Festivals of India: Bhagoria

The Bhagoria festival is a vibrant and colourful festival celebrated by the tribal communities of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, which was originally the Malwa region. The festival is held annually in the Hindu month of Phalguna, which corresponds to February or March in the Gregorian calendar. The Bhagoria festival is a celebration of the arrival of spring and marks the beginning of the harvest season. It is a time for the tribal communities to come together, dance, sing, and exchange gifts. The tribes who participate include the Bhil, Bhilala, and Pateliya.

The festival takes place in the Badwani, Dhar, Alirajpur, Khargone and Jhabua districts of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. It has agricultural significance and coincides with the end of harvesting crops. It is celebrated for seven days in March before the Holi Festival. Traditionally, celebrants travel to the festival grounds with their families on decorated bullock carts. There they purchase the things required to celebrate Holi, dance to traditional musical instruments, sing songs called Lokgeet, and enjoy meeting family and friends.

The Bhagoria festival is unique to the tribal communities of Madhya Pradesh and northeastern Maharashtra and is one of the largest tribal festivals in India. It is a celebration of the vibrant and diverse culture of these communities and attracts visitors from all over the world. The festival is celebrated in different parts of Madhya Pradesh, with the largest celebrations taking place in Jhabua, Alirajpur, and Dhar districts.

One of the highlights of the Bhagoria festival is the ‘Bhagoriya Mela’ or fair. This fair is a gathering of tribal communities from all over the region and is a place for people to come together, socialise, and participate in various activities. The Bhagoriya Mela is a lively and colourful affair, with stalls selling food, drinks, and handmade goods. There is also a wide range of entertainment available, including music, dance, and theatre performances.

The Bhagoria festival is famous for its traditional dance and music. The tribal communities of Madhya Pradesh have a rich tradition of music and dance, and the Bhagoria festival provides a platform for these traditions to be showcased. The dances performed during the festival are an expression of joy and happiness and are performed by both men and women. The music played during the festival is characterized by its use of traditional instruments such as the dhol, nagara, and manjira.

One of the most unique and interesting aspects of the Bhagoria festival is the ‘Haldi-Kumkum’ ritual. During this ritual, married women apply turmeric paste and vermilion powder to each other’s foreheads. The ritual symbolizes the bond between the women and is believed to bring good luck and prosperity. The ‘Haldi-Kumkum’ ritual is an important part of the Bhagoria festival and is performed by women from all the tribal communities that participate in the festival.

The Bhagoria festival is also a time for love and courtship. During the festival, young men and women come together to meet and get to know each other. If two people are interested in each other, they can exchange gifts and formalize their relationship. This exchange of gifts is known as ‘Bhagoria Haat’. The Bhagoria Haat is an important part of the Bhagoria festival and is a time for the young people of the tribal communities to come together and celebrate their relationships.

The Bhagoria festival is a celebration of the rich and diverse culture of the tribal communities of Madhya Pradesh. It is a time for people to come together, socialize, and celebrate the arrival of spring and the beginning of the harvest season. The Bhagoria festival is an important part of the cultural heritage of India and is a unique and vibrant celebration that attracts visitors from all over the world.

The Bhagoria festival is a celebration of life, love, and joy and a time for the tribal communities of Malwa to come together and celebrate their culture and traditions. The Bhagoria festival is a true expression of the rich and diverse culture of India and is a celebration that should not be missed.

Travel Bucket List: India – Consolidated List of all States

As I started planning my travel, I started relying on my research for where to go and found it slightly ungainly to search through all the material I have to reach a specific destination. So here’s a consolidated list of all Indian states, in alphabetical order with the cities and towns next to each part which makes it easier to get to the place you are interested in.

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Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Part 1 – Introduction and Overview
Part 2 – Port Blair
Part 3 – Corbyn’s Cove Beach, Wandoor Beach, Viper Island, Ross Island, North Bay Island, Red Skin Island, Middle Andaman Island, Long Island, Baratang Island, Parrot Island, North Passage Island, Guitar Island
Part 4 – Aves Island, North Andaman Island, Diglipur, Stewart Island, Ross & Smith Island, Jolly Buoy Island, Havelock Island
Part 5 – Neil Island, South Andaman Island, Rutland Island, Little Andaman Island, Cinque Island, Barren Island, Narcondom Island, Kathchal Island, Campell Bay & Indira Point
Part 6 – Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Chidiya Tapu, The Chidiya Tapu Biological Park, Mount Harriet National Park, Saddle Peak National Park, Campbell Bay National Park, Galathea National Park, Middle Button Island National Park, North Button Island National Park, South Button Island National Park

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Andhra Pradesh
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Vishakhapatnam
Part 2: Araku Valley, Vizianagaram, Annavaram, Samalkot, Kakinada, Rajahmundry
Part 3: Amaravathi, Vijayawada, Machilipatnam
Part 4: Guntur, Chirala, Nagarjunakonda, Srisailam, Cumbum, Nellore
Part 5: Kurnool, Mantralayam, Gandikota, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Puttaparthi
Part 6: Lepakshi, Horsley Hills, Chittoor, Srikalahasthi, Tirupati

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Arunachal Pradesh
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Itanagar, Bhalukpong
Part 2: Bomdila, Tawang
Part 3: Ziro, Yinkiong, Mechuka, Roing, Tirap
Part 4: Khonsa, Changlang, Miao, Anini, Pasighat, Aalo, Daporijo, Anjaw, Tezu

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Guwahati, Dispur
Part 2: Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Goalpura, Barpeta, Nalbari, Hajo, Sualkuchi
Part 3: Darrang, Mayong and Morigaon, Nagaon, Tezpur, Jorhat
Part 4: Sivasagar, Majuli, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Digboi
Part 5: Sadiya, Haflong, Jatinga, Diphu, Karimganj, Hailakandi, Silchar
Part 6: Raimona National Park, Manas National Park, Orang National Park, Kaziranga National Park, Nameri National Park, Dibru Saikhowa National Park, Dihing Patkai National Park

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Patna
Part 3: Hajipur, Nalanda
Part 4: Rajgir, Sasaram, Kaimur
Part 5: Bodh Gaya, Vaishali
Part 6: Muzzafarpur, Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Lauriya Nandangarh, Bhagalpur, Valmiki National Park Tiger Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Raipur, Champaran
Part 2: Bhilai, Durg, Rajnandgaon, Chirmiri, Madku Dweep, Bhoramdeo Temple, Guru Ghasidas National Park
Part 3: Achanakmar Tiger Reserve, Bilaspur, Raigarh, Korba, Ambikapur, Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, Mainpat, Malhar
Part 4: Mahasamund, Sirpur, Rajim, Jagdalpur, Dhamtari, Dhamtari, Dantewada, Kanger Ghati National Park

Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Daman
Part 2: Diu
Part 3: Dadra and Nagar Haveli

Part 1: Introduction and Overview, India Gate, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Jantar Mantar, Rajghat
Part 2: Iron Pillar, National War Memorial, Rajpath, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Agrasen Ki Baoli, Ghalib Ki Haveli, Alai Darwaza/Minar, Bhool Bhulaiya ka Mahal, Purana Qila,
Part 3: Tughlaqabad Fort. Siri Fort, Feroza Kotla Fort, Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, ISKON Mandir, Birla Temple, Chhatrapur Temple, Kalkaji Temple, Kali Bari Temple, Yogmaya Temple, Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, Lotus Temple
Part 4: Jama Masjid, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, Fatehpuri Masjid, Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb, Nizamuddin Dargah, Humayun’s Tomb, Safdarjung’s Tomb, Isa Khan’s Tomb, Hijron ka Khanqah, Nicholson Cemetery
Part 5: Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib, Rakab Ganj Gurdwara, Sunder Nursery, Lodhi Gardens, Garden of Five Senses, National Rose Garden, Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya, National Museum, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum, Indian War Memorial Museum, National Handicrafts Museum
Part 6: Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum, Sanskriti Museums, Charkha Museum, Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, Shankar’s International Dolls Museum, Museum of Archaeology, National Railway Museum, Museo Camera, National Gallery of Modern Art, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Museum of Illusions, National Zoological Park, National Bal Bhavan, Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk, Dilli Haat, Sarojini Market, Lajpat Nagar, Majnu ka Tila, Pragati Maidan

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: North Goa, Vagator Beach, Anjuna Beach, Calangute Beach, Sinquerim Beach, Candolim Beach, Arambol Beach, Mandrem Beach, Morjim Beach, Miramar Beach, Siridao Beach, Bogdeshwara Temple, Mangeshi Temple, Mahalaxmi Temple, Fort Aguada, Chapora Fort, Reis Magos Fort, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Chapel of St. Catherine, Church of Mae De Deus, Goa State Museum, Houses of Goa Museum, Museum of Christian Art, Casino Palms, Chorao Island, Harvalem Waterfalls
Part 3: South Goa, Butterfly Beach, Betalbatim Beach, Agonda Beach, Mobor Beach, Hollant Beach, Palolem Beach, Cansaulim Beach, Colva Beach, Talpona Beach, Kakolem Beach, Benaulim Beach, Our Lady of Remedios Church, Saviour of the World Church, St. Alex Church, Shantadurga Temple, Tambdi Surla Mahadev Temple, Chandreshwar Bhoothnath Temple, Naval Aviation Museum, Goa Chitra Museum, Big Foot Museum, The Grande Island, Pequeno Island, Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Dudhsagar Falls, Bamanbudo Waterfalls, Netravali Bubbling Lake, Cabo de Rama Fort, Chandor

Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Surat, Vapi, Udvada, Valsad, Bilimora, Navsari, Bharuch, Saputara
Part 3: Ahmedabad, Lothal, Vadodara, Anand
Part 4: Gandhinagar, Patan, Mehsana, Palanpur
Part 5: Rajkot, Jamnagar, Dwarka, Porbandar, Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Palitana,
Part 6: Kutch, Bhuj, Mandvi, Rann of Kutch, Anjar

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Gurugram, Manesar, Sohna
Part 2: Faridabad, Nuh, Murthal, Rohtak, Meham
Part 3: Hisar, Panipat, Karnal
Part 4: Kurukshetra, Ambala
Part 5: Panchkula, Morni Hills, Narnaul

