Kumbh Mela

Shahi Snan at Kumbh Mela at Ujjain... Grand celebration of humanity and the largest gathering of mankind on the earth. Let your Soul get immerse into the the divine occasion...

Istanbul - Where civilizations merge

Being one of the oldest cities on this earth, Istanbul is history lovers' delight...


A place which has been lying forbidden and has never been ruled by any external administration. Malana still follows their culture and traditions...

Temples at Batesara

Around 350 temples are estimated to have existed here. Excavation work is ongoing to restore temples of a lost era.

Musical Pillars of Hampi

Musical notes from the Pillars has bought people from around the world to this place.


The Ancient Temple which inspired the design of Indian Parliament House.

August 25, 2016

Sonagiri, the Milky Hill...

By now we have explored the every road in Chambal Valleys, to further extend our safari beyond Gwalior we started our drive to explore Orchha on road from Gwalior. While exploring the roads and asking for the directions, some locales advised us to visit the milky mountain of Sonagiri. Milky Mountain…? The name Sonagiri actually means mountain of gold. We too were surprised by this, till the locales told us that 77 beautiful Jain temples, all in white colour is the reason behind milky Sonagiri Hill. Locales are the best guides.

Sonagiri is a place sacred to Digambar Jains. It is situated 60 km. from Gwalior and has a chain of Jain temples of 9th - 10th century on this hill since the time from Chandraprabhu. As we were approaching towards the hill, we could clearly see an umbrella of white temples covering the hill.

As we were about to enter the temple area we were asked to remove our shoes, we looked at the stairs which were scorching by this time but for such a beautiful place this was worth.
While climbing up stairs we came across many temples of saints. Beautifully laid white coloured temples on both sides of the way make the walk worthy of every step. Number of temple is also mentioned, so that one should not miss any temple...

Devotees and saints come to this place to practice self-discipline and to attain Nirvana, freedom from cycles of life and death. It is believed that till date Five & half Crores of ascetic saints have achieved salvation (Moksha or Nirvana) at this holy place. Nang, Anang, Chintagati, Poornachand, Ashoksen, Shridatta, Swarnbhadra and many other saints achieved salvation from here. Acharya Shubh Chandra & Bhartrihari lived and worked here for spiritual achievements.
There are 77 beautiful Jain temples. This temple being with the most exquisite domes...

Time to offer prayers, lets go inside this temple. Inside this temple we also got much needed respite from the hot floor. One of the most amazing interiors, check out the beautiful statues, carved in white marble stones...

In a big Hall, dedicated to GODs only..

This is a place where King Nanganag Kumar achieved liberation from life and death cycle along with the fifteen million followers. While enjoying such a beautiful hill, we have forgotten that we were barefooted on the hot floor. As we kept walking upstairs, we were able to enjoy the view from the top...

Temple No. 57 is the main temple. This temple has an attractive artistic spire. In this temple the principal deity is Lord Chandraprabhu. Sacred chants are carved all over the walls of the temple..

Eleven feet in height, beautiful idols of Lord Sheetal Nath & Parsvnath are also installed here.

There is a column of dignity 43 ft. in height and an attractive model of Samavsharan.

Enjoy every step of walk in this sacred place. One have to walk without shoe on hot marble when you are coming in summer season so be careful. Before returning back, one aerial view for the stark contrasting barren lands at the back side of Sonagiri hill...

Their is a small market outside the temple complex and 2-3 eateries. Try Banana SAMOSA's.

To reach Sonagiri temples:
Around 70 km. from Gwalior in Datia district on Gwalior - Jhansi Highway. Regular buses plying from Gwalior and Jhansi which pass via Sonagiri.

SONAGIR railway station lies on Agra-Jhansi line. Sonagiri Hill is 3 km. from the railway station. Only passenger trains stop at Sonagir railway station.

Keep travelling Guys...

July 29, 2016

Kullu, the valley of Gods...

A wandering soul searching for a nest can get numerous excuses to surely settle in Kullu, Valley of Gods.
Stunning landscapes coupled with hospitality of people, their distinct lifestyle and rich culture have made Kullu valleys popular as “Valley of Gods”. Kullu is renowned around the world for the woollen Shawls and the Dussehra festival. However to explore it also has some amazing spots, which despite the popularity of Kullu are surprisingly not so known.
Nearest to Kullu is Bijlee Mahadev temple, which is approx. 25 km. from Kullu town by road. Cherish the beautiful Beas river while crossing over the Kullu Bridge on the way to Bijlee Mahadev. You may park your car at a side and click the fabulous bridge and pleasing landscapes...

