Sunday, 21 October 2012

Indore, A trip down memory lane_October 2012

We were planning a small family trip and we wanted it to be prior to Diwali. Tarkarli-Sindhudurga (Konkan), Ajantha-Ellora (Aurangabad), Gujarat were on the cards; when my wife suggested Indore. It was like a nostalgia for me. I just jumped over this suggestion and plan was finalised in seconds.

I was in Indore for 4 years during 2003 to 2006. It's been 6 long years since I left the place and even after thinking and wanting to visit there, somehow it didn't materialize. It was in a way a surprise gift that my wife presented to me.

Dates were finalised, train bookings for return journey were made one and half month in advance. Stay was not a problem as her maternal uncle live there. Pune-Indore booking was made 10 days before in a AC Sleeper Bus.

With all set, we started off from Pune on October 13, 2012 (Saturday) night. Our bus was scheduled for 9.00 pm departure. And it did start within acceptable time delay.

Indore is the largest city in the state of Madhya Pradesh (though the State Capital being Bhopal). It's the Commercial Capital of MP and the most developed city. It also has a very important reverence in history. Ruled by the Holkars under Maratha Rule, it was a prominent city in the Malwa Plateau in that time. Indore was the Capital of Holkars all the while except for some years in between when Ahilyabai Holkar shifted it to Maheshwar (about 70 kms away).

October 14, 2012: A plate of Poha for breakfast when our bus stopped at a hotel near Dhamnod brought ahead my memories of 6 years ago. I remembered that bus used to stop at a place named Dudhi for breakfast at a dhaba, we used to pass-by the millitary cantonment area Mhow. All this is avoided now with a newly constructed bypass road.

We reached Indore by 9.30 in the morning. As the bus passed through the known places like Rau, Rajendra Nagar, Bhanwar Kuan, I was continuously trying to look around any known signs (hotels, bank ATMs and statues) which were there when I left 6 years back. I could find some and I could realize too that Indore has changed quiet. We reached our uncle's home at a place called Chaani. This was going to be our base camp.

In the evening, we took an auto and went to an attraction newly made - Vaishno Devi Temple (similar to the one we have in Pune). The one at Indore was much bigger and grand as compared to the one in Pune. The location is somewhere near these coordinates 22 42' 06.07"N  75 51' 00.07"E

October 15, 2012: Our next day's plan was a historical place called Mandu or Mandav which is about 110 kms from Indore. We had booked a Taxi which set-off from Indore at 8 am. We took the outer Ring Road for Manpur (on AB Road towards Mumbai). From Manpur take an exit towards Manpur-Lebad Toll Road on the Right.

Odometer readings:
Indore        00 kms
Manpur       70 kms  --> take Right for Manpur-Lebad Road
Bagadi        88 kms
Mandu        110 kms

Just prior we reach the Mandu city walls, there is a scenic valley on the left. Well constructed view points can be easily noticed. There is one waterfall as well, which would be a beautiful scene in monsoons.

After a brief stop here we moved ahead. (There is also one Fossil Museum just next to this place. However, since was very sunny and getting hot, we didn't stop here.)

From here start the wall fortifications of the old Mandu City. Out of the many doors from where our car passed, I could remember few --> Bhangi Darwaza, Alamgir Darwaza, Gaadi Darwaza, etc.

Mandu has an important place in the history of Malwa region. It was founded by Raja Bhoj to be later captured by Muslim rulers. Mandu is also made well-known due to a love story between Baaz Bahadur, last Sultan of Malwa and Rani Roopmati, a Rajput Singer.

Baaz Bahadur Palace

Raani Roopmati Pavilion - the terrace from where Narmada-ji can be seen

The love story, as told by the locals (and Guides), is no less than a Hindi Movie Story.

Rani Roopmati was a Hindu (Rajput) wife of a Muslim Sultan of Malwa, Baaz Bahadur. It is said that Roopmati didn't took a morsel of food unless she took darshan of River Narmada. For this Baaz Bahadur is said to have built a Pavilion on a top of a hillock in 48 hours. This was to help Rani Roopmati to take Darshan of Narmada-ji even though the flow few kms away.
Baaz Bahadur Palace - seen from Roopmati Pavilion
Baaz Bahadur didn't looked after the kingdom. He didn't bother to have a good army and didn't maintain strong defense to the kingdom. He was always devoted to arts and other joys of life.
Adham Khan, General of Emperor Akbar's army, led an attack on Malwa. Reason - his love for Rani Roopmati. Baaz Bahadur suffered a defeat in the Battle of Sarangpur in 1561. Baaz Bahadur fled to avoid death or arrest. Seeing the loss, Rani Roopmati consumed poison and died.

