The Faruqis ruled Burhanpur for the next two centuries. In 1600, the Mughal Emperor Akbar captured Burhanpur, and for a century thereafter, until Aurangzeb's death in 1707, it remained integral to Mughal ambitions in the Deccan. The governor of the city was invariably an individual of elevated rank, often a Mughal prince. Asirgarh Fort, on the outskirts of the town, was known as Dakkhan ka Darwaza or the Gateway of the Deccan.
Burhanpur remains a city of great architectural importance, but its fame rests largely as a piligrimage for Bohra Muslims as well as for Sikhs.
Shah Jahan & Mumtaz Mahal in Burhanpur: Across the Tapti from Burhanpur is one of its most well known monuments, the Akhukhana, literally "deer park, which was used as a hunting ground during Faruqi and Mughal rule. This is also where Shah Jahan,s most beloved queen, Mumtaz mahal was buried. She died in Burhanpur in 1631 while giving birth to their 14th child, princess Gauhara. The queen's body rested here for several months until it was disinterred and travelled with the Mughal court to Agra – there, later, to find a final home in the glorious Taj Mahal.
Places of interest
Located at the very center of town in Gandhi Chowk, was begun by the Faruqi ruler, Adil Shah, and completed by Emperor Akbar. Its symmetrical arches and sparsely decorated pillars create a sense of severe beauty, while the two 36 m high minars tower over the mosque's arched compound.
A well fortified fort having many structures added to it, the fort houses the Diwan-e-Khas and Diwan-e-aam maintained by the Archeological Survey of India are set beautifully manicured gardens which come alive in the evenings with families and young couples.
The most stricking structure in the Badshahi Qila is the Zenana Hammam. Built in a combination of Mughal and Persian styles, the bath were once decorated with beautiful frescoes on the ceiling, some of which still survive. Visitors can still clearly see an image of what the local guides claim is an early drawing of the Taj Mahal!
A rare water system (collection and distribution of water) was formed in the rule of Abdul Raheem Khankhana in 1615 A.D. such systems were prevalent in Uran and Iraq. The techniques of these system were taken from these countries, during that period eight water systems were built to supply pure water to the citizens.
DARGAH –E –HAKIMI:
About 3 kms from Gadhi Chowk in Burhanpur is the Dargah-e-hakimi, a most sacred pilgrimage for Dawoodi Bohra Muslims. It is the mazar of Syedi Abdulqadir Hakimuddin. Hakimuddin came to Burhanpur in 1729 to spread the word of the Prophet. The entire complex is so well kept that locals refer to it as chhota Amreeka or "little America".
he documented history of Chanderi goes back to the early 11th century and is a kaleidoscope of movement and activity prompted by its strategic location. On the borders of Malwa and Bundelkhand, the town dominated the trade routes of Central India and was proximate to the arterial route to the ancient ports of Gujarat as well as to Malwa, Mewar, Central India and the Deccan. Consequently, Chanderi became an important military outpost, prized by rulers with power or ambition, and repeatedly experienced the might of men who moulded the destiny of Hindustan. Several dynasties came to hold sway over the town - including the Malwa Sultans, Mughals, Bundelas and Scindias - making Chanderi a prosperous centre of economic and cultural activity. Chanderi is surrounded by hills, lakes and forests, and there are several monuments of Bundela Rajputs and Malwa Sultans.
Chanderi is also famous for its brocades and muslins, especially for its handwoven Chanderi sarees. Here, master weavers use silk and cotton to create dazzling weaves, distinguished by beautiful borders. Usually in subtle hues, the Chanderi sarees have sophistication hard to match. In the silk Zari sarees, influences of the Varanasi style are visible. They generally have a rich gold border and two gold bands on the pallav. The more exclusive ones have gold checks with lotus roundels all over which are known as butis.
Places of interest
Dominating the skyline of this lovely old town, is a Mughal fort. The vast fort was built on a 200 metre high hill during the Mughal period. Its main gate is known as the "Khooni Darwaza".
According to historical records, Koshak Mahal was ordered to be built by Mahmud Khilji of Malwa when he passed through Chanderi in 1445 AD. The original plan of the Khilji ruler was to construct a seven-storey palace though only two could be completed during his life time. The Mahal is divided into four equal parts and has architecture similar to Mandu.
BADAL MAHAL GATE:
A gate without a Mahal, it was constructed to commemorate some important victory.
With imposing domes and long arcades, this is possibly the biggest mosque of the erstwhile Madhya Bharat State.
SHAHZADI KA ROUZA :
The name is attributed to some unknown princess. The building is decorated on the exterior with ornamental arches and a band of geometrical designs.
