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CHANDERI - HISTORY UNVEILED

“You just plan and I shall take care of the rest “, my longtime friend and business associate Nikhil was trying to convince me to travel to this small town of Chanderi for a holiday. “Seems to be quite a good idea, we could plan a family trip”, my partner in travels, my friend Amit seated next to me chipped in. And thus the idea to visit a lesser known destination started slowly to take shape.

Chanderi is a small, lazy, sleepy town in district Ashok Nagar in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India, also known as the heart of India. It is a town of historical importance although it is more famous because of the beautiful Chanderi sarees. In recent times Chanderi shot to fame because of two Bollywood movies -“Sui Dhaga” and the super hit” Stree”. While Sui Dhaga was not entirely shot in Chanderi, Stree was almost completely shot here.


We started in the evening at about 3 pm. Amit and I had decided to make this a family trip. We travelled via Etawah and crossed over to Madhya Pradesh through Bhind and finally took a break at the historical town of Datia. By the time we reached Datia it was around 9 pm. We checked into Hotel Tanya Palace. It had pretty decent accommodation if not excellent . We had homemade food with us and that memorable evening we all gathered into one room and ate together. We ordered some stuff from the hotel as well.


Apart from being famous as a historical place, Datia is better known for the beautiful “Pitambara Devi Temple” also known as Pitambara Devi Peeth. The next day morning we got up early and after enjoying our morning tea we dashed off to the temple. The temple covers a large area although the deity viewing area is small. It is well organized to handle large crowds and the serene premises stir divinity in you. Soon we were back at the hotel and after having our breakfast we checked out as early as possible.


SUNSET ON THE WAY

Driving in central India comes with its own benefits. It’s simply beautiful. Roads are good and traffic is less. The flora and fauna can mesmerize you. Beautiful Gulmohar trees in full bloom with coloured canopies makes you feel you are in another world. Datia to Chanderi was around two hours and the road trip was full of nature’s bounties.


We reached Chanderi at about 11.45 am. Nikhil had been kind enough to make arrangements as promised. Within 15 minutes of our arrival we dashed off for a movie – Sui Dhaga, which was incidentally shot in Chanderi. By the time we were back Lunch was ready and we headed straight for the dining hall. After lunch we met our guide for the next two days. Mr. Manoj Soni was a very soft spoken man having great knowledge about the local history and architecture, He was passionate about history and ways to explain were simple and sometimes full of humor.


LANES OF CHANDERI

The evening saw us head off for a historical tour which also had a Bollywood flavor to it as Mr. Manoj was closely associated with the movies shot in Chanderi. Once out I was surprised to see empty roads with few people wandering about. It is then That Mr. Manoj explained the reason. Chanderi is basically famous today because of the cottage industry of weaving. Ask any woman about Chanderi Sarees and see the glow on her face. Almost

HANDLOOM WEAVING IN CHANDERI

every house has a handloom and practically all men in the town are involved in the business of weaving. This is done on a contractual basis with the larger weavers involving the smaller ones. Since most of the town folks worked at home this explained the empty roads. The next two days were spent from morn to night exploring this beautiful town with Manoj ji.


WHAT TO SEE


BADAL MAHAL

BADAL MAHAL – This place is in ruins except for a gate and the boundary which have been restored. Although in ruins it is well maintained with manicured gardens and other civic amenities. It has a large collection of water called as a Baudi. The baudi was basically a place to hide from assailants’. The women folk and the old people

GATE AT BADAL MAHAL

used to stay there and hence for their survival there was a water source. it used to be covered from the top so that no one can see anything. So it was basically a basement with a baudi- water source used for protection.





INTERLOCKED CEILING

BADAL MAHAL GATE CEILING – this is a part of the boundary wall of badal mahal and was built in 1411 A.D by Dilawar Khan. The specialty of this structure is its architecture. It uses the interlocking mechanism to form the ceiling and has withstood several earthquakes and the test of times.




JAMA MASJID

JAMA MASJID – built in the 16th century A.D, this is the oldest masjid of Bundelkhand region. It has classical hindu architecture at places. It has resemblance to the Babri Masjid of Ayodhya. After offering namaz the masjid used to be converted into a court and justice was met out in the halls here. The building was so designed that even a casual talk could be heard distantly. The reason for this was that the words of the judge could be audible to the public. Not exactly like the whispering galleries of the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, but yes quite good enough.



