Maheshwar

Unknown India-Maheshwar is the Varanasi of Madhya Pradesh

How many of you have heard about Maheshwar? I would bet that very few from among you would be aware of this Varanasi of Madhya Pradesh.The land of the famous Maheshwar Saris, Ahilya Fort, and the world famous Narmada ghats awaits you.

 Many travelers to Madhya Pradesh know only about tigers, jungles, and Khajuraho and I hope Madhya Pradesh Tourism does some serious marketing of Maheshwar.

But Madhya Pradesh is a state of many mysteries. It is like the famous Russian dolls- each doll holds another one inside it, you know what I mean, don’t you?

Maheshwar
Dawn on the Narmada

Maheshwar- about legends and folklore

 

Many Indian towns and cities are associated with folklore and legends, but Maheshwar is different.

This ancient town, which is on the banks of the Narmada, is as old as Varanasi and packs in several legends. The dates of some of these legends go back to several, several thousands of years. You think it is weird, then you are not an exception. India is the land of fables and legends and my job is to share them with you.

History of Maheshwar

 

Have you watched the film, Bahubali? You will remember the name of a city, Mahishmati, in the film. Well, this town is closely connected with Mahishmati. Some writers like Sankalia, Bose, and Francis Wilford say that Maheshwar and Mahishmati are the same.

I brought up the subject of Mahishmati (महिष्मति) because various travelers and historians have failed to find out this ancient town.

Mahishmati is believed to have existed till 13th century AD. This town was also the capital of the Kalchuri kings who lived in Central India.

The earliest known Kalachuri family (c. 550–620 ce) ruled in northern MaharashtraGujaratMalwa, and parts of the western Deccan and probably had their capital at Mahishmati in the Narmada River valley. Three members of the family—Krishnaraja, Shankaragana, and Buddharaja—are known from epigraphs and coins distributed over a wide area. Although the rise of the Badami Chalukyas ended Kalachuri power in the early 7th century, the dynasty seems to have lingered in the Malwaregion until a late date. (source- Encyclopedia Brittanica)

Many ancient Indian epics like Ramayana and Mahabharat mention Mahishmati. This was the capital of King Kartaveerya Arjun, who was the Lord of the World.

Some experts, however, consider the temple town of Omkareshwar as the site of Mahishmati.

However, according to the majority opinion, Mahishmati and Maheshwar are one and the same.

Maheshwar
The sky and the pavilion. Creds- Pinterest

The story of Kartaveerya Arjun

 

If I told you that the King of Maheshwar had 1000 arms, what would your reaction be? You will exclaim, of course, no?

His name was Kartaveerya Arjun but I doubt he actually had 1000 arms. Probably, this King was very powerful in his time and controlled several thousand kingdoms. You know how stories convert into legends.

Arjun lived in Mahishmati and had several wives in his palace. Some people say that he had 500 wives!

This king is mentioned in the Ramayana and Mahabharat and if you want to read more about him then please read this book;  

The wives of Arjun wanted a large playing area so the king stopped the flow of the mighty Narmada that was flowing close by.

While the king and his party were enjoying themselves, in came Ravana, the King of Lanka.

Ravana was another powerful king and had 10 heads! He was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva too and always carried a Shivaling with him.

Finding an open ground, Ravana placed the Shivaling upon it and began praying to the Lord.

Meanwhile, Arjun was finished with his merrymaking and so undammed the Narmada. He did not know that Ravana was worshipping on the river bed nearby!

As the Narmada gushed down the river bed, its waters swept off the precious Shivaling of Ravana. He was zapped and did not know what happened all of a sudden.

And then he found out the reason for his discomfort.

10 heads and 1000 arms

 

No prizes to guess what happened next. There was a furious battle between Ravana and the 1000-armed Kartaveerya Arjuna. Both were battle-hardened fighters and extremely powerful kings.

Ravana challenged Arjuna to a duel which the latter declined haughtily. Arjun considered Ravana with contempt.

But Ravana was Ravana. He was arrogant but did not know the power of Arjun. Ravana thought that he was the most powerful king in the world.

A bitter battle ensued which led to a humiliating defeat of Ravana. He was tied down by ropes and put in a jail by Arjun.

So, the next time when you visit Maheshwar, replay this story in your mind.

The Cow and Arjun

 

Then there is another story about Maheshwar that you must know and this one again relates to Arjun.

One day, he and his army were passing through a jungle. It was a hot day and all these people were feeling tired and thirsty but there was no soul in sight which could help them.

After walking for a few miles, they came to an ashram of Sage Jamdagni. He had a cow that used to give lots of milk and other kinds of food to the travelers, free.

Jamdagni offered those goodies to these tired travelers and lo and behold, these people regained their energy in no time!

But Arjun was a greedy fellow. He demanded the cow from Jamdagni but the Sage refused. The King became angry and killed his host for refusing his demand.

After killing the Sage, Arjun captured the cow and left the premises. He had just stolen the cow of one of the most important saints.

Unlike Jamdagni, who was a peaceful man, Parashuram was the polar opposite. His DNA was made up of anger and Parashu, or axe was the son’s favorite weapon.

Maheshwar
Timing!

When Parashuram came back in the evening, his mother told him about the murder and mayhem. Of course, the son was filled with uncontrollable rage.

Losing no time, Parashuram caught up with his father’s killer and killed Arjun. Parashuram had finally fulfilled his vow.

So you see, Maheshwar is known for this legend too.

Agni and the girl

 

While researching on Maheshwar, I came across a very interesting fact about this town. Until now, I hadn’t known that this ancient Madhya Pradesh town allowed girls to marry according to their choice!

Yes, that is true.

But what is the origin of this practice?Again, there is a story behind this as well.

Several thousands of years ago, Agni, the God of Fire had promised to protect Maheshwar as long as its people allowed their daughters and sisters to marry according to their choice.

The Fire God was forced to grant this promise because he was a secret lover of the daughter of a brahman living in Maheshwar. Every day, when the brahman lit his sacred fire, Agni used to gaze secretly at the daughter.

The father was, quite obviously, unaware of these developments until one day when he saw Agni and his daughter in an embrace.

The brahman became angry at Agni and was about to curse him when the God gave him a solemn promise. Agni promised the brahman that Maheshwar would stay protected as long as the girls of the town were allowed to marry put of pure love.

Did Maheshwar remain a safe city down the ages? Do the research and let me know.

Also read- Ujjain and its Kumbh Mela

City of Ahilya

 

In relatively modern times. Maheshwar was the capital of Ahilya Bai Holkar.

Ahilya was an amazing woman of her day and age and has left an indelible impression on Indian history.

Maheshwar
Ahilya Fort. Creds- Flickr

She was married at an early age to a king of Central India. Her husband, however, died quite early and left her with small kids. Many people expected that Ahilya would commit sati and join her husband in heaven. Ahilya was just 29 when she became a widow.

Many people expected that Ahilya would commit sati and join her husband in heaven. However, her father-in-law dissuaded her from committing suicide and asked her to lead a normal life. Ahilya considered her father-in-law as her father and accepted his advice.

Unfortunately, after a few months of her husband’s death, her father-in-law too expired. Ahilya’s subjects later crowned her as the Queen of the Holkar kingdom.

The young queen did an admirable job and defended her people stoutly against the Muslim invaders. She also constructed several temples, dharmshalas and other buildings for her people.

Ahilya encouraged her people, especially the women, to study and be self-reliant.

When you go to Maheshwar, you will not fail to be impressed by the magnificent Ahilya fort on the banks of Narmada.

Maheshwar Saris

 

One of the everlasting legacies of Queen Ahilya is the Maheshwar saris. These saris were introduced to the people of Maheshwar by Ahilya. She actually invited various artisans and weavers from the Gujarat city of Surat to teach the Maheshwar artisans this art.

Block Printed Cotton Maheshwari Saree in Yellow
Maheshwar Saris. Creds- Utsav Fashion

Today, these saris are always on the bucket list of every traveler to Maheshwar.

Places to see in Maheshwar

 

Having delved into the history of Maheshwar, let us go the important places of this town;

  1. Ahilya Fort- This was the palace of Queen Ahiyabai Holkar. If you want to see the setting sun on the banks of Narmada, then this is the place to be in.
  2. Sahastrarjuna Temple- As is evident, this temple was made for Lord Shiva by the famous king, Kartaveerya Arjun. The original temple has been replaced by a newer construction.
  3. Rajrajeshwar Temple- The ceiling of this temple is made of glass and when you visit this place, you will see that the temple is lit by thousands of lamps. These lamps have been burning continuously for hundreds of years.
  4. Ahilya Chhatri- Interested in visiting the memorial of Queen Ahilya? Then visit this place.
  5. Vindhyavasini Temple- This temple is one of the Shaktipeeths of India. If you want to invoke Shakti, then visit this temple.
  6. Sahastradhara- This is a place where the Narmada splits up into several streams.
Maheshwar
If you have an HDR camera, Maheshwar is the place to capture images

Maheshwar has more than 100 temples and this is the reason why this town is called the Varanasi of Madhya Pradesh.

