Exploring The Heart Of Incredible India!


Thread Starter #1
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Note: This is lengthy travelogue hence divided into day wise activities in separate posts.

When something is planned very rigorously and if it gets cancelled at last moment then it hurts and remains in corner of mind. The same situation happened with me when we have rigorously planned exploration of Central India (Madhya Pradesh) and there came COVID backed up with Lockdown which has dissolved our plan just 4 days prior to our trip start date.

The days and year have passed mostly in one chair and one room doing work from home. After getting vaccinated still we were reluctant on travel because many state borders were having some or other sort of restriction. All these days the plan of travelling was alive in our mind, and we were seeking the opportunity to zoom as soon as situation becomes comfortable.

Recently, the state borders have relaxed Covid guidelines hence i did a pilot run to Maheshwar Omkareshwar and Mandu (link to travelogue) last month and felt comfortable. Hence instead of planning new destination we thought of completing our previous planned trip.

Diwali brings festive joys and school leaves hence we tried to consume this time for MP exploration. We packed our luggage with great excitement. As usual I performed regular check of car along with tyre condition and fluid levels and we were all set to start.

Day 1: Pune to Indore

Now this section has become our regular affair. Along with short prayer we started at morning 5:15am from Pune. There was little fog in climate. The roads till Nashik are good apart from some single lane patches near Chakan, Rajgurunagar and Alephata. The bridge construction at Shinde is still in progress for which the diversion used are in terrible state. Rest of the road ahead from Nashik – Malegoan – Dhule – Sendhwa – Indore are excellent barring few bone jarring speed breakers on highways. We checked in at our hotel in Indore somewhere around 4:45pm.

Took rest for few hours and in evening we straight away headed to our favorite foodie destination in Indore which is “Sarafaa Bazaar”. One after one we started exploring the food options. I already had been here few times before as well but somehow this area has magic which keeps on calling when I am in Indore.

Few glimpses from Sarafaa Bazaar

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Gold man in Sarafaa Bazaar
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Few more clicks from Sarafaa Bazaar
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With heavy tummies we came back to our hotel and ended our day.

Continued in next post....
 
Thread Starter #2
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Day 2: Indore to Bhopal

The morning weather was pleasant in Indore. We got ready and after having Poha and Jalebi as breakfast we started our journey towards Bhopal which was our first destination for exploration. Bhopal is also known as “City of Lakes”. The roads are very good between Indore and Bhopal.
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Due to good roads, we reached Bhopal bypass within no time. We have first planned to cover the outskirts destination and hence headed to Bhojpur. We decided to take Bhopal bypass which is little bit longer and four laned. The bypass has some unseen speed humps; hence one needs to keep a sharp eye on road. The toll booth on Bhopal bypass do not accept Fastag, the entry and exit toll is Rs.60 (Rs.30 per gate).

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By the time we exited bypass it was already 12pm hence decided to have lunch first. Have heard a lot about famous food joint “Bapu Ki Kutiya” in Bhopal hence visited one of their outlets located on Hoshangabad Road.
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The location of restaurant was beside main road in shopping complex where there is good parking space. The service was very quick as we order thalis for us. The panner butter masala served in Thali was very delicious.

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After having lunch, we headed to Bhojpur. The exit from bypass made us to enter crowdy village named “Chan” where there was congested market. Later the road become wider and smooth till Bhojpur

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I was under impression that hardly few tourists must be visiting this temple as it falls on outskirts of city but as I neared, I was shocked to see thousands of people towards temple.

At the entrance of Bhojpur one need to pay Rs.30 as entrance charge per car. From here there is steep road which was flooded with locals, womens, kids and tourists. The authorities have made some parking place at right side while temple is at left. I saw one small ground near temple where few cars were parked, as soon as I swerved my steering towards it the shopkeeper at entrance told “If you want to park here then you need to buy Prashad costing Rs.50 from me”. Anyways, we were about to buy it hence parked the car there and took prashad from him.

The temple of Bhojpur is located on hillock hence one need to walk some 200 meters and climb few steps to reach temple. It is said that construction of this Shiva temple was started somewhere in 11th century but halted midway for unknown reason. If this temple would have constructed completely then it would have been one of the biggest temple of Lord Shiva having tallest Shiva Linga of approx. 8 feet in height.

Temple as seen from walkway
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One can gauge height of this Shiva Linga from height of people standing below
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Heavy ceiling supported by four huge carved pillars
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Crowd at main entrance of temple
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We took darshan and came out. It was hot afternoon hence we recharged ourselves with cold drinks outside temple where there are many small shops. We reached the parking lot. Due to hot climate the car has become furnace from inside. Once again after navigating on the crowdy way we reached main road.

We now left crowd much behind and stopped under one tree. Our plan was to go for Bhimbetka but due to lack of time and plan for other attractions we dropped it and headed straight inside Bhopal city. The roads inside Bhopal city are good and mostly divided. There are few roundabouts where one needs to be careful as you can’t predict who wants to move where.

After traversing through city traffic, we started to drive on calm roads of Shymala Hills. We have reached our destination which was “Tribal Museum” which is managed by authorities of MP Tourism

The museum is clean and nicely maintained with dedicated and free parking space. The museum depicts the tribal community, their life, festival, and events. The entry fee is Rs.10 per head whereas if you are going to take pictures then they charge Rs.50 per mobile (they provide card which you need to wear inside for taking pictures)

Tribal hut
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Inside of Hut
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Some structure
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Entrance to second gallery
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Some more structures
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Few more pics
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Artificial moon is created with some tree barks in front of it. This looks more beautiful than my photo
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A big cart which carries Tribal god in festive time
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It’s a kind of Mandapa which was used for ceremonies and functions
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Some day-to-day life
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The museum has kept benches at many places where one can sit if tired of walking. They also have clean washrooms and drinking water facility. It took us almost an hour to explore the museum. When we came out it was almost 5pm hence we quickly headed to famous VIP road for getting evening view of Upper Lake.