Once the motorable road ends at Chansari Village; rest of the way, a challenging trek of 2 km. has to be covered solely by your spirits. That’s all what separates you from the blessings of Lord Shiva at Bijlee Mahadev temple.

You have to be in good shape for this trek. The trek is too steep and will take around 60-75 minutes. The bigger the obstructions in my way the higher is the glory in overcoming it. Barely breathing at times, my limits of fitness were being tested at every step in this trek. You might find one or two visitors or trekkers, if you are lucky.
Though creeping at times and stopping quiet often; nonetheless the trek is a beautiful walk in the woods. Trek video...

According to legend this is the place, Mathana where Lord Shiva killed the dreaded demon Jalandhar. As this is the highest point in the region; it had to bear the fury of lightening falling from the skies. As a result inhabited villages were being damaged frequently due the constant lightings from the skies.
In order to tame this wild nature, a temple was erected as per the mandate from Lord Shiva in order to protect the nearby regions from frequent lightings from the sky.
When the limits to human capability are exposed and if you have faith in the all mighty, heavens will definitely come to rescue. It is believed that after erection of this temple lightings have stopped. In fact Lord Shiva has been absorbing the lightings onto him, thereby saving the nearby inhabitations by form the wild fury of nature, that’s why the name “Bijlee Mahadev” (Bijlee is known as Electricity in english language).
Trek hard pray harder, it was the time to thank the all mighty for his benevolence that I was able to experience this marvellous spot. Rightly said things which are closer to nature are always good for health. Sprawling lawn and view from the top will make this trek worthwhile.

It is believed that Lord Shiva has been residing here since times immemorial in form of this holy Shivling. Also worth mentioning is the story telling paintings of Gods & Goddesses. Every year lightning falls on the holy Shivling and damages it. Shivling is repaired and joined buy the priests of the temple every time.
A while coming down, enjoy mystic view of the Kullu valleys.
Once you have come down from the Bijlee Mahadev take the road to Naggar Castle. Around 10 km. from Kullu bus stand, located in Kais village is Dhakpo Shedrupling Monastery.

It was inaugurated by his holiness Dalai Lama in 2005. The monastery serves as a centre for the study of Buddhist philosophy.

This monastery houses several Tibetan monks. Apart from incredible architecture, the monastery offers picturesque view of the surrounding valleys.
As good travellers never take rest, so the next spot in the itinerary to be discovered is Manikaran Sahib. The landscapes during the drive are so pleasant that you will always be in cheerful spirits during the journey.
In the way you will come across the way to Malana, 45 km. from Kullu town (left turn from Malana hydro power project). Trek to Malana is an expedition in itself where you have to touch down the depths of the mighty mountains to reach the Malana Village. At least 3 hours are required to enjoy the Malana trek. It is prohibited to touch the temples and structures. Main attraction in Malana is the distinct architecture of temples and houses.

After Malana continue towards Manikaran Sahib, in the way you will pass through Kasol. Kasol is a lively place where for enjoying water sports like rafting and bridge crossing. Lot of foreigners makes this place an exciting venue for various cuisines and shopping also.
From Kasol only 3.5 km. separates you from the picturesque Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara. Situated in a valley alongside the flowing river, the enchanting landscape makes this place a perfect blend of tourism and spirituality. Go inside the holy place, offer prayers and feel the quiet ambience.

24 hour free kitchen is run by the Gurudwara for the visitors. Adjoining to Gurudwara is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali. Temple premise include a natural hot water spring with abundant Sulphur, which is very beneficial for skin related diseases. People fill this holy water in plastic containers and take back to their homes. There is also a market on the other side of Gurudwara, you may buy some souvenirs or you can just stand at the cross over bridge and relish the beauty of this place.