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Himachal Pradesh
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Shimla, Kufri, Fagu, Theog, Hatkoti Valley, Chanshal Valley
Part 2: Chail, Solan, Barog, Nahan, Sirmour, Paonta Sahib, Shoghi, Kasauli, Arki, Nalagarh, Dadasiba, Bilaspur, Dalhousie,
Part 3: Kangra, Khajjiar, Bharmour, Chamba, Tattapani, Jalori Pass, Jibhi, Mandi
Part 4: Trithan Valley, Bhuntar, Sainj Valley, Barot, Bir Billing, Palampur, Kasol, Nagar, Manikaran Sahib, Tosh, Parvati Valley
Part 5: Kullu, Manali, Dharamsala, McLeodganj
Part 6: Keylong, Pin Valley National Park, Spiti Valley, Narkanda, Mashroba, Kinnaur, Sarahan, Sangla Valley, Kalpa, Pangi Valley, Nako

Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Kashmir, Srinagar, Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Pahalgam, Amarnath, Pulwama, Kupwara, Poonch, Anantnag, Baramulla, Dachigam National Park
Part 2: Jammu, Patnitop, Rajouri, Udhampur, Kathua, Katra, Vaishno Devi, Kishtwar
Part 3: Ladakh, Leh, Leh Palace, Thiksey Gompa, Pangong Lake, Magnetic Hill, Nubra Valley and Khardung La Pass, Kargil, Drass, Hemis High Altitude Wildlife Sanctuary, Lamayuru, Lake Tso Moriri

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Ranchi
Part 2: Hazaribagh, Bokaro Steel City
Part 3: Jamshedpur, Neterhat
Part 4: Dhanbad, Shikarji, Deoghar, Dumka

Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Bengaluru
Part 3: Mysuru, Mangalore, Belgaum
Part 4: Hubli-Dharwad, Gulbarga, Bidar, Badami, Bijapur, Hassan, Shimoga, Hampi, Sharavathi Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagarhole National Park, Bandipur National Park, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Jog Falls, Shivanasamudra Falls, Kodasalli Backwater
Part 5: Coorg, Chikmagalur, Sakleshpur, Kudremukh, Kemmanagundi, Kotagiri, Masinagudi, Devarayanadurga, Karwar, Devbagh, Kumta, Netrani Island, Murudeshwar, Maravanthe, St. Mary’s Island, Udipi
Part 6: Udipi, Kollur, Sringeri, Dharmasthala, Horanadu, Talakadu, Belur, Shravanbelagola, Gokarna, Murudeshwar, Koodli, Srirangapatna, Pattadakal, Aihole, Kalasa

Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode
Part 3: Wayanad, Mallapuram, Palakkad
Part 4: Thrissur, Ernakulam, Alappuzha
Part 5: Kottayam, Idukki, Patanamthitta
Part 6: Kollam, Tiruvanathapuram

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Lakshadweep Islands
Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Aminidivi, Cora Divh, Sesostris Bank, Bassas de Pedro, Cherbaniani Reef, North Islet, Byramgore Reef, Chetlat Island, Bitra Par, Kilthan Island, Kadmat Island, Kadmat Beach, Elikalpeni Bank, Perumal Par, Amini Island
Part 3: Laccadive, Amindivi, Agatti Island, Bangaram, Pakshipitti, Andrott Island, Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Suheli Par
Part 4: Minicoy, Maliku Atoll, Investigator Bank, Viringili

Madhya Pradesh
Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Bhopal
Part 3: Indore, Ujjain, Alampur
Part 4: Maheshwar, Omkareshwar, Mandu, Burhanpur
Part 5: Chanderi, Shivpuri, Orchha, Khajurao
Part 6: Gwalior, Jabalpur, Bhedaghat, Panchmarhi, Amarkantak, Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha National Park, Pench National Park

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Mumbai
Part 2: Pune
Part 3: Matheran, Lonavala, Khandala, Rajmachi, Lavasa, Kamshet, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Kaas Plateau, Maval, Bhandardara, Chikhaldara, Bhimashankar
Part 4: Amravati, Aurangabad, Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Lonar, Chiplun, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Nanded, Nashik, Triambakeshwar, Shirdi, Shani Shinganapur, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Satara
Part 5: Dahanu, Alibaug, Kashid, Diveagar, Harihareshwar, Murud, Karade, Ganpatipule, Tarkarli, Vengurla, Tadoba National Park, Bhamragarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Chandoli National Park, Gugumal National Park, Navegaon National Park, Malvan Marine Sanctuary, Rehekuri Blackbuck Sanctuary

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Imphal
Part 2: Moirang, Tamenglong, Thoubal
Part 3: Chandel, Tengnoupal, Moreh, Kaina, Ukhrul, Mount Koubru, Baruni Hill, Thangjing Hill, Sadu Chiru Waterfall

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Shillong
Part 3: Mawphlang, Cherrapunji, Nongpoh, Mawsynram
Part 4: Jowai, Mawlynnong, Dawki, Balpakram National Park, Williamnagar, Baghmara, Tura
Part 5: Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills, Garo Hills

Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Aizwal, Falkawn Village
Part 2: Reiek, Hmuifang, Kolasib, Tamdil or Tam Lake, Mamit, Vantawng Falls, Serchhip
Part 3: Dampa Tiger Reserve, Lunglei, Champhai
Part 4: Murlen National Park, Phawngpui, Phawngpui National Park, Saiha,

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Dimapur
Part 2: Kohima
Part 3: Mokokchung, Tuensang, Phek, Mon, Pfutsero

Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Bhubaneshwar, Dhauli
Part 2: Cuttack, Rayagada, Daringbadi, Berhampur, Jeypore
Part 3: Puri, Baripada, Sambalpur, Rourkela
Part 4: Konark, Paradeep, Gopalpur, Chandipur
Part 5: Lake Chilika, Tikarpada Wildlife Sanctuary, Satkosia Tiger Reserve, Bhitarkanika National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary, Simlipal National Park, Duduma Waterfalls, Chandaka Forest, Kotgarh Elephant Reserve, Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Puducherry
Part 2: Karaikal, Mahé, Yanam

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Chandigarh, Sirhind
Part 3: Rupnagar, Patiala
Part 4: Ludhiana, Bhatinda
Part 5: Jalandhar, Kapurthala
Part 6: Pathankot, Amritsar

Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Jaipur, Udaipur
Part 2: Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Sawai Madhopur, Pushkar

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Gangtok
Part 3: Tinkitam Rayong, Namchi, Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Kabi Longstok, Tendong Hill, Aritar, Zuluk, Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary, Pelling, Yuksom, Ravangla
Part 4: Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, Geyzing, Yangtey, Borong, Mangan, Chopta Valley, Lachung, Lachen, Yumthang Valley, Thangu Valley, Gurudongmar Lake, Cholamu Lake, Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, Khangchendzonga National Park, Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary, Goecha La

Tamil Nadu
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Chennai
Part 2: Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli, Tiruppur, Tirunelveli
Part 3: Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yercaud, Coonoor, Yelagiri, Bellikkal
Part 4: Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai, Chidambaram, Vaitheeshwaran Kovil,
Part 5: Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Swamimalai, Rameshwaram, Madurai
Part 6: Mahabalipuram, Kanyakumari, Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Hogenakkal Falls, Kutralam Falls

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Hyderabad Part 1
Part 2: Hyderabad Part 2
Part 3: Secunderabad
Part 4: Warangal, Nizamabad
Part 5: Khammam, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Mahbubnagar, Medak
Part 6: Nalgonda, Bhadrachalam, Koti Linga, Somasila, Vemulawada

Part 1: Introduction and Overview
Part 2: Agartala
Part 3: Kailashahar, Unakoti, Udaipur, Ambassa, Pilak Archaeological Sites, Chabimura, Mahamuni Pagoda, Manubankul, Buddhist Stupa, Boxanagar
Part 4: Baramura Eco Park, Kalapania Nature Park, Tepania Eco Park, Khumulwang Eco Park, Jampui Hills, Dumboor Lake, Dhalai, Rudrasagar Lake, Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary & Clouded Leopard National Park, Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajbari National Park, Rowa Wildlife Sanctuary, Gomati Wildlife Sanctuary

Uttar Pradesh
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Noida, Loni, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Muzzafarnagar
Part 2: Hastinapur, Vrindavan, Mathura
Part 3: Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Garhmukteshwar
Part 4: Aligarh, Firozabad, Jhansi, Piilbhit, Bithoor, Naimisharanya
Part 5: Kanpur, Lucknow
Part 6: Ayodhya, Sravasti, Prayagraj
Part 7: Chitrakoot, Vindhyachal, Varanasi, Sarnath, Kushinagar

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Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Dehradun
Part 2: Mussoorie, Dhanaulti
Part 3: Auli, Joshimath, Chopta, Tungnath, Ukhimath, Lansdowne, Nainital
Part 4: Sattal, Bhimtal, Naukuchiatal, Kausani, Ranikhet, Almora, Binsar, Jalna, Kasar Devi, Jageshwar, Champawat, Munsiyari, Pithorgarh
Part 5: Bageshwar, Chamoli, Mana, Badrinath, Pandukeshwar, Hemkund Sahib, Kedarnath, Gomukh, Madhyamaheshwar, Gangotri, Gauri Kund, Yamunotri
Part 6: Rudranath, Guptakashi, Nandprayag, Rudraprayag, Devprayag, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Roopkund Lake, Nelong Valley, Gangotri National Park, Kedarnath Wild Life Sanctuary, Valley of Flowers, Nanda Devi National Park, Govind Pashu Vihar Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajaji National Park, Jim Corbett National Park

West Bengal
Part 1: Introduction and Overview, Kolkata
Part 2: Howrah, Barrackpore, Chandan Nagar, Chinsurah, Bardhaman, Haldia, Midnapore
Part 3: Shantiniketan, Durgapur, Jhargram, Asansol, Murshidabad, Mukutmanipur, Malda, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Bagdogra
Part 4: Kurseong, Mirik, Darjeeling, Tinchuley, Dooars, Kalimpong
Part 5: Rishyap, Lava and Lolegaon, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Rajabhatkawa, Jaldapara National Park, Jaldhaka, Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary, Gorumara National Park, Neora Valley National Park, Lataguri, Purulia, Sonajhuri Forest, Deulti, Sundarbans, Mayapur, Nabadwipa, Bakreswar
Part 6: Bankura, Bishnupur, Jayrambati, Kamarpukur, Tarapith, Falta, Raichak, Taki, Piyali Island, Machranga Dwip, Kakdwip, Mousuni Island, Bakkhali, Junput, Mandarmani, Tajpur, Shankarpur

Fabrics and Sarees of India Part 2

In this part, we continue to check out more fabrics and sarees across India.


