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Showing posts with label Gwalior. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gwalior. Show all posts

Rock cut Carvings at Urwai Gate - Gwalior Fort

Walls of Gwalior Fort have been a silent and bruised witness to tides of history. These walls have celebrated the glory, and have withstood battering by the invaders as well. Why not, earliest evidence say the Fort was built as early as 727 AD and was subsequently refurbished, expanded and provided its present shape in 15th century.

Also considered as the impenetrable Forts in India, the Western Gate of the Gwalior Fort is one of the striking parts of the Fort. However, most of the visitors unknowingly miss it out over the Gwalior Fort. Also, the local travel planners/ guides generally do not inform about this stunning Western entrance to the Gwalior Fort, known as Urwai Gate which greets the visitors with colossal rock cut architecture. 

The right-hand view from the Fort entry gate, metal road going up the hill ensures visitors miss out noticing the rock cut carvings and also roadside trees covering the view of these marvellous rock cut caricatures do not help the cause of these monuments. I too would have missed, had I not came across this view, while going up the hill and if I had not asked at the gate about these Rock-Cut sculptures.

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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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Teli ka Mandir, Gwalior

When was the last time you drove for 6-7 hours since early morning, just to visit that splendid spot? 

When you are in the country known India, there are many such spots which are destinations in themselves. Even a whole day travel is worth to just spend 30-40 minutes at the spot. Ancient Teli-Ka Mandir in Gwalior is one such spot. Colossal size, splendid architecture, intricate carvings of Gods and Goddesses and image of Garuda, vehicle of Lord Vishnu make this temple a complete destination.

More than 100 ft. in height, the temple is a unique blend of different Indian architectural styles. It is the tallest structure in the Gwalior Fort. Check out the different styles of lower half and the upper dome.
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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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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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