CHAKLA BAUDI

CHAKLA BAUDI – large baudi. There are about 250 baudi’s in Chanderi region. Used for water collection. Chanderi is 62metre above sea level and used to have water shortage. Keeping this in mind the rulers found out a unique way of replenishing the towns’ water reserves. In Chanderi, the death sentence here was changed to digging a baudi.



HUNTING GROUNDS RAMNAGAR MAHAL

RAM NAGAR MAHAL – located beyond Kati Ghati, this was surrounded by forests and a large water body. This place was used as a hunting ground by the Bundela kings. The animals used to come out of the forest to drink water and were targeted by these kings. No wonder the tiger was almost wiped out.






PARMESHWAR TAAL.

PARMESHWAR TAAL – this is a temple built by the Bundela Kings of the 17th century. As the legend goes, there was once a group of sadhu’s who arrived at this place and settled down for the night. They installed their deity and went off to sleep. The next day when they wanted to leave their vehicle would not leave. The king was informed about this and this was taken as a heavenly sign of the arrival of the lord and hence a temple was built here. The temple is dedicated to Lord Lakshman. In 1972 the whole water of the taal changed its colour to milky white. The locals regarded it as a miracle however the scientists believe it to be a sudden rise in the levels of calcium. Nonetheless people throng the place for a holy dip.



RUINS OF THE FORT

FORT – Is huge. It also houses one of the best places to stay in Chanderi. The Kila Kothi hotel of MP Tourism. It’s at a phenomenal height and overlooks the entire town. It’s simply beautiful, peaceful and is a heritage property. It has 4 baudi’s. These served as water source to different categories of people. Like the army chiefs used one. The soldiers used another one, the common people a different one and finally the sweepers or outcasts used the last one.


RESTORED PART OF THE FORT BY ASI


SATI PILLAR – This is situated in the fort . During the arrival of Babar, the rajputs who were there in Chanderi fought for their land. When defeated their wives used to lay down their life by burning themselves on a pyre with the dead body of their husband. A pillar was erected in their reverence. This dates down to 1445 A.D. Rajarammohan Roy stopped this gruesome practice later on.



JAIN PILGRIMAGE KHANDAR JI

KHANDAR JI – Chanderi has a rich Jain culture. There are about six temple dedicated to the Jain community here. Of these the main one is Kandhar ji. Built in the 13th century this place was used as a study centre for propagation of the Jain religion. This small hill has a huge statue of Lord Mahavir ji carved out of a rock standing majestically. Apart from this there are many caves that were used by the Jain monks for meditation. It formed a major training center for Jainism.









WAY TO JAGESHWARI TEMPLE

JAGESHWARI TEMPLE. Located right below the fort is a beautiful temple dedicated to the Mother goddess. It was built in the 10th century by the Bundela kings. It has a hammam at its base depicting muslim architecture. As the legend goes, it is said that during the navratras, the holy 9 days, a tiger visits the temple in the night. Mr. Manoj collaborated the story.



CAMELS PARKING AREA

OONT SAAR – The oont saar is a place where the camels used to stay or rather parked. The architecture is just splendid. Its worth a visit.





BAIJU BAWARA SAMADHI – The famous singer Baiju

BAIJU BAWARA LIVED HERE

Bawara was from Chanderi. Our guide showed us a house which is believed to have belonged to this famous singer. Baiju Bawara ( the insane ), lived in the 15th and 16th centuries during the Mughal era. According to the legend he was a court musician of Raja Man Singh Tomar of Gwalher (Gwalior). He was supposed to be a Dhrupad musician.




MOUNUMENT OF LOVE - SHEHADI KA ROZA

SHEHADI KA ROZA – This is a beautiful monument built in the memory of a mughal emperors daughter. Legend has it that the princess fell in love with the army general and the emperor could not tolerate this. So he sent the general on a mission and got him killed. The princess came to know about this and took her own life. The father was shocked and in his beloved daughters memory erected this monument. It’s a beautiful structure.



KOSHAK MAHAL

KOSHAK MAHAL- Built on the outskirts of Chanderi, this was a place of economic importance. The travellers who came to Chanderi were greeted here and were provided a place to stay and rest. It’s a monument not to be missed.






