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Datia Palace(Govind Mahal), Datia, Madhya Pradesh

posted Mar 7, 2015, 4:50 AM by sandip mishra   [ updated Aug 29, 2015, 7:20 AM ]

The Datia Palace (Govind Mahal) is located at Datia, Madhya Pradesh. Maharaja Bir Singh Deo of the Bundela dynasty built this along with ~50 other such structures throughout his kingdom.

It was built as a token of appreciation for Salim(Jehangir), who Bir Singh Deo had befriended by killing Abul Fazl, Akbar's Vazir. After granting him the kingdom of Orchha, Jehangir visited Orchha and it was for this purpose that this palace was built and as the legend goes it was not used by Salim(Jehangir). And Maharaja Bir Singh Deo did not use it as it would have undermined Salim's status as the Supreme ruler of the country.

Beautiful Indo-Islamic architecture adorns the palace....however it is crying for attention - though there are folks appointed by ASI located there...they don't seem to be bothered in maintaining the place.

Please visit our blog to know more about this place.

Ater Fort, Bhind Madhya Pradesh

posted Mar 2, 2015, 12:35 AM by sandip mishra   [ updated Aug 29, 2015, 7:21 AM ]

Ater Fort is situated around 30 Kms from the town of Bhind in Madhya Pradesh.

Built by the Bhadoria Chief, Badan Singh Judeo in A.D. 1644 and was completed by Mahsingh in 1668. Like most of the major forts in India, this one too has four entrances in each direction and fortified at seventeen places from a defensive stand point of view.

Along the northern banks of the Chambal River this would have stood as a testimony to the Bhadoria rule and in its heydays the craftsmanship on the palace and fort definitely spell bounding.

Please read more about this from our Blogs

Restoration work by ASI.

Udayagiri-Khandagiri Caves, Odisha

posted Oct 10, 2014, 9:28 PM by sandip mishra   [ updated Mar 4, 2015, 1:31 AM ]

The Udayagiri-Khandagiri caves are just 5-6 Kms from the capital city of Bhubaneshwar, Odisha.

Located on two adjacent hills or hillocks, these are caves made for Jain monks during the reign of King Kharavela(193 BCE – after 170 BCE).

There are 18 caves in Udayagiri and 15 caves in Khandagiri. The climb to the caves is quite steep and is not friendly for senior citizens. The inscriptions are in Brahmi, Oriya, Devanagiri and in some places in Sanskrit. Some of the important caves are the Ganesh Gumpha, Sarpha Gumpha and Hathigumpha.

Beware of monkeys and vendors/shopkeepers will sell you peanuts which can be offered to the apes.

Do take time out to visit this historical place.
Ganesh Gumpha

Sarpha Gumpha

The Pink City - Jaipur

posted Jul 22, 2011, 12:41 PM by Jayashree Mishra   [ updated Mar 3, 2015, 2:09 AM by Sandip Mishra ]

What kind of images would come up in your mind when the word Rajasthan in mentioned?

  • Forts
  • Palaces
  • Tales of Valor
  • Miniature Art
  • Precious stones
  • Colorful garbs
  • Puppets
  • Festivals and Fairs
  • Camels and Elephants
  • Old World Charm

Trust me, Jaipur is all this and lots more. I recently revisited the Pink City and it was a treat.

Jaipur, the Pink City and the Capital of Rajasthan is approximately 250km away from New Delhi. It’s well connected by road, rail and air. Built in 1727 it is one of the well-planned cities of India. The City is divided into 9 blocks with 2 blocks housing state buildings and palaces and 7 blocks for the public. These blocks are surrounded by well-fortified walls and 7 strong gates like the Tripolia gate, Sanganeri gate etc.

A little about the history of Jaipur. Prior to Jaipur, Amber (pronounced as Amer) was the capital of Rajasthan. The Kachchawa clans of Rajputs were among the first to arrive at Amber Fort. And they built amiable relationships with the Moghul dynasty. Which is one the reasons why Jaipur monuments are a mix of Rajasthan and Moghul architecture. Raja Bihar Mal gave his daughter (Jodha) to be emperor Akbar’s wife.  Subsequent Kings like Bhagwan Das, Man Singh, and Jai Singh cemented their relationship with the Moghul and continued to operate out of Amber. However Sawai Jai Singh II moved the capital from Amber to Jaipur. Jaipur was built in consultation with some of the best mathematicians, astronomers and a very reputed architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya. The colour pink was chosen to cut down the glare of the suns rays.