Important hotels

 

Booking a hotel in Maheshwar is not very difficult. Madhya Pradesh Tourism operates a property in the town and you can book one of its rooms online.

Check out these hotels in Maheshwar- Hotel Devarshi, Kanchan Recreation, and Hotel Sanginee. Fares range from rs. 2,500 to Rs. 850/-

How to reach Maheshwar

 

This town is just 90 kilometers from Indore. You can reach Indore by taking a train or a flight.

Upon reaching Indore, book a cab and reach Maheshwar easily.

The best time to reach Maheshwar is from October to March.

Traveler’s Tip- Club your visit to Maheshwar with Ujjain and Omkareshwar.

 

Did you like this article on Maheshwar? I hope to get your feedback, dear friends.

Thanks for reading this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gorakhnath temple

Why Yogi Adityanath’s Gorakhpur must be on your travel bucket list in 2017

Who is Yogi Adityanath

Yogi Adityanath is the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. He is a no non sense man and will ensure that this state becomes safe for more than a million travelers coming to UP every year. For people planning to explore offbeat destinations in UP, it is indeed good news.

He is a member of the Nath order of Hindus. This order ( sect) can be roughly equated with the  Sufis in Islam. I am drawing this comparison for the benefit of people coming from abroad to India. This comparison may not be true for sure but I hope you get the gist.

Hindus have several sects and the Nath sect is one of them. The fundamental aim of the Naths is to achieve liberation in this life itself. Members of this sect do not want to take rebirth after their death. The idea is to commit oneself to a life of goodness and virtue to avoid the cycle of birth and death.

How old is this sect?

More than a thousand years. The Naths consdider Lord Shiva as their Adi Guru or the source of their learnings and inspiration. Matsyendranath is one of the most important teachers of this sect and lived more than 1200 years ago. You can say that Yogi Matsyendranath is the founder of this sect. He was a simple fisherman who later on became the head of this sect.

Where is the headquarter of this sect?

Gorakhpur in the north-eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Ok, got it. So why have you written about Yogi Adityanath in this post? Doesn’t it make it political?

No. Many people feel that this Yogi will clean up the law and order mess of Uttar Pradesh. He is a non nonsense man and does not have any agenda. The Yogi does not have any family so we can be sure that he will not be corrupt.

Will he make Gorakhpur an attractive travel destination?

I think he will. The Yogi will have to make his home constituency attractive for travelers to UP.

For example, one of the travel destinations in Gorakhpur is Kushinagar. This place is associated with Gautam Buddha and was the site for his cremation. It is located 52 kilometers east of Gorakhpur and is a holy place for many Sri Lankans, Japanese and other people. You can say that a safer Uttar Pradesh means more visitors to Kushinagar.

Gorakhpur
Remains of Stupas in Kushinagar Wiki)

Kushinagar is one of the oldest cities in India. Many people believe that it was founded by Kush, one of the sons of Lord Rama.

Kushinagar temple
Buddha Temple, Kushinagar

What are the other places of interest in Gorakhpur?

The most important place in Gorakhpur is the Gorakhnath temple. It is devoted to Guru Gorakhnath who lived several thousands of years ago. He is one of the most important gurus of the Nath sect.

images of Gorakhnath temple के लिए चित्र परिणाम
Gorakhnath Temple (Tripdvisor)

Another important place worth visiting is the Arogya Mandir which cures people of several disabilities. If you want to learn Yoga, then this camp is suited for you. Per person fees is 11, 000 INR.

If you are spiritually inclined person then you should visit the Gita Press, publishers of several books for spiritual development. Millions of Indians read the Gita Press books for uplifting themselves from disappointment and sadness.

How to reach Gorakhpur

You can take an overnight train from Delhi to Gorakhpur. This city is well connected with Lucknow and Varanasi as well.



most amazing travel destinations- Allahabad, the city of the dropped nectar

One of the most amazing travel destinations in India is Prayag or Sangam. Though, there are several places to visit in India, I would say that this one of the places you must visit if you are in India during January. The city plays host to one of the most important Indian festivals– Magh Mela.

Allahabad has a long story behind it. After reading it you will understand why the city is one of the many places of interest to not just Indians but many foreign travellers as well.

The story of Allahabad or Prayag or Sangam

The city is as old as, if not older than Benares. Legends say that the creator of the universe, Bramha offered his first sacrifice at Prayag. Brahma is one of the three Gods in the Hindu civilization. So you can imagine why this town is so important to many Indians.

Another name of Allahabad is Sangam, meaning the place where there is a meeting of three rivers- Ganga, Yamuna and the Saraswati. While the first two can be seen mingling into each other, the Saraswati is a mythical river, an ‘invisible’one.

most amazing travel destinations
Millions of Indians visit the Sangam to was away their  sins

Nobody knows who founded the city. It is a secret to many of us living here in India. What we do know is that many historical characters are associated with Prayag. Lord Rama, the hero of Ramayana is believed to have visited this city . He lived more than 10, 000 years ago, many Hindus believe. Rama spent his time in the ashram of Sage Bharadwaj. An ashram is like a hostel. This ashram still exists in the heart of the city and is one of the places of interest. No wonder, Allahabad is one of the most amazing travel destinations in the world.

Akshay Vat- The Indestructible Tree

In Allahabad there is an ancient tree, Akshay Vat, which has survived  thousands of years . In the 16 th century, a Mughal emperor, Jahangir tried to burn it down. However, it survived. If you want to visit this tree, you will have to take the permission of the Army. The tree is within a fort controlled by the Army.

most amazing travel destinations
Akshay Vat has survived for more than 5000 years. courtesy Panoramio

For the archaeologist, Allahabad is treasure trove for Iron Age artefacts.

Have you read  about King Yayati? Read on because Allahabad is closely related to this king.

The story of Yayati

Yayati was the king of the entire  world and the son of Nahusha. As was the practice those days, one day Yayati went hunting. He saw the girl of a famous Rishi and married her. Her name was Devyani.

Devyani had a friend , Sharmishtha who was equally pretty. Yayati fell for her too.. When Devyani came to know about it, she complained to her father, Rishi Shukracharya. The Rishi was livid. He felt insulted by the king’s behaviour. The Rishi cursed the king and made him an old man. Yayati was crestfallen as he had just begun to enjoy his life.

Yayati wants to enjoy youth

The king had five sons. He approached each one of them , asking for their youth. But, except for Puru, his youngest son, nobody wanted to their youth and vitality with the king’s old age. Puru, on the other hand was ready to see his father young again. Yayati was mightily pleased with Puru. After a few days os enjoying his new found youth, Yayati came back to Puru and took back his old age from his son. Now it was the turn of Yayati to make his son happy. Puru got his dad’s kingdom. In due course, the young prince, Puru founded the dynasty of Pauravas, an important kingdom in India. The Pauravas or the Kauravas are the central figures in India’s epic , Mahabharata.

From Hastinapur to Allahabad

The Pauravas ruled from Hastinapur, until it was destroyed by floods a few thousands of years back. After the town was destroyed, they came back to Prayag and established their new capital at Kaushanbi, which is 40 kilometres from Prayag. If you  plan  a trip to India , include Kaushambi in your itinerary.

The Mauryan Connection

If you are a history aficionado. Allahabad is one of the places to visit in India . It is one of the Mauryan sites where the Mauryan king, Ashoka had erected one of his pillars .

And the Guptas too

Prayag was an important city during the reign of the Guptas too. One of the Gupta kings, Samudragupta , had spent a lot of his time here.

most amazing travel destinations
The Ashoka Pillar carries inscriptions of 3 kings- Ashoka, Samudragupta and Jehangir. credits Wiki

The Magh Mela

Every year in January, millions of Indians converge on the banks of Ganga and celebrate Magh Mela. Magh is an Indian word for January and Mela means festival.

most amazing travel destinations
Magh Mela starts January onwards. Credits- Pinterest

When the Sun starts its annual journey towards the Tropic of Cancer , Indians celebrate this ritual by bathing in the Ganga. For us, it is a season of happiness and hope. This is a  period  of fasting and praying. The Mela grounds near the Ganga have a surreal feeling around them. This festival goes on for the next 14 days.

 

most amazing travel destinations
Devotees spend the next one month fasting and praying. courtesy International Business Times

Allahabad also hosts the Kumbh Mela, a festival that draws tens of millions of people to these grounds. Amazing, isn’t it?

The story of Kumbh Mela

Allahabad marks one of the spots where a few drops of the holy nectar spilled down from a vessel carried by Garuda. The celestial carrier of Vishnu  was trying to take away the nectar from the asuras, enemies of the devas.

There are so many interesting stories  about this ancient place. Alas, I cannot share all of them with you but, I hope you are now sufficiently motivated to travel to this place.

The best time to travel to Allahabad is January.

How to reach Allahabad

Check out the various trains from Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata to Allahabad at this site . This is a Government of India website and is absolutely trustworthy.

