Raipur Village in Pali District , Rajasthan is a small intriguing Village on way to becoming a tiny Town as it expands and merges with village Haripur (home to the fabulous Lakshman Sagar) . Raipur is located 90 kms from Ajmer, off a fabulous Highway .
Rajasthan is a lovely state which truly reflects the Heritage of a Royal Past.
The pictures that follow were taken in Raipur Fort Palace now located in the midst of the Raipur Village where the erstwhile Ruling Family resides todate.
Red is the Hallmark of this Royal Palace from where ,Once Upon a Time, Regal Diktats were issued and executed.
The first glimpse of the RegallyRed Archways to unfold from the bustling village street of Raipur.
The Main Entrance from the alleys of the Town-Village as it exists to date.
The Main Gate which leads to the courtyard and the numerous Palaces within the Raipur Fort complex.
You feel you have gone back in time, 400 years ago as you step into the main courtyard that leads to the various Palaces .
The Palace which is immediately behind the Royal Marble Throne.
This was a peak into one of the relatively unknown Royal Homes of Rajputana.
Osian, is the tiniest of Dots in the heart of a Desert District of Rajasthan, India.
Located about 65 kms from Jodhpur , Osian is a tiny tot of a town, nay overgrown village, now famous due to the discovery of spectacular Hindu and Jain temples from the 8th Century A.D.
Repeated Invasions from Central India from 12th century onwards laid to waste the once thriving centre of trade and the temples were forgotten in the dust of time.
When you drive along the Highway from Jodhpur to Kichan ( do read my blog THE WINTER GUESTS and A FEAST) you will see many temples still in a state of ruin, see the picture below.
I strongly recommend you take 1-3 hours off your hectic schedules when you visit Jodhpur or Jaisalmer and have look at these Amazing beauties cast in Stone.
The exquisitely carved spire of the Main Temple is dedicated to Sachya Mata , who is worshipped by all communities in the region.
Do observe the gorgeous Lord Ganesha statue in the foreground.
The Sudarshan Chakra ( or the Wheel of Time) atop one of the intricate Temple spires clearly indicates the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
The Vishnu Temple is adorned with amazing Sculptures depicting various Mythological Tales from ancient Sanskrit scriptures.
Unfortunately invaders from Central Asia during the 12th Century have mutilated a majority of the fascinating sculptures.
The detailed and magnificent Central sculpture depicts the story of Lord Narsimhan ( A Lion Headed Avatar of Lord Vishnu) who brings and end to the Demon Hrinyakshyap by placing him on his thighs and disemboweling him. ( do read the entire fascinating story laden with symbolism and messages) .
It marks the End of Evil and Victory of Good.
The featured Image has two striking Symbols which indicate to whom the temple is dedicated to, one is the Lion and second is the Trishul or the trident.
The Lion is the vehicle of Goddess Parvati who is the consort of Lord Shiva ( bearer of the Trishul)
Osian has a vast library of outstanding temples and sculptures, each of which reveals the mysteries of the past and the Glorious skills of Medieval India.
The Gateway of India was completed in 1924 and was conceived to welcome King George V to India in 1911.Located in the extremely fascinating Colaba ( Apollo Bunder) area of Mumbai, it is also the point where you can take a ferry to the historical Elephanta Caves. ( 300 BC)
It was also the year that New Delhi On Raisina Hill became the capital of British India. It is even today the Capital of the Republic of India.
I have read many blogs/ articles of visitors to Mumbai. Most comment about a visit to the Gateway of India, but none mention the lovely buildings that surround it.Many even stay in the Taj Mahal Hotel but do not even take a walk around the hotel premises.
This lovely heritage building goes back to the mid 19th century and was originally the Royal Yachting Club.
It is in all probability the oldest building on the waterfront.
The magnificent Gothic style Yacht Club as viewed today is probably made from the same Basalt stone as the Gateway of India.
It is even today an exclusive, all members Club only.
Alas , my cousin Vivek let his opportunity to be a member go by.