PARAMESHWAR TAL :
Built by Bundela Rajput Kings, the picturesque Parameshwar tank is situated half a mile to the north-west of Chanderi town. It has on its bank a well-carved temple and cenotaphs of three Rajput Kings.
BATTISI BAVDI :
Built by Sultan Ghiyasuddin Shah in 1485, the Battisi Bavdi derives its name from a flight of thirty two steps.
BUDDHI (OLD) CHANDERI :
The old Chanderi city has a number of Jain temples of 9th and 10th centuries. It attracts thousands of Jain pilgrims from all parts of the country every year.
26 km South-West of Chanderi is the old village of Thruvanji. The village has a number of Jain temples of the early medieval period.
HANDLOOM UNIT :
The weaving tradition that occupies the pride of place of Chanderi today, with its shimmering fabrics having survived the trials of time and changing rulership. While handloom weaving was always a significant activity in Chanderi, for the past 400 years it has been the primary occupation of the town's residents.
ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF CHANDERI :
The museum houses can impressive collection of sculptures from in and around Chanderi. The museum is open from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm for visitors
Orchha was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap, who chose this stretch of land along the Betwa river as an ideal site for his capital. Of the succeeding rulers, the most notable was Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo who built the exquisite Jehangir Mahal, a tiered palace crowned by graceful chhatris. From here the view of soaring temple spires and cenotaphs is spectacular. Complementing the noble proportions of their exteriors are interiors which represent the finest flowering of the Bundela school of painting. In the Laxminarayan Temple and Raj Mahal, vibrant murals encompassing a variety of religious and secular themes, bring the walls and ceilings to rich life. Strewn around the area are the little shrines and memorials, each with its own poignant history, each contributing to the nostalgic beauty that is Orchha.
Places of Interest
Orchha's fort complex, approached by a multi-arched bridge, has three palaces set in an open quadrangle. The most spectacular of these are:
Built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo in the 17th century to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orchha. Its strong lines are counterbalanced by delicate chhatris and trellis work, the whole conveying an effect of extraordinary richness.
Situated to the right of the quadrangle, this palace was built in the 17th century by Madhukar Shah, the deeply religious predecessor of Bir Singh Ju Deo. The plain exteriors, crowned by chhatris, give way to interiors with exquisite murals, boldly colourful on a variety of religious themes.
RAI PARVEEN MAHAL:
Poetess and musician, Rai Parveen was the beautiful paramour of Raja Indramani (1672- 76) and was sent to Delhi on the orders of the Emperor Akbar, who was captivated by her. She so impressed the Great Mughal with the purity of her love for Indramani that he sent her back to Orchha. The palace built for her is a low, two-storeyed brick structure designed to match the height of the trees in the surrounding, beautifully landscaped gardens of Anand Mahal, with its octagonal flower beds and elaborate water supply system. Skillfully carved niches allow light into the Mahal which has a main hall and smaller chambers.
Built upon a massive stone platform and reached by a steep flight of steps, the temple was specially constructed to enshrine the image of Rama that remained in the Ram Raja Temple. Lotus emblems and other symbols of religious significance provide the delicate exterior ornamentation. Within, the sanctum is chastely plain with high, vaulted walls emphasizing its deep sanctity.
A flagstone path links this temple with the Ram Raja Temple. The style is an interesting synthesis of fort and temple moulds. The interiors contain the most exquisite of Orchha's wall paintings. Covering the walls and ceiling of three halls, these murals are vibrant compositions and cover a variety of spiritual and secular subjects. They are in excellent state of preservation, with the colours retaining their vivid quality.
Laid out as a formal garden, this complex testifies to the refined aesthetic qualities of the Bundelas. A central row of fountains culminates in an eight pillared palace-pavilion. A subterranean structure below was the cool summer retreat of the Orchha kings. An ingenious system of water ventilation connects the underground palace with Chandan Katora, a bowl-like structure from whose fountains droplets of water filtered through to the roof, simulating rainfall.
This small palace, almost in ruins today is still a place of pilgrimage for Muslims. Dhurjban, son of Jhujhar, embraced Islam when he wed a Muslim girl at Delhi. He spent the latter part of his life in prayer and meditation and came to be revered as a saint.
There are 14 Chhatris or Memorials to the rulers of Orchha, grouped along the Kanchan Ghat of the river Betwa.
Commemorates the great freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad who lived and worked in hiding in Orchha during 1926 and 1927. Other places worth seeing are the shrines of Siddh Baba Ka Sthan, Jugal Kishore, Janki Mandir and the Hanuman Mandir at Ochharedwara.
