Monday, November 12, 2012

What is Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh famous for?

As we drove into Chanderi, we encountered the Chanderi Museum of the Archaelogical Survey of India and

 it merited a visit. So in we went and spent close to an hour admiring all the artefacts on display. The 

collection in there was amazing! We spent close to an hour there taking a walk through history. No photography allowed in the museum.
We checked into the lovely MPTDC cottage called Tana Bana. Lovely, clean, luxurious accommodation at affordable prices!

Post lunch we set out on a tour of the Chanderi fort which is being restored by ASI.
Then we drove to see the fascinating Kati Ghati Gate. The story of the gate is both interesting and tragic. In 

1495 A.D. when Sher Khan was the Governor of Chanderi, he received notice that King Gyasuddin Khilji the Sultan of Malwa wished to visit Chanderi and Jimman Khan was advised that the Sultan wished to be welcomed to Chanderi by the sight of a grand gateway at the top of the hill range. But this information was received very late and there was just a day left for his arrival hence a huge reward was announced for the person who could create such a gate in a day. One stonemason agreed to the challenge and with his crew started to work on it. The next morning Jimman Khan got the news that the work was completed and he reached the site to inspect it. He was amazed to see that the gateway had indeed been cut out the rock. On further inspection Jimman Khan saw that the craftsman had not made arrangements to fit the door to close the gateway. He told the craftsman that since this gateway formed the first line of security of the fort it should have a door. To fit the door they would need to put in extra stone, and then the uniqueness of the gateway would be lost. Jimman Khan refused to pay for the work and the craftsman in shame walked away empty handed. Later the craftsman committed suicide and his tomb can be found to the side of the gate.
Now it was time to visit the ruins of Koshak Mahal. This simple yet imposing building was built in 1445 as a 

victory monument by the Sultan of Malwa, Mehmood Shah Khilji, to commemorate his victory over Sultan Mehmood Sharki in the battle at Kalpi.
One legend has it that the real reason the Sultan ordered the monument’s construction was to provide employment to the people of Chanderi. At that time, the people of the town were facing a severe shortage of work and using the pretext of the victory at Kalpi, the project was initiated to provide the people with work and pay.
It is believed that once the first storey was completed, the builders were faced with the problem of raising the heavy stone blocks to the second level. This was resolved by burying the first storey under dirt to create a slope on which the blocks could be carried uphill. Each storey was similarly constructed and finally the dirt was cleared away to uncover the entire structure.

It was evening by the time we visited the Jama masjid and Badal Mahal. Of Badal Mahal the palace is almost 

non existent and only the Darwaza(door) remains inside the fort. The importance of this Darwaza can be guaged by the fact that it is the stamp which Madhya Pradesh Handloom Department puts on the hand-woven sarees which Chanderi is famous for and also as a seal which is put on the letters which are posted in Chanderi.
Our last stop in Chanderi was the Parameshwar talab and the Laxman temple. The legend of the Laxman 

Temple is that once there was a group of devotees who reached the pond and stayed overnight there to rest. 

They were carrying an idol of Lord Laxman which they placed under a peepal tree. In the morning the devotees tried to pick up the idol but it would not budge. They then believed that the reason for this was that Lord Laxman wanted to stay at that spot, and so they performed the rituals to erect a temple there.

And you thought Chanderi was famous only for its sarees!

How to get there :
By Air: The nearest airports are at Bhopal (258 km) and Gwalior (259 km).

By Rail: Lalitpur (36 km) and Jhansi (124 km) on the Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Mumbai main line are the closest railheads. Ashok Nagar (46 km) and Mungaoli (38 km) also serve Chanderi.

By Road: Chanderi is connected by regular bus services with Gwalior, Indore, Guna, Shivpuri, Ashok Nagar, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Tikamgarh, Vidisha, Sanchi and Bhopal

Monday, November 5, 2012

Shower in Jaisalmer

A trip to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is like taking a walk down history.

The forts, the palaces and the havelis absorb you in their excellence.

The art does not end here. It continues after death too as is evident in the Royal cenotaphs.

The colour and the art against the golden desert are astounding to say the least. Yes Jaisalmer is thriving in the Thar desert. A trip to the Sam sand dunes and if you have the time an overnight stay there will be worth your while. Unfortunately we did not have so much of time hence we just spent an evening in the desert.

The sunset in the desert is to die for. After a camel ride to the sunset point as it is now called, we were taken to an arena where Rajasthani folk musicians performed their traditional dances and music.

So lively!
I was reminded of all these when I saw the Alive is awesome advertisement created for Cinthol soaps which also had this wonderful clip about Bathing in the desert. It showed how one can have a shower in the desert! Do take a look and maybe next when you are in the Thar desert you will be able to have it!  So do not forget to pack your Cinthol soap when you visit Jaisalmer!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bylakuppe and Elephant bathing?!

Would never have thought that I could see a part of Tibet in Karnataka! But it does exist! Bylakuppe is home to two of the many Tibetan settlements in India, established by Lugsum Samdupling (in 1961) and Dickyi Larsoe (in 1969).  It is located to the west of the Mysore district in the Indian state of Karnataka. The twin town Kushalanagara is about 6 kilometers from Bylakuppe.

Bylakuppe is the 3000 acres of land that was leased out by the Indian Government to the fleeing Tibetans in 1961 and they are here to stay! It is the largest Tibetan community in exile with about 40,000 people in five settlements containing monasteries, kindergarten to higher level secondary schools, health care clinics, a hospital and a traditional Tibetan medical facility.

The most visited temple here is Namdroling (The Golden Temple)

Three beautiful larger than life gold plated statues look down at visitors above the altar.

The walls are adorned with colourful paintings depicting gods and demons from Tibetan Buddhist mythology.

The one thing that one must witness is the prayer of the monks. The harmony of their chants is enchanting.

The exterior of the new Zangdokpalri temple looks majestic with a majestic rainbow arch.
We are so used to being told not to photograph the idols in temples, that the ready willingness of the monks to let the idols in their temples being photographed is such a pleasant and welcome surprise.
If you wish to taste Tibetan food you can do that too! There are restaurants in there where you can indulge your adventuorous tastebuds.
All this was amazing alright but then due to shortage of time we missed going to Dubare Elephant camp that was just 40kms away. However this wonderful video by Godrej Cinthol has given a glimpse of what we 

missed. An elephant bath! So if you are ever going anywhere near Madikeri, do not forget to go to Dubare and bathe and be bathed by an elephant! Sure feels to be Alive is Awesome! Once you get back to your room use the real cool Cinthol soap to feel refreshed after the bathing with the elephants experience!