Baaz Bahadur regained his lost kingdom again, but only for a short while. Akbar's another army again defeated him and Baaz Bahadur fled for one more time. He remained a fugitive and eluded arrest for a long time.

Finally, he surrendered before Akbar and joined his service in 1570.

Indeed an Hindi Film was made on the subject - Rani Roopmati in 1957. Not sure whether both stories match.

Roopmati Pavilion (रूपमती मंडप) is a memory to a brave Queen who accepted death instead of falling prey to the enemy's lust; the Queen who was betrayed by her husband, Sultan of Malwa, by joining the services of her killer.

Today also, in a clear weather, River Narmada is seen as a thin shining silver line near the horizon from top of the pavilion. There are various airy & cool rooms below for the residence of the Queen & her maids. A very forward technique (for that era) of Rain-water Harvesting is seen here. Rain water is routed through gang-ways, filtered and stored. The system is still in use today and same cool water is being provided for drinking for tourists.
Water Storage System - Roopmati Pavilion

Roop Kund
Roopmati Pavilion & Baaz Bahadur Palace are at the extreme other end of Mandu. While returning back, we went to see another attraction, Jahaaj Mahal (जहाज़ महल).

As the name, the extravagant palace is constructed between two Lakes - Munja & Kapur. During monsoons when the lake is full, the construction makes the palace appear to be a large Ship swirling due to anchored near a sea-shore.

It is a double storeyed structure with a terrace on the top. There are large rooms with side facing a garden and a walk-way between Kapur Talao (Lake) while the other side is just by side of Munja Talao.

The far end of the Palace has a Lotus-shaped open-to-air bath.

Jahaj Mahal is said to have built by Sultan Ghiasuddin during late 14th century. It is supposed to be a Harem (a secluded house allotted to women) for the amusement of the Sultan.

There's one Hindi Song filmed at this Palace - "Naam Gum Jaayega" from the Movie "Kinaara" starring Hema Malini & Jeetendra.

Jahaaj Mahal
Jahaaj Mahal - Terrace

Jahaaj Mahal - Kapur Talao (Lake)
Jahaaj Mahal - Lotus shaped bath

There is one more Palace by the name Jal Mahal inside Munj Talao. It can be seen from Jahaj Mahal; however, entry there is restricted.

It is said that when Emperor Shahajahan & Queen Mumtazmahal visited Mandav, they has stayed here.
Jal Mahal in Munj Talao (Lake)
Behind the Jahaj Mahal, there is one more building by the name Hindola Mahal (हिंडोला महल).
Hindola Mahal
The name in English means "Swinging Palace". The slanting reinforcements which are seen from outside give the palace this name. This is actually audience chamber, sort of Deewan-e-aam. The tall arch construction shown below could allow the King to enter inside mounted on an elephant.
Hindola Mahal - insides
Next to Hindola Mahal is the Champa Bawadi (चंपा बावडी). Bawadi means a Well. However, living rooms are constructed around it to have a cooling effect inside due to the water.
Champa Bawadi
There are many Hamams (actually, public baths which are present even today in Middle Eastern countries; in history, these were the bathrooms for Royal Ladies of a Harem). The water flow method constructed for Hot & Cold Water is amazing.

Apart from above mentioned places there are some other attractions too. There is a Mosque constructed on the same lines of Agra's Taj Mahal- supposedly by the same architects & workers. There is a temple of Lord Rama too.

By the time we finished Jahaj Mahal, it was 2 pm. My son had walked around the whole Jahaj Mahal all alone, and hence had got bored by now. Also, we had seen the main attractions of Mandu. Hence we decided to have a lunch break and return back to Indore. We went to Malwa Resort, a MP Tourism run resort. We just visited their restaurant, however it was far ahead of our own MTDC of Maharashtra by means of Quality, Cleanliness, Appearance. Dining inside were two groups of Foreigners (whom we don't see in MTDC). Location of the resort is awesome, ditto to MTDC.

I have decided to visit Mandu once again, stay here and then coolly explore the place in detail.

October 16, 2012: Next morning also we started off at 8 am. We took the Khandwa Road from Bhanwar-kuan.