There are flight options too but they are expensive.

If you are planning to travel to several places in India like Agra and Varanasi, I would recommend you to take a cab to Allahabad. It is just 250 kilometers from Benares.

 

 

 

 

 

Indian offbeat destinations

Indian offbeat destinations- Where the Vindhyas kneel down

Jhukehi is not one of those typical Indian offbeat destinations  where you arrive by a train, get into a nice hotel, backpack around , take pictures and leave a couple of days later. It is just a train halt but has an interesting folklore behind it. Why? Read on…

Indian offbeat destinations
The mighty Vindhyas bow down here

But, where is Jhukehi?

 

Indian offbeat destinations
Location of Jhukehi on the map

I am not sure whether this map can be easily read by a typical reader but the passionate traveller will easily interpret it. Jhukehi marks the spot where there is a gap in the Vindhyan range. This gap is of strategic importance as it helps in the movement of men and materials between the northern and southern parts of India.

Indian offbeat destinations
Not a typical Indian destination

But why are we talking about Jhukehi?

Good question. Why should this mountain pass deserve this attention here?

Well, many thousands of years ago, there lived a sage in India, Agastya. He was well regarded, was knowledgeable and lived in North India. Sage Agastya is considered to be the son of Sage Pulastya, one of the saptarshis or the 7 stars of the Great Constellation.

Sage Agastya is also the elder brother of Sage Vashishtha , the preceptor of Lord Rama, the hero in Valmiki Ramayana.

Agastya rishi is as  equally revered in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka as in North India.

But, we are digressing, aren’t we? We were discussing the significance of Jhukehi, one of the Indian offbeat destinations.

Breaking the ego!

One day, Sage Agastya resolved that he would travel to the region south of the Vindhyas. At that time, the Vindhyas , full of arrogance and ego, were becoming taller by the day. The mountains were being taunted by Narada everyday about their ‘low height’. Agastya was aware of the mountain’s ego and haughtiness and wanted to teach the Vindhyas a lesson.

When the sage reached the Vindhyas, the mountain, bowed its head in respect.

‘O sage, I bow my head to you, kindly cross over my head and resume your journey, ‘ the mountain said. The sage was amused. ‘Ok then, I shall cross over your head, but how long will you bow your head?’, he asked.

‘I shall bow my ahead as long as you return from your journey, Sir’, the mountain replied.

Ok, Agastya replied, wait for my return.

Indian offbeat destinations
The mountain bows its head to the Sage

The mountain has been waiting for the sage to return ever since. The small hill that you see in the image above is said to be the head of the mountain. Isn’t it a delightful story?

So as I said, Jhukehi is not a destination in the popular sense. It is just a train halt and  falls on the Jabalpur- Satna train route. in Hindi Jhukehi means ‘to bow’.

I hope Madhya Pradesh Tourism acknowledges this train halt as another interesting spot in the tour and travel circuit in the state. The state abounds in many such offbeat destinations and I guess, a lot of such stories like this one will have to come out to promote them.

Did you like this story? Thanks for reading up on this post.

 

 

 

Rajasthan offbeat destination

Rajasthan offbeat destination- Mesmerizing Menal awaits you

Rajasthan offbeat destination
                                                             Magnificent Menal

This  Rajasthan offbeat destination at Menal will simply floor you with its delights.

Dear readers, I have written  about another Rajasthan offbeat destination in one of my earlier posts as well but Menal is simply out of the world.

Menal is located roughly 90 kilometers from Chittorgarh  on the road to Bundi. It is also known as ‘Khajuraho of Rajasthan’. There is another great  Rajasthan  destination that has the same title- Jagat. When you reach Menal you will understand why this place makes you remember Khajuraho, this place is astoundingly beautiful.

Rajasthan offbeat destination

 

Menal is the corrupted form of ‘Mahanal’ or the ‘Great Gorge’. As you drive on the road from Kota towards the temple complex at Menal, you can hear the sound of a river rushing alongside. You simply cannot escape its roar. The river follows you as an invisible friend , hidden in the jungle that lines the road.

At Menal, the river descends 100 meters down with a deafening roar.After the descent, the water splits into a number of small streams that run over the granitic floor.

Rajasthan Offbeat Destination

At this Menal be prepared for a visual feast of verdant hills, water and a temple complex that is more than 1000 years old!The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva.

Rajasthan offbeat Destination
Nandi, the loyal secretary of Lor Dhiva

Experts say that this temple complex was built by the Chahmans or Chauhans. This was a dynasty that ruled large parts of Central and Western India. The king who made this temple was Someshwar. The main part of this temple complex is on the left bank of the gorge and was built by the king. His wife had a monastery built for the monks on the other side of the river. Her name was Suhavadevi and she belonged to the Shakambhari dynasty.

Rajasthan offbeat destination

 

The Menal complex has some amazing images of young ladies such as this one.

Rajasthan offbeat destination

The Khajuraho connect can be seen here

Rajastha offbeat destination
Carvings at the Mahanal Temple in Menal, Rajasthan, India, Asia

The Chauhans were ferocious fighters and were most of the times engaged in fratricide with fellow rulers. The most famous Chauhan was Prithviraj Chauhan who is considered by many as the king of Delhi and Ajmer. I have written a post on his fights with the king of Bundelkhand. Read it, you will like it.

What is the story of the ageless warrior of India

Menal is not known as a popular destination on the Rajasthan travel circuit. But I am sure that this quaint and pretty place gets its due attention from the travellers.

Rajasthan offbeat destination
The facade of the temple

How to reach Menal

Menal can be reached only through road. When you drive from Udaipur to Jaipur, take a detour to Kota from Chittorgarh. 10 kilometres from Chittorgarh, you will encounter another offbeat Rajasthan destination. Click here to know more about it. 

If you want to book hotels on the way, click on this Rajasthan Tourism website http://tourism.rajasthan.gov.in/ .

 

India Travel

India Travel- The haunted village of Madhyamika Nagri

 

India Travel
                               Credits- ASI

India Travel Blog today takes you to the abandoned village of Madhyamika. Is this place haunted? I do not know but the settlement does emit an eerie feeling. The locals are unsure why this once flourishing town ceased to exist more than a thousand years ago.

Where is Madhyamika located?

This “haunted” village is located roughly 10 kilometers north-east of Chittorgarh, Rajasthan. Readers of India Travel Blog can locate some interesting stories about Chittorgarh elsewhere in this blog. This town , which is now a village comprising 50 odd settlements, sits on the banks of Berach.

So, what is so special about Madhyamika?

Also known as Nagri, Madhyamika was an important centre during the Mauryan period.Ok, let me make it even simpler- Madhyamika was living its life during the times of Alexander of Macedonia. Yes, he was the same guy who tried invading India after getting the better of Iran and the Middle East. Since this town sat on the trade route from Afghanistan to the ports of Gujarat, it became an important trading centre for many.

We are talking about more than 2700 years ago!!!

But, let us come back to the original question- what is so special about Madhyamika or Nagri? According to legends, this town was founded by Raja Harishchandra. This Raja is one of the members of the solar race that comprises eminent kings like Raja Rama (the hero of Ramayana). You cannot really prove this assumption but coins as old as 3000 years have been said to be found here.

India Travel
            Was it a lighthouse that guided the travellers?

So, that makes Madhyamika or Nagri one of the oldest living settlements in India. Can we say that it rubs shoulders with Varanasi?

The legend of the Shibis

Ancient India had several republics or janapadas. One such janapada was the Shibi republic. The Shibis were residents of modern Punjab. It is conjectured that the Shibis were active participants in the war against Alexander of Macedonia. After this war, they migrated roughly south-east wards and settled in the area later known as Madhyamika. However, nothing is proven yet.

The city that faced the first sack

You would be amused to know that Nagri was the first Indian town to have faced the first sack by a foreign invader. It would have come as a surprise to the Nagri citizens because Indian kings never sacked the towns of the kings that they were at war with. The Sanskrit grammarian, Patanjali, has recorded this sack in his memoirs. Probably, the sack happened more than 2000 years ago.

India Travel

More than 600 years of existence

Nagri was a city that was in existence for roughly 600 years. Its disappearance is inexplicable. Some people surmise that an earthquake flattened it, while others ascribe its fall to frequent sackings and invasions.

A treasure trove of artefacts and coins

Even though there are very few traces of the haunted and abandoned  town of Madhyamika today, an alert traveller can still find a few coins , idols, figurines and other artefacts. India Travel Blog strongly recommends that if you find anything interesting, please hand it over to the government authorities for safe keeping.

Nagri has ceased to exist but its legend carries on. Not many travellers know about it. But, gradually, over a period of time, people interested in unknown destinations are getting to know about such places , which is a good sign.

How to reach Nagri?

If you are driving from Chittorgarh towards Jaipur, then the best way to reach here is via a car or a taxi. You will have to take a slight detour towards the right away from the highway. The nearest airport is at Udaipur.

Other places of interest near by are Gagron, Chittor and Kota-Bundi area.