We spent 3 days in Jaipur. Stayed at Hotel Rambagh Palace, which was built in 1835 by the Queen of Jaipur but later converted into a heritage hotel run by the Taj group. The hotel is beautiful – huge room with high ceilings, arches, facades and jharokas. Paintings of all the Kings are hung in different places. The restaurants all remind you of an era long gone- the grandeur and the look and feel of those olden days are still maintained. The Hotel houses a Golf club and Polo grounds and a wonderful garden- a veritable delight for bird watchers.  There are over 75 varieties of common and rare birds.

We spent a day at the Amber Fort and Palace.  Set against the rather drab and rugged mountain background, the honey colored Fort and Palace are a sight to watch. Earlier the Jaigarh Fort used to protect the Amber Palace but later the Amber Fort was constructed. The Palace is beautiful and overlooks the Maota Lake below. Parts of the movie Jodha Akbar were shot there. What I found the most  alluring was the Sheesh Mahal- a single light was reflected into multiple images. The Diwan-e-aam, the Diwan-e-Khaas, the Jai Mandir, the Kali temple ,the latticed walls and the intricate gardens all have stories to tell. Please don’t miss out on the light and sound show of Amber Fort.

After a visit to the Amber Palace we went to the City Palace. The royal family still resides in a portion of the city palace, the Chandra Mahal. It is a blend of Moghul and Rajasthan Architecture and has numerous gardens and courtyards

Other places, which caught my interest, were

Hawa Mahal- The Palace of Winds, which was built by Sawai Pratap Singh. It overlooks the marketplace, the Sireh deorhi Bazaar. It is a wall (behind which there is a 5 storied building) and in olden time the ladies of the royal family used to watch the happenings in the market place through the multiple windows of the Mahal. It now houses a museum.

Jal Mahal- Palace within a lake, this was created in 1799 by constructing a dam within the lake. In the evenings it is lighted up beautifully

Nahargarh and Jaigarh Forts- The Jaigarh Fort is close to the Amber Palace and Fort and the Nahargarh Fort is a little away from Jaipur

Albert Museum- a public museum situated in the Ram Niwas Bagh.

Apart from these the Jantar Mantar, Dolls museum, Birla planetarium are common tourist spots. For those who want to visit religious shrines the Govindji temple, Jagat Shiromani temple and the Lakshminarayan temple are places to visit.  

Jaipur has extreme temperatures so it would be a good idea to check out the weather before you travel.  It’s a shoppers paradise with MI road, Tripolia bazaar, Johari bazaar, Khajane walon ka rasta and multiple other places where one can shop for textiles (the Jaipuri rajais, bedcovers), semi precious stones,  lac work, marble works, miniature paintings. . If you visit during the festival seasons the Gangaur Festival, the Kite festival are quite famous.

Before you leave Jaipur don’t forget to gorge on the delicacies of the Laxmi Misthan Bhandar. Amazing Rajasthani food!.I left Jaipur with memories of a beautiful city full of history and culture. And of course lots of clothes and Jaipuri rajais J.

      Hotel Ramgarh Palace
      Nahargarh Fort
      Amber Fort
     Entrance to Amber Palace
      The gardens at Amber Palace 
      Sheesh Mahal  
     Maota Lake 
      Jaigarh Fort 
      Jal Mahal
      Hawa Mahal 
      Albert Museum

Aurangabad (Built by the Throne)

posted Jun 26, 2011, 11:36 AM by Jayashree Mishra   [ updated Jun 28, 2011, 9:14 AM by sandip mishra ]

Declared as the Tourist capital of Maharashtra, Aurangabad (named after Emperor Aurungzeb) is also known as the city of gates. I did a weekend trip to Aurangabad and have kind of fallen in love with the place…wish I had lived in a place like that.