0 km          Indore
20 kms       Simrol
25 kms       Bheroo Ghat
30 kms       Shani Mandir
62 kms       Badawah
78 kms       Omkareshwar

Return journey:
98 kms       Badawah --> go towards Dhamnod
117 kms     Pipliya
141 kms     Mandleshwar
148 kms     Maheshwar
162 kms     Dhamnod
260 kms     Indore

Just after crossing Bheroo Ghat there is a Navagraha Shani Mandir on the left. It is possible you might miss this if it is not a Saturday. This is the only Navagraha Shani Temple, they say, which is constructed as per the Vastu-Shaastra. Idols of Lord Ganesh & Lord Hanuman face to completely other directions as against the others. Secondly, this is only temple which I have seen has separate idols of All Nine Planets (mythological) - Shani (Saturn), Mangal (Mars), Budh, Guru (Jupitor), Shukra, Surya (Sun), Chandrama (Moon), Rahu & Ketu. Remember, in our puranas the Sun & the Moon are considered as Planets, while Rahu and Ketu do not exist scientifically today.

Navagraha Shani Mandir
After Badawah comes a bridge over Narmada River. The water body is so vast. It might be feeling as an ocean when it flows full in monsoons. If Narmada is like this, how gigantic would Ganga be.

We took breakfast at a dhaba just after this bridge. This place is called Khedighat. People take bath here in Narmada. Poha-Jalebi was awesome and Aloo-bada was too spicy.

We reached Omkareshwar by 10.30 am. You need to park the vehicle on the bank of Narmada and cross to the other side for the Omkareshwar temple. Pedestrian bridge in concrete is available as well as boats are available. Another rope suspension bridge is newly made for pedestrians.

Since we had planned this trip on Tuesday, there was no rush at all. We could easily reach the temple without any queue. There we witnessed many people who offer their services to offer various types of Pujas and quick darshan. And surprisingly they bargain the rates with you.

We went through the pedestrian bridge, however if you are carrying a child or have elderly person with you, its better you take a boat. Because bridge is long walk.

We had a satisfying darshan on Omkareshwar. We came to know that there is another Shiv-linga above the Main Temple. But we came to know from our driver that there is another Shiv-linga which is open to public on Naag-Panchami a legend says that a serpant appears during that time.

Walk Bridge over Narmada - to reach the Main Temple

Mamaleshwar Temple - seen in black stone in the centre

Omkareshwar Main Temple - a dam wall is seen at the back
There is one more simple yet beautiful temple carved in black stone - Mamaleshwar - on the opposite side of Omkareshwar Main Temple, near Car Parking. It is believed that this is the Main Jyotirlinga and not the Omkareshwar that is believed to be. This was a surprise for me. The Sanskrit Shloka describes 12 Jyotirlingas as:

सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम्। उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोङ्कारममलेश्वरम्
परल्यां वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम्। सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने॥
वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमीतटे। हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये॥
एतानि ज्योतिर्लिङ्गानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः। सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति॥
एतेशां दर्शनादेव पातकं नैव तिष्ठति। कर्मक्षयो भवेत्तस्य यस्य तुष्टो महेश्वराः॥:
द्वादश ज्योतिर्लिंग स्तोत्रम्


From here we moved towards Maheshwar, a town on the banks of Narmada. To reach here we came back all the way till Badawaha. From here there is a left turn towards Dhamnod. Maheshwar is on this road at about 50 kms.

The town has reference as old as in Mahabharata. It was referred as Mahishmati then. Recent history says that Maheshwar servred as a Capital of Holkars for some period before shifting it back to Indore. Ahilyadevi Holkar ruled from here.

There is a residence of Ahilyadevi which is now converted into a small museum.
Residence of Ahilyadevi Holkar
There was one inscription of a water tank written in Marathi while one information of Ahilya also in Marathi. I felt so proud seeing a Marathi information here.

The above line says that the "Queen of a prosperous, rich & powerful state who did charity of crores of rupees used to stay in this simple way; this place is a Home, a Temple of Ahilyadevi and not a Palace. It's difficult to find such a simple and plain house of a Queen in the whole World".

Steps go down from here towards the banks of Narmada. On the left is the famous spinning industry of Maheshwari Sarees while on the right you can see the Shiva Temple of Raj-rajeshwar.

People perform Narmada-snaan here. There are many temples of various deities on the bank of the river. The steps are well laid which disappear in the water. They are well maintained. Boating facility is available.

I would suggest to enjoy the water here instead of at Omkareshwar. It is extremely clean here and there is not that rush. It is safe to enter inside the water here.

The Ghat is extremely Beautiful. It is Grand, Huge and comparable to the Imposing Narmada flowing in front of it. Intricate carvings looked awesome on a yellow stone in the harsh Sun.

