Ever felt lost and found with awe… Bateshwar, near Morena, Madhya Pradesh is just the place that would make you feel that.
When Google fumbles with the path, and you trust technology too much, then be rest assured, you will have a journey of a life time. We went through villages that would take you back in time, roads that will test your driving skills and vehicles shock ups. We quit the maps and went back to the age old tradition of asking people about the directions. It was on their judgement call we trusted and made our way through the villages and battered roads.
Finally we reached the destination. Believe me it was a scary space. Apart from the board which looked neat, the rest of the places felt deserted. We gingerly moved in. My partner had plans to leave the place. When we reached the gate, we were welcomed by a neat looking office but manned by none.
We parked the car under a tree and made our way through the gate. The team from ASI has really worked in making the place look beautiful. The trees are welcoming and all the tiredness went off into thin air.
The site of a peacock was bliss and it felt warm and welcomed as our eyes began to scan the place for signs of a different life and archaeological wonders from the glorious past of India.
We took a few more steps, the sight of the temple gopuras was fascinating. We forgot all the pain and the delusion of the road and soaked ourselves in the place.
As the expanse opened up, we were welcomed by a number of similar looking small temples. I was jumping like a little kid who had just got hold of a long desired ice cream. I ran from one flight of stairs to another exploring the series of temples at each level. I was in awe with the symmetry of the temples. Most of these temples would be from 5.5 ft to 6.5 ft. There are a few that would be some 12 ft high too. These are Shiva temples built during the Gurjara Pratiharas time which would be 7th century CE.
There are stories that these temples were built by the students as a part of the Guru dakshina pratha post their learning at the school. How fascinating and a wonderful way to pay their tributes to the Guru.
Bateshwar comes in the Chambal valley and this part was well infested with dacoits who ruled the place. The time I am talking about is not too much in the past. It was in 2005, Bhopal region’s Superintending Archaeologist from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) K.K. Muhammed who restored close to 60 odd temples here.
As per the recent folklore, it seems he had a dream of Lord Shiva asking him to come to Bateshwar and restore the shrines. Initially he ignored it especially given the fact that the place was notorious but as the dream kept coming again, he ventured into the heart of the dacoit land and convinced them to start the restoration work.
Well things did not come easy. But he kept working on his dream and finally gave the world some of the most astonishing temples and the glory what we would have missed. There are a couple of temples where the Lord is being prayed.
We spent close to half an hour there exploring the world that was part of a rich tradition. Today there is work being done by ASI in restoring it further.
It seems a lot of these were earlier Vishnu temples which were later reused as Shiva temples. These temples have got simple standard carvings that are fascinating to see the striking similarities. The gopuras are very interesting. Some are very ornate while some are absolutely plain in structure.
Bateshwar, one does not know much about them from the history books nor is Madhya Pradesh tourism doing much to make the roads accessible or propagating it. Feels sad that such treasures are not being spoken about.
As we left the place, I was filled with delight to have finally made it to this place and witnessed a part of history that speaks millions of our glorious past.
Things to check:
- Do not attempt any other route, make the way from Gwalior. This route is safe and has some tar on the road. The other approach roads are really bad.
- There is not much of signage that will guide you. So hold on to your GPS maps and human maps too.
- There is a lot of walk in and around the place, so make sure you have your comfortable shoes on.
- There is no ASI fees / charges to enter the place and no one asks for money.
- If you are travelling during summer time, carry your own caps and shades.
- Carry your own food & water bottles (BYOB). You do not have shops to buy what you may like. Almost no habitation nearby.
- Finally, ensure “Swatch Bharat”.