RAM RAJA TEMPLE:
The Ram Raja Temple is perhaps the most important though unusual of all the temples in Orchha. This is the only temple in the country where Rama is worshipped as a king that too in a palace. According to legends, once Lord Rama appeared in a dream to king Madhukar Shah and directed him to build a temple for him. The king followed the instructions given by Rama and brought his idol from Ayodhya, the birthplace of the lord. However, the construction of the temple was not complete when the idol arrived from Ayodhya. So it was kept in the palace for the time being. Later, the king remembered that in the dream Lord Rama had specifically mentioned that his idol could not be removed from the place where it has been originally kept. This led the king to abandon the construction of the temple and instead the palace where the idol was kept was converted into a temple.
SOUND AND LIGHT SHOW:
This mesmerizing show of the sound and Light takes place at various destinations in Orccha. These destionation include the Chaturbhuj temple, the Jehangir Mahal, the Raj Mahal, the Cenotaphs, etc. The show takes place from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm in English and 8:45 pm to 9:45 pm in Hindi at these places during summers (March to Ocotber). And from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm in English and and 7:45 to 8:45 pm in Hindi during the winters (November to February).
Shivpuri is steeped in the royal legacy of its past, when it was the summer capital of the Scindia rulers of Gwalior. And earlier, its dense forests were the hunting grounds of the Mughal emperors when great herds of elephants were captured by emperor Akbar. Much later, it was the Tiger that roamed the wooded hills and many a magnificent beast was 'bagged' by royal Shikaris. Today Shivpuri is a sanctuary for rare wildlife and avifauna. Its royal past has thus been transformed into a vibrant, hopefull present.
With its luxuriant forests and undulating hills, Shivpuri was a natural choice as the summer resort capital of the Scindias. Shivpuri's royal ambience lives on in the exquisite palaces and hunting lodges andgraceful, intricately embellished marble Chhatris (cenotaphs) erected by the Scindia rulers.
Places of Interest
MADHAV NATIONAL PARK:
156 sq km in area, the park is open throughout the year. With a varied terrain of wooded hills, the forest being dry, mixed and deciduous with flat grasslands around the lake, it offers abundant opportunities of sighting a variety of wildlife. The predominant species that inhabits the park is the deer, of which the most easily sighted are the graceful little Chinkara, the Indian gazelle, and the Chital. Other species that have their habitat in the park are Nilgai, Sambar, Chausingha or four-horned Antelope, Blackbuck, Sloth Bear, Leopard and the ubiquitous common Langur. The National Park is equally rich in avifauna. The artificial lake, Chandpata, is the winter home of migratory Geese, Pochard, Pintail, Teal, Mallard Gadwall, Red Wattled Lapwing, Large Pied Wagtail, Pond Heron, White - Breasted Kingfisher, Cormorant, Painted Stork, White Ibis, Laggar Falcon, Purple Sunbird, Paradise Flycatcher and Golden Oriole.
Set in a formal Mughal garden, with quiet nooks under flowering trees, intersected by pathways with ornamental balustrades and illuminated by Victorian lamps, is the complex in which the cenotaphs of the Scindias are set. Facing each other across a water tank are the Chhatris of Madho Rao Scindia and the dowager queen Maharani Sakhya Raje Scindia, synthesising the architectural idioms of Hindu and Islamic styles with their shikhara-type spires and Rajput and Mughal pavilions.
MADHAV VILAS PALACE:
Standing upon a natural eminence, the elongated rose-pink summer palace of the Scindias is a fine example of colonial architecture. The 'Mahal' as it is called, is remarkable for its marble floors, iron columns, graceful terraces and the Ganpati mandap.
SAKHYA SAGAR BOAT CLUB:
Edging the forests of the Madhav National Park is the Sakhya Sagar Lake, habitat of a variety of reptiles. Seen here are the Marsh Crocodile or Mugger, Indian Python and the Monitor Lizard. On the shores of the lake and connected to it by a broad pier is a Boat Club, an airy, delicate structure with glass panels.
A scenic spot by a natural spring. The water here is rich in minerals, supposedly of a curative nature.
The early history of Ujjain is lost in the midst of antiquity. As early as the time of the Aryan settlers, Ujjain seems to have acquired importance. By the 6th century B.C. Avanti with its capital at Ujjaini, is mentioned in Buddhist literature as one of the four great powers along with Vatsa, Kosala and Magadha. Ujjain lay on the main trade route between North India and Deccan going from Mathura via Ujjain to Mahismati (Maheshwar) on the Narmada, and on to Paithan on the Godavari, western Asia and the West. The Northern black polished ware - the NBP as it is often called which is technically the finest pottery of the time, with a brilliantly burnished dressing almost of the quality of a glaze in colour from jet black to a deep grey or metallic blue and iron, found their way to the northern Deccan from the Gangetic plains through Ujjain. The articles of export to the western Asia such as precious stones and pearls, scents and spices, perfumes, silks and muslin, reached the port of Brighukachcha from the remote north through Ujjain. All this finds a detailed and interesting description in the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, an account of an unknown Greek merchant who made a voyage to India in the second half of the first century AD. The Periplus talks of a city called Ozene to the east of Barygaza (Broach) which fed all commodities to trade like onyx, porcelain, fine muslin and quantities of ordinary cottons, spikenard , costus bodellium to this important port and to other parts of India.