Raja Bhoj Setu connected to VIP road junction
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Sunset at Upper Lake
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Statue of Raja Bhoj after whom the city gets it name “Bhopal”
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The VIP Road was hustling bustling with vehicles but still one can stop for few minutes near lake to admire its beauty. We drove our car till the end of VIP road.

The city of Bhopal depicts few architectural masjids in vicinity. The Taj-Ul-Masjid is said to be one of the largest mosques is Asia. The time I reached there was end of prayer time hence could see everyone coming out from main gate. I was the only one who was trying to enter in reverse way. Looking at my struggle the man on the gate quickly stopped outgoing vehicles so that my car can enter inside. I thanked him for this.

There is large and free parking area next to the gate from where one needs to walk for some 100-200 meters to enter masjid. There is small garden created near the parking area.

When I came out of car, I observed that there were less (1-2) ladies around and I was the only one in Jeans and T-shirt. I asked my wife and son to wait in nearby garden and I went towards the entrance gate of masjid. Met a very old “Chacha” sitting near gate. I told him that I am coming from Pune and want to have some clicks of this masjid. The chacha escorted me inside and explained me about the masjid.

This masjid construction was started under supervision of Shahjan Begum after the death of whose the construction continued ahead under her daughter named Sultan Jahan Begum. This mosque was also used as COVID vaccination center recently.

View of Taj-Ul-Masjid from outside
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Long walkway to enter main Masjid
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The minars were so high that my phone camera could not capture it completely
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After thanking “Chacha” I came out and took my car out of parking. Again, the same person at gate helped me to come out (waved him a thanks). It was almost dark when we came outside. Sultania road sees lots of traffic in evening. “Moti Masjid” is one more masjid which has good architecture but by the time we reached there it was full dark hence skipped the plan to go inside as photos won’t come clear. We continued ahead and went to famous “Raju Tea Stall”. The cup of tea refreshed us. We then moved straight to our hotel and checked in.

After getting fresh and taking some rest we decided to head towards Lake Viewpoint near upper lake post evening. The climate in Bhopal drops after evening as there was mild chill in air. The lake view point has ample parking space next to the road.

Lights seen on VIP road
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Steam engine and station named “Bhojtal” created for photos.
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Guitar made from waste material
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Globe made up from waste plastic water bottle
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We had a street food from local vendors near lake. I noticed that in Bhopal maximum people wears jacket which is due to cool climate. I was also tempted to get one but due to lack of time could not spot a good shop. We came back to our hotel and ended that tiresome day.

Bhopal has many places and museums to explore which need one extra day but due to lack of time we left these things for our next visit.

Continued in next post....
 
Thread Starter #3
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Day 3: Bhopal – Sanchi – Khajuraho

Woke up early and got ready for journey. After having breakfast started our journey towards Sanchi. The roads are good but little bit patched with lot of two-wheeler traffic up till Chhola. One crosses Tropic of Cancer near Chhola. There are plenty of signboards showing distance to this location but still one can put it as destination in Gmaps because there are high chances you would zoom past it. We stopped our car near the line where there is some space for car parking.

Tropic of Cancer
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We resumed back our journey towards Sanchi. The roads after Chhola are fantastic with newly laid tarmac. There were few signages for Sanchi on road but somehow, I missed the turn and went a bit ahead. After enquiring with local autowalah about exact turn I came to know that drove a bit ahead by couple of meters hence made U turn and took the proper road.

Sanchi is small village which is famous for stupas. There was no traffic till I reached the gate of Stupa. There is ample and free parking space near ticket counter. The ticket is Rs.40 per head for anyone who is more than 15 years of age while rest have free entry. You can hire guide at gate itself.
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From main gate Stupa No.1 (they have given numbers to it) is visible
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The photo of this Stupa can be seen on backside of new INR 200 currency note
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There are four gates in four different directions of Stupa. The Chakra at the top is broken as it was fallen
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Carvings on gate
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Four lions on pillar which is our national emblem.
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Ruins of monastery where students used to stay. On the right there is small reservoir which was used as water storage
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This is gate of Gupta period temple
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A meditation area where wooden roof was present above this Greek style architecture
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One more temple beside the meditation hall
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This is one of the fine finished stone which was used as pillar near main gate of Stupa. There were four lions supported by wheel of law (later known as Ashok Chakra) above this pillar. Now this has been kept in nearby ASI museum.
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Stones found at excavation site
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Tortoise in front of temple
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3rd century temple resembling Gupta period architecture. The temple has flat roof instead of dome
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Buddha statue in temple
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Finely carved pillar
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There is small cafeteria near temple which is serving tea and patties. The place is simple and clean with clean washrooms nearby. The location of this cafeteria is near to edge of hillock hence there is vast view of area depicting farms
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Near to cafeteria is a small area where few birds are rabbits are kept. There are lot of squirrels around as well
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Normally there are three wheels at the top of Stupa describing three lines of Buddhism mantra
  • Buddham Saranam Gacchami
  • Dhammam Saranam Gacchami
  • Sangham Saranam Gacchami
The Stupa No. 3 has only wheel at top.
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We came back to parking where there is Chaityagiri temple of Buddha Vihar built by Mahabodi Society of SriLanka. One needs to remove footwear while going inside. Photography is strictly prohibited in this temple. The environment inside is very calm and devotional along with some artwork describing about buddha.
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We descended the hillock and came at the gates of ASI Museum. The entry ticket cost Rs.10 for all those who are 15 years and above. The ticket counter and entrance are about 200 meters apart from each other. The museum is very well maintained by ASI. There is small walkway and garden with sit outs. This museum showcases few excavated items from nearby Archaeological sites.
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Our National Emblem
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The site of Sanchi was excavated under supervision of Sir. John Marshall who was director of ASI in those time. His gothic style bungalow is still maintained.
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There is huge park opposite to ASI museum named as “Buddha Jambudweep Park”. There was no tourist at this location.
My trusty standing near gate of park
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There is entry fee of somewhere around Rs.30 to 50 (I forgot) per person. The Park is huge and has lots of trees. It draws its inspiration from Buddhist philosophy and teachings of Buddha. It has pavilions inside the complex that imparts the audience about four noble truths of Buddhism i.e., Suffering (Dukh), Origin of suffering (Samudaya), Cessation of suffering (Nirodha), and Path to the cessation of suffering (Magga). There is long walkway inside where one can do “Parikrama” by walking through all these pavilions.

