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Showing posts with label Chambal Safari. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chambal Safari. Show all posts

Shanichara Temple, Morena

The charming affair for exploring offbeat and marvellous hidden spots continues non-stop with Gwalior and nearby Chambal Ravines. I had a day in hand and thankfully got a car to drive, so Chambal Ravines were again the natural choice for exploring some more unexplored spots. What else this Vagabond would have thought of when Life gave him a spare day and a vehicle to drive.

It took me around one hour from Gwalior to locate, ask locales about the way and finally reach Shanichara Temple, situated deep inside remote corners of Chambal Ravines. Dedicated to Shani Dev, such a Grand Temple at such a remote location arouses curiosity to know about the history of the place as much as quest to explore another hidden spot.
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Batesara Temples, 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.

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Kakan Math Temple - The faithful Gravity Defying 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 Gravity defying Kakanmath temple which must have been one of the most prominent temples in India, in its glorious days. Do not be surprised once you reach there, you will get the answer...Since my last attempt to reach Kakanmath had failed so this time I was trying again to chase my passion with whatsoever it would have been taken and followed the heart to finally arrive at this sensational architecture.

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Garhi Padhavali - the Fortress Temple

Inspired, charged and rejuvenated after the exploration of Mitawali, it was the time to unearth one more jewel from the chronicles of Golden Indian Heritage.

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Friends welcome to "PADAWALI", a fortress temple dedicated to all the Gods (Padawali is spelt differently across various places/ platforms). Padawali is just 3 km. from Mitawali and can be visited comfortably with Mitawali. You only must make sure your vehicle does not run the risk of running out of fuel. Area around Mitawali is devoid of any habitation however the region around Padhavali is populated with several villages. 


As an honorary tradition in India, Red Carpet welcome is extended to all the visiting dignitaries at the entrance. Find out yourself, a grand welcome by none other than the mighty: LIONS: on moving closer to the main structure:

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Chausath Yogini - Mitawali Temple, inspiration of Indian Parliament house

"India is an AMAZING Land" 

With a mix of caution and thrill I took the left turn from Thekari after Morena, from here route is fairly simple; go straight for around 15 km. to finally see a direction signal to Mitawali. Though the road is narrow, but it is in fairly good condition, except for a few stretches which are being re-laid. Excitement of getting closer to Mitawali had ensured that the road condition was the last thing on my mind.


There is very less habitation on this way. Enthusiasm of exploring a new place was enough to keep me in good spirits. After driving for 5 hours, I finally reached “Mitawali” site and it was the time to climb 100 ft. upstairs to embrace the beautiful Shiva temple, situated at top of a hill.


Circular architecture of this temple is an absolute cynosure to the eyes. A circular central hall (Main temple) surrounded by small temples is a unique construction. At first glance it didn't look like a temple at all; it seemed like a university or an ancient seat of administration.


Mitawali temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and consists of 64 Yogini small temples surrounding the main Central temple of Lord Shiva. 

It was the time to thank the Gods for such a wonderful drive to Mitawali and also praying to God his for benevolence to continue my life like this. While I was thanking the GOD's, the perforated base of the central temple caught my attention. The caretaker told me that it was built as a passage for rainwater to go into a huge reservoir below. I tried locating it but failed. It must have been built with precision so as not to obstruct the beauty of the monument in any way and serve its purpose secretly. Even the pipe-like pieces on the roofs, constructed to drain the rainwater, made me hail the architectural prowess of those times. It was perhaps these smart engineering techniques, apart from the limited number of visitors, which has contributed in keeping the temple in a comparatively good state. 




Environment inside the temple is utmost peaceful, walking around in the lonely corridors is a rare delicacy. Each small temple has an image of Lord Shiva, also known as "SHIVLING - शिवलिंग". Sit back and enjoy the silence.




Outer wall of the temple is decorated with numerous images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. 

Apart from appreciating the temple, you can also have an astonishing pigeon eye view of the surrounding areas.