The earliest known epigraphic record of the Paramaras, the Harsola Granth, issued at the beginning of the 10th century AD, maintains that the kings of the Paramara dynasty were born in the family of the Rastrakutas in the Deccan The early Paramara chiefs of Malwa were probably vassals of the Rastrakutas. The Udaypur Prasati, mentions Vakpati Vakpati I as the king of Avanti and it was probably in his region that the Rastrakuta Indra III halted at Ujjain while advancing with his army against the Pratihara Mahipala I. Malwa was lost in the time of Vakpati's successor, Vairisimha II, to the invading forces of Mahipala I who avenged his defeat at the hands of Indra III by invading the empire of Rastrakuta. Mahipala and his Kalachuri confederate Bhamanadeva are said to have conquered the territory up to the banks of the Narmada including Ujjain and Dhar. The Paramara sovereignty in the Malwa ceased until AD 946 when Vairsimha II became dominant in the area. It is in his son Siyaka II's reign that the independent Paramara rule in Malwa began. It is believed that it was this time that the capital was shifted to the area of the Mahakala Vana in Ujjain.From the 9th to the 12th centuries, the Paramaras became so identified with Ujjain that subsequent tradition has converted Vikramaditya into a Paramara. The last Paramara ruler, Siladitya, was captured alive by the Sultans of Mandu, and Ujjain passed into the hands of the Muslims.
Thus began a long era of misfortune and decay and the ancient glory of Ujjayini was lost in a morass of repeated inroads of attacking hordes. The invasion of Ujjain by Iltutmish in 1234 triggered off a systematic desecration and despoiling of temples. This tide of destruction was stemmed only in the time of Baz Bahadur of Mandu. The Mughal rule heralded a new era in reconstruction. Emperor Akbar put an end to Baz Bahadur's hegemony over Malwa and had a city wall constructed for the defense of Ujjain. The Nadi Darwaza, Kaliadeh Darwaza, Sati Darwaza, Dewas Darwaza and Indore Darwaza were the various entrances to the city. In 1658 took place a battle near Ujjain in which Aurangzeb and Murad defeated Maharaj Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur, who was fighting on behalf of Prince Dara. The actual scene of the battle is Dharmatpura, renamed Fatehbad by Aurangzeb, after the victory. The cenotaph of Raja Rattan Singh of Ratlam, who fell in the battle, still stands at the site. In the reign of Mahmud Shah, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh was made the Governor of Malwa, a great scholar of astronomy, he had the observatory at Ujjain reconstructed and built several temples.
At the beginning of the 17th century, Ujjain and Malwa went through another period of seize and invasion at the hands of the Marathas, who gradually captured the entire region. The Maratha domination of Malwa gave impetus to a cultural renaissance in the region and modern Ujjain came into being. Most of the temples of Ujjain were constructed during this period. It was during this time that Ujjain became the meeting ground of painters of the Poona and Kangra styles. The impact of the two different styles of painting is distinctive. The examples of Maratha style are found in the temples of Ram Janardan, Kal Bhairava, Kalpeshwar and Tilakeshwar while the traditional Malwa style can be seen in the Sandipani Ashram and in many large houses of the local seths.
In the Maratha period, the art of wood work also developed. Wood carvings were done on the galleries and balconies. But many excellent examples have either been sold as junk or destroyed. Ujjain finally passed into the hands of the Scindias in 1750 and until 1810, when Daulat Rao Scindia founded his new capital at Gwalior, it was the chief town of his dominions.The shifting of the capital to Gwalior led to a decline in the commercial importance of Ujjain. But the opening of Ujjain-Ratlam-Godhra branch of the Bombay-Baroda line corrected the balance. A considerable volume of trade mainly with Bombay, existed in cotton, grain and opium during the British Indian period. There is much to demonstrate that in the perspective of India's long history, Ujjain enjoyed great importance in the battle for the empire and the constant struggle for supremacy. Political importance was compounded by the economic factor of Ujjain being situated on the main artery of trade between the North, the South and the West. This in turn contributed to Ujjain acquiring a cultural splendour of its own which is equaled by very few other cities in India.
