Feb 18, 2013

Off the beaten track- Chanderi, a town carved out of rock!


Chanderi Fort

After wandering around the temples and tombs in Orchcha I decided to visit Chanderi, a place known for its traditional sarees. It wasn't easy to reach this place using public transport. From Jhansi I took a bus to Lalitpur (95KM) and then another bus to Chanderi (40KM). Those 40KM from Lalitpur to Chanderi were never ending. The journey in a slow moving bus on almost mud-road was very painful. The bus could hardly carry the load. Unimaginable 3.5 hrs in human packed bus to cover 40KM ... Once I got off the bus I learned that no autorikshaws run in the town. Everyone around stared at me but when I asked for help they were extremely nice. There is a nice hotel here right near the fort.

A short history collected from internet- Chanderi is a village carved out of stone finds its mention in Mahabharatha period as Chedi. Also known as Chandrapura in the time of Nala-Damayanti where Nala left his wife Damayanti in the forests of Narwar. Chandrapura is present day Budhi Chanderi, a town built by Pratihara King Kirtipala. Chanderi was ruled by Pratiharas, Kachchwa Rajputs, Khilji, Malwa sultans, mughals and Bundelas. Then a large flourishing town it was desired by many rulers and hence has seen a lot of violence.

Chanderi Temples

Chanderi Fort, perched on top of 200m high hill Chandragiri, a 11th century fort originally built by Kirtipala, and was called Kirti Durga. Very less of this original fort is left. Later rulers have rebuilt and have left their footprints. One of the gates- Khooni Darwaaza, is the only gate of the fort still intact. It seems the Rajputs were slaughtered here, their corpses were thrown out of this gate and also displayed here. The blood flowed out of the gate and hence the name blood-soaked gate!!! Jauhar Monument is right outside the fort which was erected to commemorate the ceremony of Jauhar (mass suicide by jumping into the fire) performed by Rajaput ladies on the eve of Babur's conquest. Nearby is a very simple tomb of Baiju Bawara, a court musician of Raja Mansingh Tomar of Gwalior. He is believed to have defeated Tansen- a music legend who was one of the pearls of mughal court, in the court of Akbar.

Chanderi Badal Mahal
Badal Mahal Gate
Jageshwari Devi Temple, located on the way to the fort this temple may be built in 11th century Pratihara period or earlier. It is one of the shaktipeetas where Goddess's head fell. There are two legends associated with this temple. First, the Goddess came in the form of young child and spoke to Raja Kirtipala. She advised king to build a temple for her, keep the doors closed for nine days and she would emerge as the deity. But, curious king opened the doors before nine days. Because of this the only head of the goddess is seen in the sanctum. Also angry Goddess cursed him and so he suffered leprosy.  Another legend is much ancient from Mahabharatha time- King Shishupala, the King of Chedi, worshipped here. There are two Shivalingas on which around thousand lingas are carved and hence are called sahasralingas.

Lakshman Temple- located right on the banks of Parameshwar Tal, this temple was built by Bundela King Anirudh Singh in 18th century. Parameshwara Tank was a natural pond but now is contained in the walls. It is believed to be existing from the time of Raja Shishupala. The legend says that leprosy-stricken Kirthipala took a dip in this pond and was cured. Another legend says that a group of pilgrims took rest here on the banks of the pond. They kept the idol of Lakshmana they were carrying and went to sleep. When they woke up the idol didn't move and they built a shrine right here.

Badal Mahal Gate- Built by Mehamood Shah Khilji in 15th century this is an icon or defining monument of Chanderi. It is the most photographed monument of the town. From this gate the majestic view of the fort on hilltop can be seen. This gate is chosen by Indian postal department for the seal stamped on outgoing mail from Chanderi.  

Chanderi ruins

Koshak Mahal- An inscription near says that this structure was seven-storeyed of which only four have  survived today. This simple-elegant building with no ornaments has open halls and arches built in malwa, islamic, iranian, afghani and indian architectural styles it seems. Mehamood Shah Khilji built this for his wife Koshak where she gave birth to their son. I did spend a lot of time here to enjoy the cool breeze.

Shahi Madrasa- This ruin of a school is in a remote dry shrubby area. It has very beautiful jali work which I saw from outside as it was closed for visitors. Though known to be a school it has tombs inside. From the guide I heard that when Babur invaded Chanderi he was jealous of the beautiful school and he demolished the dome and placed two false tombs inside so it shouldn't be used as school anymore!

Shehzadi ka rauza- A 15th century tomb built by Hakim Khan, then Governor of Chanderi, in memory of his daughter Mehrunnisa. The story is ... the daughter loved an army chief against her father's wish, annoyed father killed the army chief and the daughter killed herself! Sad with grief of his daughter's suicide father constructed this tomb and buried both lovers together.