Two days are required to relish these incredible spots in the Kullu Valleys; Day one for Bijlee Mahadev,  Dhakpo Shedrupling Monastery and local sightseeing in Kullu town. Malana, Kasol and Manikaran Sahib can be covered on second day of the itinerary.
Both of the treks to Bijlee Mahadev and Malana require one to be in good physical shape.
While In Kullu town, you can also see the shawl making process and buy some shawls, if you like.
About Kullu:
Situated along side Beas River, at a height of 1220 m. Kulu was once known as Kulanthapitha – end of the habitable world. Kullu got connected with motorable roads only after 1947. As a result of this long seclusion Kullu valleys still retain their traditional charm. You will get here an intricate web of valleys, each of which are a visual delight and look more beautiful than the other.
Kullu is at its colourful best during the acclaimed Dussehra festival. Around 4-5 lac people from all over the world come to Kullu to take part in this festival. Dussehra festival starts on Vijaya Dashmi and lass for a week.
To reach Kullu: By road, 530 km. from Delhi, and 240 km. from Shimla. HPTDC Luxury and Volvo coaches ply to Kullu daily from Delhi.

Keep travelling Guys to next destination, Manali and Rohtang Pass...

July 2, 2016

Batesara temples complex, Reviving a lost legacy...

In pursuit to unravel the unknown secrets of Chambal Ravines, this self proclaimed archaeologist decided to follow the tracks which were once the playgrounds of the dreaded dacoits of Chambal. These tracks bear the testimony of many battles between dacoits and police forces. With dacoits now a part of history, this new Chambal is a virgin kingdom with a red carpet for vagabonds like us.

From Gwalior, one hour of drive in the ravines took me to the slopes of an isolated range of hills near Padawali village; 1.2 km. ahead of Garhi Padhavali, 40km. from Gwalior and 25km. from Morena town in Morena district. Finally I was at the site of Batesara group of temples, perhaps the most prominent in the Chambal Ravines. There is some charm in the air of such places, that people get attracted to.

Flanked by hills and hidden from the outside world, far off in the Chambal Valleys a temple complex is coming back to life like a phoenix.

The ruins are slowly and steadily getting restored to their original glory with the dedicated efforts of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) since 2005. Some temples have been reconstructed by the ASI workers in its original form. The arrangement of the temples has been interpreted by means of data captured by high resolution, aerial photography of this place. Temples are arranged in one line and provide glimpses of the glory this place must have seen in the past...

More than 350 temples are estimated to have existed here. Around 200 temples have already been excavated and work is ongoing to bring out remaining 150 buried temples. When located these temples were only 2-3 ft. above the ground, on an average 5-6 ft. of ground has been dug out to realise the existence of temples. The aura of these legendary ruins has already surrounded us and we were automatically pulled inside the tempting premises.

The temples in Batesara complex are dedicated to Lord Shiva and there are also many images and statues dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temples are made of sandstone and are dated back to 6th –9th century, during the times of Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty, much before (almost 300 years) Khajuraho temples were built. Check out Lord Shiva in form of a Shivling (शिवलिंग ) and Nandi Bull.

This cluster of temples is spread over 10 hectares in Chambal ravines. Some of the temples here have sanctum with flat roofs while other temples which probably are added later have finely carved curvilinear shikhara over the sanctoms.

Stone craft at its best, the temple ruins consist of well defined walk ways, steps to the temples, architectural members and exquisitely carved images of Gods and Goddesses. Anyone who wants to learn temple art should visit this place.

Colossal size welcome pillars, one of the pillars was found in 2 pieces and the other one was found in 3 pieces during excavation. Check the carving at the bottom.

Most prominent temple in this complex is Bhuteshwara Temple and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Such beautiful holy premises did come under attacked by the invaders.  It is said that Mughal invaders had turned blind when they came to destroy this pious temple.

As usual it was the time to pray to the Gods for their benevolence for further travels in the future. There is a stepped water pond located in the middle of the premises. The water level in this कुंड (pond) never goes down, even during extreme drought. The settings of the pond are so fascinating that one can sit in the night and feel like being in paradise.

Statues here are so beautiful that it looks like these have been carved by the Gods and Nature itself. Likewise ten (10) incarnations of Lord Vishnu carved on the stone. Matsya (the fish), Koorma (the tortoise), Varaha (the boar), Narasingh (the human-lion), Vamana (the dwarf), Parasurama (the angry man, Rama with an axe), Lord Rama (the perfect man, king of Ayodhya), Lord Krishna (the divine statesman), and Buddha (all other references talk about Balarama (elder brother of Krishna) and yet to come Kalki avatar (the mighty warrior)…

Be it top or bottom the temples here are exquisitely carved. Check out this beautifully carved temple dome..