Today, Ujjain abounds in temples, hoary old tradition attached to each of them. But though most of them have been built upon sites of antiquity, none of them has survived in the original splendour. Desecrated and despoiled time and time again, the structures that stand today are of more recent date, renovated or rebuilt over the years. And yet, the temples form an integral part of the city and contribute to the continuity of Ujjain's tradition of greatness.
One of the 12 jyotirlingas in India, the lingam at the Mahakal is believed to be swayambhu (born of itself) deriving currents of power (shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams which are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti.
The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, facing the south. This is a unique feature upheld by tantric traditions to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Shiva is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nagpanchmi. On the day of Mahashivaratri, a huge fair is held near the temple and worship goes on through the night.
Places of interest
BADE GANESHJI KA MANDIR:
This temple situated above the tank near the Mahakaleshwar temple, enshrines a huge artistic sculpture of Ganesh, the son of Shiva. An idol of this size and beauty is rarely to be found. The middle of the temple is adorned by an idol of the pancha-mukhi (five faced) Hanuman. There is provision for learning of Sanskrit and Astrology in the temple.
The temple is built across the Shipra on the Fatehabad railway line. The Ganesh idol enshrined here is supposed to be swayambhu - born of itself. The temple itself is believed to be of considerable antiquity. Riddhi and Siddhi, the consorts of Ganesha, are seated on either side of Ganesha. The artistically carved pillars in the assembly hall date back to the Paramara period. Worshippers throng to this temple because the deity here is traditionally known as Chintaharan Ganesh meaning "the assurer of freedom from worldly anxieties".
This is an extremely attractive spot on the banks of the Shipra quite close to the Bhartihari Caves and the Gadkalika Temple. It is dedicated to the memory of one of the great leaders of the Natha sect of Saivism-Matsyendranath. Since muslims as well as the followers of the Natha sect call their saints 'pir', the ancient site of Pir Matsyendranath is venerated by both. Excavations at this site have yielded some antiquities which date back to the 6th and 7th century BC.
These caves are situated just above the bank of the Shipra near the temple of Gadkalika. According to popular tradition, this is the spot where Bhartrihari, who is said to have been the step brother of Vikramaditya, lived and meditated after renouncing worldly life. He is believed to have been a great scholar and poet. His famous works, Shringarshatak, Vairagyashatak, and Nitishatak, are known for the exquisite use of the Sanskrit meter.
Situated on the banks of the Shipra, the island-like site immediately conjures up the natural beauty of ancient Ujjain which poets down the ages have waxed lyrical. The glorious landscape of the flowing river on both sides of the palace and the man-made tanks and channels, with water gurgling through them, provide a spectacular backdrop to the imposing building. The central dome of the palace is a beautiful example of Persian architecture. Two Persian inscriptions found in one of the long corridors of the palace record the visits of Emperor Akbar and Jehangir to this palace. The palace was broken down in the time of the Pindaris and was restored by Madhav Rao Scindia in 1920 to its present glory. The Sun Temple was also restored by the family.
DURGADAS KI CHHATRI:
This distinctive monument glows like a small jewel in the surrounding lush landscape. Vir Durgadas earned a secure niche for himself in the history of Marwad by his undaunting, selfless service to the State. He fought for the independence of Jodhpur after the death of Maharaj Jaswant Singh and helped Ajit Singh to ascend the throne against the wishes of Aurangzeb. Durgadas died at Rampura in 1718, and his funeral rites were performed according to his wishes on the banks of the Shipra. The rulers of Jodhpur had built the chhatri to consecrate his memory. This beautiful structure, built in the Rajpur style of architecture, houses a statue of Durgadas which crumbled down.
This temple occupies a special place in the galaxy of ancient sacred spots of Ujjain. Seated between the idols of Mahalaxmi and Mahasaraswati, the idol of Annapurna is painted in dark vermilion colour. The Sri Yantra, the symbol of power or shakti, is also enshrined in the temple. According to the Shiva Purana, when Shiva carried away the burning body of Sati from the sacrificial fire, her elbow dropped at this place. There is an interesting legend in the Skanda Purana about the manner in which the Goddess Chandi acquired the epithet of Harsiddhi. Once when Shiva and Parvati were alone on Mount Kailash, two demons called Chand and Prachand tried to force their way in. Shiva called upon Chandi to destroy them which she did. Pleased, Shiva bestowed upon her the epithet of 'one who vanquishes all'. The temple was reconstructed during the Maratha period and the two pillars adorned with lamps are special features of Maratha art. These lamps, lit during Navaratri, present a glorious spectacle. There is an ancient well on the premises, and an artistic pillar adorns the top of it.
