Lost Yoginis of Mitawali

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Chaushati Yogini, the word itself takes me back to the time when I had visited this Sakthi pitha at Hirapur near  Bhubaneswar. Especially this being the Dasahara time, I remember how Mahamaya, the central deity of Chaushati Yogini is celebrated.

I had a similar impression when we started our planning some three months earlier. India has got some 12 odd Yogini pithas and Mitawali (near Morena) is one such revered place.

Thanks to Madhya Pradesh Government, the approach road to this place took me back to 1980’s roads of India. DSC_1052 (2)

Anyway, somehow we managed to reach the place by 4 pm. Our plan was to rush of to Orchha at the earliest as we now became worried of the roads. As we parked our vehicle, we were attracted towards a chorus singing.

DSC_1049 (2)We paused ourselves as we were enthralled by a group of village women who had sat down to sing a simple folklore and praise Mother Durga.

As they finished singing we could not hold ourselves back requesting them to sing again and they happily obliged.

After spending our time, we started to climb up a hillock. And this was not before, one of the ladies invited us to come to her home. When we politely said later, she said have some water from the tube well and head off. We had some really sweet, chill water from the tube well and made our way out. It was quite humbling to see the simplicity and warmth in our villages.

As we approached our climb, we realized the walk would be of  some 100 steps up. I kept running up with excitement and literally ran up gasping for breath. The familiar circular structure invite me.DSC_1068 (2)

There was a board there stating us to remove our footwear. As I took the final flight of ten steps, I looked around the inner shell of the temple. It had a different feel. The circular inner shell had sixty four small Chambers and there was the central mandapa.

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We started to walk around and for me it was a gloomy scene, there were no yogini’s inside. I found Shiva lingas been kept inside these chambers.IMG_20191002_152940

The central mandapa was even more disappointing. They had managed to keep three Shiva Lingas where the locals offer prayers.

I was feeling low seeing the plunder that has happened to this magnificent piece of history. This structure that has given India it’s parliament structure was now standing hollow.IMG_20191002_153036__01

With a heavy heart and a tinge of disappointment we headed back to our car, though thankful to Archaeological Society of India (ASI) that such lovely structures and piece of history is preserved the test of time.

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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 except when you are close to the place. So hold on to your GPS maps and human maps too.
  • The climb is steep and has close to 100 odd inclined steps. Shoes are a good option
  • 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). There are local village shops and I doubt if it could be of much help. 
  • People are very humble and helpful.
  • Finally, ensure “Swatch Bharat”.

Ruins of Chambal … Bateshwar

IMG_20191002_134805Ever 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.img_20191002_140047

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.

IMG-20191009-WA0061We 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.

DSC_0975 (2)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.DSC_0978 (2)

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.DSC_0987 (2)

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.DSC_1004 (2)

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.DSC_0990 (2)

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.DSC_0988 (2)

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.DSC_0984 (2)

DSC_0985 (2)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.

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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.DSC_0983 (2)

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”.

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Chota Kila and a Lioness

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Rain kept pounding that day, when we thought we would like to make a quick visit to the fort which had been spoken about with pride in the Ghara Kingdom.  A kingdom that may not be well known in the Indian dynasty but has produced legends that are well imprinted in the local legends in and around Jabalpur.

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In an era where we are talking of women empowerment and women power, this small kingdom had a queen, Rani Durgavati who revolutionized the way she ruled the kingdom after her husband died at a young age while her son being too young to rule.

She took over the reigns and ruled for 14 years. She is known for bringing in a lot of prosperity to her state which got into the sight of the Mughals. In 1564, at the age of 39 she was martyred in the last battle.

For her, “The pride to live respectfully was more important that living a disgraceful life”.

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The steps that lead us to the fort

She lead her army to a battle and seems to have mounted an elephant for the battle. In a battle of unequal, when she realized that she had lost all her army, and there was no other go, she preferred to kill herself. Her martyrdom on 24 June 1564 is commemorated as “Balidan Diwas” even today. This shows us how a revered and powerful lioness she was.

In her territory at Jabalpur, Madan Mahal is one of the small forts that was built. It has been built at such a height and so small compared to the forts that one imagines, that it could have doubled up as a watching post.

This mahal is situated on a hill top and one has to take close to 100+ steps to reach the fort base. The steps give you a mesmerizing feel of the Jabalpur city as you keep moving us. As you reach at the base, one could be surprised by the remains. On the right had side, there is the horse stable and on the left is the small fort.

The FortThere seems to be many more places underground but as it had been raining heavy, these places were submerged in water. The distinctive thing is the huge smooth oval shaped rock that will make you look at the fort with awe. Horse Stable

We walked up a short flight of stairs, that tell you the signs of presence of bats. The stairs img_20190912_140419opens up onto a small landing base area and a few rooms at the end. Should have been used by the solders to keep an eye on the kingdom down below. The place is quite breezy.

There are many tunnels that had been built which opens up at various places that could have been used for safe movements. Today they have been closed down by the ASI and understandably why. It seems that people have found pots of gold while digging the grounds to construct their houses in the new Jabalpur city.

Spot the Squirrel

Had a little friend up the Fortress wall

The watch Tower

The watch Tower

The doorways

The doorways that tell us of the beautiful life it must have been. The horsemen and the soldiers who may have guarded it.

We walked around the space and enjoyed shooting ourselves with selfies with this “Chota Kila” (Small Fort) and as we left the fort, it reminded me of the glory that this place would have seen during the reign of a wonderful administrator Lioness.

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The slight drizzle that started as we made our way down made the place even more mesmerizing for us.

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A must place to be when you are at Jabalpur.

Things to check:

  • 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 to enter the place and no one asks money.
  • If you are travelling during summer time, carry your own caps and shades. It is quite a rocky place so heat may through you off guard.
  • The place is very peaceful and soak the beauty, especially during rainy season.
  • Carry your own food & water bottles. You do not have shops to buy what you may like.
  • Finally, ensure “Swatch Bharat”