This is the most artistic and wonderful carving of the domes, I have come across. 

Also this Panchmukhi, 5 headed Shivling (पंचमुखी  शिवलिंग ) and Lord Hanuman, with his feet placed over Kamdev and Rati. This is the only one statue of its kind in the world. This statue was found in one piece and very good shape. ASI people were unable to shift Lord Hanuman from this spot, even with the cranes; thereby exposing the limits of human capabilities... Check out Lord hanuman and carvings on Panchmukhi Shivling temple...

There are a few inscriptions on the walls which are yet to be deciphered. Not only the inscriptions on the walls but there many other secrets which are waiting for their turn to come out. View of this complex from the opposite far end, check the carved domes...

There is one more beautiful temple just before this complex. No need to say now that beautifully carved...

Preciseness in the carvings force me to wonder if the concept of 3D printing had already existed in India in those times. It is very difficult to spot any differences in the similar patterned carvings. The interior in this temple is simple awesome...

The expedition which started with Mitawali and led to discoveries of Garhi Padawali, 115ft. high Kakanmath Temple and finally these Batesara temples. What a ride it had been surfing the mysteries of the Chambal Ravines..! Watch out Khajuraho and kingdom of Hampi a worthy competitor is about to enter the arena...

It will be mean on our part if we do not thank Chambal Valley for keeping a watch over and preserving our rich heritage. From here onwards we have to take care of our treasures...

All 4 of these marvels can be comfortably visited in a one day trip from Gwalior. Keep travelling Guys...

June 1, 2016

Rani Ki Baoli, Neemrana

An old saying “Importance of anything is felt in its absence”.

In absence of water, difficult to imagine life. Perhaps this is the reason why the arid state of Rajasthan has followed the tradition of preserving the precious water to the extent possible. To conserve every drop of water step wells or bawdis, also locally known as Pushkarani or Boalis wherein water gets collected at the bottom of structures have been generously built in state of Rajasthan.

One of such significant baoli is lying neglected in the Neemrana village, very close to the much visited Neemrana Fort. Neemrana has been administered by Chauhans till 1947. The erstwhile ruling family of Neemrana is considered to be the direct lineage of Great Prithviraj Chauhan, one of the most illustrious rulers of India, who holds the distinction of defeating an invading army – 17 times.

This baoli is popularly known as “Rani ki Baoli” and has been neglected for decades. It is surprising that even in Neemrana no one advises to visit this spot, however the first sight is enough to appreciate the glorious past of this monument. 

It was built by the rulers of Neemrana for famine relief as well as a stopover for the travellers to get some respite from the scorching heat of this desert land. One has to descend around 200 steps in order to reach the bottom of this step well, and to enjoy the cold air no matter it is scorching outside.

Though the name is Rani ki Baoli, Queen's stepwell - but it is not known who was the Queen in question. Built around 1760 this majestic structure goes 9 stories under the ground.

Check out the passageways, chambers and steps which provide access to the well. Also there are well laid out galleries and chambers where people can relax during the extreme temperatures.

Despite the fact that this baoli is located at a walking distance from the much visited Neemrana Fort, there is surprising no awareness about this architectural masterpiece. Surprising... Nonetheless Neemrana is located 120 km. from Delhi and 155 km to Jaipur and only 3.5 km. from the Delhi-Jaipur highway, so can be comfortably visited while driving to Jaipur.

Another such Bawdi worth mention, Chand Bawdi (95 km. from Jaipur on Jaipur-Agra Road).

Keep travelling Guys...

May 18, 2016

Kakan Math Temple - The faithful Stones

Change your attitude and whole world changes for you...

The moment I decided to put on my exploring shoes, every road turned into a worthy destination. It was the time to complete the Chambal Safari which had started 2 years back to explore the hidden ancient historical marvels situated in Chambal ravines. First round had resulted in discovery of Mitawali temple, which had been the inspiration behind the design of Indian Parliament house.

Sorry I forgot to mention the objective of the quest; discovering Kakanmath temple which must have been one of the most prominent temples in India, in its glorious days. Don't be surprised once you reach there, you will get the answer...Since my last attempt to reach Kakanmath had failed so this time we set out to chase our passion with whatsoever it may be approach and followed our hearts to finally arrive at this sensational architecture...