Ilkal Sarees: Known because it is produced in the town of Ilkal, an ancient weaving centre since the 8th century, the uniqueness of the Ilkal saree is in the joining of the body warp with the pallu warp with a series of loops locally called the tope teni technique. The border colour is very dominating and is usually red or maroon. The distinctive feature of the Ilkal saree is the use of a form of embroidery called Kasuti. The designs used in Kasuti reflect traditional patterns like palanquins, elephants, and lotuses which are embroidered onto the saree. The main body design is usually made up of squares and rectangles. The Ilkal saris are woven using cotton warp on the body and art silk warp for the border and pallu portion. In some cases instead of art silk, pure silk is also used. The Tope Teni seragu has been regarded as a state symbol and was greatly respected during festival occasions. The sarees that are made for bridal wear are made of a particular colour called Giri Kumukum which is associated with the sindoor worn by the wives of the priests in this region. The weaving of the Ilkal saree is a household enterprise involving the participation of female members. One Ilkal saree takes about seven days to weave and are produced on pit looms.

Mysore Silk: One of Karnataka’s most famous exports, the Mysore silk is synonymous with the city of Mysuru and the silk factory was founded in 1912 by Sri Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the Maharaja of Mysore. Initially, the silk fabrics were manufactured & supplied to meet the requirements of the royal family and ornamental fabrics to their armed forces. After Indian independence, the Mysore State Sericulture Dept took control of the silk weaving factory. The saree zari contains 65% pure silver and 0.65% of gold, which is also the most distinct feature of the saree, along with the use of genuine silk that gives it a natural sheen and rich texture. Karnataka produces almost 45% of the country’s mulberry silk. Mysore silk has also received geographical identification. Mysore Silks are also one of the most expensive silk sarees in India and this has led to the production of duplicate Mysore silk saree production and sales. To avoid these issues, KSIC has implemented a unique ID, hologram-based design, and unique identification barcodes woven on each saree produced.


Kasavu Saree: Symbolic of Kerala’s tradition and culture, the traditional Kasavu saree was made by hand from cotton yarn with borders made of golden threads. Believed to have originated in the Buddhist era, the white and gold sarees are unique due to their natural hues, texture and gold border which adds to their elegance. No occasion in Kerala feels complete without the Kasavu saree. The term kasavu refers to the zari or gold thread used in the border of the saree and the name comes from a material used in the weaving and production of these sarees. The origin of the kasavu saree can be traced back to when women would wear a two-piece cloth called settu mundu, more popularly known as the mundum neriyathum. The mundum neriyathum rose in popularity during the Buddhist era, and its design has been inspired by the Greco-Roman attire, Palmyrene, a long piece of unstitched cloth with a coloured border.

The identity of the saree comes from the geographical cluster they are associated with. The Indian government has identified three clusters in Kerala – Balaramapuram, Chendamangalam and Kuthampully – that have been given a Geographical Indication or GI tag and all three clusters produce kasavu sarees. A plain saree with a simple border takes roughly around three to five days. Ones with motifs and heavier work take longer than that. The sarees are priced depending on the time taken on their production, along with the gold used in the zari or kasavu.

Madhya Pradesh

Chanderi: Emerging between the 2nd and 7th centuries, Chanderi sarees are produced from three types of fabrics – pure silk, cotton and silk cotton and are synonymous with the town of Chanderi which is on the boundary of Malwa and Bundelkhand. In the 11th century, the trade locations between Malwa, Medwa, central India and south Gujarat increased the region’s importance. Around 1350, Koshti weavers from Jhansi migrated to Chanderi and settled there and the textile business of Chanderi reached its peak during the Mughal period. Traditional coin, floral art, peacocks and modern geometric designs are woven into different Chanderi patterns. The saris are among the finest in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk, and opulent embroidery.

Maheshwari: Originating from the town of Maheshwar, the Maheshwari saree is made of silk and cotton in a variety of designs woven using brocade and zari. Dating to the 18th century, the sarees were initially made of pure silk, but over time, cotton also came to be used. An interesting story behind the origin of these sarees is that a famous queen had once ordered a large number of artisans and craftsmen from Surat and Malwa to design a unique saree of 9 yards, later termed the Maheshwari saree. These cloth pieces were used as special gifts for the royal guests of the palace. A unique feature of the Maheshwari saree is that each has a specific name of its own, which indicates its distinctness. The sarees may be plain at the centre and have neatly designed borders, or they may have different variations of stripes and checks. The sarees fall under 5 broad categories namely Chandratara, Chandrakala, Beli, Baingani Chandrakala and Parbi. The Baingani Chandrakala and Chandrakala are plain ones, while the Beli, Chandratara, and Parbi come with stripes or checks.


Karvati: Hailing from the Vidarbha region, Karvati silks are made from Tussar with a grainy, textural feel. What is unique about the silk used in Karvati saris is that it is exclusive to this specific region that is rich in high-quality silk cocoons, straight from the wild. The tribes hailing from this area assume the responsibility of protecting the silk cocoons until they are ready to be harvested. The Tussar is unlike any other silk; it has a unique shade of deep yellow-brown.

The word karvat is a Marathi term that refers to a saw-tooth pattern. Karvati is the name lent to the style of the border rather than the fabric itself. What is different about the saree is the technique and the mixed usage of yarn. The border is woven out of mercerized cotton yarns with traditional temple motifs of various sizes, using an extra warp while the rest of the sari is woven using pure, hand-reeled Tussar silk which provides a texture that has irregular stubs all over. The saree is woven using a three-shuttle, tapestry style of weaving with a pit loom mounted with a wooden lattice dobby in the Nagpur style on the top of the loom. This means that it uses three different styles of weaving at the same time.

Paithani: Dating to the Satvahana Dynasty that ruled between the second century BC and the second century AD, Paithani sarees are fine silk handloom sarees get their name from the town in which they originated, Paithan in Aurangabad. Available in both six and nine yards, the most interesting part about the Paithani handloom is that both sides of the saree look the same, including the border and the pallu. This feature is the telltale sign of a handloom Paithani. As Paithani sarees are woven from naturally dyed threads, they can usually be found only in basic colours. Each saree usually has two dominating colours, one on the saree and the other on the border and pallu. The Paithani is characterised by borders of an oblique square design, and a pallu with a peacock design. Among other varieties, single-coloured and kaleidoscope-coloured designs are also popular. The kaleidoscopic effect is achieved by using one colour for weaving lengthwise and another for weaving width-wise.

The Paithani is a sari made of silk and zari with a plain weave, with weft figuring designs according to the principles of the tapestry. Traditionally, Paithanis had coloured, cotton muslin fields that often contained considerable supplementary zari patterning. However, in the 19th century, silk fields were also woven. Due to its proximity to the Ajanta caves, the influence of Buddhist paintings can be seen in the woven Paithani motifs. These sarees are made of silk in which there is no extra weft forming figures. Weaving could take between 18 and 24 months, depending upon the complexity of the design. In the days of Peshwas, the borders and the pallu were made of pure gold mixed with copper to give it strength spun into a fine wire called the zari. In recent times, zari is made of silver, coated with gold plating. In the border woven with a zari, ground-coloured silk patterns are added as supplementary weft inlay against the zari usually in the form of a flower or a creeping vine.


Bomkai: Also known as the Sonepuri Saree, the Bomkai Saree is a handloom saree from the Bomkai village and has a GI tag. Usually made of cotton, these sarees are also made of silk for special occasions. During the time of Ramai Dev the then ruler of Patna, it was introduced in Sonepur. The borders and pallus are usually designed with fishes as it is believed to be a sign of success and affluence. The sari is normally dyed in red, black and white.

Khandua: A traditional bandha or ikat saree, Khandua is also known as Maniabandi or Kataki and is worn during weddings with a special type of fabric worn by Lord Jagannath which contain texts of the Geeta Govinda on them. The word Khandua in Odia translates to the cloth worn in the lower half of the body. Traditionally Kentuli Khandua is offered to Jagannath as lower cloth. The weaver communities of Maniabandha and Nuapatana of Cuttack traditionally wove this kind of fabric and during the rule of the Gajapatis, the sarees were made and transported to the Jagannath Temple. Nilakantha Deva, the King of Badakhemundi was offered khandua sari made of one piece of khandua silk called caukandika. Khandua is traditionally red or orange in colour with the red colour prepared naturally from the sal tree. The design motif has an auspicious elephant that represents Buddha surrounded by a trailing vine with peacocks in it, a large many-petaled flower, an animal  unique to Orissa known as Nabagunjara. The elephant in Khandua ikat from Nuapatana usually varies from elephant motives in ikat from the Sambalpuri saree as well as the ikat from other parts of Orissa. The Khandua has plain borders contrary to borders with motifs in the case of the other ikats from the state.

Pasapali: Also known as the Saktapar, the Pasapali saree is a bandha or Ikat handloom sari woven mainly in the Bargarh district. The name Pasapali is derived from pasa or gambling games using a chess board and these sarees have intricate check patterns of contrasting colours resembling the chess boards which gives it its name.

Sambalpuri: A traditional handwoven ikat where the warp and the weft are tie-dyed before weaving, the Sambalpuri saree is known for its incorporation of traditional motifs, all of which have deep symbolism in red, black and white that represent Odia culture. The high point of these sarees is the traditional craftsmanship of the Bandhakala, or the tie-dye art reflected in their intricate weaves, also known as Sambalpuri Ikkat. In this technique, the threads are first tie-dyed and later woven into a fabric, with the entire process taking many weeks. These sarees also have a Geographical Indication or GI tag associated with them. Traditionally, craftsmen created the ikats with images of flora or fauna or with geometrical patterns, but recently the ikats depict portraits and landscapes are also being designed. The unique feature of this form of designing is that the designs are reflected almost identically on both sides of the fabric. Once the fabric is dyed it can never be bleached into another colour. It is believed that this art migrated to western Odisha along with the Bhulia community who fled north India in 1192 after the fall of the Chouhan empire at the hands of the Mughals.


Phulkari: Punjab’s folk embroidery, Phulkari which means floral work also includes motifs and geometrical shapes. In Punjabi, Phul means flower and Akari means the shape and so Phulkari means the shape and the direction of flowers which symbolise life. The main characteristics of Phulkari embroidery are the use of darn stitch on the wrong side of coarse cotton cloth with coloured silken thread. The traditional varieties of Phulkaris are large items of cloth and include Chope, Tilpatr, Neelak and Bagh. Sometimes, the Bagh is given separate categorisation of its own as on other varieties of a Phulkari, parts of the cloth are visible, whereas, in a Bagh, the embroidery covers the entire garment so that the base cloth is not visible. Today, in contemporary designs, the simple and sparsely embroidered dupattas and shawls made for everyday use, are referred to as phulkari, while clothing items that cover the entire body, made for special and ceremonial occasions such as weddings are called baghs or large gardens. The Phulkari continues to be an integral part of Punjabi weddings to the present day.