Did you find this post by India Travel Blog interesting? Please let me know .

Thanks

 

India Travel Blog

India Travel- Khajuraho of Rajasthan,Ambika Mandir

Your India travel plans would be incomplete if you did not visit the temple of Ambika Mata at Jagat. This place is located roughly 50 kilometers south-east of Udaipur, Rajasthan. Also known as the Khajuraho of Rajasthan, this temple complex is largely unknown to travellers headed to India..

The objective of India Travel Blog is to acquaint international visitors with the unknown gems in the travel circuit. Many of these unknown destinations have an appeal that borders on the hauntingly beautiful. I hope this India travel post will urge you to go to places that are a little far off from the beaten path.

Jagat is quite close to the world famous artificial lake , Jaisamand. This is the largest fresh water lake in India and was earlier known as Dhebar lake.

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                         courtesy Wiki

The Jagat temple is of recent origin. It  was constructed just a thousand years back.Historians say that it was made in 961 AD, the time when the crusades where in full swing in the Middle East.

The temple is devoted to Goddess Ambika. She is another version of the fierce Durga , the Goddess of War. The word Ambika means Mother. Goddess Durga can be really violent when she goes out to slay the enemies of humanity in a war but, she is equally benevolent and full of love to her children. The temple at Jagat celebrates the motherly virtues of the Goddess.

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                             Jagat Temple          courtesy; artandarchaeology.com

Can you see the red flags? They denote that the temple is used as a place of worship by the local residents.

While, Goddess Durga is widely associated with the Hindu thought, she is also considered a central figure by the Jains. It is said that she appeared in the dreams of Vimal, the builder of the world famous Delwara temples, and ordered her to make them.

But, why is this temple known as the Khajuraho of Rajasthan? Just have a look at this image and you will understand.

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                     Celestial Dancers

I am simply marvelling at these sculptures. The lady below is apparently removing a thorn from her feet. These ladies are not goddesses but are  celestial dancers. The Jagat temple has lots of such images.

The Jagat temple also has images of celestial musicians. Have a look athe image below.

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                          Celestial Musicians

The lady above who is a dancer in the heavens above, is carrying a veena or a stringed musical instrument.

Now look at the image below.In the left panel is a beautiful lady who is adjusting her robes while the next panel has two warriors trying to tame a vyala or a mythical animal. This animal  probably represents the passion amongst us.

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                     Beauty and the Beast

Now you agree with me that the Jagat temple can rightly be called Khajuraho of Rajasthan?

All this and much more at this temple at Jagat.

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                                    Temple Front View

How to reach Jagat Temple?

It is quite easy. You can book a Uber from Udaipur. Else, you may write to me at swayamt@gmail.com for getting a Uber cab. I am a Uber business partner and would be more than happy to take you around.

 

 

 

Visit Delhi

Visit Delhi- Mehrauli is much more than just Qutub Minar

Visit Delhi and you will be surprised to discover some hidden gems as travel destinations. In this post, I shall take you through the lanes of Mehrauli- one of the oldest villages of Delhi.

Visit Delhi
Qutub Minar

How to reach Mehrauli village?

Wondering about the unknown travel destinations of Delhi? Today, I take you to the back lanes of Mehrauli. I went walking to this amazing but secret part of Delhi and look, what I found? People interested in the history and culture of Delhi would definitely like this post.

You need to get down at the Qutub Minar Metro Station. Ensure that you have adequate water with you as walking around Mehrauli is quite a laborious affair. You also need to have a sturdy pair of boots.Don’t worry- the roads aren’t uneven. It is just that the monsoon slush does not dampen your feet.

To get into Mehrauli village, take the road that veers right from the entrance of the Qutub Complex. This way, the famous tower of Qutub will fall towards your left.

Visit Delhi
The Qutub stands tall and casts its gaze over this ancient village
Visit Delhi
Once upon a time, these streets carried the palkis and carriages of kings.

Why Mehrauli is a must on your itinerary when you visit Delhi

Since, it was a rainy day I did not feel the heat in the air- it was quite cool while walking.

But, let me tell you this- walking on this road gave me goosebumps! I wonder how many generations of people, kings, commoners etc  would have walked upon this ancient street.

Do you know that Mehrauli is one of the oldest settlements in the human history? Some people say it is more than 1000 years old!

Temple of Lord Krishna’s sister

A few metres ahead is the ancient temple of Yogmaya. She is the sister of Lord Krishna, one of the heroes of the mankind.I did not feel like taking the photograph of the temple. But, here is a snap of the two golden lions that guard the temple.

Visit Delhi
This golden lion guards the Yogmaya Temple

This temple is one of the most ancient temples of Delhi- it is more than 5000 years old! When, the Turks captured Delhi more than 800 years ago, they demolished it. The temple was renovated by King Hemu in the 16th century. The modern look of the temple is ascribed to its renovation in the `19th century.In fact, all the ancient temples in Delhi wear a modern look.

So, you see, Mehrauli is littered with monuments that are as old as 5000 years! Where else in the world can you such exciting monuments, where else?isn’t Mehrauli a backpacker’s paradise? Now, I hope you realize why this place is a must for all travellers planning to visit Delhi.

As you walk further down the road, you encounter an imposing monument towards your right. It is a grave and this one is dedicated to a noble who was killed by a medieval king, Akbar.

Interesting stat about this tomb- It was used as a party hall by the British officers!

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Adham Khan’s Tomb

No full stops in Mehrauli!

Though, Mehrauli was overrun by so many invaders over the past 1000 years, the it  still has  retained its life and colour. People in Delhi are generally lovers of life and energy and there are no full stops in Mehrauli too!

This is Shehzad who sells home made remedies to the locals here. All his “medicines” are stocked in a gunny bag. There is a speaker that belts out his message exhorting the passers by of the virtues of his drugs.

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Mehrauli is a melting pot of cultures

Shehzad is from Bengal which is more than 1500 kilometres from Delhi and there are many more such Bengalis working here. Over the years, Delhi has become a melting pot of many kinds of people, such is the allure of Delhi.

But,dear lovers of Delhi, do you know that there is a small memorial to the fallen soldiers of the British Indian Army who fought in the First World War (1914-1919)? Tell this to your friends when they are planning to visit Delhi after reading this.

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Memorial to the First World War

Arches and much more!

But,Mehrauli is still all colour after all these centuries of turmoil.And, if you have a keen pair of eyes, you can behold some fantastic looking arches and doorways.

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Arches, gateways, arches ! My heart aches!

In another part of Mehrauli, you see a lady selling rakhis or sacred threads that are supposed to ward off evil from brothers.

167The festival of rakhis is round the corner and the friendly lady is ready with her wares.

And in case you may want to buy gigantic cigarettes or hookahs, my dear friends , here is the shop.

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I am a non smoker, though!

Meanwhile, as I continue walking onward, I stumble upon yet another “ancient” temple. This one is dedicated to Lord Shiva , the God of Death. The temple is located on the Maharaja Agrasen Chowk. Maharaja Agrasen is the founding father of the trading community of North India and has a stepwell or “baoli” named after him in Central Delhi.

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And what dis we find here? A Jahaz! A Ship!

More surprises on the way…the next stop is this Jahaz Mahal whose origin is unknown.No one knows who constructed it but its architecture and form is appealing. Have a look.

Visit Delhi
Jahaz Mahal, Mehrauli

The word “Jahaz” means ship. Does this structure give you a feeling that you are looking at a ship?

I spotted a pillar bearing some words in Sanskrit.It was inverted and was supporting one of the canopies of the Jahaz Mahal. Is it possible that this structure was made by the demolished pillars of a pre existing Hindu temple or palace?

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Why was the pillar put up in such a manner? Any answers?

The words suggest that the pillar was erected in 1508 AD, more than 500 years back.

And, if you care to turn your head backwards, you will see an exquisite pond- Hauz Shamsi.

Monuments of Delhi
Hauz Shamsi

The legend says that the pond came into being after the hoof of the horse of Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish hit the ground.

Do you believe in this story?

Some trivia

Let us hit the road again and here is what we see- three dogs sleeping in a row.Wow! Such bliss and carelessness !

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Ok, let us cast our gaze on some ancient doors, please.

MehrauliYou can’t do away with these wires, they take the show away!

170And , can Mehrauli escape the traffic jams? Can it really? A three wheeler struggles to negotiate with the clogged Mehrauli streets.

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You will find cars and autos everywhere when you visit Delhi?

Cars..yes cars also try to make their way into Mehrauli! Why can’t the people understand these small things that these streets are far too narrow for vehicles?

Many people who visit Delhi for the first time notice far too many cars on Delhi roads.

So, that takes me to the end of this post my friends. I wanted  to introduce you the little known monuments of Mehrauli and Delhi as I believe that travel destinations such as these have a soul of their own.

I hope you like this post.


The Most Haunted Places In India-Kiradu

Most haunted places
Kiradu Temple

Kiradu is one of the least known places to visit in India. Does it have ghosts?What is the story of this haunted place?Why is it forbidden to stay here after dark?