Vast tracts of land, scattered habitation, not so easy life in the villages will surely take you much closer to real India, very different from India existing in big cities. As told by locales and caretaker this temple was built in around 9th century AD and used to be a seat of education of astrology and mathematics with the use of the rays and shades of the Sun. My first guess about this place was almost bang on target. Very recently a caretaker has been appointed by MP tourism department for this temple who is doing an excellent housekeeping of this temple premises. He is also maintaining a register and regularly taking feedback from occasional visitors on how to popularise this place.


You call it a sheer coincidence or strange coincidence that structure of Indian Parliament house (Sansad Bhawan) has a close resemblance with this temple. To be honest Indian parliament house looks like hugely inspired from the architecture of this temple.


This place has been lying hidden/ forgotten since ages, so very less information is available about this place. No one can deny the fact that it must have been very majestic during its prime. Despite being situated in the vicinity of vibrant Chambal River, there is meagre inhabitation in this region. This is a significant departure from the Indian perspective; all the ancient monuments situated near to the rivers have ensured settlement of the civilizations and flourishing cities. All the ancient temples and monuments are testimony to this piece of evidence. Elderly locales told with wet eyes that "गोरे आये थे तोप लेके इस मंदिर को तोड़ने, पर तोप के गोले ऊपर तक नहीं पहुंचे। आस पास के सब गाँव तहस नहस कर दिए।" Didn't asked more, looks like some vital facts are still lying buried deep inside the soil, waiting to come out with the passage of time. 

To be frank my expectations from this place were not so high but the experience I got of this place was beyond expectations. Whether it was the road to Mitawali, contrasting village life, un-inhabited lands and above all the Temple on top of the hill – it was proud moment for cherishing the Grand Indian panorama. Also, I was rejoicing at my decision to explore this place by driving. As I prepared to return and was putting my shoes, I gave one last glance to this historical marvel and silently I wondered what had kept generations of Indians ignorant of this architectural gem.


So whenever you plan an excursion to Agra or a Get away to Gwalior, make sure you keep some time for a visit to Mitawali, believe me you will come back with more than just memories. There are no fuel stations after left turn from Thekari, make sure your vehicle does not run out of fuel...


Please find this article published in national newspaper, The Pioneer:

http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/agenda/travel/history-hunting.html


There are other monuments also close to Mitawali, worth exploring:

1.   Padawali: 3-4 Km. from Mitawali this fabulous temple monument waiting is considered as superior of Khajuraho temple.

2.   Kakan Math Temple: 23 km. from Mitawali, this 115 ft. high ancient Shiva temple is assembled in stones without any adhesive.

3.  Batesara temples: 4-5 km. is a huge comples of temples dated back to 6th -9th century. Around 350 temples are estimated to exist here. Work is ongoing to restore the glory of the temples.

4.   Shanichara Mandir: 12-13 km. is the place where Shani Dev has fallen when Hanumanji had thrown him before torching Lanka.


Keep travelling Guys.

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Getaway to Gwalior

Everyone has his/ her ways to enjoy the gift called "LIFE". Some prefer hanging out with friends, some like discotheques and some prefer travelling to distinct locations to seek enjoyment. Apart from enjoyment, travelling is an ideal way to recharge your energy stocks.


I too fall in the latter category, and I honestly believe that you need not going to Bahamas or Paris to seek rejuvenation: "just look around yourself, pack your bags and start". Here lies the Advantage India. India is such a diverse country that if you try to explore, you can go to any city/ town or village I am sure you would not be disappointed. This I believed during my trip to Gwalior. 


This was my 2nd trip to Gwalior. First visit was too hectic, so this time I kept some time for exploration, as Gwalior has a rich heritage and legacy. This city has been a witness to numerous curves of the India history.
This was the time to opt for our National transporter. You guess it right, Indian Railways. There are numerous trains at all times during the day and it takes only 5 hours to reach Gwalior from New Delhi.



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Drive to Chambal Safari: from Delhi to Gwalior

325 Km. from Delhi, driving along NH-2/ Expressway and NH-3 for 6-7 hours. If statistics sounds boring - you are in for a surprise and reconsideration of your thoughts.

It was one fine day I got a chance to drive till Gwalior. I knew that the highway is in good condition, but was still sceptical about the real picture. It was not a planned one, but as I always say "Good travellers never plan in advance", all of a sudden, a divine thought struck me - lets drive all the way to Chambal Ravines till Gwalior. With all the spirits roaring, I started at early afternoon, however it is always better to start in the early morning to escape the heavy traffic of Delhi.

