Thursday, May 25, 2017

MP Diaries - Badoh-Pathari, The Ruined Twin Towns

The care taker at Maladevi Temple, Gyaraspur informed us about the places of Badoh-Pathari and Udaypur which were located close by. Driving as per the given directions with a few additional inquiries here and there, we reached Pathari and were now in the central part of Madhya Pradesh. 'Pathari' is a true representation of rural Madhya Pradesh with lush greenery everywhere. 'Badoh' and 'Pathari' are two beautiful villages bifurcated by a lake and are rich in architectural heritage. The Guptas ruled here during the 6th century AD followed by the Pratiharas from 8th-10th century AD and then the Rashtrakutas. The presence of a fort built during the medieval period and a few small Cenotaphs belonging to the late 19th century suggests that this place was continuously occupied and played a prominent role in the history of central India.
Gadarmal Temple, Badoh - Pathari
Gadarmal Temple, Pathari
We stopped by a sign board put by Madhya Pradesh tourism, following which we were led to a cave temple dedicated to Saptamathrikas. This temple might have been destroyed with only the cave as remains. On the wall face of the cave is a beautiful carving of the seven mother goddesses, the Saptamathrikas along with Lord Veerabhadra. This is a 6th century structure associated with later Gupta period. The next place we visited here was a group of Jain temples located in the village of Badoh. Though at the first look we were quite happy to see that restoration work was in full swing, we were equally stunned at the same time due to the shoddy restoration work. The temple walls looked more like unsolved jigsaw puzzles. This group of temples were built between  9th-13th century AD and were hindu in origin, but later converted to Jain temples. There are many shrines inside the temple complex along with a ruined Baoli or stepped well. 
Saptamathrikas Cave Temple, Badoh Pathari
Saptamathrikas at the Cave Temple, Badoh
Cave Temple
Entrance to the Group of Jain Temples, Badoh
Jigsaw Puzzle
Baoli or Stepped Well
Jain temple Complex Badoh Pathari
Jain Temple Complex
Jain Tirthankaras
Elaborately Carved Door Jambs
Next on our list was Gadarmal Temple, the most beautiful temple around this town. We were mesmerized to see this grand structure coming out of nowhere. This temple has the unique distinction of being an eight shrined temple, wherein temples have been added to a panchayatana (five shrined) temple. The ruined Torana (gateway) in front of this temple originally would have been a very grand structure which is evident from its remains. There are 8 pillars in front of the temple entrance with elephant capitals. The door jambs are classical pieces of artwork and carved to perfection. The Shikara is grand with various carvings of apsaras and deities on it, though it seems to be a later addition to the temple. This temple was built in the 9th century and can be assigned to Pratihara kings. Hereon, we went in search of Bheemgaja, driving through the narrow lanes of Badoh village. We came across a beautiful lake on the other bank of which lay remains of a beautiful fort. We were running out of time and as the sun went down, we began contemplating about spending time near the fort as we also had another place to cover. We decided not to explore the fort environs and proceeded towards Bheemgaja. 'Bheemgaja' is a huge pillar with inscriptions erected by the minister of a Rashtrakuta king in the 9th century. There are two sati stones close by the pillar with Sanskrit inscriptions. The other places to visit around are the Varaha temple (houses a huge unfinished sculpture of Lord Varaha), Shiva temple, Koteshwar temple and Solah Khamba. We missed visiting these to due to paucity of time.
Remains of a Grand Torana
Pillared Porch 
Shikara of Gadarmal Temple 
Remains of a Small Temple 
Bheemgaja
Sati Stones with Inscriptions 
Fort Overlooking the Lake 
Sunset 
Entrance fee: Entry is free. 
Distance from  nearby major town: 75 km from Vidisha via Gyaraspur and about 30 km from Ganj Basoda.
Accommodation: There are no lodges in Badoh or Pathari, however, the closest and a better choice would be Gateway Retreat at Sanchi maintained by MPSTDC. There are a few small lodges in Ganj Basoda. 
Where to eat: There are a few small roadside eateries here.  
References: 
1. Puratattva 
2. Architecture of the Indian Sub-continent by Takeo Kamiya 

PS: A new page has been added to our blog, which has a collection of our Vlogs. Click here to view.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MP Diaries - National Chambal Sanctuary, Home to Critically Endangered Gharial

On day 11 of our road trip to Madhya Pradesh, we decided to visit the Chambal Sanctuary after reading about it being home to the critically endangered Gharial, Red Crowned Roof Turtle and  the Indian Skimmer. Though the fog continued to be deterrent, we decided to visit there and check it out. We reached Chambal with a lot of hope of sighting the Gharial and Indian skimmer, but the forest guard here informed us initially during our discussion that spotting a Gharial in such weather is next to impossible, though we had great chances of spotting the beautiful Indian Skimmer. We decided to continue with our boat safari, hoping to spot some good water birds. River Chambal flows across 3 states - Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and the entire region is declared as a national sanctuary. There are many spots along the river managed independently by the state forest department. This is considered to be the longest river national sanctuary in India and also the cleanest. The entire area around this river until recently (2007) was under the control of the infamous dacoits of Chambal, including the popular bandit queen Phoolan Devi, which is probably one of reasons that this region has remained pristine. The boat safari was unique and we spotted many birds such as the Indian Skimmer, River Lapwing, Red Wattled Lapwing, Gulls, Bar Headed Geese, Sociable Lapwing, Crab Plover, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Owls, Montagu Harrier,  Ruddy Shelduck (Brahminy Duck), Little Ringed Plover, Thick Knee and many more. We also got an opportunity of spotting a few Red Crowned Roof Turtle. 
 Bar Headed Geese
Welcomed by Bar Headed Geese 
First Look of the Indian Skimmers 
Indian Skimmers
Aah! Orangeeee!!!
Green Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper 
Foggy Day 
Red Wattled Lapwing
Red Wattled Lapwing 
River Lapwing 
Indian Skimmers
Resting after a Flight 
Indian Skimmers
Indian Skimmers in Flight 
Red Crowned Roof Turtle
Red Crowned Roof Turtle 
National Chambal Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh
National Chambal Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh 
Brahminy Duck 
Great Thick Knee 
How to reach Chambal:  Travel on Gwalior - Agra Highway, about 60 km from Gwalior and 70 km from Agra. This is the northern most point of Madhya Pradesh, bordering Rajasthan. There is a small setup by Madhya Pradesh forest department for the benefit of tourists. 
Entry Fee:  A. Rs 100/- per head for Indians and Rs 600/- per head for Foreigners, entry for kids below 12 years is free, while the others are charged full.
B. Boat ride - There are 3 slabs, though the price is not fixed, it may vary as per the prevailing rules of the forest department and availability of boats; wearing a life jacket is compulsory. Package includes the guide fee.   
    1. 3 km one way - Rs.1750/- per boat for the entire trip 
    2. 5 km one way - Rs.2050/- per boat for the entire trip
    3. 8 km one way - Rs.2750/- per boat for the entire trip  
Accommodation: There is no accommodation here, though there are a few lodges in the near by town of Dholpur (Rajasthan). Better option would be to stay in Gwalior/Agra and cover it as a day trip. 
Where to eat: There are no places to eat in the vicinity of this national park, Dholpur is the closest town with many options. Kindly plan accordingly. 
PS: A new page has been added to our blog, which has a collection of our Vlogs. Click here to view.

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