A complex showcasing digital hall is present here which shows life of Buddha, the constructions of Stupas and has jigsaw puzzles to enrich your knowledge about Buddhas ideology.

Digital Hall in campus
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Prayer wheels
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Hallway in complex
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Sleeping Buddha
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Buddha in meditation
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Dhyan symbols of Buddha
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The campus has some huge trees which has territory of bats on it.
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It took almost 2 hours for us for exploring Sanchi. We resumed our journey back towards Khajuraho. From Vidisha onwards the quality of road becomes fantastic to maintain triple digits till Sagar.
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Sagar bypass is good in condition with some truck traffic and speed breakers. From the end of bypass the next 30-40 Kms are in terrible state with broken roads and deep potholes. The roads again becomes excellent in forest section which remains in that condition till 10 Kms ahead of Chhatarpur. The last 10 Kms till Chhatarpur are also in bad state as lot of dusty diversions are created. The town of Chhatarpur is pain to drive as it sees lot of miscellaneous traffic. From Chhatarpur onwards till Khajuraho there is newly laid excellent highway with 100Kmph as speed limit. It late evening we entered Khajuraho.

We straightaway reached Matangeshwar Temple. This temple depicts a tallest (approx. 8 feet) of Shiva Linga.
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We checked in at our hotels and after refreshing came for small walk at Khajuraho market. Had thalis for dinner at Gurukrupa Restaurant. Had some sweets like Rabdi, Milk Cake and Balushahi in nearby sweet shop. As the night was progressing the climate was dropping. There was a chill in air.

Continued in next post....
 
Thread Starter #4
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Day 4 : Khajuraho – Orchha – Jhansi

In morning we headed to explore Khajuraho temples. The temples of Khajuraho are differentiated in three groups, viz, Western, Eastern and Southern. Out of these the Western group is famous among tourist which has large number of well-maintained temples

Only MP Tourism official guides are allowed in campus of Western Group of temples hence if you come across any local guide who assures you to show the temples then be sure that he will take you to Eastern and Southern groups of temples.

The entry is Rs.40 per person for all who are more than 15 years age. The campus of Western Group has beautiful landscaping. There are many squirrels in this campus.

Matangeshwar temple which we visited last night can be seen beside campus area
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On our right side is Pratapeshwar Temple which is also known as Harmony temple as it depicts three religions (Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim). One can see three different shaped domes for three religions
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On the left side are Varah Temple and Laxmana Temple
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Varah temple has a huge statue of Varah which is one of the incarnations of lord Vishnu. The body of Varah is carved with small idols.
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Lotus on the inner part of ceiling of Varah temple
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View of Laxmana temple from Varah Temple
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Lord Vishnu’s idol inside Laxmana Temple
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Carvings outside Laxmana Temple
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The sculptures are themed on divine figures and erotic scenes.
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Temples of Khajuraho are from Chandela Dynasty which were created in eras of different kings hence these temples are named after them. The biggest temple in western group is Kandariya Mahadev. The word Kandariya means Cave, hence the entrance of this temple looks like cave
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Different layers in design of ceiling are one of the mind-blowing part of architecture
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Shiva Linga inside Kandariya Mahadev Temple
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The temple is situated at height of 5 meters from base where there is Lion’s statue near entrance
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Kandariya Mahadev temple has one of the highest numbers of carved sculptures of gods, goddesses, musicians, apsaras and kamasutra positions
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Artist of those era have done one the finest carvings
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Goddesses Chamunda on temple walls
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Sculptures showing “Maithuna” positions. The males in Chandela dynasty used to tie pony of their hair which they used to keep ahead on shoulders.
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The entire complex of Khajuraho temples has only 10% of erotic sculptures while rest of the carvings shows day to day life of people, soldiers and festivals.

A group enjoying dance and music
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These are “Yakshis” doing makeups
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Next to Kandariya Mahadev temple lies Jagdamba temple. There is a small Lion Temple in between these two which has sculpture of Lion along with women.
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Jagadamba Temple
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This temple is named after enshrined image of Goddess Parvati in the Garbha Gruha, Sanctum which was originally Dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
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Carvings and sculptures outside temple walls
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A sculpture holding roof with arms
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Next to Jagadamba temple lies Chitragupta Temple which is dedicated to Sun god.
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Main sanctum has idol of sun god in standing position
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The exterior walls of temple are covered with erotic couples, surasundari and other various gods
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Soldiers going on war
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Sculpture of Shiva's attendant Nandi, who is shown with a human body and a bull's head
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Closeup of Nandi
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We moved ahead towards Vishwanath Temple which was next in the row.
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Vishwanath temple is one of the best examples of temple architectural works. There are five domes out of which the first smaller in height is “Ardha Mandapa (Entrance Porch)”. The second one is “Mandapa (Hall)”, the third one is “Mahamandapa (Big community hall)”, the fourth one is “Antarala (Inner Sanctum)” and last one which is tallest is “Garbhgriha (where main shrine is present)”
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The shiva linga inside Vishwanath Temple
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Nandi temple in front of Vishwanath Temple
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Orbitary design made on ceiling of Nandi temple
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Next to Vishwanath Temple in a row lies Parvati Temple which depicts idol of Parvati in main sanctum. This temple doesn’t have any sculptures carved on walls outside.
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It took almost 2 hours for us to explore all these temples. There is lot of walking and climbing steps involved to explore all these temples. In that era mainly Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti were worshipped. The idea behind building so many temples in single complex may be to bring “Shaivas” (worshippers of Shiva) and “Vaishnavas” (worshipper of Vishnu) together. There are different theories about erotic sculptures on the outer walls of temples, but no one is sure which is correct theory.