Khooni darwaaza bawara tomb jauhar memorial

Kati Ghati gateway- An inscription from 15th century mentions that this gate was cut out of the rock mountain on the order of Jamin khan during the reign of Ghias Khan, a Malwa sultan to connect Chanderi with Malwa and Bundelkhand. Drive up the mountains and the view from the top of the gate are worth visiting. It seems a mason carved this gate in one night single handedly and missed to  provide hinges for the doors. Jiman Khan refused to pay the mason for not providing the hinges!!

Battisi Baoli- A stepped tank which is four storeys deep built during Ghiyasuddin Khilji's rule in 15th century. 

Nizamuddin Tombs- It is a beautiful compound in which there are numerous graves belonging to Nizamuddin family. The walls here have panels that have intricate stone lattice work. Guide here gave some information ... these tombs are believed to be belonging to a 14th century Saint Hazarat Nizamuddin Aulliya's family ... also there is a belief that these belong to a writer Nizamuddin Ahmed Bhakshi who wrote Tabakat-i-akbari. Well, who-ever it belongs to ... the lattice work on the walls is beautiful! The door to the compound is kept closed and when I was looking around wondering who to ask, two small girls came by with a huge grin on their faces and opened the lock. Good that I had few chocolates in my bag!

kati ghati nizamuddin tomb battisi baoli

Jami Masjid- This structure with three domes is still living mosque and is used for prayers.

Chanderi Museum- is a magnificent building displaying sculptures and ancient artifacts in different galleries, viz., history of Chanderi, Jain, Vishnu, open air and others. A must visit museum if you are in Chanderi. The staff also give info about the other places of interest in and around Chanderi. I wanted to visit Budhi Chanderi, the ancient town now reduced to ruins in the forest. But, museum staff asked me not to.

I thought of those beautiful sarees! Unfortunately the market was closed and I got into a weavers house which I found on the way back from the fort. The senior-weaver was kind enough to show me his work. I wondered those expensive, delicate and vibrant sarees are weaved in dark rooms big enough just to keep the loom! I bought one saree which is beautiful light pink in color with golden zari work.

I was stuck here in Chanderi for two days as the public transport was shut off during Holi festival (a festival of colors in India). No shops were open and hardly people were seen on the roads. Only police petrol jeeps were roaming around. And so I had to run through the monuments before there was any communal or any kind of tension started. That is why you see only record-shots in the post than any good photography. After a month of running around in Madhya Pradesh I got a day of forced rest! I slept all through the day and night. Cable TV had all the channels ... I watched Star Plus-Gopi Bahu, Sony-CID. It was also an unfortunate day that a Superintendent of Police was killed by stone mafia. I spent rest of the day watching the news channels wondering if there will be any tension in Madhya Pradesh!! Next morning I took the first bus out to Shivapuri.
---

Note: All the historic events and information is collected from internet and the guide.

Leave a comment to share your beautiful thoughts :)

Click HERE to read more articles about Madhya Pradesh.
Click HERE to read complete Backpacking India series.

If you want pictures please ask me :)
---
Creative Commons License
Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

21 comments:

  1. I truly appreciate your enthusiasm to take off the beaten path Kusum.Reader can see how much places to visit and things to do exists in small town like Chanderi.Very well written and thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its a historical place and people who like history will definitely like this place.

      Delete
  2. Lovely place. That is an interesting post with nice write up and pictures. Love reading your MP chronicles.

    http://www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you like the article. Yes, MP itself is very interesting just like rest of India :)

      Delete
  3. Excellent, fascinating post, Kusum!, and superb captures! You do indeed have a beautiful, fascinating world! Thank you for sharing it with us!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sylvia. India has very interesting places to visit :)

      Delete
  4. An area rich with history. Lovely photos. I like the temple by the water.

    ReplyDelete
  5. India is extremely rich in history and ruins.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you are right! India has many interesting ruins.

      Delete
  6. Beautiful pictures! Thank you for taking us to this wonderful short trip ...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lovely shots of this fascinating place.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Fascinating post. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

    ReplyDelete
  9. that sounds like quite the adventure. glad you got a saree in the end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Pearl! Yes, I did get one :)

      Delete
  10. Travelling without the comforts of taxis/rickshaws or good roads can be trying but adventurous. At least there were some stunning building and scenes to capture ;-) (visiting from Our World Tuesday meme).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to my blog, Joyful. And you are right. It was very tiring but, the history was in abundance.

      Delete
  11. Indeed a great post with wonderful photo gallery.
    Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

I would appreciate to have your precious thoughts, suggestions and kind encouraging words in comments. Please do not include self-promotional links.I am encountering some problems because of these links and hence I may not publish them.