In the past, as soon as a girl was born, mothers and grandmothers would start embroidering Baghs and Phulkaris, which were to be given away at the time of her marriage. Depending on the status of the family, the parents would give a dowry of 11 to 101 Baghs and Phulkaris which were also passed from one generation to the next as heirlooms. The hallmark of Phulkari is making innumerable patterns by using long and short darn stitches. There were no pattern books and embroidery was worked entirely from the reverse of the fabric and the designs were not traced. Techniques and patterns were not documented but transmitted from word of mouth and each regional group was identified with the style of embroidery or design. The most favoured colour was red and its shades. Animals and birds represented success, beauty, pride, and goodwill and different fruits symbolised wealth, prosperity, and fertility. Wheat and barley stalks with ears were also common motifs. Silk and mulmul or soft cotton muslin fabrics were used because of their purity and longevity and it was believed that the virtue and character of a woman gave shape to the Phulkari.

There are different theories about the origin of Phulkari. One such belief is that this embroidery was prevalent in different parts of the country as far back as the 7th century, but survived only in Punjab. Motifs similar to the ones found in Phulkari are also found in Kashida of Bihar and some of the embroideries of Rajasthan. Another thought is that this style of embroidery came from Iran where it was called Gulkari, also meaning floral work.


Gota Patti: Gota patti or gota work is a type of Indian embroidery that originated in  Rajasthan. Small pieces of zari ribbon are applied onto the fabric with the edges sewn down to create elaborate patterns. Gota embroidery is used extensively in South Asian weddings and formal clothes. Originally real gold and silver metals were used to embroider, but these were eventually replaced by copper coated with silver as it would become very expensive and today, even more, inexpensive options are available.

Kota Doriya: A handloom fabric, Kota Doriya is woven on a traditional pit loom in such a way that it produces square checks pattern on the fabric. The delicately wrought checks are locally known as khats. Onion juice and rice paste are smeared onto the yarn making it so strong that no additional finishing is needed. Kota Doriya sarees are made of pure cotton and silk and have square-like patterns known as khats on them. The chequered weave of a Kota sari is very popular with a very fine weave and weighs very little.

It is said that Jhala Zalim Singh of Kotah brought weavers from Mysore, in the mid-17th century, as they wove a characteristic small squared lightweight cotton fabric that looked like graph paper and was suitable for turbans. Since the weavers had come from Mysore, the fabric produced was called Kota Masuriya and was woven on narrow 8-inch looms to make the traditional paags or turbans and later on, broader looms were used for gossamer-light saris. Silk was added to the cotton in a 20:80 ratio approximately to give the sari strength. Nowadays hand woven silk Kota Doriya saris have also become popular. At first, the design known as a buti was small and regular but larger designs are now made according to fashion and taste. A very ornate saree can take one month to make and is an heirloom piece to be treasured. A genuine Kota Doriya sari will contain the GI mark woven in one corner indicating that it has been hand woven using real silver and gold thread.

Leheriya: Leheriya is a traditional style of tie and dye practised in Rajasthan which is bright in colour, with a distinctive pattern. The word Leheriya comes from the word leher, meaning wave and the tie-dye technique results in diagonal stripes, which look like waves on the fabric. To create diagonal stripes, the craftsmen use a special method of resist-dyeing, where the material, is rolled up diagonally length-wise and then tied tightly at intervals before the actual dyeing process begins. Delicate, light fabrics such as thin cotton voile, fine silk and chiffon are preferred, as they allow the colour to penetrate through the rolled cloth. The fabric is wrapped around a wooden pole, usually while it is still wet or in a semi-dry state. The thread that ties up the fabric acts as a resist, yielding a pattern of diagonal stripes after dyeing. The thickness of the thread and the distance between the ties may be varied to obtain stripes of different widths.

An astounding variety of Leheriya fabrics are produced using this simple process. A panchranga or five-colour design is the most auspicious since the number five is considered special in Hindu scriptures. Another beautiful pattern is the satranga, flaunting the seven colours of the rainbow.

Tamil Nadu

Kanjeevaram: A silk saree which is worn on special occasions, the Kanjeevaram or Kanchipuram is made in the Kanchipuram region. This saree has also been recognised and given the Geographical Indication tag by the Indian government. The sarees are distinguished by their wide contrast borders with temple borders, checks, stripes and floral patterns as traditional designs. The patterns and designs in the Kancheepuram sarees are inspired by the images and scriptures in South Indian temples or natural features like leaves, birds and animals and have rich woven pallus showing the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. As of 2008, an estimated 5,000 families were involved in sari production with 25 silk and cotton yarn industries and 60 dyeing units in the region.

The saris are woven from pure mulberry silk thread, which along with the zari or gold thread comes from South India. To weave a Kanjeevaram saree. three shuttles are used. While the weaver works on the right side, his aide works on the left side shuttle. The border colour and design are usually quite different from the body. If the pallu has to be woven in a different shade, it is first separately woven and then delicately joined to the saree and the part where the body meets the pallu is often denoted by a zigzag line. In a genuine Kajeevaram silk saree, the body and the border are woven separately and then interlocked together. The joint is woven so strongly that even if the saree tears, the border will not detach and this differentiates the Kanjeevaram silk saree from the others. The sarees vary widely in price depending on the intricacy of work, colours, patterns, craftsmanship and materials used.

Koorainaadu: A traditional handloom weaving centre, Koorainadu sarees are by their checks and stripes pattern for which plain looms are used. It is made with pure silk and fine-twisted mercerized cotton yarn, in both warp and weft, in the ratio of 2:1, giving every Koorainadu saree a silk look. A peculiar characteristic of this saree is the formation of cotton checks by the interlacing of warp and weft during weaving which can be woven only by an experienced weaver. The sarees are hence stiffer and easier to hold the pleats which make them easier to wear. Koorainadu sarees are mostly worn by the womenfolk of the Hindu community green and yellow colours are used to make it auspicious and so it is often worn by married women wishing for long-lasting wedlock. The nine-yard Koorainadu saris are made with cotton or cotton and silk, in checks or striped patterns with a contrasting border in yellow. Saris with wide borders are called temple saris because they are offered to the deities in the temple.

Sungudi: Traditional cotton sarees from the Madurai area, Sungudi sarees are defined by the pattern of block prints and tie and dye designs. The origins of Sungudi can be traced back to the Sourashtrians who brought the art with them when they migrated to South India under the patronage of King Thirumalai Naicker in the 17th century. In Saurashtra, the word sungudi relates to the Sanskrit word sunnam meaning round, representing the circular dots that are printed on the fabric as a prominent and special motif.

The dots in the saris are said to be inspired by the cosmos which is why most Sungudi sarees remind one of a starry night. Tying the knots of the sari demands a great amount of precision from the craftsman. Ideally, a three-inch gap between the body and the zari border and also with the pallu lends a neat and symmetrical look to the crude dots. The designs are sometimes marked with a pencil on the fabric for ease in the process. The Sungudi art has seven basic designs that can be modified with different permutations and combinations to provide variety and highlight the creativity of the craftsman. The smaller the dot the better the expertise and this comes only with extensive practice and time. In the early days people used rudimentary methods like tying the knots with mustard or peppercorn seeds. Although this seems like a rural and unpolished method, its success lay in its simplicity. Authentic Sungudi is more than just tying knots. There is a lot of meticulousness that goes into producing a piece that looks effortless.  Once the knots are tied in the desired pattern, the sari is clamped which involves pleating, twisting, folding and wrapping it tightly before dyeing it for around two hours. Then the sari is subjected to two rounds of washing with cold water with an organic fixing agent followed by drying and ironing. The resultant fabric is a beautiful sheet like stars in the sky. In 2005 the art of Sungudi tie and dye got the GI recognition tag.

In the next part, the last one, we will do the last few states and also learn about some interesting saree drapes.

Travel Bucket List: India – Madhya Pradesh Part 6

Gwalior is closer to New Delhi and Agra than the capital of Bhopal and not too far from the state borders. Gwalior is a major city in this area which occupies a strategic location in the Gird region of India. The historic city and its fortress have been ruled by several historic northern Indian kingdoms, from the Kachchhapaghatas in the 10th century and the Tomars in the 13th century, it was passed on to the Mughal Empire, then to the Maratha in 1754, followed by the Scindias in the 18th century. Gwalior was also the winter capital of the state of Madhya Bharat which later became a part of the larger state of Madhya Pradesh. Prior to Indian independence, Gwalior was a princely state of the British Raj with the Scindia as the local rulers. High rocky hills surround the city from all sides, on the north it just forms the border of the Ganga- Yamuna Drainage Basin. The city however is situated in the valley between the hills. Gwalior was one of the major sites of rebellion during the 1857 uprising and post-independence, it has emerged as an important tourist attraction in central India.

According to local tradition, Gwalior owes its name to a sage. Suraj Sen, a local prince, is said to have lost his way in the forest when he an old man on a secluded hill, the sage Gwalipa, whose presence there took him by surprise. Upon asking the sage for some drinking water, he was led to a river, where the waters not only quenched his thirst but also cured him of leprosy. Out of gratitude, the prince wished to offer the sage something in return, and the sage asked him to build a wall on the hill to protect the other sages from wild animals which often disturbed their yajnas or pujas. Suraj Sen later built a palace inside the fort, which was named “Gwalior” after the sage, and eventually the city that grew around the fort took the same name. The river from which Suraj Sen quenched his thirst later also came to known as Swarnrekha Nadi.

The earliest historical record found at Gwalior is the Gwalior inscription of the Alchon Hun ruler Mihirakula. Around the 9th century, the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty controlled Gwalior and during their rule, they constructed the Teli ka Mandir temple. In 1231 Iltutmish captured Gwalior after an 11-month-long effort and from then till the 13th century it remained under Muslim rule. In 1375, Raja Veer Singh was made the ruler of Gwalior and he founded the rule of the Tomar clan. During those years, Gwalior saw its golden period. The Jain Sculptures at Gwalior Fort were built under Tomar rule. Man Singh Tomar made his dream palace, the Man Mandir Palace, now a tourist attraction at Gwalior Fort. By the 15th century, the city had a noted singing school which was attended by Tansen. Later in the 1730s, the Scindias captured Gwalior and it remained a princely state during the British Rule.

Gwalior is also known for not participating in the 1857 rebellion, mainly due to non-co-operation with Rani Lakshmibai. After Kalpi or as it is known today, Jhansi, fell into the hands of the British on 24 May 1858, Lakshmibai sought shelter at Gwalior Fort. The Maharaja of Gwalior was not willing to give up his fort without a fight as he was a strong ally of the British, but after negotiations, his troops capitulated and the rebels took possession of the fort. The British attacked Gwalior in no time, the battle was fought by Lakshmibai. Indian forces numbered around 20,000, and British forces around 1,600 troops. Lakshmibai died fighting, and Gwalior was free from rebels.