We sat on benches kept in lush green surrounding just to admire the beauty, design, and off course those hard-working people who have created these huge, finest and marvelous temples.

Khajuraho market is next to the gate of Western Group of Temples. We had a quick breakfast of Samosas, Kachoris and papdi along with tea in market and started our journey.

The road was excellent as it is newly laid highway with less traffic and speed limit of 100Kmph. There are still 3-4 diversions post Maurinapur. Few of these diversions are from nearby villages while few are parallel to highway but in terrible state. One needs to lookout for vehicles travelling on wrong side on your right lane. (There are many trucks as well coming in wrong lane)

We crossed Betwa River bridge and entered Orchha town. We decided to first visit “Ramraja Temple” and then proceed towards fort. There is paid parking near Ramraja temple where you need to pay Rs.50 per car.

This is the only place where Lord Rama is worshipped as the ruler, that is, a divine king. Hence, the temple is known as the Ram Raja. The temple looks like palace as it doesn’t not have any dome like other temples.
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The day when we reached Orchha was the day of “Chat Pooja” hence there was quite a rush inside temple. We headed through other way near to main shrine and took a peaceful darshan. It is said that queen of Orchha fort has brought this idol from Ayodhya to situate it into magnificent Chaturbhij temple but somehow the idols refused to move from this place hence they continued to worship them there itself, the area is now known as Ramraja temple.

It was sunny afternoon and hot in Orchha. There are many sweet shops near Ramraja temple. We have tasted some milk cake and pedhas at these shops which were delicious. There were few roadside vendors and shops selling idols and other things nearby
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We walked down few meters and went into a small but clean restaurant named “Ramraja Restaurant” near fort entrance and had Thalis for lunch.

One can take car inside of fort where there is parking space, but we decided to keep our car at Ramraja parking and went inside fort by walking few more meters. Entry ticket is just Rs.10 per person but you need to keep this ticket safe as it needs to be shown inside Fort, Raja Mahal, Cenotaphs and LaxmiNarayan Temple.

This fort is built by Raja Bir Singh Deo as a gesture of gratitude towards the Mughal Emperor Jahangir upon his visit to Orchha for one night
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There are few courtyards and walkways inside the fort. The area is quite big and need energy to explore as lot of climbing and walking is involved.
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Panoramic View. One can reach each of the pavilion by climbing some steep steps inside this fort
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The fort is divided into Rani Mahal, Raja Mahal, Jehangir Mahal, Sheesh Mahal (now converted into restaurant) and rest are gardens, causeways, and pavilions.
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View from one of the windows on fort
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There are number of pavilions in Jehangir Mahal. This fort is fine example of Mughal Architecture
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We entered Raja Mahal after showing our tickets to security. Raja Mahal or Kings palace is the place where royal families used to reside. While the exterior adheres to simplicity, the interior has some paintings on religious themes. The architectural design of palace is made in such a way that it does variation in temperature according to amount of sunlight entering inside. There are some secret passages built inside this mahal from where one can reach fort complex.
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Paintings on ceilings
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Due to heat and lot of walking /climbing we were feeling tiresome hence we sat there for some time. One should carry a cap and bottle of water while exploring these forts. We then moved to Chaturbhuj Temple which was near to our parking lot.

There are small tea shops and toys shops near to temple. We took tea which refreshed us and had some hot bhajiyas which were made in front of us.

One needs to climb the set of steps to reach inside Chaturbhuj Temple as the temple has some great height. This temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu where the idol of Shri Ram was planned to be worshipped but as per story the construction of Chaturbhuj was ongoing hence idol of Ram was kept in nearby palace. When the construction got completed the idol of Shri Ram refused to move from its position which is still worshipped as it is in the palace area which is now called as Ramraja temple. At present an image of Radha Krishna is worshiped in the Chaturbhuj temple

Photography was not allowed near sanctum hence took it from long distance
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Tall spires of temple
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From here we took our car and headed towards the Cenotaphs near Betwa river. There is paid parking facility near Cenotaphs. The fort entrance ticket is checked here. The royal cenotaphs contain almost 15 monuments which are created as a mark of respect for rulers of Bundelkhand dynasty. The steps going on first level of these Cenotaphs were closed by authorities for security reasons hence we could not go up
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The area surrounding Cenotaphs is maintained very well with lush green lawns and trees.
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Closer view of Cenotaphs
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One more angle, it looks like some Disneyland place
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A group of cenotaphs
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Cenotaphs of King Vir Singh Deo has some different architecture from rest.
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Betwa river flowing near Cenotaphs where one can sit and enjoy some time.
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We headed to our last destination in Orchha which was “Laxmi Narayan Temple”. The road beside Cenotaphs goes straight to this temple. The temple lies at outskirt area of main Orchha village due to which it is been visited by less tourist.

There is a steep flagstone road of some 200 meters where you can park your car. The temple lies on small hillock and is built by King Vir Singh Deo. The architecture of this temple looks three sided from outside but is square from inside.

The pic of temple with photo bomber Tavera
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Paintings on roof and walls
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Walkways inside which is pradakshina marg
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Sri Lakshmi which is main deity in this temple
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View of surrounding from temple complex where Chaturbhuj Temple and Fort can be seen.
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After taking blessing of Lakshmi, we headed towards Jhansi which was some 20 Kms from Orchha. The google maps played blunder role by making us to travel between narrow street to reach main road near Ramraja temple. Once we reached main road then in no time, we hit highway towards Jhansi.

It was late evening when we entered Jhansi. The town of Jhansi welcomed us with heavy traffic with all sorts of buses, tractors, and long red signals. We reached our hotel safely and got relaxed.