This enormous banyan tree on the banks of the Shipra, has been vested with religious sanctity as the Akashyavat in Prayag and Gaya, Vanshivat of Vrindavan and the Panchavata of Nasik. Thousands of pilgrims take a dip in the Shipra from the bathing ghat built here. According to one tradition, Parvati is believed to have performed her penance here. It used to be a place of worship for the followers of Natha sect. One legend has it that some Mughal rulers had cut off the Banyan tree and covered the site with iron sheets to prevent its roots from growing. But the tree pierced the iron sheets and grew and flourished. The little village of Bhairogarh near Siddhavat is famous for its tie and dye painting for centuries. In ancient times when trade with other countries flourished, exquisitely printed cloth from Bhairogarh used to find its way to Rome and China.
The worship of the eight Bhairavas is a part of Saivite tradition and the chief among them is Kal Bhairava, believed to have been built by King Bhadresen, on the banks of the Shipra. There is mention of a Kal Bhairva temple in the Avanti Khanda of the Skanda Purana. Worship of Kal Bhairava is believed to have been a part of the Kapalika and Aghora sects. Ujjain was a prominent centre of these two sects. Even today, liquor is offered as a part of the ritual to Kal Bhairava Beautiful paintings in the Malwa style once decorated the temple walls, only traces of which are visible.
The fact that ancient Ujjain apart from its political and religious importance, enjoyed the reputation of being a great seat of learning as early as the Mahabharata period is borne out by the fact that, Lord Krishna and Sudama received regular instruction in the ashram of Guru Sandipani. The area near the ashram is known as Ankapata, popularly believed to have been the place used by Lord Krishna for washing his writing tablet. The numerals 1 to 100 found on a stone are believed to have been engraved by Guru Sandipani. The Gomti Kunda referred to in the Puranas was the source of water supply to the ashram in the olden days. An image of Nandi, belonging to the Shunga period, is to be found near the tank. The followers of Vallabha sect regard this place as the 73rd seat of the 84 seats of Vallabhacharya where he delivered his discourses throughout India.
Situated about 2 miles from the city of Ujjain, the deity in this temple is believed to have been worshipped by Kalidasa. The legend goes that he was an idiot and it is by his devotion to the goddess Kalika that he acquired great literary skills. Emperor Harshavardhan had this temple renovated in the 7th century AD. There is further evidence of renovation during the Paramara period. The temple has been rebuilt in the modern times by the erstwhile Gwalior State.
This temple is situated away from the bustle of the city and can be reached through a winding road. The temple looks upon a vast expanse of the Shipra waters and fills the onlooker with an indescribable sense of peace. Mangalnath is regarded as the birth place of Mars, according to the Matsya Purana. In ancient times, it was famous for a clear view of the planet and hence suitable for astronomical studies. Mahadev or Shiva is the deity which is worshipped in the temple of Mangalnath.
This huge temple is situated in the middle of the big market square. It was constructed by Bayajibai Shinde, the queen of Maharajah Daulat Rao Shinde in the 19th century. It is a beautiful example of Maratha architecture. The sanctum sanctorum is inlaid with marble and doors are silver plated. The door in the inner sanctum is said to have been carried to Ghazni from the Somnath temple and from thence by Mahmud Shah Abdali to Lahore. Mahadji Scindia recovered it and now it has been installed in this temple.
NAVAGRAHA MANDIR (TRIVENI):
Situated on the Triveni Ghat of the Shipra, the temple is located away from the old site of Ujjaini town. It is dedicated to the nine planets, attracts large crowds on new moon days falling on Saturdays. Its religious importance has increased in recent years though there is no known reference to it in the ancient texts.
The presiding deity of time, Shiva, in all his splendour reigns eternal in Ujjain.The temple of Mahakaleshwar, its shikhara soaring into the skies, evokes primordial awe and reverence with its majesty. The Mahakal dominates the life of the city and its people, even in the midst of the busy routine of modern preoccupations, and provides an unbreakable link with past traditions.
THE VEDHA SHALA (OBSERVATORY):
Ujjain enjoyed a position of considerable importance in the field of astronomy. Great works on astronomy such as the Surya Siddhanta and the Panch Siddhanta were written in Ujjain. According to Indian astronomers, the Tropic of Cancer is supposed to pass through Ujjain. It is also the fist meridian of longitude of the Hindu geographers. From about the 4th century BC, Ujjain enjoyed the reputation of being India's Greenwich. The observatory extant today was built by Raja Jai Singh (1686-1743), who was a great scholar. He translated the works of Ptolemy and Euclid into Sanskrit from Arabic. Of the many observatories built by him at Jaipur, Delhi, Varanasi, Mathura, and U jjain, the one at Ujjain is still in use actively. Astronomical studies are conducted through the Department of Education and the ephemeris is published every year. There is a small planetarium and a telescope to observe the moon, Mars, Jupiter and their satellites. The observatory is also used for weather forecasts.