The Scindia state of Gwalior became a major regional power in the second half of the 18th century and figured prominently in the three Anglo-Maratha Wars. Gwalior first fell to the British in 1780. The Scindias held significant power over many of the Rajput states, and conquered the state of Ajmer. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the city was briefly held by rebel forces in 1858 until they were defeated by the British. The Scindia family ruled Gwalior until India’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, when the Maharaja Jivajirao Scindia acceded to the Government of India. Gwalior was merged with a number of other princely states to become the new Indian state of Madhya Bharat. The ruling family is also very involved politically, with various members of the family being leaders in different political parties.

Gwalior Fort: Referred to as ‘the pearl amongst fortresses in India’ by Mughal emperor Babur, the Gwalior Fort is one of the most impenetrable fortresses in India. Situated on top of a vast rocky mountain near Gwalior, this imposing structure dominates the city. It is also the place where the second oldest reference of the number ‘zero’ has been found in the form of a carving inside a temple on the top of the fort. The construction of Gwalior Fort took place in two parts and in two different time periods and so, this architectural marvel has an intriguing history attached to it. It was passed from one dynasty to the other, multiple times.. The exact period during which the Gwalior Fort was constructed is not yet known. According to legends, this imposing fort was built in the 3rd century by a local king Suraj Sen. The king had recently been cured of leprosy with the help and blessings of a sage named Gwalipa, who had offered him water from a sacred pond. The grateful king then built this fort and named it after the sage. The word Gwalior is derived from the saint’s name – Gwalipa. The sage bestowed the title Pal, which means protector, upon the king; and declared that the fort would remain in his family’s possession as long as they bore this title. Interestingly enough, the fort remained with the 83 descendants of Suraj Sen Pal, but the 84th descendant named Tej Karan lost the fort. In the years that followed, the Gwalior Fort has witnessed many ups and downs. It also changed hands many times and has been held by the Tomars, Mughals, Marathas, and the British, before finally being handed over to the Scindias.

Surrounded by concrete walls of sandstone, the Gwalior Fort encloses three temples, six palaces and several water tanks, and is truly an architectural marvel. The different palaces and temples are a reflection of the architectural finery and skill that existed during those times and continues to be appreciated till date. The most beautiful palace in the fort is the Man Mandir Palace, which, with its amazingly elaborate structure, seems to hang at the edge of the striking fort. Blue ceramic tiles form the facade of this breathtakingly beautiful palace. The Teli-ka-Mandir, built in the 9th-century Dravidian style, rises to a height of over 100 feet and is famous for its blend of South Indian architecture with North Indian decorative motifs, as well as an exquisitely sculpted exterior. The Saas-Bahu temples on the eastern side of the fort are also larger than life examples of the 11th-century temple architecture.

The fort hosts a spectacular sound and light show every evening which is extremely well executed and makes you feel as if you are a part of the rich history of the fort and the love story of Raja Man Singh and his queen Mrignayani. The show takes place in the amphitheatre at the Man Mandir every day at 7:30 pm in Hindi and at 8:30 pm in English. Open from 6 am to 5:30 pm, the entrance fee to Gwalior Fort IINR 75 per person for Indians, INR 250 per person forforeigners and children below theage of 15 do not pay anything.

Man Mandir Palace: Located at the North-east end of the fort, the Man Mandir Palace was built between 1486 and 1516 by the Tomar ruler, Man Singh Tomar. The palace didn’t survive the ravages of time, however the remains of the palace still showcases the beautiful carvings and designs of that era. The palace has two open courts in between with apartments on two levels. There are underground prison cells as well, built later by Mughals. This was the place where Aurangzeb prisoned his brother Murad and poisoned him slowly to death by using opium. If you can find a local guide, he/she would be able to tell you various secrets about the place and show you various parts of the palace, which otherwise you won’t be able to see. Nearby is the Jauhar Kund where various Rajput women committed mass suicide to avoid rapes by the forces of Iltutmish who was the king of Delhi in the 13th century. The palace is also surrounded by other monuments like Jehangir Mahal, Shah Jahan Mahal and the Gujari Mahal. Man Mandir Palace is open all day of the week from 10 am to 5 pm and does not have any entry fees.

Teli Ka Mandir: Located in the Gwalior Fort, the Teli Ka Mandir temple dates back to the 9th century and is the highest building in Gwalior at 100 ft. This temple was used to process oil before the Britishers occupied the Gwalior Fort. The temple is famous for its unique architecture as the temple holds a Dravidian look, but the sculptures are typically North Indian. The temple is open every day between 10 am and 6 pm and entry fees are around INR 20 per person.

Saas Bahu Temple: Also built in the 9th century and contrary to what the name suggests, the Saas Bahu Temple does not mean Saas or Mother-in-law and Bahu or Daughter-in-law temple, but is a short form of Shastra Bahu, which is another name of Lord Vishnu. These are two temples situated adjacent to each other and are decorated with beautiful carvings and sculptures.

Suraj Kund: With the blue hills of Aravalli in the background, Surajkund is an old reservoir constructed around the 10th century by Suraj Pal of the Tomar Dynasty, who himself was a sun worshipper and therefore built a Sun Temple on the western bank of the embankment. The word Surajkund literally translates to the ‘Lake of the Sun’, and the destination is presently surrounded by the ruins of an ancient sun temple, coupled with a beautiful garden and a pool by the name of Siddha Kund. The tank is believed to have magical powers with the water from the tank acting as medicinal water that is assumed to cure chronic diseases, with the belief that Suraj Sen was cured of his leprosy after drinking the water from this tank. The sunrise and sunsets here are beautiful.Noticable thing of the Suraj kund is the sunset and sunrise.

Jai Vilas Palace: Also known as the Jai Vilas Mahal, the Jai Vilas Palace was built to welcome King Edward VII, the then Prince of Wales in 1874. Today, the palace serves as a residence for the descendants of the Scindia family and also also serves as a museum which stretchs over 35 rooms, houses the Chitrangada Raje Art Gallery and a library that comprises more than 5,000 books. The palace also has a collection of swords that date back to the times of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, and the original shield that belonged to Rani Laxmibai. Covering a floor area of about 75 acres, the Jai Vilas Palace, inspired by the Palace of Versailles, has an intricately designed Durbar Hall, which houses some of the world’s biggest chandeliers, gilt furnishings, and a large plush carpet, said to be one of the largest in the world. The custom-made chandeliers, ordered from Vienna, are each 40 feet high and weigh 3.5 tonnes each and are amongst the largest in the world, even today. The layout of the Jai Vilas Palace is reflective of the colonial period and was designed by Sir Michael Filose. The first floor is fashioned in the Tuscan style, while the second and third floors are inspired from the Italian-Doric and Corinthian periods respectively. All 400 rooms are furnished with Italian marble flooring, Persian carpets, ornamental accessories and rare antiquities from France, China and Italy. A unique feature of the Palace is an elongated dining table, on which a silver train with cut glass carriages is rallied around to serve delicacies, after-dinner brandy or cigars to important delegates during get-togethers. A section of the palace consisting of 35 rooms has been converted into a museum with its primary purpose to serve as a central site for research and learning of ancient Indian arts and culture. The place includes a museum shop, café and library and there is provision for specialised tours, which can be booked after 5 pm and includes high tea and/or dinner. The palace is open from 10 am to 4:45 pm between April and September and from 10 am to 4:40 pm between October and March and is closed on Wednesdays. Entry fees for Indians is INR 500, while foreigners pay INR 600. You need to pay INR 60 to take in a camera or a smartphone while a video camera will incur a charge of INR 150. Children under the age of five and physically challenged people need not pay any entry fee.

Sun Temple: The Surya Mandir or Sun Temple as the name suggests is a temple is dedicated to the Sun God and was constructed in 1988 by G.D. Birla. Built on the lines of legendary Sun Temple at Konark in Orissa, the Sun Temple blends exquisite architecture in red sandstone and pearly white marble. The outer edifice is made of red sandstone which is built in the manner of gradual slots that reach up to the peak of the facade. A splendid idol of the Sun Lord is enshrined in the temple. The temple is open every day from 6:30 am to 12 noon and then again from 1 to 6 pm. There is no entry fee.

Padavali and Bateshwa: Situated around 40 km north from the main town, Padavali is a fortress comprising many ancient temples. The temples have intricate carvings and one of the temples also have erotic carvings and hence famous as mini Khajuraho. These temples were discovered in 2005 as a result of excavation by the ASI and the archeological work is still ongoing. Most of the temples here are dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu and are believed to built between the 8th-10th century and is built mainly using red sandstone.

Gurudwara Data Bandi Chhod: Associated with Guru Har Gobind Saheb, his imprisonment in Gwalior Fort and his release along with the 52 kings who were held captive, Gurudwara Data Bandi Chhod holds immense religious importance to the adherents of the Sikh faith.

Tomb of Tansen: One of the greatest musicians of India and an eminent vocalist in the court of Emperor Akbar in the 16th century, Tansen was also among one of the nine gems of the Mughal court. Believed to be able to create magic, cause rains even though it was not the season for it and enchant animals with his music, Tansen was a student of Mohammad Ghaus who taught him Hindustani classical music. He was a proponent of Dhrupad style and he developed the Gwalior Gharana style of music. He was buried near his guru and this burial site is a beautiful piece of architecture. The annual Tansen music festival is held here every year in the month of November when prominent musicians from all over the country come and perform various classical shows. The tomb is open for visitors from 8 am to 6 pm.

Tomb of Ghaus Mohammed: The tomb of the 16th century prince-turned-sufi is located in Tansen Nagar in Gwalior. This beautiful mausoleum exhibits stunning Mughal architecture which gives the place a sense of serenity and peace.

Gopachal Parva: Famous for its 7th and 15th century rock-cut Jain mounuments dedicated to Jain Teerthankaras – Adinatha, Mahavir, Neminatha and Rishanabhanatha – whose idols can be seen in a meditative posture, Gopachal Parvat are a part of 100 monuments located in and around the city.

Chhatris of the Scindia Dynasty: Centophs built in the memory and honour of the rulers of the Scindia dynasty, the first Chhatri was constructed in the memory of Jayaji Rao Scindia in 1817. The Chhatri is famous for its architectural beauty with elegant domes and beautiful pavilions made of pink and yellow sandstone set amidst lush green lawns. The Chhatri is open from 9 am to 5 pm.