Jhansi was getting covered in slight fog post evenings. The temperature was getting dropped as night progressed. We had a good walk near our hotel where we spotted Delhi’s famous outlet “Veer Ji Chaapwale”. We had some great varieties of starters here. The main excitement about this chain is the name of all the delicacies in their menu are nonveg but it is a purely veg restaurant.

After getting our tummies full we headed back to our hotel. I could spot lot of private buses and luxuries on the way who were heading towards Shivpuri and Gwalior. Near to our hotel we spotted Falooda cart where we had some good faloodas and icecreams. We reached our hotel and crashed on our bed as it was tiresome day for us.

Continued in next post....
 
Thread Starter #5
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Day 5 : Jhansi – Mitaoli - Gwalior

In Jhansi we have planned only to explore Jhansi fort hence after getting ready in morning we headed towards fort. The busy roads of yester evening were very empty in morning. There is statue of rani Laxmibai near the junction of fort road
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We reached parking spot of Jhansi fort. Ample parking space where they take Rs.30 per car. The entrance ticket of fort is Rs.25 per head for everyone who is more than 15 years. One need to walk a bit inside to explore the fort.

There was some renovation work ongoing in Panch Mahal hence could not enter inside
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Baradari
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The fort is small and not many things are marked (It needs some serious restoration). We went to Jumping point from where Rani Laxmibai jumped from horseback along with her son tied to her back
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Outer view of Jumping Point
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Flag hosting point ahead of Jumping point
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View from flag hosting point
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We came to other side of fort where there is a walkway at level one having some rooms
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View from windows in rooms
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Kalkothadi – Dungeons of prisoners

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Small garden inside fort named as “Jhansi Fort Park”
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Beside this garden lies the Mausoleum of Gulam Gaus Khan but the area was not well maintained hence did not clicked any pic.

The famous cannon “Kadak Bijli”. This cannon was used to terrorize the enemies.
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After exploring fort, we came back to Jhansi city and had our breakfast and tea. We then headed towards Gwalior. The towns of Jhansi and Gwalior sees some excellent roads where one can maintain triple digits as speed limit is 100kmph. While our stay in Jhansi few locals and our hotel staff recommended us to visit Maa Pitambara Temple located in Datia hence we took a small detour from highway inside Datia.

The temple of Maa Pitambara is very neatly maintained. One can feel a calmness and silence here. Many locals were visiting this temple. There is good amount of paid parking opposite this temple. The temple complex is big where small temples of other deities are also present. Photography is strictly prohibited inside temple. One can get “ladoo” outside the temple which can be taken as prasad, the ladoos were delicious.
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Datia is also famous for its fort hence we proceeded to explore it. The way to “Veer Singh Killa” as said by locals passes through few congested streets where Google maps plays foul game. I asked a local about the way and came to know that there is small street behind me where I can walk for 100 meters to reach entrance of fort. I parked my car there itself after taking some 6-7 points U turn. Till that time 7-8 bikers and one tractor were waiting patiently.

The entrance is Rs.45 per person who is more than 15 years of age. If you pay online through MP Tourism site by scanning the QR code, then the ticket comes as Rs.40 per head. It seems like no one comes here as we were the only one that day

The palace complex is tall with seven floors. The entire complex is said to be made by just stones and bricks, there is no usage of any wood or iron in this fort. As the palace building is seven floored hence there is lot of climbing involved to reach at top.
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It took quite a effort to reach at the pavilion on top.
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View from pavilion
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Interiors of palace
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Looks like wood but everything is made up with stone and bricks
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Structures made on wall inside rooms
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Lotus at top of pavilion
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Star design on inside of roof
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Walkway to another courtyard in complex
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Different pavilion, rooms, and walkways
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Designs of net attached to large windows
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This palace is so huge that one can easily get lost while searching the way back. The complex and courtyards also looks similar. We too were lost inside but somehow after entering through some random courtyards and climbing down some staircases we somehow reached the main courtyard at the base from where we entered inside…Hushh !!
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We came out of palace and reached the area where we have parked our car. Once again after traversing some small, congested streets we joined highway and resumed our journey towards Gwalior. The traffic density was getting increased as we were nearing Gwalior.

We decided to first explore attractions located at outskirts of Gwalior and kept city area for next day. We took Gwalior bypass which is good but with occasional potholes and speed humps. There were lot of truck tyre marks on road which was imprinted due to emergency braking. It seems its due to cows menace.

We exited bypass towards Baretha and took Rithara road which passes through many large-scale factories. The tar on the road gets disappeared as soon as we crossed Malanpur. From here till Padhavali there was just dirt track with white colored dust throughout. When we reached Padhavli we took left for visiting Bateshwar group of temples. The area was once used for illegal mining. It is located in ravines of Chambal River valley (famous for dacoits).

As we were nearing Bateshwar temple the tar appeared back on roads, but roads were broken till main gate. There is ample and free parking space inside gate.
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Bateshwar group is nearly a group of 200 Hindu temple made in Gurjara Pratihara style. The temples are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, and Shakti.. The temples were in ruins which were destroyed after 13th century, it is unclear whether they got destroyed by Muslim force or earthquake.
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ASI has started reconstructing the temples back from ruins under leadership of ASI Bhopal division superintending archaeologist Mr.K.K.Muhammed. A big salute to this man who has whole heartedly constructed the beautiful temples back. Almost 60 temples are restored.
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Beautifully carved base
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Chakras used to be situated at temple top
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It is like puzzle to understand where to fit which rock. This is been solved by Mr. K.K.Muhammed
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A water body found in ruins which has arched temples near to it
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Shiva Temple. It feels divine when you enter inside
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Finest carvings on stone
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A big temple of Vishnu
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This area has been visited by very less tourist. The area is in forest where you can see lot of peacocks. The site has some magical attraction as the entire area has some deep silence which gives divine feeling in surrounding of all these temples. While exploring this location, I felt that I am the person roaming in bygone era. Those steps, those temples, those arches, the stone roofs on these temples with coolness inside sanctum were all magical. Though many things are in ruins but there comes a strong feeling of staying here forever leaving everything else.
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With heavy heart I left this site and reached towards Padhavali village where if one goes straight towards Mitaoli then there is one more marvelous temple named “Chausasth Yogini Shiva Temple” where we headed. The road is tarred as it comes under “Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna”. There is gate where one need to park the car in ample parking space. The site is not visited by all tourist hence there was no one here.