We went for a boat ride. He took us to a Baneshwar Temple within the river. It is an extremely small Shiva Temple surrounded by water. The ride was refreshing.
Maheshwar - Photo taken from a boat ride to Baneshwar Temple
Maheshwar - Photo taken from a boat ride to Baneshwar Temple
Maheshwar Ghat (River Bank)
Maheshwar Ghat (River Bank)

Many shootings happen here - Hindi movie Asoka, some South Indian songs are shot here.

We turned back to the Raj-rajeshwar (Shiva) Temple, a master-piece in black stone carvings; equivalent to the Ghat outside.

Maheshwar is also famous for its Maheshwari Sarees (printed cotton sarees). There is an NGO which runs a textile shop here where these sarees are manufactured & sold. There is shop also just outside the main gate. Apart from that these sarees are available in many shops in the town.

We resided for lunch at another MP Tourism Resort, Narmada Retreat. We had the same experience the way had yesterday in Mandu.

After the lunch we returned back to Indore.

October 17, 2012: Next we decided to take some rest and explore Indore instead. Earlier we had planned for Ujjain. But dropped the idea as we had traveled a lot till now and secondly I haven't showed Indore to my wife (even I haven't visited last 6 years).

In the morning we went to see the Zoo (in the heart of Indore, the AB Road near Chaavni) which housed many wild animals. It was a fun for my son. From here we took Mama-ji's Activa and went to explore Indore. We went to Chhappan (56) Dukan via Nehru Pratima, Relax Theatre and MG Road. I wanted to go to Treasure Island (had extremely fond memories of this First Mall in Indore), but to lack of time I satisfied myself by looking at it from outside :-(

Chappan Dukan (often referred to as just Chappan) actually, they say, are the 56 shops & hotels selling food items. I haven't counted them though. We had our morning pile-up of Indori Cuisine. Did some shopping of Namkeen for ourselves and friends and relatives back home.

In the evening we went to Mhow for shopping, good & cheap clothes are available there. Sangam Barfi of Bhanwarilal is famous here.

Night at 10 we went to see the Highlight of Indore, The Rajwada. It has a very emotional place in every Indori's heart. Going to Indore and not visiting this place is Crime.

Rajwada was constructed by Holkars, the rulers of Indore, sometime in the 17th century. Currently it houses the of office of Ahilyabai Holkar Trust. It was renovated in 2007 after damaged during 1984 riots in Indore. A beautiful yet simple garden is developed in front it. Statue of seated Devi Ahilyabai Holkar overlooks the garden in front of the main gate. It is surrounded by various types of markets selling clothes, household items, jewellery, etc - Aada Bazaar, Saantha Bazaar, etc.

There isn't anything inside the Rajwada to look at. However, the external renovation, they say, is exactly the way it was 250 years ago - a 7 storey huge Rajwada.

The area is by-far the most happening place in Indore even today (the era of Multiplexes & Shopping malls).

In front of this Heritage Building there is a Paan-wala who feeds the Paan in the customer's mouth and the shop is open 24x7.

As you go by the side of Rajwada at its back side, there is another attraction of Indore - The Sarafa (Bazar). It has jewellery shops during the daytime which when closed in the evenings, the platforms of these shops are occupied of Foodies Vendors. You name of food item and it is available, Chat, Pani-puri, Dahi-bada, Maalpua, Gulab-jamun, Pav-bhaj, South Indian, Chinese, Garadu, Gajak, Shikanji, Ice-cream, Ice-gola, and the list may still continue. And these delicacies continue till 2 am.

"Joshi-ji kaa Dahi-bada" is famous for the way it is served. The owner tosses the Dahi-bada (Dahi-bhalla) plate in the air, rotating, so that the masala gets mixed-up properly in the curd. Nice to watch. You can search about it on Google. Even a video is available on YouTube.

Rajwada, Sarafa & Chappan are the 3 places that cannot be missed if you visit Indore. Apart from that there is Khajarana Ganesh Temple, Bada Ganapati, Kaanch Mandir, Indreshwar Mahadeo Temple (on whom Indore is named), Annapurna Temple (based on Meenaxi Temple of South India), Treasure Island, Patal-pani Waterfalls (near Indore), etc.

We didn't visited these due to lack of time. But when we visit next time, it will be dedicated to places in Indore & Ujjain.

October 18, 2012: We boarded the afternoon train Indore-Pune Express (19312) which departs from Indore Junction at 1430 hours & reach Pune next morning at 0810.

1 comment:

  1. The food city of India and now growing into a city of commercial importance. There are plenty of places to visit in Indore and this city has something for every tourist.