From Mumbai took the Devagiri express at 9 PM on a Friday evening. After a long time traveled in a long distance train-the journey was uneventful-the train left on time and reached around 4:30 AM.

People had been scaring and discouraging me not to go there in the peak of summer- but reached there to find that it was surprisingly cool- it had rained the previous day. What struck me most was the cleanliness and absence of crowd (I guess any place after Mumbai would feel the same way).

Left for Ajanta after breakfast- took us around 2 hrs by road…the scenery and landscape isn’t much during the summers-people say it looks beautiful after the rains. Ajanta has around 26 caves- but 4-5 of them have paintings- the rest have carvings. The paintings are amazing considering the fact that they are so old- they are 3 dimensional and based on the Jataka tales…the caves are lined in the form of a horse shoe. In earlier times there was a river/spring flowing by and water used to cover the floors of the caves and sunlight would reflect from them and light up the painting and the walls ….To preserve the paintings, photography is not allowed inside. After wandering around the caves for a long time…Spent some time at the local shop that sells semi precious stones…then went back

The second day turned out to be pretty hectic…went early morning to Ellora. Ellora consists of 34 Hindu and Buddhist caves. Was awed by the main cave- cave 16-the Kailashnath temple – a free standing monolith carved topdown from a single mountain rock. It depicts scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The statues look so full of life! The Buddhist caves are beautiful- I could have spent an entire day there…but didn’t have the time…After a couple of hours went visiting temples….there’s a jyotirlinga  temple- and then went to a hanuman temple- where the idol of hanuman is in a sleeping position.

En route stopped at the Daulatabad Fort- another lovely place…loved the defense mechanisms they have- the mazes…the trenches, moats, watch towers- imagine the amount of thinking that must have gone into it. It was an amazing trip into history.

In the evening went to Bibi ka Maqbara- the grave of Aurungzebs 4th wife…it is an imitation of Taj Mahal.It is built on the same line but of half marble and the rest of seashell powder  .Owing  to its similarity its called the Mini Taj of the Deccan. Due to lack of water, maintenance of the gardens isn’t what is should be.

After that went to a place called Panchakki- at first glance it looks like a mere pond- and you wonder what’s so great about it- its actually a reservoir which is fed by water from a source that is about 5-6 kms away….water comes in through earthen pipes…its a great engineering feat considering that it was built in the 17th century ….And a question crossed my mind- if problems like these had a solution then …..whats stops the govt take measures to solve people’s problems…There’s a small place near Aurangabad called Jalgaon (the name seems ironic!!)- where water supply is there only once a week.

The day was almost coming to an end- had to catch the 11:30 Devagiri express back- but stopped by for a short time to see how weaving of saris and shawls is done (paithani and himroo are the famous saris of the place). Left the place with lovely memories and a resolve to revisit. 2 days definitely isn’t enough to see Aurangabad.

For those who want to visit, Aurangabad is well connected by road and rail. There are connecting flights to the metros. Good time to visit is October to February

Ajanta Caves
Bibi Ka Maqbara

One of the caves in Ellora


Bidar, historical city

posted Jun 6, 2011, 10:37 AM by sandip mishra   [ updated Mar 3, 2015, 2:11 AM by Sandip Mishra ]

The historical town of Bidar is just 140 kms from Hyderabad, yet we never thought of visiting this place. Sometime back our family friends Pankaj and Shaloo mentioned that they have been to this town which had a fort and a famous Gurudwara. Months passed and nothing changed...suddenly one day another friend passed on a news item "Jungle Lodges opens the Blackbuck Resort in Bidar". Being Nature freaks we immediately did some googling and found out about the place and booked a 3 night package with the same resort.

Our drive from Hyderabad to Bidar was quite smooth and we had our breakfast in an Udipi hotel in Sangareddy district. The roads were good and after crossing Zaheerabad we turned right towards Bidar. Had some difficulty in finding the resort which is set on the banks of a village tank in the Vilaspur Mandal area. The rooms are very nice with each overlooking the lake/tank.