The temple is located on top of hill which has big steps to climb. One needs ample amount of energy to climb all steps to reach at top. We slowly and steadily started climbing the heighted steps to reach top.

View of temple from outside
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This temple is dedicated to lord Shivas hence also known as “Ekkatarso Mahadev Temple”
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The temple is built in 11th century. It has mind-blowing circular architecture having 64 chambers. In each chamber there is Shiva Linga. There is open mandapa at the center which is also circular inside which there is main Shiva Linga. It is said that this temple was like small university where education in astrology and mathematics based on the transit of the Sun was provided.
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It is said that Indian Parliament building architecture is inspired from this temple
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Amazing were those people who have built such temples who are still standing perfectly in spite of earthquakes are other natural disaster
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We sat there for some time and then started back towards Gwalior city. We entered through Airport Road and went to our next destination which was “Sun Temple”. One can park car in ample space near temple which is free.

The area around temple is well maintained with small gardens and trees. The temple is said to be replica of Konark Sun Temple. It reminded me about our trip to Konark sun temple which brought smile to my face
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Inside the sanctum has beautiful idol of Sun god (I have seen such idol first time). Photography is strictly prohibited inside temple.

Architecture of Sun temple
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Sun god chariot pulled by horses
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Beautiful carvings on temple
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Narayan Temple in the complex
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It was almost 5:15 pm when we came out. It gets darker earlier in this part of country hence quickly pinned our next destination in Gmaps which was “Tomb of Tansen”. The google maps have taken me through small and crowdy lanes of market. We reached Tansen Tomb and came to know that there is no parking space. I kept driving few meters ahead and found one small less busy lane where I parked my car and came walking back to tomb.

The lane which takes you to main gate of tomb has shops on both sides. The gates seemed to have been closed where after enquiring the security told that its Sunrise to Sunset attraction hence it got closed. I requested him to let us as I just need to click one or two photos and we are coming from MH. He smiled and opened gate for us on condition that we will come out within 10-15min. I thanked him and we entered the campus.

The campus has beautiful, landscaped garden. There is a tomb of Muslim Sufi saint Mohammed Ghaus which was built by Akbar
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Side view of tomb
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This is worship place hence one needs to remove shoes to enter inside
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The windows on walls of entire mausoleum have different net (jali) designs. They have made sure that the design is not duplicated. I have clicked one jail design
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Next to the mausoleum there is Tomb of Tansen who was singing legend in court of Akbar. It is said that Mohammed Ghaus was the one who taught singing art to Tansen hence both the tombs lie beside each other.
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One more prayer place in campus
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It was complete dark when we came outside. The market was hustling bustling with lot of two wheelers, autos, and people. Once again after careful navigation on narrow and busy market road we came out towards main road and then reached our hotel.

The was chill in the air as post evening. After relaxing for some time, we thought of exploring some old market and street food in Gwalior hence took auto towards Patankar Chowk

We first headed to famous Hemu Chilla Chat Bhandaar. We saw the crowd from distance which itself says about the taste of this eatery. We had two rounds of hot and delicious Paneer Chilla Chat and Mix veg Chilla chat. We then started walking through the old market and reached famous Gyana Halwai where we tried some sweets like Kalakanda and Pedha along with some Rabdi.

A bit ahead of it lies a shop which sells varieties of petha knows as “Bhansal Petha Bhandaar”. They have done innovation in petha with different combination. We have tried Pan petha, Kesar Petha, Kevda Petha and sweet named “Krishna Bhog”. Our tummies got full of all these sweets and food.

We decided to walk for some meters and reached one more famous Kulfi shop named “Ishwar Kulfi”. They have different varieties of kulfi, we tried rabdi malai kulfi, Rose Kulfi and Chochlate Kulfi. After this it was feeling like the tummies are full till neck. We caught a battery rickshaw (there are many plying in Gwalior) and reached our hotel. It was long and some tiring day for us but with happiness that we explored most of the things we slept calmly that night.

Continued in next post....
 
Thread Starter #6
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Day 6: Gwalior

This day we have kept for relaxing and exploring Gwalior city. In morning we headed towards the “Gibraltar of East” which means “Gwalior Fort”. For breakfast we reached “Panwadi Poha Centre” who are famous for their Poha. Each plate cost Rs.25 but it was amazing in taste.

We resumed towards fort and on the way took small detour to see the Moti Mahal which has now government offices. There is small water body at front of this building. The surrounding area is used by locals for exercise and morning walks.

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We resumed our drive back to fort through Urvai Gate through which one can reach near to main entry of fort. As we were the early visitors hence there was no one on the road towards fort. Just before ascent we saw beautiful rock carvings on our left. We parked our car and went ahead to get closer look. There are steps from parking space and flagstone walkway beside the statues. The location is known as Siddhachal Jain Temples.

The carvings are older than fort. The statues in rocks are of Jain Tirthankaras.
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Closer look
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Sitting postures of Tirthankara
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Standing postures of Tirthankara
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We resumed back towards fort. There is ample amount of parking space whose fees are based on total parking time, the least for 3 hours is Rs.30. When we parked there were just 2 cars and no one in that area. We entered the gate from where the fort is at walking distance of 200 meters.