I have been writing stories around the haunted destinations of India for the last few years.The idea is not to frighten my traveller friends but to encourage them to visit these places so that the local economy picks up. There are so many offbeat destinations in India that many of us hardly know about.And, almost all of these places have some weird and unlikely stories around them and I do not know how many of them are true. But, they do interest all of us, isn’t it?Otherwise, you would not be reading this fascinating post.

History of Kiradu

Kiradu is a village located between the two towns of Barmer and Jaisalmer in the state of Rajasthan.  If you want to travel to Kiradu, you will have to take a taxi or a car to reach here.

http://www.distancesbetween.com/road-map/driving-map-barmer-kiradu-temple/2982937/vi5/

More than a thousand years ago, Kiradu had a Sanskrit name, Kiradkot The word “Kirad” denotes the clan of Rajputs that used to live in this place and “Kot”means town or city. So, Kiradu was the city of Kirad Rajputs. Nowadays, it is a devastated village and has acquired the reputation of a haunted place.

The Kirad Rajputs were the vassals of the Chalukya or Solanki Rajputs. The word “Rajput” refers to the fighting arm of the Indian society. This arm used to defend the society against the foreign invaders.The Chalukyas are the guys who have made the world famous Somnath temple in Gujarat.

But, the Kirad Rajputs built an equally superb set of temples in Rajasthan.And, these came up in Kiradu.

What is the story of “Haunted Kiradu”?

The temples here are devastated. There are three theories behind this.

The first theory says that several thousands of years ago, there lived a holy man in the village with his disciples. One day, he decided to take a tour in the surrounding country. He called the villagers to his hut and shared his plans. “I am leaving my disciples to you, my dear people, and please take good care of them,” he requested them. The villagers agreed and so, the holy man left on his tour.

Most Haunted Places

But, the villagers ignored the holy man’s request, His disciples were left to their fate by the villagers and unfortunately, some of them died. It was a terrible time for them and all of them would have died but for the help provided by a local woman.She took good care of them but, her effort was not enough to save all of them.

A few months later when the holy man returned, he was stunned at seeing the condition of his people. Angered over the conduct of the villagers, the holy man cursed them and cast a spell over the village. But, he also felt a sense of piety for the friendly, helpful woman and so , he advised her to leave the village. “Leave the village but make sure to not turn your head back while leaving”, he advised to the woman.

Kiradu 2

The lady , heeding the advice of the holy man, left the village but, was quickly tempted to have one last look at the village where she had grew up.

But, as she turned back to have one last look at the village, she turned to stone!

Her stone statue is still present in the village , though, it is forbidden to take its photograph.

I am sure after reading this short story, you will be tempted to visit this haunted village. But, dear friends, please do not stay back in the village after dusk. This advice is given to the travellers by the locals.If you stay back then you may turn to stone!

The second theory behind the devastation of the village says that an earthquake visited this village.

The last theory says that the ruin of the village was caused by the Muslim armies that had invaded Rajasthan in the past.

This place has even allured the BBC to visit this place and record its history; http://www.bbc.com/news/live/magazine-32969581

Wikipedia has this to say about Kiradu;https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiradu_temples

Dear readers,I have written a post on the haunted place of Bhuli Bhatiyari in Delhi. You may read it here;http://www.ahauntedtravel.com/the-most-haunted-place-in-delhi/

Khajuraho of Rajasthan

The Kiradu temples have got a lot of erotic art on their walls. I am always wonderstruck at this phenomenon.Why is there so much of eroticism here when the temples have been devoted to Lord Vishnu and Shiva? Would you have any answers?

By the way, I had written a post on the world famous temples of Khajuraho, You can read this here.

Khajuraho;5 reasons why it has so much of sex on its walls

Kiradu 3

How to reach Kiradu

Kiradu can be reached from Jaisalmer as well as Barmer. Both are district headquarters of Rajasthan and can be reached by train from Delhi. Visit https://www.irctc.co.in for train and seat availablity. This is a Government of India website so you can get the best information here.

Once you reach Barmer or Jaisalmer, you will have to take a bus or taxi to reach the Kiradu temples.

For overnight stay in Barmer and Jaisalmer , please check this government website http://tourism.rajasthan.gov.in/

Rajasthan Tourism has some really good hotels to stay in .They are clean and comfortable.




Did you like this post my friends?Please write to me at swayamt@gmail.com

India Travel- The Story of The Son of The Pregnant King

Lion-Chaukhamba view

What happened when the thirsty king gulped down water stored in the pitcher? The story of the pregnant king. Amazing travel stories from India!

India is not just a travel destination, it is a store house of bizarre stories, legends and myths. Each city, village, town etc. here has a story of its own and my mission as a storyteller is to introduce you to these places through my stories. I hope, you have liked the tales that I have told in my earlier blog posts.

This story is about Mandhata who ruled India several thousands of years ago. Nothing great, you will think probably, so what is so special about him?

Dear readers, the speciality of Mandhata lay elsewhere.He was not born of his mother as all of us have. He was born of his father ! It was his dad that gave birth to him.! Read on to get to the full story.

A Childless King

Several thousands of years ago there lived a king by the name of Yuvanashwa. This king belonged to the Ikshwaku dynasty. This dynasty has produced some pf the greatest kings that India has seen. The greatest king of all times in India, Rama , belongs to this dynasty.So does, Gautam Buddha. So, you can say that this was the greatest alumni community that India and perhaps , the world has seen.

It is also said that the Ikshwakus sprung up from Sun.One of the earliest kings of this dynasty was Manu and it is said that the word ‘man’ has evolved from Manu.

Now, Yuvanashwa did not have any children and this was a source of worry to the mighty king. “Whom would I bestow my kingdom?”, he would often wonder.

The king tried several medicines, recipes , tricks but to no avail. Even though he had several wives, not one of them could conceive. The king was worried, very worried. Age was fast catching up with him.

One day, one of his ministers advised him to seek the advice of Sage Bhrigu. The word “Sage” means “Saint” and in ancient India the saints possessed knowledge and wisdom on every subject. So, Yuvanashwa decided to go up to the venerable Bhrigu and seek a solution to his problem.

“No problem, O King, you need to perform a penance and everything will be alright. Just ensure that you follow certain rules, O King!”, the Sage advised.

The Penance Starts

And so, the penance started. The king had to observe a set of rigid rules . His daily routine became tighter. His queens had to follow suite.

Days passed.They turned into into  months and months became years,




One fine day

The King was terrible thirsty that day.He had gone on a long expedition and the sun overhead blazed real hot. It was time for him to come back to his palace and take rest.

It was sundown as he arrived at his home and the first thing that he did was to search for a glass of water.

It was pitch dark and everyone was asleep after a day of hard penance. The queens were asleep and so was the Sage Bhrigu.Everyone was tired.

The king did not want to disturb anyone so he quickly went to the kitchen and dipped his glass into a pitcher. The water was cool and the the king was grateful and happy for that. At last, he thought to himself, finally my thirst has been quenched.

But, the Sage had woken up after hearing the slight sounds that the king was making in the kitchen. The Sage went up to the kitchen and found the king drinking away water happily.

The Sage was appalled! “O King,” the Sage cried,”what have you done?You have drunk the water meant for your wives. This water would have made them pregnant!”.

Now, it was the turn of the king to get dumbfounded. He was also crestfallen that all his labour and sacrifice had gone waste.

The Sage continued,” You will have a son, alright!But, that child will be borne of you; you shall be his mother, Yuvanashwa. You will get pregnant in due course of time.”

Bhrigu

Sage Bhrigu is one of the seven Saptarshis of the constellation of the Great Bear.Indians have named each of the stars of the constellation according to important sages . Bhrigu was respected widely for his intellect and wisdom. Even, Lord Vishnu ( featured above) respected and feared this Sage.

A child is born 

In due course, Yuvanashwa bore a baby. The baby was named, Mandhata.The whole kingdom was aghast at this development. For sometime, the king, Yuvanashwa was embarrassed about this incident but, he got support from his queens. They took good care of the child.

Over the years, Mandhata grew u to be a mighty prince and as was the custom in those times, he was appointed as the next king by his father.

The Legend of Ukhimath

Mandhata was blessed with divine powers. He had the strength and power to conquer all the dominions in the world. He had a divine bow from Indra, the Lord of the Gods.The bow helped him win numerous wars. Mandhata conducted several Ashwamedhs Yagyas. He also performed Rajsuya Yagyas.

Over a period of time, Mandhata accumulated countless riches.His teachers advised him to share his wealth with the poor and the needy.

There is a place in the Indian state of Uttarakhand- Ukhimath. It is said that Lord Shiva retires to this place in the winters. Shiva is the Lord of Death and is the presiding deity at Kedarnath, Uttarakhand.

Mandhata decided to give away his riches to the people at Ukhimath.He did penance here while standing on his feet for 12 years.He wanted to please Lord Shiva with his penance.Pleased with his dedication, Lord Shiva appeared before him in the form of primordial sound.This kind of sound is called Om.