Gujari Mahal: The State Archaeological Museum also known as Gujari Mahal was built by Man Singh in the 15th century for his favorite wife Mrignayani. While Gujari Mahal is now in ruins, it is an archaeological museum today as it showcases various sculptures, statues and other remains dating back to 1st and 2nd century. Entry fees is INR 10 for Indians, INR 100 for foreigners, INR 50 to bring in a camera and INR 200 to shoot videos in the museum. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm.

Scindia Museum: Dedicated to Jivaji Rao Scindia, this is one of the most prominent museums of Madhya Pradesh. It occupies around 35 rooms of Jai Villas Palace and was established in the year 1964. The museum is famous for its collection of manuscripts, sculptures, coins, paintings and weapons and is a great place to connect with the history of Gwalior, especially the Scindia dynasty.

Sarod Ghar: Also known as Kala Vithika, the Sarod Ghar is a museum of music which has been set up in the ancestral house of the legendary Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan and is a must for any music enthusiast visiting Gwalior. This museum houses musical instruments which were used by legendary Indian musicians of the past and also exhibits a great collection of documents and photographs with the aim of promoting Indian classical culture and music. Open from 10 am to 6 pm every day except Sunday, the entry fee for Indians INR 20 and INR 100 for foreigners.

Gwalior Zoo: Established by Madhao Rao Scindia in 1922, the Gandhi zoo as it is also known, is actually a section of a larger garden known as Phool Bagh and houses various rare species of animals. Golden peasants, sambhars, bison, hyena, spotted deer, black bucks and a white tiger forms the variety of wild animals that can be found here. Several smaller populations of crocodiles, snakes, monkeys, and birds have also made the zoo their home. Due to the rare species of wild animals here, the 8 hectares of land that constitutes the zoo has been declared to be a protected site, maintained by the Municipal Corporation of Gwalior as part of its inheritance. The Phool Bagh was inaugurated by the Prince of Wales almost a hundred years ago, and it continues to be well-maintained and conserved even today and also houses a prayer hall, gurudwara, mosque as well as a theosophical lodge. Closed on Fridays, the Zoo is open from10:30 am to 5 pm on other days. Adults pay INR 20 while children pay INR 5 to enter the zoo.

Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary: Located about 150 km south of Gwalior, the Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary is a hidden gem hiding amidst Vindhyan Hills. This wildlife sanctuary is a well kept secret and a safe haven for a large number of flora and fauna. The tranquil wilderness and serene rivers makes this place look magical. The dense lush green trees hide many treasures amidst them and this wildlife sanctuary is an offbeat destination not visited many and hence is quite peaceful. A few hours spent with trees, flowers, animals and birds will make you appreciate mother nature and you would want to stay here forever. You can either explore the dense forest using your own vehicle, the condition being it should not be older than 5 years or tske the jungle safari organised by the sanctuary. The jungle safari takes place twice a day, once in the morning from 6 to 9:30 am and the then in the evening between 4 to 6 pm.

After travelling about 480 km south of Gwalior, we get to Jabalpur and Bhedaghat

An ancient city located on the shores of river Narmada, Jabalpur is today an industrial city which is gaining popularity as a tourist destination because of its splendid ghats, the 98-foot high Dhuandhar waterfall, marble art, and historical and cultural structures. The Bhedaghat-Marble Rocks and Dhuandhar Falls are the most prominent tourist attractions in Jabalpur. Apart from this, the 17th-century Madan Mahal Fort situated near Narmada river and the famous Chausath Yogini Temple located near Roopnath are must-visits. Besides them, Balancing Rock is another site which is must-see for tourists in Jabalpur. A bustling city with modern amenities, it is home to varied working-class people and some British architecture along with beautiful natural landscapes. Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park are also nearby making Jabalpur a central location to visit these wildlife locations.

Bhedeghat is known for the Duandar Falls, a huge cascade of water that falls from a height of 98 feet. Boating in Bhedaghat especially during the moonlit night is an unforgettable experience. The boatmen of these place are storytellers that will tell you about the place in the form of interesting stories. Also regarded as the Marble Rocks of Bhedaghat, this small town has earned a reputation for the massive 100 ft rocks on either side of the Narmada. Bhedaghat lies less than 25 km east of Jabalpur and about 285 km east of Bhopal. Other notable attractions here include the 64 Yogini Temple and ‘Bandar Kudini’, a spot where two cliffs are so close to each other that monkeys hop over from one side to another.

Our next destination is the town of Panna, about 220 km north of Jabalpur

A former Gond settlement, Panna is a small city in the heart of the country, which boasts of being the only city with diamond reserves. Panna is also most notably known for the Panna National Park which is a world heritage site and a significant initiative towards wildlife conservation in India. Panna is also famous for the temple of Padmavatipuri Dham, which is a haven for devotees or the numerous intriguing stories of the Bundela rajas. Another reason that Panna is well-known is for the legend of the peripatetic sage Mahamati Prannath and his disciples, who on reaching Panna realized the message of the awakening of one’s soul. Panna has a large reserve of diamond deposits along the Vindhya mountain range. Despite not having very large diamonds, the Panna diamonds are extremely popular and are auctioned off every year in the month of January. They are classified into 4 categories – the clear Motichul, the orange tainted Manik, the green-tinted Panna and the sepia coloured Bunsput. The National Mineral Development Corporation manages the diamond mines in Panna.

260 km west of Jabalpur lies the hill station of Panchmarhi.

The only hill station and the highest point in the state, Pachmarhi is also often known as “Satpura ki Rani” or the “Queen of the Satpura Range”. Situated at an altitude of 1,067 metres, the picturesque town is a part of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, home to leopards and bison. Five sandstone cut caves on the hilltop are believed to be the spot where Pandavas stayed in Pachmarhi during their exile, making it a popular spot among religious tourists. Being at an elevated height and surrounded by bewitching forests of the Satpuras with the streams and waterfalls, Pachmarhi is a perfect weekend getaway from the nearby cities of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Since the town was discovered and developed in modern times by Captain James Forsyth of the British Army, it houses charming churches built in colonial style architecture.

Let’s go back to Jabalpur and travel east this time to Amarkantak which is about 225 km from Jabalpur.

Also known as “Teerthraj” or the king of pilgrimages, Amarkantak is located amidst the Vindhya and Satpura mountain ranges at an altitude of 1065 meters with some of the most exquisite temples that one will ever see. The Narmada river, one of India’s holiest rivers, originates from Amarkantak and apart from being the birthplace for the river Narmada, Amarkantak also serves as the confluence point for the rivers Narmada, Sone and Johila. The dense forests of Amarkantak have plants rich in medicinal properties, making it significant from the ecological point of view. It is believed that the mystic poet, Sant Kabir, meditated here on Kabir Chabutra. Amarkantak is known for its rich cultural heritage.

Less than 200 km from Amarkantak is the Bandhavgarh National Park.

Formerly a hunting ground for the Maharajas of Rewa, the Bandhavgarh National Park is world-renowned as a tiger reserve and it is known to have the highest density of Bengal tigers in the world. The frequent sightings of royal tigers make this national park a must-visit for all wildlife enthusiasts. In 2012, around 44-49 tigers were living in the park. There are more than 22 species of mammals and 250 species of avifauna. The park got its name from the Bandhavgarh fort situated at the height of 800 m high cliffs nearby. The fort is in ruins now, but an hour trek to the fort is worth it as it provides ample views of the surroundings. The jeep safaris are amongst the most popular activities taken by visitors. The best time to visit the park is between October to May. Unlike other national parks, there are three types of safaris offered by the authorities – jeep, canter and elephant. Jeep and canter safaris are more popular among the tourists because it is easily available and cheaper than the elephant safari.

Another 200 km south of Bandhavgarh National Park is the Kanha National Park

The Kanha National Park is the largest National Park in central India and has been ranked as one of the best parks in Asia. Among the 22 species of large mammals, the royal Bengal tigers are one of the major attractions. One of the best tiger reserves in India, the present-day area stretches over the 940-kilometre square which is divided into two sanctuaries: Hallon and Banjar. The park was established in the year 1955 and has since actively contributed to the preservation of many endangered species. The National Park was taken under the Project Tiger Reserve in 1974. Abundant in flora and fauna, the Kanha National Park houses one of the rarest species of deer- the Barasingha. It is known for the unique Barasingha conversation to save the species that were once on the verge of extinction. One of the most scenic wildlife reserves in Asia today, this National Park came to be known the world over through Rudyard Kipling’s book- The Jungle Book. The park is famous for its wildlife safaris and attracts tourists from all over the world. Other important animals in this park are leopards, wild dogs, wild cats, foxes, sloth bears, hyenas, langurs, wild boars and jackals. Reptiles including pythons, cobras, krait and other varieties of snakes are also found in this National Park. The Jeep Safari is the best way to explore Kanha. Since the costs are typically per jeep, its advisable to share your jeep in case seats are available. The safaris are allowed in two slots: morning from 6 to 11 am and afternoon from 3 to 6 pm. The morning slot typically has more chances of spotting tigers with costs around INR 1000-2000 for a jeep. The evening safaris are slightly cheaper than the morning ones. You can book a 4 seater safari from your resort and they will also pack breakfast for you in the morning slot. The elephant safaris could be very exciting and are typically available in the morning slot costing around INR 300-600 per head.

The Pench National Park is situated 200 km east of the Kanha Tiger Reserve.

With the majestic Pench river flowing through the greens and a variety of wildlife to be spotted in the rocky terrains, the Pench National Park served as an inspiration for the famous novel ‘The Jungle Book’. One can enjoy many different experiences along with the wildlife safari on the boat rides, such as catching a glimpse of the tribal life and viewing some famous local dams and temples along the way. The Pench National Park is open to visitors from 1st October to 30th June each year. It remains closed during the monsoon season. Generally, the months of November to February is considered to be the best time to visit the park. The entry fee to the park is INR 15 for Indians and INR 150 for foreigners. The timings are from 6 am to 11 am in the mornings, and then from 3 to 6 pm. Light vehicles and 15 seater buses are allowed on the premises. An open jeep Jungle Safari is available for both day and night. There is also the option of taking a beautiful boat ride or boat safari to explore Pench and the surrounding areas, across a stretch of 17 km.

I have only managed to scratch the surface of what this amazingly rich and diverse state has to offer. I am more then tempted to visit as soon as I can. What about you?

Travel Bucket List: India – Madhya Pradesh Part 5

Let’s now go about 215 km north of the capital city of Bhopal to the town of Chanderi, another place associated with a saree, found in every Indian woman’s wardrobe.