VIKRAM KIRTI MANDIR:
Established on the occasion of the second millennium of the Vikram era, as the cultural centre to perpetuate the memory of Vikramaditya, the Vikram Kirti Mandir houses the Scindia Oriental Research Institute, an archaeological museum, an art gallery and an auditorium. The Scindia Oriental Research Institute has an invaluable collection of 18,000 manuscripts on various subjects and runs a reference library of important oriental publications. Rare manuscripts in Prakrit, Arabic, Persian and other Indian languages cover a wide range of subjects from Vedic literature and philosophy to dance and music. Palm leaf and bark leaf (Bhurja Patra) manuscripts are also preserved in this institute. Apart from an illustrated manuscript of Shrimad Bhagavata in which actual gold and silver have been employed for the paintings, the Institute has a rich collection of old paintings in the Rajput and Mughal style. The museum also exhibits a rich array of images, inscriptions, copper plates and fossils discovered in the Narmada valley. A huge skull of a primitive elephant is of special interest. Vikram University: A famous centre of learning in the past, Ujjain continues to uphold that tradition. The establishment of the Vikram University in 1957 was an important landmark. Situated on the Dewas Road, this university plays a significant role in the literary and cultural activities of the city.
This academy was set up in Ujjain by the Government of Madhya Pradesh to immortalize the memory of the great poet dramatist-Kalidasa, and to create a multi-disciplinary institution to project the genius of the entire classical tradition, with Kalidasa as the apex, enable research and study in Sanskrit classical and traditional performing arts, and facilitate its adaptation for contemporary stage in different cultural settings and language groups. The Academy complex consists of a theatre, museum, library, lecture and seminary halls, mini stage for rehearsals, research facilities for scholars, and a large open air theater.
Ram Janardhan Temple, Ram Ghat, Harihara Teertha, Mallikarjuna Teertha, Ganga Ghat, Bohron Ka Roja, Begum Ka Maqbara, Bina Neev Ki Masjid, Maulana Rumi Ka Maqbara, and Digambara Jain Museum are some of the other prominent places of interest in Ujjain.
Mandu is a celebration in stone, of life and joy, A tribute to the love shared between the poet-prince Baz Bahadur and his beautiful consort, Rani Roopmati. The balladeers of Malwa still sing of their euphoric romance.
Perched along the Vindhya ranges at an altitude of 2,000 feet, Mandu, with its natural defenses, was originally the fort capital of the Parmar rulers of Malwa. Towards the end of the 13th century, it came under the sway of the Sultans of Malwa, the first of whom named it Shadiabad - 'city of joy'. And indeed the pervading spirit of Mandu was of gaiety; and its rulers built exquisite palaces like the Jahaz and Hindola Mahals, ornamental canals, baths and pavilions, as graceful and refined as those times of peace and plenty.
Each of Mandu's structures is an architectural gem; some are outstanding like the massive Jami Masjid and Hoshang Shah's tomb, which provided inspiration to the master builders of the Taj Mahal centuries later.
Places of interest
The 45 km parapets of walls that encircle Mandu are punctuated by 12 gateways. Most notable of these is Delhi Darwaza, the main entrance to the fortress city, for which the approach is through a series of gateways well-fortified with walled enclosures and strengthened by bastions such as the Alamgir and Bhangi Darwaza, through which the present road passes. Rampol Darwaza, Jehangir Gate and Tarapur Gate are some of the other main gateways.
THE ROYAL ENCLAVE
This 120 mt long "ship palace" built between the two artificial lakes, Munj Talao and Kapur Talao is an elegant two storeyed palace. Probably it was built by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din-Khilji for his large harem. With its open pavilions, balconies overhanging the water and open terrace, Jahaz Mahal is an imaginative recreation in stone of a royal pleasure craft. Viewed on moonlit nights from the adjoining Taveli Mahal, the silhouette of the building, with the tiny domes and turrets of the pavilion gracefully perched on the terrace, presents an unforgettable spectacle.