The place where Mandhata performed his penance is now marked with a temple called Omkareshwar temple and has an idol of Mandhata inside it.

Temples of India
Omkareshwar Temple

It is said that he donated millions and millions of cows  and oxen to the farmers and other common people of his kingdom. Cows give milk and are considered sacred in India.The oxen help in the tilling of land.

Legends say that at this very village , Mandhata gifted away gold and silver , whose current value would be in quintillions, to the poor people. Some people say that all this bullion is still buried under the rocks and boulders of Ukhimath. I don’t know how far is all this true.

Death of Mandhata

As his wealth and riches increased manifold, Mandhata became arrogant. He started thinking that he was invincible. There was only one hurdle to his immortality and that was the conquest of the Realm of Indra- Realm of the Lord of Gods !

However, Indra was a clever man. He managed to convince Mandhata that on Earth, there was still one kingdom that was beyond the purview of Mandhata- the kingdom of Mathura.

Mathura is just 250 kilometres away from Delhi.

Now, the ruler of Mathura was Lavana and he possessed a terrible trident that was gifted to him by Lord Shiva.

Mandhata was supremely confident in his power and weapons and he decided to attack Mathura straight away.The two armies met and fought fiercely, but , Lavana ultimately managed to kill Mandhata. The trident that Shiva gave to Lavana proved to be the nemesis of Mandhata. And, this is how the son of the pregnant king met his end.

Isn’t this a hauntingly beautiful story?

You maybe interested in the Wikipedia link on Mandhata here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandhatri

How to reach and places to stay in Ukhimath

Ukhimath is not just a temple town of Uttarakhand. You get to see some of the tallest peaks of Himalayas from here like Mount Kedar.

Himalayan Destinations
Mount Kedar as seen from Ukhimath

Won’t you be interested in visiting Ukhimath? Just click here for information on how to reach Ukhimath.

If you want to know more on the places to stay in Ukhimath, click here 

Hope , you enjoyed the story around the destination of Ukhimath.Please write back to me if you want to know more.

 

 

Ranthambore Tiger Sanctuary

Who else wants to know about this haunted place in India?

Out of the 200 million blogs online, you will never find a story such as this-the story of the haunted palace of Ranthambore. Want to lay a bet?Then, read on…

Haunted Ranthambore
The imposing gate of Ranthambore Fort  Courtesy;Live India.com

The year was 1992 and I was offered a trip by my father , who headed a department of the Central Government of India , to Ranthambore.I agreed and as it turned out, this trip proved to be one of a lifetime.

About   Haunted Ranthambore

Ranthambore is best known for its tiger sanctuary. Located in the south eastern part of Rajasthan, the sanctuary derives its name from the towering fort that overlooks the jungle. This fort, Ranthambore , is one of the strongest and oldest forts of India and for a long time it evaded conquest by invaders who eyed it because of its strategic location.

Ranthambore is located a few kilometres away from the railhead of Sawai Madhopur which is an important railway junction on the Delhi-Bombay route.

Ranthambore Tiger Sanctuary

This place is actually a part of the Vindhyas, one of the oldest mountains in India, if not the world. Several years ago, the valley of Ranthambore was teeming with wildlife comprising species of tigers, leopards, hyenas, bear, deer, crocodiles and birds. Incessant hunting by the British and the Indian Maharajahs led to a drastic fall  in the numbers of tigers and leopards till the time when the Indian Government realised the problem.Now, after new measures regarding conservation of wild life have been started, the wild life figures have improved, significantly.

The Haunted Fort of Ranthambore

Yes, this fort is haunted.It gives a sense of weirdness when you walk around its walls. And, there is a reason to why it generates such a feeling.

Nearly 800 years ago, the fort was ruled by an Indian king, Hammir or Hamir.He was a brave and gallant ruler who had a big heart towards all who came and sought refuge under him.Hamir would never say no to such people.

During that time, Delhi was under Sultan Alauddin Khilji and he  was a cruel man.One of his officials drew the ire of the Sultan and had to flee from Delhi. The official escaped to Ranthambore and was promptly given refuge by the large hearted Hamir.

The ire of Sultan

When Khilji came to know about this, he asked Hamir to return the official.The demand was promptly rejected by the proud Rajput king. Khilji persisted with his demand, Hamir again said a firm NO! War was imminent…

..and finally declared by the Sultan of Delhi.

A large army from Delhi came down to Ranthambore and surrounded it on all sides.

Now, Ranthambore was not a picnic spot for Khilji.It was a vast fort, located on a hill and surrounded by jungles and valleys.Hamir was safe and comfortable and had a lot of food and supplies to fall back upon, so he did not have to worry.Days passed.One month led to another.There were no signs of Khilji going away and Hamir was dead set against giving away the fugitive official to Khilji.

Signs of Desperation

As time passed by, Hamir realized that the siege had to be broken. He was running out of supplies. A quick decision had to be taken so, Hamir called for a meeting with his ministers and asked for their opinion. Everyone agreed that a surprise attack on the Sultan was the need of the hour and it had to be done in secrecy.

So, one dark night, when the world was sleeping soundly , Hamir led a crack team of his commandos and launched a guerilla attack on the Sultan’s men.The enemy was surprised and was quickly routed away. Some members of Hamir’s commando force were also killed but ultimately, it was the Rajput who prevailed. But, as Hamir was preparing to return to his fort, an unexpected event happened that turned the tide against him.

The treacherous minister

Hamir had a minister who was a turncoat. He was a spy for Khilji and lived a life of secrecy and stealth in Ranthambore.

When the turncoat heard of  Hamir’s return to the fort, he plotted a deadly conspiracy. The minister went to Hamir’s family and told it of the “death of their King”.Now, the family did not suspect that the minister was a spy and that he was lying! Grief quickly swept over the members of the family and they took a horrendous decision. Since, there was no King now, the grieving mother and daughter jumped over the walls of their palace into the adjoining lake and committed suicide!




Haunted Places in India
The haunted palace of Hamir in Ranthambore Fort

This lake is called “Padam Talao” and you can still see when you visit the Ranthambore fort.

Hamir Returns!

When, the victorious King returned to his palace , he was met with a crowd of wailing relatives.Now, they were surprised at seeing his “ghost” and he in turn could not comprehend the sorrow all around.

When , the matter were clarified to him, Hamir was overcome with a sense of desperation.”Who should I live for?”., he wondered aloud. He had no family now, even though he was the winner in the battle.Should I rejoin my family in their after life, he wondered, and leapt down from the balcony of his palace to the valley below, to his death.

hamir_mahal_ranthambore_2

Another version of the story says that Hamir, upon learning the death of his daughter and wife decided to fight the final battle against Alauddin Khilji.He fought until his death in that battle.

The traitor is still remembered by the residents of the fort. His image in stone is spat and kicked upon  by the locals for his cowardly act. The name of the ungrateful and coward spy was Ratipal and he was bribed by Khilji with the offer of the kingdom of Ranthambore.




Traitor of Ranathambore
Traitor of Ranathambore

The Haunted Palace of Hamir

When, I visited this palace in 1992, the guard would not let us in. He told us that the palace has been locked for several years now because it is a haunted place. People have heard sobs and screams and whispers come from inside the palace. Nobody has seen the “ghosts” but, sure it is one eerie place to be in..A few years ago, someone had lost his mental balance in the palace so, the government was clear that it was not allowing anyone enter this haunted palace of Ranthambore.

If you go to this fort, you will agree with me that this place is indeed a strange place.With so much devastation, murders and killings in this fort, it is not surprising that Ranthambore does have an eerie surrounding.

Interested in visiting the haunted places in India?You may write to me and I can guide you around.

Monuments of Delhi

What is the secret of this Delhi temple?

I am about to share a secret of Delhi.Very few people know about it.Visitors to Delhi do not know about it all and the various tour guides and operators don’t tell about it.Can you guess this secret?Let us explore this secret place then…

Have you heard about Dada Dev temple? I am sure, you haven’t.Travellers to Delhi are so much burdened by information on monuments (read tombs) of Delhi, that they know little about other equally fascinating structures.My travel blog takes you to the unknown and mysterious parts of Delhi.

Close to the Sector 8 Metro Station of Delhi Metro is the ancient Dada Dev Mandir.History of Delhi would be incomplete without knowing the background of this fascinating structure.It is located in the Palam area of Delhi

Secrets of Delhi
The main hall of Dada Dev Mandir

Unlike other dreary looking monuments of Delhi, this one is lively and resplendent.There is no air of moroseness here, no sense of death and the place absolutely rocks.You see, Dada Dev Mandir is more than 1200 years old- it is perhaps one of the oldest monuments of Delhi.

Who was Dada Dev?

Legends say, that in the early ninth century AD, a holy man from Tonk,Ram Dev,  was visited upon by his deity in his dreams.The deity commanded Ram Dev to relocate himself northward. Woken up by this dream, he shared it with his family members and asked their advice.Everyone agreed to moving to a northerly direction and so, a small party was made .This party placed the holy stone of the deity on a bullock cart and started their journey.