The Gateway of India is squeezed in between the two buildings of the Taj Mahal Hotel. ( do not mix with the seventh wonder of the world TheTaj Mahal in Agra). This was also the site of a terrible terrorist attack on 26th November 2008 which lasted for three days.
The Taj new and old with the Gateway of India in the Centre.
Buildings reveal the history of the land. A walk of 10 minutes around the Gateway of India will take you through hundreds of years of history of Mumbai.
Mumbai is today the financial capital of India and probably the most populated city in the World.
Pictures were taken from my mobile and a Nikon DSLR. Can you guess which picture taken by which device?
India is indeed a mysterious country with folklore, myths and history so intricately intertwined , it’s hard to extract one from the other.
Bhojpur is the tiniest of villages located 30 kms from Bhopal, the Capital of Madhya Pradesh . A landlocked state located in the heart of India, it is home to many secrets from the past.
Bhojpur was founded by Raja Bhoj in the early 11th century.
Sinhasana Battisi, a famous composition and literary masterpiece of 32 yoginis ( angels) was composed in this area itself.
Ashapuri or the city of hope is about 6 kms from Bhojpur and is home to a vast array of temples, Hindu, Jain and Buddhist.
The region is unexplored and can be a delight for any curious traveler, mythologist or historian.
An enormous incomplete temple looms over its landscape.Each stone used to build this colossal structure weighs about 70 tonnes each.
While I have given you a glimpse of this gorgeous marvel of architecture built about 1500 years in another article. Today I shall play the role of an archaeologist to unravel the mysteries of Bhojpur.
This site is off the tourist map and a site visited by but a few. As you can see the temple is INCOMPLETE. The spire or the typical pyramid on top is missing? It was never built, and has remained so for 1500 years.
The mammoth scale represents the pinnacle of Temple Architecture of 11th century India.
The Bholeshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Bhojpur was once the capital of the vast empire of Raja Bhoj who ruled this kingdom in the 11th Century AD.
It lies on the banks of the river Betwa which goes all the way to Orchha, another must see historical and quaint town in Madhya Pradesh.
The construction of the temple was started by the illustrious KING BHOJ ( the airport at Bhopal is named after him) , who ruled the area known as Malwa.
His dynasty, the Paramaras ruled Malwa for close to 3 centuries.
It is said that he was stricken by an incurable disease. A sage advised him to construct a lake fed by 365 springs ( one for each day of the year) . It is said Raja Bhoj was an accomplished engineer and astrologer as well.
Bhojpur was the site of this lake , nestled between hills and made by creating a unique dam across the river Betwa. A dip in this man made lake cured the King of his ailments.
The lake however has dried up ( or was drained out) over time leaving only the Incomplete temple as a witness.The temple was the Thanksgiving of Raja Bhoj.
The grateful King wished to complete a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in gratitude for being cured of his ailments.
Was it an earthquake which destroyed the temple? A visit to neighboring Ashapuri points to this possibility.
The thanksgiving continues to date as the gong rings calling the faithful to prayer.
It is a unique site, where you can see the plans of a mammoth proposed temple complex etched in stone. Drawings and etchings made 11 centuries ago can still be seen to the north west of the temple.
The sound of the conch shell takes you through a time warp when gigantic stones weighing 70 tonnes were taken along a ramp and placed according to a meticulous plan. The ramp exists to date.
Did invading armies prevent the completion of the temple?
It is fabled the temples were constructed with assistance from the Chola Kings of the south. The Chola kings worshipped Lord Shiva a swell.
What prevented the completion of the temple, were no funds sanctioned by the rulers after 1085 A.D.?
The Largest Shivling in the world rises 22 feet ( 7m) from base to the top.
Bholeshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, built by Raja Bhoj ( 1010-1058 AD) was his thanksgiving for being cured from his ailments.
It symbolized the ingenuity of and the prosperity of his kingdom as it overlooked a 450 sq km man made BHOJPUR TAAL.( lake) .