An audience hall, also belonging to Ghiyas-ud-din's reign, it derives its name of "swinging palace" from its sloping sidewalls. Superb and innovative techniques are also evident in its ornamental facade, delicate trellis work in sand-stone and beautifully moulded columns. To the West of Hindola Mahal there are several unidentified buildings which still bear traces of their past grandeur. Amidst these is an elaborately constructed well called Champa Baoli which is connected with underground vaulted rooms where arrangements for cold and hot water were made. Other places of interest in this enclave are Dilawar Khan's Mosque, the Nahar Jharokha (tiger balcony), Taveli Mahal, the two large wells called the Ujali (bright) and Andheri (dark) Baolis and Gada Shah's Shop and House, all worth a visit.
THE CENTRAL GROUP
HOSHANG SHAH'S TOMB:
India's first marble edifice, it is one of the most refined examples of Afghan architecture. Its unique features are the magnificently proportioned dome, marble lattice work of remarkable delicacy and porticoed courts and towers to mark the four corners of the rectangle. Shah Jehan sent four of his great architects to study the design of and draw inspiration from the Tomb. Among them was Ustad Hamid, who was also associated with the construction of Taj Mahal.
Inspired by the great mosque of Damascus, the Jami Masjid was conceived on a grand scale, with a high plinth and a huge domed porch projecting in the centre, the background dominated by similar imposing domes with the intervening space filled up by innumerable domes. One is struck by the huge proportions and the stern simplicity of its construction. The great court of the mosque is enclosed on all sides by huge colonnades with a rich and pleasing variety in the arrangement of arches, pillars, number of bays, and in the rows of domes above.
REWA KUND GROUP
A reservoir, built by Baz Bahadur with an aqueduct to provide Roopmati's palace with water. Today, the pool is revered as a sacred spot.
BAZ BAHADUR'S PALACE:
Built by Baz Bahadur in the early 16th century, the palace's unique features are its spacious courtyards surrounded by halls and high terraces which afford a superb view of the surrounding countryside.
The pavilion was originally built as an army observation post. From its hilltop perch, this graceful structure with its two pavilions was a retreat of the lovely queen, from where she could see Baz Bahadur's palace and the Narmada flowing through the Nimar plains far below.
This sacred Shiva shrine is sited in a magnificent setting, at the very edge of a steep gorge. In its tree- shaded courtyard, a sacred pond is fed by a stream, and pilgrims still gather to worship here.
Belonging to the Mughal era and close to the Nilkanth shrine, this palace was constructed by the Mughal governor, Shah Badgah Khan for Emperor Akbar's Hindu wife. On the walls here are some inscriptions of the time of Akbar referring to the futility of earthly pomp and glory. Hathi Mahal, Darya Khan's Tomb, Dai ka Mahal, Dai ki Chhotti Behan Ka Mahal, Malik Mughit's Mosque and Jali Mahal are some of the other fascinating monuments. There is also the Echo Point, the 'Delphic Oracle' of Mandu. A shout from here reverberates far below and is heard clearly back. The Lohani Caves and Temple Ruins, not far from the royal enclave area also merit a visit due to their association with Mandu's history and monuments. Sunset Point, in front of the caves affords a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
Maheshwar was a glorious city at the dawn of Indian civilization when it was Mahishmati, capital of king Kartivarjun. This temple town on the banks of the river Narmada finds mention in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Revived to its ancient position of importance by the Holkar queen Rani Ahilyabai of Indore. Maheshwar's temples and mighty fort-complex stand in quiet beauty, mirrored in the river below. Today, Maheshwar is also known for its distinctive handwoven sarees called Maheshwari exquisitely woven ‘Maheshwari’ sarees.
Maheshwari Sarees were introduced into Maheshwar 250 years ago by Rani Ahilyabai, and are renowned throughout India for their unique weave. Woven mostly in cotton, the typical Maheshwari saree has a plain body and sometimes stripes or checks in several variations. The mat bordered designs have a wide range in leaf and floral patterns. The pallav is particularly distinctive with 5 stripes, 3 coloured and 2 white alternating, running along its width. Maheshwari has a reversible border, known as bugdi.
Places of interest
RAJGADDI AND RAJWADA:
A life-size statue of Rani Ahilyabai sits on a throne in the Rajgaddi within the fort complex. This is the right place to begin a tour of Maheshwar, for this pious and wise queen was the architect of its revived importance. Other fascinating relics and heirlooms of the Holkar dynasty can be seen in the other rooms which are open to the public. Within the complex is an exquisite small shrine which is a starting point of the ancient Dussehra ceremony which is carried out even today. The image on this day is installed reverently in a splendid palanquin and carried down the steep fort road to the town below to receive the yearly homage of the people of Maheshwar
With their soaring spires, the many-tiered temples of Maheshwar are distinguished by their carved overhanging balconies and their intricately worked doorways. Kaleshwar, Rajarajeshwara, Vithaleshwara and Ahileshwar are the temples to be seen.