Step well named “Assi Khamb ki Bawadi” near gate. It needs some serious maintenance
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A structure beside step well which looked like some temple but could not find any details
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Entrance into complex.
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After this we walked a bit ahead to reach fort ticket counter (which is not easily spot able). The entry was Rs.25 per person who is more than 15 years of age. They provide combined ticket for entering Fort, Saasbahu Temple and Teli Temple.

Information about Gwalior fort
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Outer view of fort
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Gwalior fort is divided into two parts viz Man Singh Palace also known as Man Mandir and Gujari Mahal which is now ASI Museum. The walkway seen in this pic goes towards Gujari Mahal.
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We entered the courtyard of Mansingh Palace. This area was used for music and dance. It is said that pillars and walls were having glass. The round holes above pillars were used to place a burning torch so the light used to get emitted through glass making the whole area lit
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Kings’ seat from where dance and music show going in courtyard can be seen
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The area where royal ladies used to sit and watch the programs going in courtyard. The Jharokas are specially made so that no one can see queens directly. The Jharoka which is having colored arched is the one where “Maharani” used to sit while the club shaped designed Jharoka is where the “Patrani” used to sit
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The Guest seat is located at highest level in courtyard. The king used to treat their guest like God hence have created the seat much higher than his own.
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We have entered second courtyard. The color of palace appears blue as the tiles which were used here were having turquoise and blue color.
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Entrance to room inside courtyard
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Carvings on wall made to fit glasses.
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The closer view of hole on top of pillar used for keeping burning torch
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Windows to keep an eye on audience and performing artist
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Kings place in second courtyard
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These small holes were created for air ventilation so that the courtyards remain cool.
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Entries to rooms behind for royal ladies
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Gallery where musician used to sit
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This animal is mix of many animals like bull, cow, tiger, lion and elephant
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Mansingh Palace has these two courtyards and two levels of basement floors. The steps are narrow and heighted to go down. The architecture is made such that air can flow till basement.
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It is said that prior to attacks of Mughals the basement was used by Royal Ladies where there was swimming pool known as Kesar Kund. Later when Mughals took over this fort then this basement was used as circular jail where many were sentenced to death cruelly
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The roof of level 2 basement. It is said that Mughals used to kill their enemies here so that their shouts cannot be reached outside
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The hooks in ceiling were used by royal ladies for tying the silky rope for the swing. Later the same hooks were used by Mughals to tie their soldiers. As of now there are lot of bats in basement
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Next to main fort complex lies eight different mahals where you need separate ticket to enter. The ticket rate is Rs.10 per head and they take some Rs.50 (forgot exact amount) per mobile camera. After entering inside one can see the huge structure in front which is Karan Mahal. It was built by Tomar king Kirti Singh
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After climbing few steep steps, we reached on top. There is a small structure at top
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View of Gwalior city
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Jauhar Kund as seen from another window
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Beside Karan Mahal stands Jehangir Mahal which has this door as entrance
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Walkways inside Jehangir Mahal
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Finest example of Mughal style architect
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Huge courtyard inside the mahal
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Arched pillars
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Architecture at top level of Jehangir Mahal
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Gujari Mahal as seen from top
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Vikram Mahal is one more palace in this complex which is built by son of Mansingh. The Jehangir Mahal and Vikram Mahal shares same complex though the entries are different.
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This is Jauhar Kund. The royal ladies have made suicide in this kund when Mughal sultanate taken over this fort. I remembered the Jauhar Kund on Chittorgarh where royal ladies have jumped in fire, here they jumped in water.
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Seems this structure was built lately by British who took over this fort at later period. There was no information related to it.
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We returned to main gate from here. On the way clicked this pic showing Karan Mahal and Gwalior fort
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We came out of fort complex. Near the gate there are 2-3 stalls selling patties, tea, wafer, and cold drinks. It was lot of walking and climbing we have done to explore the fort hence we stopped here and took Kulhad tea to refresh ourselves.

I observed that there are no signboards anywhere to reach other attractions of fort. I used Gmaps to traverse on fort towards Saasbahu Temple. The original name of this temple is “Sahasrabahu” which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Tickets of fort needs to be shown here at the entrance. There is another temple in same complex which is bit smaller as compared to this one.

The locals called the big temple as “Saas” (mother-in-law)
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The other temple is known as “Bahu” (daughter in law)
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Information related to temple near gate
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We first entered Saas temple. It was having some amazing cravings on pillars and roof
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Heavy roof is of rock and has been supported by four pillars
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Closeup of carvings on pillar
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There is no deity or idol worshipped in this temple. The inner sanctum is a stay location of bats now!
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We then moved into “Bahu” temple. There were less carvings inside as compared to Saas temple.
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From here we went straight ahead towards “Teli Ka Mandir”. Fort tickets need to be shown at the entrance. There is good amount of parking space near the temple. The temple is built somewhere around 9th century. The temple is taller for approx. 35 to 40 meters
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Carvings on outer walls of temple
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A Greek design but some says that those pillars were created to support the upper part of temple.
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There are no sculptures or deity inside temple as most of them have been broken down and ruined by Mughals in their ruling time. As of now there is strong dirty smell of bats inside it.

There is a small garden outside temple where these broken sculptures, carved stone and decorative pieces are being kept.
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Mandapa where marriages used to take place.
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The monuments and temples on fort area seriously need some good maintenance by authorities. There is not a single signage board throughout the area for reaching these temples. I have seen few people walking down the road to reach these temples.

Near to this temple is Gurudwara hence we moved ahead towards it. The gurudwara is well maintained with planned and proper parking space.
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It was very calm and peaceful environment inside. We sat here for some time.
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Display of arms
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The Gurudwara serve very tasty Langar which we had along with Prashad. There is a doordarshan tower near to the complex
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It was almost noon when we descended the fort and came back into city. I have pinned Jai Vilas palace as our next destination. Google has rerouted me in between and took me inside market area which was congested with lot of two wheelers. Somehow from somewhere I again came back to MotiMahal.