If you take expressway, you will directly reach Agra. However, if you take NH-2, then there are lot of options for sightseeing in the way, apart from vastness of agricultural fields.


Road side Motels/ Dhabas in the way will present ample opportunities to relax and refreshments. Keep chilling and driving....Believe me even a cup of Tea or refreshments will be a unique experience.

If you can take out 1-2 hours, you can visit Mathura, birthplace of Lord Krishna. Right turn from Mathura towards Govardhan and 36 km. straight drive will take you to Deeg Palace, a majestic Jal Mahal, Water Palace. Check out the picture of Deeg Palace. On reaching here you will wonder why such a place is lying hidden... 

For nature lovers and bird watching enthusiasts there is Sur Sarovar Wild Life Sanctuary on the way to Agra, 40 km. from Mathura on your left hand side at NH-2, just before Agra.

Just at the entrance of Agra is Sikandra Tomb, mausoleum of Akbar. 


Out of all visitors to city of Taj, only 5 -8 % of travellers visit this place. This place offers amazingly calm and serene surroundings. Huge lawns with lot of deers, and black bucks roaming around peacefully, it is an ideal place to find some quiet moments.

Keep some time for Agra, you cannot afford to miss "The Taj Mahal".


From Agra onwards you will be a part of Chambal Valley. It is very difficult to remove sights from the exceptionally beautiful landscapes formed by sandy hills of Chambal Valleys. Romance, adventure and driving, all at same place.



You can stop your car and take a walk and sit around the small water body. Don't get scared as there are no wild animals here. In Delhi we do not get to drive with window glasses down (too much pollution), but here I cherished driving with open windows. Landscapes are simply breath taking, check out -


At many instances, you will come very close to the railway track. Check out the view I captured while standing on the road:

Get a chance to click Chambal river in its full flow:

Be it the adjacent Railway Track, Chambal River or the highway itself...Everything is compelling enough to apply the brakes, come out of the car, enjoy the fresh air, appreciate the amazing beauty and not to forget... take some pics.

Vow...Now tell me who says it is required to go to hills or drive 2000 miles from your house to capture Sunset like this... 

 

With the tremendous growth of India as economic superpower, Highways have improved considerably. Driving is a sheer pleasure. However, if you are nature lover, you will be focusing more on the amazing surroundings which accompany you for most of the distance from Delhi to Gwalior. 

 

There is much more in Chambal than just amazing landscapes. Take a left turn from Morena and you can experience the drive to the following treasures from Indian history. These treasures have been lying hidden from ages:

  1. Kakan Math Temple: 115 ft. high Lord Shiva temple, assembled out of stones without any adhesive. Pyramids share stark resemblance with this temple. 34 km. from Morena bus stand.
  2. Mitawali, Shiva Temple: The place which inspired the design of Indian Parliament house (Sansad Bhawan). 23 km. from Kakan Math temple towards Gwalior.
  3. Padawali Temple, dedicated to all Gods and is considered as superior to Khajuraho Temple. 3-4 km. from Mitawali temple.
  4. Batesara complex of temples: A complex of around 350 temples. Excavation work is ongoing to restore the original glory of the temples. 

Believe me real safari will start from the above left turn. Enjoy a virtual tour of Secrets of Chambal and Betwa rivers.


Once you have set your foot in this region, you will be left craving for more. Fun will not stop at Gwalior, so after covering all these and Gwalior take the road to Jhansi, and explore:

1.   60 km. from Gwalior on Jhansi Road is Sonagiri Jain temples, a sacred place to Digambar Jains. It has a chain of 77 temples, all in white colour situated on top of a hill.

2. 125 km. from Gwalior and 15 km. from Jhansi is a small hidden town of Orchha. It consists of numerous temples, forts and cenotaphs (Chhatris), which all make Orchha an interesting spot to visit.

3.    Amazing saga of Raja Ram temple and Chaturbhuj temple at Orchha.


Keep Driving, keep travelling and keep exploring the numerous offbeat places to visit in Madhya Pradesh....

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