ARCHES OF KOSHAK MAHAL


MUSEUM

MUSEUM- No visit is complete without visiting the Chanderi museum. Its quite big and has generations of history stocked up in forms of statues, maps etc. Chanderi in a nutshell I would say.





WHEN TO GO.

Post monsoons is the best time to visit Chanderi. Although it may be a bit humid, all the water reservoirs are full and provide an exceptional sight. Avoid the summers. Chanderi can be unbearably hot in summers. Early winters is also a good time to visit.


HOW TO REACH


BY ROAD

From Lalitpur – 40 km

From Jhansi - 106 km. From Gwalior – 210 km,

From Shivpuri 128km


BY RAIL

Lalitpur is the nearest railway station. Its 40km away from Chanderi.


BY AIR

Gwalior is the nearest airport and is well connected from major cities such as Delhi and Mumbai. Drive from Gwalior to Chanderi would be a roughly 5 hours’ drive. Plan accordingly.


WHERE TO STAY.


1. HOTEL KILA KOTHIif you are not staying here, you are probably missing out on half the fun. This is a heritage property and has four well-appointed rooms. Tariff is about 4000 per day inclusive of breakfast. Reservations can be made on makemytrip.com


2. HOTEL TANA BANA – Another one of MP Tourism propertoies. A little out of the city but beautiful location. Reservations at makemytrip.com


3. HOTEL SRI KUNJ- This is where we stayed. It’s a good place with exceptional food and courteous staff. It’s very affordable and is situated in the heart of the town. It has a lot of open space for kids to play and ample parking space for your suv. The owner is into the Saree business and the hotel has an outlet of pure Chanderi sarees – a chance to pamper your wife. Mr Arun the owner is a very reasonable man and always looking forward to oblige his customers with the best he can. Reservations can be made on makemytrip.com



KATI GHATI

WHAT TO CARRY AND PACK

Clothes according to the season.

Mosquito repellants. Proper shoes for walking.

Snacks. Make sure that you select a hotel that caters food. There is practically no restaurant in whole of Chanderi where you can sit and enjoy your food.

Camera and binoculars for memories.


WHO SHOULD GO

Anyone and everyone. It’s a beautiful place to be in, so don’t hold back.


GRADE

Easy to moderate. Moderate in the sense, Chanderi has small lanes and requires a person to walk a lot. Hence I recommend a person to be physically fit to enjoy the trip.



MR MANOJ - OUR GUIDE

MY RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Take a train to Lalitpur and from there a taxi to Chanderi. This is the easiest way to reach. Lalitpur is well connected by rail.

2. Stay at Kila Kothi. Like I said if you are not staying at Kila Kothi, you are missing half the fun. As the name suggests it’s a part of the fort. So no harm in living like a king for a few days. The other option is Sri kunj – highly recommended for the average traveller like me.

3. Ask for Manoj ji as your guide. You will not repent it. He can be contacted @ 93405 82423. He may also help you in hotel bookings etc.

4. Take at least two nights and three days. I would be the minimum required to explore this historical town.

5. Make sure you visit at least the monuments I have enlisted. This is the bare minimum. There is plenty of more to explore.

6. Carry some snacks, proper footwear, cameras etc.

7. Walk whenever you can. You will love it.

8. Make sure you buy Chanderi sarees. The locals say that Chanderi sarees sold in most places is actually a counterfeit of the original. Since Chanderi sarees are handmade, they are unable to produce so many sarees that can cater to the larger population.


As I wind up like always I would like to share something inspiring that may help you live your life. Boman Irani the famous actor of Bollywood is one of those actors who stepped in late but finally made it big. However this did not happen in a single day. Boman Irani used to run his ancestral bakery. Not satisfied with his life he ended up doing odd jobs like working in the housekeeping staff at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai. Unsatisfied he tried his hands at photography and then small roles to keep the actor in him alive. Finally he was spotted by Rajkumar Hirani and the world saw Dr Asthana in Munna Bhai MBBS.


Each one of us has this passion in us that moves us. Unlike a desire that dies once it is satisfied, passion is something that propels you more once fulfilled. So my dear friend “Be passionate, not desirous “ Go on live your life.


ADD LIFE TO DAYS

NOT DAYS TO LIFE.


Take care

Ravi.

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chetanavrm
Jan 30, 2020

Thank you for bringing up the nice memories back . It was the sweetest and memorable trip with friends. Would love to go again .

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