Exploring Madhya Pradesh with Times Passion Trails

May 05, 2020

Guest Blog

Madhya Pradesh has been on my wish list since the time I started travelling, but somehow couldn’t make it to the state until recently when I was invited to explore the state by Times Passion Trails and Madhya Pradesh Tourism. The state which is referred as Heart of India had my attention majorly due to the rich heritage and culture which is beautifully exhibited in all Madhya Pradesh TV advertisements.

 

Amidst hullabaloo of Covid- 19, we, a bunch of brave hearts, so rightly named by Mr. Sanjay Lal from Times Passion Trails, went on to explore the popular spots of MP in the esteemed company of Padmashri Mr. KK Muhammed (if you don’t know about him, you must google him right away). Honestly, the trip which began with a bit of corona fear started to turn into an experience which I wouldn’t have wanted to miss for anything in the world. Mr. Muhammed, an expert archaeologist, a learned man and an engaging storyteller made this trip a truly memorable one.

 

Places we saw during the trail -

 

Bhimbetka

 

Historic rocks and caves found in India have always been significant but visiting the Bhimbetka rock shelters which exhibit the earliest human traces of the country had to be overwhelming. These were as old as 100,000 years and possess startling evidence of times of Stone Age. The first marks on rocks, the paintings depicting life, animals, art of those times certainly transported all of us to our imaginary bygone times.



Bhojeshwar Temple

 

Although an incomplete temple, yet Bhojeshwar temple is quite significant for Hindus as it houses the tallest Shivalinga in the entire world. The temple was built in the 11th century on a hilltop by the king Bhoja. It is said that the construction of the temple stopped abruptly possibly due to some natural disaster or a war. Mr. Muhammed took up the restoration of the temple in 2006 and noticed that the roof was missing from the temple. Interestingly, he mentioned that the roof might have collapsed due to error in calculation of the load. He further enhanced our knowledge by adding how the roof was built using fibreglass and so many tales from his work of restoration.



Taj-ul-Masajid

 

This largest mosque in India started to getting built by Nawab Shah Jahan Begum and then the construction was continued by her daughter Sultan Jahan Begum, still the mosque couldn’t get completed due to lack of funds. After a very long gap, it was completed in 1971. The mosque speaks stories about the matriarchal reign in Bhopal and how the begums took up to get this mosque built. The beautiful pink facades of the mosque make for the peaceful time at the mosque. The mosque premises also has madrasas for teaching children. The history and architecture of the mosque are so rich that it only leaves you with pride.



 

Sanchi Stupas

 

If it’s about MP, Sanchi has to be on the itinerary. But only on this trail, I got to know that Lord Buddha never visited Sanchi, contrary to what I believed. The popular Sanchi stupas have been built on hilltop in Sanchi town. The most popular Great Stupa was originally built under the reign of Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. It is also said to be one of the oldest stone structures in India. The intricately carved gates also called Torans stood tall in the 4 directions around the Great Stupa. These stupas are also the best maintained and preserved group of Buddhist monuments in India.

 

Udaigiri Caves

 

Near Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh are the popular 20 rock cut caves from the 5th century known as Udaigiri caves. They are most famous for the ancient sculpture of Vishnu in his avatar of Varaha who rescued bhudevi using his tusk. We explored the caves of which only one is dedicated to Jainism, while the rest for Hinduism. It looked like we could get lost in the tales about the caves for hours and hours. The illustrations on the caves gave a beautiful insight of Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Shaivism.



 

Chanderi

 

Chanderi sarees have already made the place popular but it is not famous only for the sarees but also for quite a lot of historic places. We started exploring Chanderi from its museum which is home to a lot of excavated rocks and remains. If not for Kalley Bhai, who is the incharge of the museum, we couldn’t have heard what those rocks were telling us. We got to know about how Chanderi was the center of the trade routes of Central india because of its strategic location on the borders of Malwa and Bundelkhand. The place became popular because of the recent movies like Stree, Sui Dhaga etc which were shot there. The stories of Chanderi fort, Badal fort, the brave tales of Jauhar kept us intrigued during our time in Chanderi.



Orchha

 

I had only seen the famous touristy Orchha cenotaphs in pictures but when I got to see those in real, those blew away my mind. Mesmerised by the architecture of these chhatris, I stood staring at those with literally my mouth wide open. The view of the Betwa river from the chhatris was quite overwhelming.

 

The Raja ram temple is another iconic place to visit in Orchha because that’s the only place where Lord Ram is worshipped as a king. It is considered to be a very popular Hindu pilgrimage and tourists throng here in huge numbers.

 


Khajuraho

 

It’s a general notion to use erotic sculptures as a synonym to Khajuraho, but on this trail, we met Mr. Anurag Shukla who is an expert and famous tour guide, who changed our entire perspective of looking at Khajuraho. We started with a bunch of Jain temples like Adinath temple and Parshvanath temple and indulged in understanding their architecture in detail. Next in line were the extremely famous western, eastern and southern temples of Khajuraho but due to the spread of Corona, ASI had instructed to prohibit the entry to all ASI monuments. Nevertheless, we stood outside the temple premises to hear all the stories in regard to the phenomenal architecture of the temples.