A town of historical importance, Chanderi is surrounded by hills southwest of the Betwa River as well as lakes and forests and has several monuments of the Bundela Rajputs and the Malwa sultans. It is famous for ancient Jain Temples.

Located strategically on the borders of Malwa and Bundelkhand, Chanderi’s history goes back to the 11th century, when it was dominated by the trade routes of Central India and was proximate to the arterial route to the ancient ports of Gujarat as well as to Malwa, Mewar, Central India and the Deccan. Consequently, Chanderi became an important military outpost. The town also finds mention in Mahabharata. Shishupal was the king of Chanderi during the Mahabharata period. Chanderi is mentioned by the Persian scholar Alberuni in 1030. Ghiyas ud din Balban captured the city in 1251 for Nasiruddin Mahmud, Sultan of Delhi. Sultan Mahmud I Khilji of Malwa captured the city in 1438 after a siege of several months. In 1520 Rana Sanga of Mewar captured the city, and gave it to Medini Rai, a rebellious minister of Sultan Mahmud II of Malwa. In the Battle of Chanderi, the Mughal Emperor Babur captured the city from Medini Rai and witnessed the macabre Rajput rite of jauhar, in which, faced with certain defeat and in an attempt to escape dishonor in the hands of the enemy, women with children in their arms jumped in a fire pit to commit suicide, which was made for this specific purpose, against the background of vedic hymns recited by the priests. Jauhar was performed during the night and in the morning the men would rub the ashes of their dead women folk on their forehead, don a saffron garment known as kesariya, chew tulsi leaves, symbolizing their awareness about impending death and resolve to fight and die with honour. In 1540 it was captured by Sher Shah Suri, and added to the governorship of Shujaat Khan. The Mughal Emperor Akbar made the city a sarkar in the subah of Malwa. According to Ain-e-Akbari, the autobiography of Akbar, Chanderi had 14000 stone houses and boasted of 384 markets, 360 spacious caravan sarais or resting place and 12,000 mosques.

The Bundela Rajputs captured the city in 1586, and it was held by Ram Sab, a son of Raja Madhukar of Orchha. In 1680 Devi Singh Bundela was made governor of the city, and Chanderi remained in the hands of his family until it was annexed in 1811 by Jean Baptiste Filose for the Maratha ruler Daulat Rao Sindhia of Gwalior. The city was transferred to the British in 1844. The British lost control of the city during the Revolt of 1857, and the city was recaptured by Hugh Rose on 14 March 1858. The city was transferred back to the Scindias of Gwalior in 1861, and became part of Gwalior state. After India’s independence, Gwalior became part of the new state of Madhya Bharat, which was merged into Madhya Pradesh on 1 November 1956. Chanderi has been a major centre of Jain culture and  was a major centre of the Parwar Jain community.

Chanderi Fort: Standing proudly at a eight of 71 feet above the town on a hill, Chanderi Fort is fortified by a 5 km long wall. Built by King Kirti Pal in the 11th century, the fort has witnessed several attacks and has been re-built a number of times. The fort has three gates as entrances with the uppermost gate known as Hawa Paur and the lowermost gate is known as Khooni Darwaza. The southwest side of the fort has an interesting gateway called the Katti-Ghatti. There are several attractions situated inside the Chanderi fort, like the Khilji Mosque, Naukhanda palace, tomb of Hazrat Abdul Rahman, etc. A rest house situated on the northern ridge of the fort is the main attraction of the monument as it presents a wonderful view of the town below.

Badal Mahal Darwaza: A singular structure of a gate, the Badal Mahal Darwaza doesn’t lead to any palace or mahal. This historic gate enjoys a central location in Chanderi, near the Jama Masjid and was constructed by Sultan Mehmood Shah Khilji, the King of Malwa, in the 15th century to mark a significant victory. The Badal Mahal Darwaza has a height of 100 ft and features elaborate carvings and impressive motifs. The top of the gate features an arched design and two tall minarets stand guard on both sides. The specialty of the structural design is that a gap exists above the arched top of the gate, which is followed by another arch, which brings up the end of the gate. This gate served the purpose of welcoming and honouring the state guests and visiting kings in a grand manner.

Koshak Mahal: An impressive palace at a distance of 4 km from Chanderi, the Koshak Mahal palace was built by the Sultan of Malwa, Mehmood Shah Khilji, in 1445 to mark the victory of Mehmood Shah in the battle at Kalpi over Sultan Mehmood Sharki. Koshak Mahal is a square structure with large impressive arched doorways and consists of four mansions of similar size and equally spaced from one another with a network of passages and overhead covered corridors connect them. The superstructure of the palace does not exist today, but the beauty of the palace can still be felt in the remaining portion standing there. Koshak Mahal was constructed from white local sandstone with all four mansions featuring an identical style of architecture and design. The palace today stands with three complete storeys and an incomplete fourth storey.

Raja Mahal: A seven storied palace in Andar Shehar, Raja Mahal is one of the few remaining palaces that still grace the landscape of Chanderi. Chanderi once had around 260 palaces, of which only 43 have managed to exist. The palace features architectural style of the 15th century and is a beautiful structure constructed from grey and white sandstones and has elaborate carvings to display. The palace is truly a magnificent structure that has large courtyards, elegant stairways, beautifully carved pillars and open pavilions on the terrace. The palace has an underground passage connecting it to another palace standing nearby. This smaller palace is known as the Rani Mahal, which is quite different in architecture and style to the Raja Mahal. These two palaces together are known as the Rajmahal.

Rani Mahal: The smaller of the two palaces, Rani Mahal is a four storied structure that is connected to the Raja Mahal through a secret passage. The Rani Mahal displays the Bundela style of architecture with the exact period of construction of the palace not known though it is believed to be prior to the 16th century. The palace is an enclosed structure with a large courtyard surrounding it with spacious corridors beautiful pillars. The terrace was built with pavilions that were used as watch towers.

Shahzadi ka Rouza: An impressive monument built on a 12 ft high podium, the Shahzadi ka Rouza is situated near the Parmeshwar Pond. The outside wall features a tall first storey and a short second storey. The eaves at both these levels are held by uniquely designed serpentine brackets. The inside of the structure comprises of just one storey and has a single room that is square in shape. The monument originally had 5 domes, but most of them are ruined now. This structure is a tomb built in the 15th century by the then Hakim who governed Chanderi and constructed in memory of his daughter Mehrunissa who was in love with the chief of Hakim’s army. But due to Hakim’s disapproval, the young couple died at the spot where the memorial stands today. The Hakim buried his daughter there and built the structure as her memorial.

Battisi Bavdi: The most famous and the largest step-well in Chanderi, Battisi Bavdi is believed to always have water as long as water exists in the oceans. The amazing feature of this wonderful well is that the water remains at the same level inside the well all year through. The step well is square in shape with a dimension of 60 ft by 60 ft and has a depth of around four storeys. The stairs start from the main entrance and lead to the base of the well. The end of the main steps at each storey leads to beautiful platforms or ghats that surround the well on all sides. There are 32 flight of steps in the well, which gives it its name. Battisi Bavdi was built by Sher Khan in 1485 during the rule of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Shah Khilji.


Old Chanderi: Situated at a distance of 19 km from Chanderi city and lying on the bank of river Urvashi, Old Chanderi is also known as Buddhi Chanderi. It has a lot of historical and Vedic significance attached to it and finds a position in the epics and pages of history. The village of Old Chanderi is famous as an important centre of Jain culture, mainly the Parwar Jain community. It has several Jain temples belonging to the 9th and 10th century and is considered as a pilgrimage centre by the Jain people. The architecture of the sculptures and structures present in Old Chanderi reveal a rich style of construction that is impressive to watch.

Let’s continue by moving on to Shivpuri, located about 140 km north of Chanderi and on the way to Gwalior.

Situated at an altitude of 1,515 feet above sea level, Shivpuri is a tourist destination in the monsoon season as it has a number of waterfalls as well as many lakes and the city is known for its greenery, forests and also as the former summer capital of the ruling Scindia family of Gwalior. A leader and general of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Tatya Tope was hanged in Shivpuri in 1859.

The first historical mention of Sipri, which is the od name of Shivpuri was of Emperor Akbar hunting elephants there in 1564. In the 16th Century, Shivpuri, like all of Gwalior, was part the Maratha Empire. The empire weakened at the end of the century, and during the Gardi-ka-wakt, or ‘period of unrest’, the Rajputs of Narwar secured the town and district. The Scindias, under Daulat Scindia, captured the town and district from the ruler of Narwar in 1804, and made the town their summer capital. The place enjoys pleasant weather for the better part of a year, but the best time to visit is between October and March.

Madhav Vilas Palace: Locally known as the “Palace”, the Madhav Vilas Palace has beautiful turrets, numerous terraces and immaculate marble floors make the palace truly resplendent even by today’s standards. The exterior of the palace has a dusty-rose colour that sets the palace apart from its surrounding. During it’s heyday, the palace was the summer palace of the Scindias. The palace is today the training centre for the Intelligence Bureau of the Government of India.

Narwar Fort: Located just east of the river Kali Sindh, the Narwar Fort is a remnant of the resplendent past of India. 43 km northwest of Shivpuri, the fort is of historical significance and was known as Nalapura till the 12th century. Raja Nala, after whom the town and fort was named, finds mention in the Epic Mahabharata in relation to Damayanti and their love saga. The Narwar Fort sits atop a hill at an elevation of 500 ft above sea level and spread over 8 sq km. The Rajput influence in the architecture of the fort is evident in the flat ceilings and the fluted columns.

Mahua Shiva Temple: A small nondescript village in Shivpuri where the temple is based, Mahua has treasures from the 6th and 7th century hidden in plain sight. Mahua village is a part of the ancient area known as Madhumati in the Ranod inscription and inscriptions suggest the importance of the area amidst Shaiva Saiddhantika believers. There are a few temples that have survived the sands of time to stand resplendently today as a stark reminder of a long lost history. The Shiva Mandapika is one of the few monuments that can be assigned to the latter half of the 7th century. The temple as it stands today may point to an incomplete construction or an incomplete restoration. The Shiva temple in Mahua is an exemplary temple from the 7th century dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple reflects the Nagara style of architecture and has carvings depicting the river Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna on either side of the doorway that leads to the sanctum sanctorum.

A tourist village with a natural spring, Bhadaiya Kund is a scenic area within the municipality of Shivpuri. spring is not very far from Shivpuri. The natural spring at Bhadaiya Kund is known to have a high mineral content and is believed to have therapeutic properties. The monsoon season is the best time to visit, when the waters are especially full and a soothing sight to city weary eyes.