The party was at Palam village when an interesting event happened.One night, the holy stone fell off the bullock cart and got stuck in the mud.Thinking that the deity did not wish to advance further, the party ceased their journey at Palam and within a few days, constructed a small temple at the spot where the holy stone had fallen down.And, this is how the temple of Ram Dev came up at Palam.

Monuments of Delhi
The approach to Dada Dev Temple

Over the next few years, the saint Ram Dev acquired the name of Dada Dev. Legends grew around him.People started associating this holy man with Shesh Nag or the celestial serpent.

Today, Dada Dev- who has a memorial built for him in the temple premises- has acquired the status of gram devta for 12 adjoining villages . Gram devta is the presiding deity of a village- he/she protects the village from evil influences.It is a pulsating place with several devotees from adjoining villages coming here to seek the blessings of Dada Dev.



The temple has idols of other Hindu gods as well- Shiva, Lord Rama, Lord Krishna – all have their temples here in this complex.Indeed, this place radiates energy.So, next time if you are travelling to Delhi, make it a point to visit this hauntingly beautiful place.

How to reach; Take the Delhi Metro for Sector 21 from the Rajiv Chowk Metro station.Get down at Sector 8 and take a rickshaw.

Thank you for reading this.

 

 

 

 

 

Ranthambore National Park is not just about tigers, what’s the secret?

The Ranthambore National Park hides a deadly secret. What is that?

sawai-madhopur-fort

 

Yes, India has a lot of stories about herself and this one is something that will make you say, awww…is it really true?

A lot of you who may have traveled to India or are planning to do so must have heard about the Ranthambore National Park. I would be mightily surprised if you haven’t because Ranthambore is one of the most visible and talked about tiger sanctuaries in the entire world. In one of my blog posts, I have written an interesting account of Machhli, the famous tigress that even had the guts to fight with a crocodile.

But, this post isn’t about tigers and Machhli, it is about the resident god of Ranthambore National Park, Lord Ganesh and his amazing connect with his devotees all over India.

Ranthambore National Park
Magnificent gateway-Ranthambore Fort

Lord Ganesh sits with his family in a temple within the fort that adjoins the sanctuary.And, he has been sitting there for the past 700 years.

Now, let me get to the story of this Ganesh temple in Ranthambore.Sit tight!

So..let us move back to 700 years. I mean, going back in history.

There was a Rajput king, Hamir who ruled this fort.Let me tell you, the fort of Ranthambore is one of the strongest in India.It controlled access to Central and Southern India and for the Kings of Delhi, this fort had a strategic value.

Ranthambore Tiger Sanctuary

Now, one fine day, Hamir ran afoul of the Sultan of Delhi.The Sultan thought of teaching the Rajput a lesson and sent a huge army to defeat him.The Delhi army came and laid siege to this vast fort. The Rajput King was, however, undisturbed- he had plenty of ration with him.But, as the days turned into months, the King started worrying.The rations had begun depleting and the enemy was still around.It was indeed a worrying situation.

One night, as Hamir lay asleep, Lord Ganesha appeared in the King’s dreams and promised to him that the war would be over the next day and the enemy would return to Delhi.

Offbeat Destinations of India
Trinetra Ganesh ji, Ranthambore

Next day, his servants brought him an amazing news; an idol of Three Eyed Ganesha was found sticking out from the fort walls, the granaries were full again and the enemy had begun uprooting its tents in preparation to leave!

Filled with gratitude, the King decided to make  a new temple for Lord Ganesh.The name of the Lord here is Trinetra or the one with three eyes.

Offbeat destinations in India
Trinetra Ganesha Temple, Ranthambore

Trinetra Ganeshji fulfills all the desires of his devotees.He resides in His temple with His two wives and two sons.People from all over the country make it a point to invite Him and His family on each joyous occasion of theirs.They simply send a postcard  to this address;

Ranthambore Trinetra Ganeshji

Sawai Madhopur

Rajasthan

The Lord gets a sackful of invitations every day for birthdays, marriages, mundan and namkaran sanskara.Isn’t it amazing?

How to reach Ranthambore National Park

  • Take a train or a bus to Sawai Madhopur.The temple is just 12 kilometers from there. To take a train, visit this website : www.irctc.co.in

Temple Timings of Trinetra Ganesha Temple; The Lord is offered aartis at least 5 times a day early morning, 9 am, 12 noon, 5 pm and 11 pm when He retires for the day.

I hope you liked this post, my friends. If you want any help in reaching this place, write me a mail at swayamt @gmail.com  and I will be too happy to help.

Thanks for dropping by.



 

Travelling in India-Rewa, an Offbeat Destination

The land of world’s first white tiger is again in news.Rewa is set to host the first sanctuary in the world for white tigers!Good news for travellers to India interested in an offbeat destination.

200289702-001

Where is Rewa? Rewa is a quaint little town a few hundred kilometres from Khajuraho, the much acclaimed temple in India.

For travellers interested in coming to India, let me share an interesting piece of history with them.Rewa was the first area in the world to house a white tiger.Mohan was its name and it came within the spotlights of the jeep that Martand Singh, the erstwhile king of Rewa was driving, one night.Mohan was a cub then and had separated from its mother .Oh yes, and this happened one dark night in 1951, a full 65 years ago.

Over the years, Mohan beget several tiger cubs and most of them were distributed across the world.to zoos .However, not many of them are left in India and one reason for their low numbers is their genetic strain.White tigers that are present today are mostly the result of inbreeding and as such have many genetic defects.Zoologists , the wold over have decided to stop all inbreeding of the white tigers and thus, their numbers are falling.

Coming back to the first white tiger sanctuary business, this place is being located 20 kilometres from Rewa.There is already one white tiger there and her name is Vindhya.Yes, she is a tigress.It is expected that a few more white tigers will join her for company.The people of Rewa are happy that this safari will help in generating more opportunities for earning their livelihoods.I hope, it comes true and people of this area are able to improve their lives by a considerable extent.

By the way, Rewa is bang in the middle of a tourism laden territory.You have Khajuraho a few hundred miles from here, then, there is Bnadhavgarh National Park- famous for its tigers-,the famous palaces of Orchha and the world famous Dhuandhar waterfalls at Jabalpur.

The best way to reach Rewa is to take a train from Delhi.Rewa does not have an airport and it is quite an offbeat destination for many international travellers actually.And, if you need help in finding a good accommodation there, then look out for the ones provided by Madhya Pradesh Tourism.

The best season to travel to Rewa and its adjoining places, if tigers are on your mind, is now.Monsoons make it difficult for you to spot them.

That is it folks for now.I am afraid, it does not have pictures but, I meant it to be an information laden one.

Thanks for dropping by.

 

 

 

 

Haunted places- Asirgarh,home of a 5,000 year old warrior

Welcome to Asirgarh, one of the most haunted places in India. This article is about the haunted history of Ashwatthama, a warrior who is more than 5,000 years old.

You won’t want to bump into a man who has survived a 5000-year-old war and roams around with a wound dripping in blood, isn’t it?Neither me, of course!

Some beautiful pictures of Asirgarh fort are :

Asirgarh- one of the most haunted places in India

 

But, what I am going to tell you is a hauntingly beautiful tale that is so bizarre that the first thing that you are going to do is share this post with your best friend with an amusing comment!

India is a land of great contrasts.We have launched space missions, produced some of the brightest engineers, doctor, and managers the world has seen but, we also live with haunted stories that are downright unbelievable.

The Great War

 

This is the haunting story of Ashwatthama-one of the greatest warriors in the Great War, also known as Mahabharata.

Shrouded in the mists of time, the Great War was fought between two sets of warring cousins, the Kauravas, and Pandavas, on the fields of Kurukshetra, a place near Delhi.The Pandavas were five but the Kauravas were 100 in number and the size of the combined armies of the two parties was in millions. At stake was the kingdom of India.

The Pandavas were five in number and the Kauravas were 100.

The size of the combined armies of the two parties was in millions.

At stake was the kingdom of India.

Bhishma and Krishna

 

The Pandavas were guided by Shri Krishna, one of the greatest philosophers and leaders that the world and India have ever seen.the Kauravas were led by the venerable Bhishma Pitamah and Guru Dronacharya.

On the other hand, the Kauravas were led by the venerable Bhishma Pitamah and Guru Dronacharya.

Bhishma was the great-grandfather of both the warring cousins and having abdicated the throne because of a promise to his stepmother, was looked up by his family as the moral guiding force.

Dronacharya was the Guru to the cousins and possessed vast skills in military tactics and leadership.

As it turned out, both these two gentlemen joined the Kauravas while Pandavas were led by Shri Krishna.

Ashwatthama

 

Guru Dronacharya had a son whose name was Ashwatthama.Like his father, Ashwatthama too was a great warrior and had joined his father’s side in the war.

Interestingly, there was another Ashwatthama which participated in the Great War but, it was an elephant!