The same day evening we spent trekking around the place with a guide and were hoping to see some birds...however ended up finding couple of langoors. The terrain is scruby with a few tall trees around. The forest department seems to have done a lot of plantation in the adjoining hillocks. We spent the quite evening enjoying food, strolling in the resort and retiring to bed.

Next day morning was the Blackbuck safari day and all charged up we assembled in the reception area around 5:30. There were 15 more guests and we did not start till about 6:30 thanks to a queer couple who decided to trudge in quite late. The four Boleros took us in a long trip and finally we ended up in a stone quarry area. The guide with a lot of disappointment said...its too late now to spot the black bucks as the stone quarries have started operating. Suddenly we saw a flurry of activities and everybody got down from their vehicles and rushed in one direction. Far in the horizon, we saw the antlers of the blackbuck, having seen them in Rollapadu Sanctuary we were quite acquainted with this. We decided to move back to the resort, leaving the rest behind. Having reached the restaurant I walked up the hillock to do birding. This is a good place to spot dryland birds and we were lucky to find a lot of new ones we had not seen earlier.

The food in the resort was too good and the staff very nice. In the evening we decided to venture into the Bidar town to visit the historical places - the Bidar Fort. Many parts of the fort have been barricaded; however a small museum housed a lot of things like the weapons etc. Post this we decided to visit the Choubara(a clock tower) it the old city that also housed the traditional Bidri Craftsmen. We spent some time in one of the shops and learnt how Bidri craft is done. It was an amazing experience to see these craftsmen converting metal to world class wares.

The next day morning after another round of bird watching we checked out of the resort and headed back to Bidar town. In Bidar we went straight to Guru Nanak Jhira, which is considered a sacred place by the Sikhs. Spent an hour or so listening to Gurbani which made you feel so nice and peaceful. Came out and had aloo parathas in the dhaba near the Gurudwara(missed out on the langar), and moved towards Jharani Narasimha temple. Hundreds of devotees were thronging the place and we realized that we had to walk in knee deep water for more than 400 ft before seeing the deity. Decided to make this religious trip some other time and headed back to Hyderabad. Overall this was a very good experience.

(You can visit the Bidar Tourism website to get comprehensive details)
 Bidar Fort
 Bidar Fort
 Blackbuck Resort
Bidri Craft

Goa's Culture and Heritage

posted Jan 4, 2011, 6:47 AM by sandip mishra   [ updated Mar 3, 2015, 2:24 AM by Sandip Mishra ]

Basilica of Bom Jesus,  Shri Mangesh Temple and Fort Aguada.

One visits Goa keeping in mind the beautiful beaches it nurtures. I am not a beach person. But yes, I prefer to sit by the beach and watch the untiring sea and its waves lashing the beach and creating natural rhythm of nature.

Goa has much more to offer as part of its rich heritage. One such place of historical significance is the Basilica of Bom Jesus (Infant Jesus), one of the oldest churches in India. 

Basilica of Bom Jesus(St.Francis Xavier)
Located at Old Goa, 10 kms east of Panaji and is the World Heritage site. It holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. This church is more than 400 years old and attracts lots of devotees irrespective of the religion, through out the year and notably when the body is kept for public viewing every 10 years. The next viewing would be in the year 2014. Indeed a memorable experience of Lord’s abode. 

Shri Mangesh Devasthan
Our next pit stop was Lord Mangesh's temple at Mangeshi village of Goa. As a student during my Masters program I used to visit this serene place almost every weekend. Used to drive down and spend couple of hours alone amongst the chants of the hymns. Now it was time to show the family this beautiful place. You can get more details from the official website at The Navarati festival is quite enchanting when the lamp pillar (Deepasthambha) is lit up with hundreds and thousands of lamps. 

Fort Aquada
This Portugese Fort was built to defend attacks of the Dutch and Marathas. Aquada means water and there is a fresh water spring within the fort which provided drinking water supply. There is a lighthouse in the middle and the walk around the fort gave a sense of how robust the defense mechanisms of the Portuguese was and the vantage point this fort gave.
      Basilica of Bom Jesus

      Shri Mangesh Temple

      Fort Aguada

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