Madhav National Park: Famous as hunting grounds all the way from Akbar’s reign to the British colonial rule, the Madhav National Park is spread over a total area of 354 sq km with rolling hills and flat grasslands around the lake. Akbar is rumored to have captured an entire herd of elephants for his stables from the forest. The bio-diversity here is second to none, offering glimpses into wildlife relatively unadulterated by human interference. George Castle is a beautiful retreat built by the Scindia King Jivaji Rao Scindia within the national park. The colonial architecture makes for a charming structure from the pre-independence period. The sunset views from the castle are rumoured to be stunning and is not to be missed. The Sakhya Sagar boat club gives adventurous tourists a chance to get up close to the crocodiles living in the lake. 

Karera Bird Sanctuary: Considered to be the holy grail for avid bird watchers and avian photo enthusiasts, the Karera Bird Sanctuary is a protected park with the wildlife within the park largely untouched allowing them to flourish. A visit to the sanctuary is not only an opportunity to witness birds but also numerous wild animals in their natural habitat. The sanctuary is home to many endangered species of birds and also to migratory birds. The Indian bustard is a celebrity resident of the bird sanctuary. A rapidly endangered species, the Karera Bird Sanctuary is one of the few places where birds live in their natural habitat. With over 245 recorded species of birds living in the sanctuary, it is no surprise that bird watchers come in from across the world to witness the unique avian world. The best time to visit the sanctuary when the avian tourists are in residence is between November and March.

About 110 km north of Shivpuri lies the town of Orchha, which is our next destination

A historical town located on the banks of river Betwa, Orchha is known for its grand palaces, and intricately carved temples. Famously known as the city of palaces, it is world-renowned for the classic mural paintings, frescos and Chhatris or cenotaphs that were constructed to commemorate the Bundela rulers. Orchha’s old-world charm casts a spell on tourists from all around the world. Founded in 1501 by Bundela Rajput Chief, Orchha literally means ‘a hidden place’. It was the capital of one of the most powerful dynasties to ever rule in India- the Bundelas. The major attractions in Orchha include Ram Raja Temple, the only place where Lord Ram is worshipped both as a God and a king, the Laxmi Narayan Temple which is known for its unique architecture which is a melange of a fort and a temple, and the Jahangir Mahal, built in hour of the Mughal emperor Jahangir. The medieval architecture of Orchha’s palaces and temples is a visual delight for photographers.

Our next destination is the world famous UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Khajurao group of mounuments, which lie about 175 km east of Orchha.

Located nearly 400 km east of the capital of Bhopal, the Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Hindu and Jain temples in the Chhatarpur district. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the temples are famous for their nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures. Most Khajuraho temples were built between 950 AD and 1050 AD by the Chandela dynasty. Historical records note that the Khajuraho temple site had 85 temples by the 12th century, spread over 20 square kilometers. Of these, only about 25 temples have survived, spread over six sq kms. Of the surviving temples, the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is decorated with a profusion of sculptures with intricate details, symbolism and expressiveness of ancient Indian art. The Khajuraho group of temples were built together but were dedicated to two religions, Hinduism and Jainism, suggesting a tradition of acceptance and respect for diverse religious views among Hindus and Jains in the region.

The Khajuraho temples were in active use through the end of the 12th century. This changed in the 13th century; after the army of Delhi Sultanate attacked and seized the Chandela kingdom. The central Indian region, where the Khajuraho temples are, was controlled by various Muslim dynasties from the 13th century through the 18th century. In this period, some temples were desecrated, followed by a long period when they were left in neglect. The remoteness and isolation of Khajuraho protected the Hindu and Jain temples from continued destruction by Muslims. Over the centuries, vegetation and forests overgrew the temples. In the 1830s, local Hindus guided a British surveyor, T.S. Burt, to the temples and they were thus rediscovered by the global audience.

The name Khajuraho, or Kharjuravahaka, is derived from ancient Sanskrit, kharjura, which means date palm and vahaka meaning “one who carries” or bearer. Local legends state that the temples had two golden date-palm trees as their gate which were missing when they were rediscovered. Hisotians also state that Kharjuravahaka also means scorpion bearer, which is another symbolic name for the deity Lord Shiva, who wears snakes and scorpion garlands in his fierce form.

An ancient local legend held that Hindu deity Shiva and other gods enjoyed visiting the dramatic hill formation in Kalinjar area and the temple complex reflects the ancient Hindu tradition of building temples where gods love to pray. The temples are clustered near water, another typical feature of Hindu temples. All temples, except one, which is the Chaturbhuja face the sunrise. The artwork symbolically highlight the four goals of life considered necessary and proper in Hinduism – dharma, kama, artha and moksha. Of the surviving temples, six are dedicated to Shiva, eight to Vishnu and his affinities, one to Ganesha, one to the Sun god and three to Jain Tirthankars. The temples have a rich display of intricately carved statues. While they are famous for their erotic sculpture, sexual themes cover less than 10% of the temple sculpture. Of all temples, the Matangeshvara temple remains an active site of worship. It is another square grid temple, with a large 8.2 feet high and 3.6 feet diameter lingam, placed on a 25 feet diameter platform. The most visited temple, the Kandariya Mahadev, has an area of about 6,500 sq ft and a shikhara or spire that rises 116 feet. The Jain temples are located on the east-southeast region of the Khajuraho monuments. The Chausath Yogini temple features 64 yogini, while Ghantai temple features bells sculptured on its pillars.

Built in the year 1130 the Dulhadev Temple enshrines a beautiful shivalingam and striking sculptures of Apsaras and other ornamented figures. The temple also has a stunning sculpture of Lord Shiva with his wife Parvati, the intricate details of the carvings adding to the charm of the overall architecture.

Built around 1025-1050 AD, the Kandariya Mahadev Temple is one of the most stunning of the Khajurao sites with its artistically engraved shrine with over 800 images of women, most of which are more than 3 feet high. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has a shivalingam at the centre of Garba Griha. Made of a typical sandstone structure, the artisitic representation of eroticism on the walls of this temple are bound to give a new perspective on India’s cultural heritage.

The oldest and most aesthetically pleasing temples among the Western group of Temples, the Lakshman temple is named after the ruler of that time. The trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is depicted in the horizontal beam over the entrance of the temple.

The Parsvanath Temple is the largest among the Eastern group of temples and has intricately detailed carvings on its walls. The most intriguing side of the architecture of this temple is the aesthetic blend of Hindu, muslim and Buddhist styles. The highlights of the temple are the sculptures on the northern outer walls.

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Vishwanath Temple is one among the western group of temples. It has a beautiful marble shivalinga as the main deity. An imposing image of Brahma is also housed in this temple. A massive sculpture of Nandi the Bull is also enshrined alongside the Shivalingam.

Dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu deity of wealth, the Lakshmi Temple houses some moderate shrines and is comparatively smaller than the other temples in Khajuraho.

Initially built as a Vishnu temple, the Devi Jagdamba temple has beautifully carved erotic figures. The Garba Griha houses a stunning sculpture of the Goddess of the Universe. The temple also houses a beautiful image of Goddess Parvati, with the image of Mithuna.

The Adinath Temple is a Jain temple dedicated to the Jain Tirthankars. With exquisite sculpted figures, including yakshis this is one of the most beautiful jain temples in Madhya Pradesh.

The Chaturbhuj Temple is situated in the Jatakari village of Khajuraho and is also known as Jatakari Temple. Enshrined by Lord Vishnu, the temple is free of any erotic carvings or sculptures and hence is considered a unique temple in the region. Rectangular in shape, the shrine built on a raised platform.

The Varaha Temple is built in the Western Group of Temple Complex in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh and is enshrine by a massive idol of Varaha – the incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of a boar. Made in sandstone, the sculpture has numerous carvings all over its body and depict Goddess Saraswati at one certain place on the body.

Built among the Western Group of Temple Complex, the Matangeshwar Temple is a rather plainly designed temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Made of sandstone, the temple houses a large shivalinga which has Nagari and Persian inscriptions carved on it and a popular site among Shiva devotees.

The Vamana Temple is dedicated to Vamana, the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The exterior walls of the shrine have erotic carvings of nymphs and celestial bodies and different women in several different postures.

The Chitragupta Temple’s main deity is the Sun God, Surya and dates back to the 11th century. The presiding deity is shown as riding a chariot with seven horses. The exterior walls of the shrine have carvings of several gods and erotic couples.

The Shantinatha Temple is a Jain temple presided by the Lord Shantinatha; however, it has idols of other Jain tirthankaras as well, including a colossal statue of Adinatha. The temple has been renovated but still bears inscriptions from the bygone era.

The oldest temple in the complex, the Chausath Yogini Temple is a late 9th century Devi temple which though now is in ruins, but the shrine cells and other remnants remain at the site. There are no sculptures found here. A monument of national importance, remnants of this temple have been found in other places around the region. The Khajuraho museum hosts three ancient statues of goddesses Brahmani, Maheshvari, and Hingalaja that were found in this temple. It is believed that this temple was the home-ground for a cult of Yoginis.

State Museum of Tribal and Folk Art is housed within the Chandela Cultural Complex and is a well maintained tiny repository of old scriptures of tribal art and culture in the form of masks, terracotta sculptures, folk- paintings, bamboo articles and other collectibles. The museum also has a beautiful garden surrounding it. The museum is closed on Mondays and open from 12 noon to 8 pm on other days. Entry fee are INR 10 for Indians and INR 250 for foreigners.

The Archaeological Museum is located near the Western Group of Temples and was originally known as the Jardine Museum. Housing over 2000 items, the museum has relics from the 10th and 12th century temples of Hinduism and Jainism. The museum is closed on Fridays and open from 8 am to 5 pm on other days. Entry fee are INR 10 for Indians and INR 250 for foreigners.

Also known as Maharaja Chhatrasal Museum, the Dhubela Museum is located in Dhubela, 62 kms from Khajuraho. Boasting of a serene setting on the banks of Dhubela lake and housed in the premises of Maharaja Chhatrasal Palace, the museum displays an extensive collection of sculptures, arms, armoury, miniature paintings etc., spread over 8 galleries. The museum is closed on Mondays and open from 10 am to 5 pm on other days. Entry fee are INR 10 for Indians and INR 100 for foreigners. Cameras taken inside will need a entry fee of INR 50. Located in the Jain Temples Complex, Jain Museum is a circular building housing huge statues and sculptures of Jain tirthankaras and yakshis. The entrance gate is flanked by the mythical creatures – Makara Torana. Closed on Sundays, the museum is open from 8 am to 5 pm and entry fees for Indians is INR 10 and foreigners need to pay INR 250.

Our next destination lies about 310 km northwest of Khajurao which is the city of Gwalior.