Well, the war started and the Kauravas were enjoying a strong edge in the war.It was difficult for the Pandavas to get an upper hand.

Aseergarh
The Fort of Aseergarh is one of the most haunted places in India. Credits- Wiki

As the war carried on, it became increasingly evident to Shri Krishna that the commander of the Kauravas, Drona had to be finished.But, Drona was a tough nut to crack.So, Krishna devised a plan.He got Bhimsen, one of the Pandavas to finish the elephant, Ashwatthama.

Lie or Truth?

 

Bhima had the power of ten thousand elephants!Once this was done, Krishna asked Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava to declare Ashwatthama as dead. As Yudhishthira proclaimed the death of Ashwaththama, the Pandavas raised the din of their trumpets to unimaginable levels.The elder Pandava also added a question to his proclamation-Man or Elephant?Drona could only hear the first part of the proclamation, the added question was lost in the din.

Yudhishthira was the epitome of truth and everyone in the family trusted his sense of ethics.So, when Drona heard the first part of Yudhi’s proclamation, he was filled with grief- his son, Ashwatthama was dead! He laid down his arms and was immediately put to death by the Pandavas.

Haunted Places

When Ashwatthama heard this tragic news, he was filled with rage and went on a murder spree, killing all the children of the Pandavas in the dead of the night.The children were all infants and quite obviously, the Pandavas were overcome with grief.

Krishna, thoroughly angered with this behavior of Ashwatthama cursed him to an unending life of pain and misery, a life where no one will give him relief and a life of living dead, a specter. Ashwatthama had a gem on his forehead that was stripped off by Krishna, leaving a perpetual wound with blood oozing out!

This war happened around 5000 years back!

Ashwaththama is back?

 

Asirgarh is a quaint little place nearly in Central India and is prominent for its 1000-year-old fort.It is deserted and is worn out, with weeds and jungles eating away the ancient doors and walls.

One thousand years back,  Asirgarh was of strategic importance as it connected the northern and southern parts of India through a narrow pass.

Also Read- Delhi Ghost Tour of Mehrauli

Nobody lives here and not a soul can be seen here .Except, for a gaunt man, with a flowing beard and tattered clothes.He has an open wound on his forehead and is sometimes accosting unsuspecting villagers around the fort for turmeric and mustard oil to dress up his wound.

In 1912, Swami Vasudevanad Saraswathi, in his autobiography, admitted meeting a person who introduced himself as Ashwaththama.

His gait was different from that of a normal person so the Swami asked him, who are you?

The stranger replied, “I am Ashwaththama and I belong to a different time zone from yours”.

Who could he be?The legendary fighter of the Great War?Or an impostor?

There are many such hauntingly beautiful stories and it is tantalizing to believe all of them because of the mystery involved.If you asked me, I would neither believe nor disbelieve them. In fact, there are several haunted places like Asirgarh throughout the country.

In fact, there are several haunted places like Asirgarh throughout the country. One such place is the fort of Bhangarh in Rajasthan.

Many such haunted places are associated with unnatural deaths and violent events that had happened many many years ago.

Thanks for reading this article.

References- 1.Legends

2.Also read- http://www.quora.com/Has-Ashwatthama-been-spotted-by-anyone

Picture credits-Internet

Orchha and Kundar- the two haunted towns of Central India

Orchha is not just about palaces and the river close by. It is also about Kundar , the haunt of the valiant Chandelas and Bundelas.

Don’t forget to include Kundar if you are planning a weekend trek to the ancient town of Orchha!

places in Orchha
The courtyard of Kundar
Kundar is very near to Orchha

Garh, in Hindi, means “fort” so, Garh Kundar means the Fort of Kundar. It is located approximately 30 miles from Jhansi, an important railway station on the Delhi-Chennai route. Direction-wise, it is roughly east of Jhansi and is an administrative part of Tikamgarh district of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Travelers need to get down from the train at Jhansi and take a car or bus ride to Kundar.

If you are traveling to Orchha, then you will find Kundar on the way.

Madhya Pradesh has other great places for travelers heading to India such as Khajuraho, Orchha,  tiger sanctuaries in Kanha and Bandhavgarh and the world famous Temple of The Lord of Death at Ujjain.

What makes Kundar so fascinating for this post is that it is a haunted place and no living being, not even bats or pigeons live here!

History of Kundar

Kundar used to be under the control of the Chandel rulers, the makers of the world famous Khajuraho temples when Prithviraj Chauhan, the last ruler of Delhi and Ajmer vanquished Parmardidev, the Chandel king.Post the defeat of the Chandels, the Chauhan put his vassal, Khet Singh Khangar as the governor and after a century, the baton  passed on to Hurmat Singh Khangar.

Prithviraj was defeated by the Turks in 1192 and the throne of Delhi passed on to the Muslims.

Since, Kundar is in an inaccessible place and surrounded by valleys, hills, ravines and thick forests, this fort could not be captured by the Muslim kings of Delhi.The Khangar kings, sensing the state of confusion in Delhi, declared themselves independent and later on enjoyed a trouble free reign of around 100 years in this part of India. One night,i n 1288 AD, the Khangars were massacred by their vassals, the Bundelas.

places near Orchha
Isn’t this a beautiful place?

Who were Chauhans, Chandels, Bundelas and Khangars?

They are the warrior class of India.Also called as kshatriyas, the Chauhans etc formed the fighting arm of India and ruled vast tracts of the country.There was intense rivalry among these groups, with each one of one of them trying to prove itself militarily stronger than the rest.There are some really hauntingly beautiful tales about these clans in India.

The events that led to the fateful night of the massacre

Hurmat Singh , the last Khangar king of Kundar was a brave , obstinate  but a liberal man.He had grown old and looked forward to installing his son, Nagdev as his successor.

Politically, while the Chandels, the previous lords of Kundar were weak, their decline had led to the emergence of new warrior classes like the Bundelas in the region.The Bundelas were a doughty lot but they had to accept the overlordship of the Khangars whom they considered inferior in the social hierarchy.The resentment was simmering but was hidden from the king.

The king wished to overcome his “socially inferior” status by marrying his son Nagdev to the daughter of one of his subordinates, Sohanpal, a Bundela.Her name was Manvati and was secretly dating a fellow Bundela, Agnidutt.

Sohanpal had his own problems to solve.He had been given a raw deal by one of his own brothers and was planning to approach the king for a solution.He never had an inkling about the king’s intention to ask for the hand of his daughter.

Sohanpal finally had a chance to meet the king and explain his predicament.Hurmat Singh readliy agreed to bail him out but then set down his condition, the betrothal of Manvati to Nagdev.T he diplomat that Sohanpal was, he kept his counsel and promised to get back to the king with his reply.

Sohan consulted his colleagues and fellow Bundelas and all of them agreed to play ball.

But, they had a secret plan..

The Bundelas readily agreed to the conditions laid down by Hurmat Singh and proposed a grand party of drunken revelry before the marriage ceremony.The revelry would take place within the confines of the Kundar fort and there would be no limits to merriment.The unsuspecting Khangar could’nt be happier- his moment had arrived and at last his clan would be on the same level as the Bundelas whom he ruled!

After the orgy, the knives come out

It was a full moon night and  was awash with the monsoon laden winds.There was relaxation and enjoyment all around.The beautiful maidens of the royal household were singing folk tunes of romance and marriage, of longing and pining of the beloveds , and finally of the union of the two engaged souls.It was indeed a beautiful moment for the inhabitants there.

The men , reclining on their opulent settees, were half asleep after a marathon session of drinking some of the choicest wine and liquor that their country had.Food had already been devoured and now it was just the time for endless pegs of liquor.

The kids, excited at the prospect of a grand marriage and good fun, scurried around with their playmates.Nobody cared a damn about what was to happen in the next one hour.

The Bundelas were armed from head to toe but had hidden their arms under their cloaks.They were waiting for the right opportunity.

The reverie of Hurmat Singh was broken abruptly by a violent, impudent kick by Sohanpal. Get up O fake king, Sohan bellowed!

The king was befuddled by this change in events but tried to reason out with the transgressor.Sohanpal was’nt amused. He kicked his king once again and ordered him to get up.By now the Khangars had been surrounded by their would be relatives and could see that each Bundela held a glistening sword.

Tragedy…

With surgical precision, the attackers got down to work- each Khangar was put down to death without making any discrimination between men, women and children.The skies were rent with cries of terror and pain.And within minutes, the Khangars had all been finished, to the last child.

The Bundelas assumed control of the fort of Kundar but later abandoned it and formed a new capital. in Orchha.

places near Orchha
The Haunted Fort of Kundar, near Orchha

Even today, Kundar remains an uninhabited , haunted , dreadful place since then.

How to reach Kundar

You will have to take the Bhopal Shatabdi from New Delhi Railway Station.Get down at Jhansi and from there take a cab for Orchha and Kundar.

Alternately, book your hotel and cab through the Madhya Pradesh Tourism site www.mptourism.com

For train bookings, visit the website www.irctc.com

You can also visit Jhansi and Khajuraho alongside.