Coming from Gwalior, it was a sheer pleasure to surf the Chambal ravines once more, which has changed a lot in last 2 years. Excellent roads now are a sheer pleasure to meander. Kakanmath is in Bawadipura village,  around 3 km. away from Sihoniya in the Morena district. 
Found records indicate that Suhoniya which is now known as Sihoniya was the capital of Kushwahas of the Kachwaha kingdom, established around 11th century. One of the king of  Kachwaha, Kirtiraj got this "Shiva Temple" built at Sihoniya between 1015 to 1035 A.D. This temple is known as "Kakan Math Temple" and is notable for its amazing sculpture; however in ruins now.

It is believed that praying in this temple fulfil all your wishes. This temple Kakanmath was built by king KirtiRaj to fulfil the will of his Queen Kakanwati. It is 115 ft. high and is built in Khajurho style. Pyramids have a stark resemblance with the overall structure of this temple...

My goodness how these stones have been arranged to give the temple its shape. It speaks  highly of technological acumen available in India in ancient times, perhaps those were the times when our country was known as सोने की चिड़िया, The Golden Bird". Modern day engineering practices will surely term this structure as unfeasible. It stands on a lofty ornate pitha. You can see the huge tomb while entering the near by area of the temple. It is made by joining the huge stones and it seems that the building will fall down any moment.

This temple was built without using any adhesive materials. Stones are arranged in such a manner which gives this beautiful structure its present form. Do not believe, check it from the bottom, the articulate arrangement of the stones...

By this time we were totally mesmerized by the structure. Now we decided to get closer to the temple and found that the walls and pillars of the temple are carved with such grace that one can't stop appreciating the work.

While coming up from the stairs for the temple, there is huge gate like structure. However orientation of this gate is in parallel to the temple entrance. Generally such gates are perpendicular to the temple entrance so that when anyone who enter through this gate directly faces the temple entrance gate.

Some of the secrets are still to be explored. However it looks like the main temple must have been surrounded by a number of smaller temples. Come here in the morning time if you want to see peacocks, lot of peacocks. Infact Morena is derived from the Mor (Peacock) + Raina (Living place) means the place where many peacocks are found and Morena is home to perhaps the largest number of peacocks in the India.  
When you enter the temple gate on left you can see lord Shiva idol under the blue sky resting and enjoying beauty of the temple or keeping a guard over this place?

The ruins are so majestic. The outer covering has been lost, but if you see it closely there are still some stones intact which depicts Gods and Goddess. Such a huge structure and covered with numerous carvings, it is not difficult to imagine the aura of this temple in its prime time.

Site is being excavated to unearth the broken parts of the temple. Particularly the broken part at the top of the temple. I was able to find out the remaining broken part of the temple top...

Thanks to MP tourism and Archaeological Survey of India restoration work is going on for past sometime. Going around the premises one can find a lot of broken parts of temple structure and statues, which will very soon find their original place in the temple structure.

Move around the campus and try to find the location of excavated parts of the temple...

Now a days we use cement and water mixture to make buildings but in those days lime and mud mixture was the medium to join the stone. Structures of this size can not be joined using the cement. Since the restoration work is going on for this temple, the mixture is made by the same technique and mechanism which was employed in the earlier days masonry.

This hidden but spectacular marvel is 34 km. from Morena bus stand (left turn from Morena crossing while coming from Agra, Dhaulpur) and 23 km. from Mitawali Shiva temple, when coming from Gwalior (57 km. from Gwalior bus stand via Bhind road).

There are many such Kakanmath lying hidden in different parts of our country. Most of them are in ruins due to apathy of citizens and government. It is upto us to preserve our rich heritage so that coming generations also get a chance to feel proud on our amazing history by seeing such masterpieces. Chambal ravines have been secluded for long, but has amazing wealth of our history. Continue towards Gwalior and you will come across Shiva Temple at Mitawali, Padawali (Superior of Khajuraho temple) and a massive complex of temples at Batesara. Take out some time whenever you plan a trip to Agra or trip to Gwalior. Find the Directions...

Nearest railway station is Morena and most of the trains halt here. State transport buses ply from Morena and Gwalior bus stand to Sihoniya village. Sihoniya is also connected to nearby towns by city buses, however frequency is not so good. One can also avail sharing options from Morena to Sihoniya to reach Kakanmath.

Keep on travelling Guys...