Over time it has also acquired the name SOMNATH OF THE NORTH.
The Shivling itself is made from a single stone and is about 2 mtr in height.
It was damaged as the central dome collapsed breaking the Shivling into two. The polish on the sandstone is dazzling to date .
Fables of this mighty ruler reached every corner of the Land bringing the best crafstman under his command.
A treatise on Architecure, Samarangana Sutradhara was authored by Raja Bhoj alongwith 84 other books on a vast spectrum of subjects including Medicine & Chemistry.
The blueprints of the temple can be seen even today , etched in stone, yet the temple was left incomplete ? Did the architects mess it up?
There is a story from the Mahabartaha ( 1500- 2000Bc) that Karna ( son of the Sun) was left in this very river by his unwed mother Kunti.
The incomplete temple brings to life folklore, fables and legends.
Lets travel to discover more of this amazing land.
It is fabled a drop of Amrit (nectar) which grants immortality fell from the kumbh ( urn ) at the RAM KUND, Nashik.
The Urn was carried by Garuda ( the king of serpent eagles and vehicle of Lord Vishnu) .
I am writing with the hope that the article is read by a vast number of people and my travelogue motivates them to go to the Sinhastha Kumbh. The Kumbh is happening as I write and the fair will continue till the end of September 2015.
I was not even aware, let alone go to one, of the significance of the Kumbh Melas till about 3 years ago.Thereafter it has been a never ending educational journey . The Kumbh is a must visit for people from all walks of life. ( believers or non believers, Hindus and non Hindus)It is a chance of a lifetime to witness and learn about this massiveupsurge of humanity.
It is a literary congregation/festival of scholars , sadhus and priests besides millions of people.
It is a religious fair held once in 12 years when the Sun and Jupiter enter the constellation of “Leo”, the Lion. ( Singha is Lion in Hindi) .
A unique fact about the Nashik Kumbh is that it is held simultaneously at two locations, Ram Kund at Nashik and Trymbakeshwar ( 30 kms from Nashik) .
Thus we will go to both , we go first to the Ram Kund which is in the heart of the charming city of Nashik.
Panchvati, Nashik ( location of the Ram Kund) is a historic site as it is supposed to be the place where Lakshman cuts the nose of Supranakha, hence the the name NASHIK.
( please read the epic Ramayan)
The antique panel above is located at the base of the Ram Stambh( pillar) located at Panchvati near the Ram Kund. You have to look for it. I was lucky to spot it as a priest was there offering flowers.
The U shaped mark is the symbol of Lord Vishnu and can be seen at Tirupathi in particular. The flight of stairs descends to the ghats and Ram Kund where you take the traditional dip to wash away your sins.
The Stambh or Pillar also marks the centre of Panchvati where Lord Ram lived for two and half years with Sita and Lakshman.
It is interesting that a temple dedicated to Lord Venkateshwar is located a few minutes away from this site.
Small temples are located under trees along the river banks and even in the midst of the river. Mythology, nature and religion form a beautiful amalgamation.
Millions have come and gone bound in the faith that a dip in these waters will atone all sins of the past. I too took a dip with thousands of others and symbolically offered the water to the Sun God.
The closest natural event to the Kumbh is the migration in far away Africa.The lady has traveled 1500 kms with her ailing husband to carry the holy waters in her urn ( kumbh) made of brass.
Do see the kumbh ( urn) in the foreground
Trees temples and people all merge. Man and woman exist in all symbolized by Ardhanareshwar. Only the two combined can complete the picture .
Trees are revered and you will observe people pray to them too.Even God’s creations are worshiped.
There are numerous bridges across the river.The temple is unique as the the first rays of the sun touch the feet of the ruling deity, the Creator Lord Vishnu on the 21st of March .
The sun has set, and I sign off with two captivating images of the Kumbh Mela.
Nandiji on the banks of the RAM KUND
We now head to the second half of the Kumbh at Trymbakeshwar.