I stopped my car and asked local about JaiVilas palace. After following the advice, I reached the gate which was closed. There was security inside who said that I need to get at least 270 degrees around to reach the proper entrance gate. By taking some rights and lefts I somehow reached the main entrance of palace. There is not a single signage I came across showing you the way towards palace. There is ample parking space where they take Rs.50 per car.
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This palace is private property which is still used by royal family of Scindia. The palace has now been converted into a museum. Sometimes they do close palace for visitors when there is any royal guest or function.
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The entry ticket is quite expensive which is Rs.300 per person. One need to deposit the bags and purses into a locker and carry its key along with them. All staff inside compulsory wears masks and you too must strictly wear it inside. There are different halls and sections exhibiting items which were used in day-to-day life of royal family. Few halls are rooms showing how the princely family used to live.
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Silver chariot
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Breakfast room
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Queens bedroom
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Kings’ bedroom
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Kings procession on elephant
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Prayer room
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Guest halls
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It is said that this is largest carpet of Asia. It was prepared by prisoners. The carpet has photos of kings woven on it. It took around 12 years to complete the masterpiece. There is low light in this area just because the authorities want to preserve it from reflection and heat.
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Glass fountain inside one courtyard
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Heavy chandeliers
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The banquet room is the biggest room where they have made different sitting arrangements. This is the sitting arrangement for Veg food
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Sitting arrangement for non-Veg food
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This table has track on it where a silver toy train used to move carrying a cargo like Cigars, Liquor for the guests.
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The silver toy train having silver engine and seven silver carriages. The train used to stop as soon as the guest picks up the cargo and starts again as soon as it was kept.
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A hall beside banquet
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Round table for conference
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Usage of glass to support railings of steps
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One more hall
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The famous Darbar Hall. One can see two chandeliers hanging on roof which are having weight of 3.5 ton each. The king has suspended some eight[RKX(ZTLaC1] elephants to check the strength of ceiling before fixing these chandeliers. There are some 250 bulbs inside one chandelier
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Gold is used to decorate ceiling
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Indian tigers are showcased
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The last section shows fire burners and utensils those were used in royal kitchens in those days
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It almost took an hour to see all the halls inside palace.
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We reached to our hotel and relaxed for couple of hours. The langar in Gurudwara had made sure that there is no need of any food later. It was great!

In evening we once again visited the old market of Gwalior to taste some street food. We went to Bahadura Sweet which is famous for their motichur ladoo and Gulabjamuns. In my life I have came across this first sweet shop who sells just these two items from past couple of years. Our late prime minister Shri. Atalbihari Vajpaye also used to come here during his visit to Gwalior. The ladoos are so soft that it literally gets dissolved in your mouth.

A little ahead of this is situated the famous shop “S.S.Kachoriwala”. The crowd near the shop itself speaks lot about them. We had some delicious Kachoris, Samosas, Dahi tikki, Aloo tikki and Lambi pani puri here. At last, on the corner, we sought the Falooda which made our dinner complete. We came back to our hotel and ended our day.

Continued in next post....
 
Thread Starter #7
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Day 7: Gwalior – Indore

This was the day when we have started our return journey. The roads are excellent which made us to reach Shivpuri within no time. The section from Shivpuri – Guna – Biaora sees some truck traffic along with you but its manageable. One need to keep sharp eye on road to check for cows else it would be a disaster as there are lot of cows on this stretch

Traffic got increased as we bypassed Dewas and were nearing Indore. The roads were also somewhat undulated and broken. We safely reached our hotel and relaxed for some hours.

In evening we headed towards the famous “Chappan Dukan” which is foodies’ paradise in Indore. They have renovated the area and now it has become green zone. Somehow the have not made any dedicated parking lot for four wheelers. One still need to park the car in front of shops in nearby lanes.
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I came here after 3 years. The crowd is same, the shops are same but slightly renovated and off course the taste is same. We have kachoris and Shikanji in Vijay Chat House. Some starters, sandwiches and icecream in other shop and purchased some namkeens in Agrawal Namkeens.
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The variety of sweets in Agarwal Sweet Shop
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Tried to capture the night life at Chappan
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We came back to hotel and ended our day !

Continued in next post....
 
Thread Starter #8
Joined
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Location
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Day 8: Indore – Pune

We have started a bit early from Indore this time to avoid late evening rush of Pune. The roads from Indore to Nashik are good in state with few bones jarring speed rumblers in between.
The patch between Dhule – Malegaon – Nashik has few sections where they have re-laid new tar hence the potholes were less as compared to my last drive few weeks before.
From Nashik till Pune the roads are good but faced some traffic post Alephata till Bhosari. We reached home safely with satisfaction that we have ticked few more items from our bucket list.

Points from trip:
  • Fastag worked seamlessly throughout. Bhopal bypass is still in old school age which accepts cash.
  • Always start early for long distance travel and exploring famous attractions as later the things become crowdy.
  • The evening in MP are colder hence one can carry a jacket or sweatshirt. It gets dark around 5:30pm itself hence plan your drives accordingly.
  • The traffic of Indore, Bhopal and Jhansi is quite rough. Most of the two-wheelers will crisscross you with higher speed near roundabouts.
  • The area of Mitaoli and Padhavli needs to be visited in day light as the area is remote and has no facilities throughout.
  • Street food in MP is a must try and cheap for pockets. For going into old markets its better to take auto instead of car as market areas are heavily congested and parking issue is always there
  • Highways in MP has lot of cattle menaces hence always keep sharp eye on road (especially the sitting cattle’s)
  • You can find many MP Tourism hotels where you can break the journey to have food. They have clean washrooms
  • Jaivilas palace is the only attraction I came across which has hefty entrance of Rs.300 per person. I felt that it was not value for money
Note: The images posted in this travelogue are clicked on mobile camera. We were not able to capture the pics of few street food as it was crowdie there and we were occupied with plates in hands.

I pay thanks for all those who have read this lengthy travelogue with patience!! [:D]
 

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