Thursday, December 23, 2021

Day Trip from Jabalpur, 64 Yogini Mandir and Bhedaghat Marble Rocks

 All of us have seen the Indian Parliament at least in photographs and generally, everyone is impressed with its round orientation and style. How many of us know that the design adopted by Lutyens is not original, it's rather an adopted one. This design is inspired by 64 Yogini Temples, which are mostly circular to represent Chakras in the human body, One such mandir is closer to Jabalpur.  64 Yogini Mandir and Bhedaghat Marble Rocks (boating) is the second location for a day trip from Jabalpur.

64 Yogini Mandir

Bhagat is about 20 km from Jabalpur city. 64 Yogani Mandir is located on a hillock in the Bhedaghat area on the main road leading to Dhuadhar falls, about 500 meters from the boating point. This 11th-century temple is clearly marked and one can not miss it. The temple is (like most 64 yogini temples in North India) is located on a hillock. There are about 150 plus steps to reach the temple. Once on the top of this hill, the ground is plain. The first sight that we get to see is a circular wall with an entrance.

Sign Board on the Main Road

Information Board

Staircase Leading to the Temple

Once we step in after removing our shoes. we are inside the 64 Yogini mandir. 64 yoginis and some more deities are housed in enclosures along the circular walls along the periphery. Some yoginis have their names inscribed below their statues. Some yoginis have not been identified. All these statues are in different stages of destruction. some are reasonably intact, some have their hands damaged and some others have their heads missing. Not sure if this is a result of neglect or the handiwork of Muslim invaders. However, whichever state the statutes are. they are beautiful and worth a definite look. 

Outer side and entrance, the circularity is evident

One of the Yogini Statue

Yogini Mandir Video

Apart from 64 yoginis and other deities that are situated in the circular shaped housings (which originally did not have a roof on the top), there is a beautiful Shiva temple called Gauri Shankar Temple Situated a little off-centre. It has beautiful Murtis of Gauri Shankar (Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati riding Nandi, the Bull. There are other deities too in the "Garbha Graha".

Gauri Shankar Temple

Another View

There are huge bells outside the temple as also a Shivalinga and another shivalinga with four faces (like Pashupatinath mandir). This temple is also as ancient as the 64 Yoginis. This whole complex is a delightful place. It is also a Photographer's Paradise.

4 faced Shivling 

Another one

This temple, dedicated to 64 Yoganis, mythological powers of Tantra traditions, is worth spending an hour or two of your time before you embark on a boat ride in the Narmada River to see the world-famous Marble rocks of Bhedaghat.

Bhedghat Marble Rocks

Three places are famous in the Bhedaghat area, Dhuadhar Falls, 64 Yogini Temple and Marble Rocks. On this trip, we gave a miss to Dhuadhar Falls. We visited 64 Yogini Temple and thereafter we came to the Ghat on Narmada River for boating in the river through Marble Rocks, a deep gorge in the path of the Narmada river.

Marble Rocks are predominantly white marble rich in Magnesium. This marble thus has Soap Stone hardness. This makes this Marble easy to carve leading to many craft shops selling the artefacts made of this Marble. 

Once on the ghat, different types of boats are available to take a ride. The boats are 5 to 6 person type and 10 to 12 type for group hire and (I think) 25 person type for individual ticket basis. We took a 5 person boat for Rs 800. The rates are fixed by the MP Govt, clearly displayed and the booking counter also is run by MP Govt, Dept of Tourism. That means there is no chance of cheating or bargain. the boats are rowboats, rowed by the boatmen. This ride lasts about 30 minutes, the outward trip is upstream against the current of water and the boats go up to a basin kind of place where they can turn back.

View from Ghat

Our Boating Starts, first look at Marble Rock


Now the fun starts

Narrow Marble Gorge

Another Look

Rowing is a tough profession

There is a place in this Gorge called "Bandar Kuni". It is said that many years ago when this gorge was narrower, Monkeys used to jump from one shore to another shore, hence the name. Boats used to go up to Bandar Kudni a few years ago but they now do not go that far. This place has mostly white marble but few places one can see Blue and Brown marble also.

These days Bhedaghat has good safety rules. Boats are regulated well, so no overcrowding. Wearing of Life Jackets is mandatory for passengers and it is enforced very strictly.

As the boat ride progresses, the boatman gives a commentary about the marble rocks, also about various films that were shot in the gorge, etc in a flowing and funny manner. The ride is enjoyable as we get to see the natural wonder the rocks are (and they exhibit different moods based on light conditions and they look the best on a Full Moon Night) and the commentary adds humour to the boat ride.

There are stalls on the ghat to have tea and snacks after the boat ride. If you are there in the evening, you can attend Aarti of Maa Narmada. This is also one of the places to buy small gifts to take back home.

Bhedaghat is a good place to visit and along with 64 Yogini Mandir and Dhuadhar, it makes a great day trip.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Day Trip from Jabalpur - Rani Durgavati Samadhi and Bargi Dam

Rani Durgavati Samadhi Sthal

 Rani Durgavati, a Chandela Rajput princess, was married to Gadha Mandala king Dalpat Shah of Gondwana, the present-day Jabalpur region in 1942. After the death of her husband, she took the reins of the kingdom in 1750 AD. Her able rule made the state very prosperous. 

Under the expansionist policies of Akbar, his army had deposed Baz Bahadur, ruler of Malwa (Capital Mandav Garh). That made Rani Durgavati's state share a border with the Mughals. Getting lured by the prosperity of her kingdom, Akbar's general Kwaja Abdul Majid attacked her kingdom. in 1564.

Statue of Rani Durgavati

Rani Durgavati choose to defend her freedom with her small untrained and poorly armed army against a well trained, better armed and superior in number Mughal army as she felt, against the advice of her prime minister, that an honourable death is better than a disgraceful life.

She took her defensive stand against the Mughal army at Narrai Nallah, in the hilly region near Jabalpur between Narmada and Gaur. Her son Vir Narayan led the attack on Mughal Army and defeated them three times. In the battle the next day when Mughals called in their heavy guns, the battle tilted to Mughal's side. Vir Narayan got injured. Rani Durgavati also was badly injured by two arrows including one in her neck.

Rani Durgavati Samadhi. See the Copper Plate depicting her

Sensing a sure defeat and chance of the enemy capturing her, she chooses to kill herself with her dagger rather than get captured by the enemy. Her martyrdom day 24 Jun (1564) is celebrated in this region as "Balidan Diwas".

The History

Every nation loving and freedom-loving Indian should make it a point to visit her samadhi and offer her his/her respect.

Bargi Dam

Narmada (Ji) is one of the only two major rivers flowing from east to west, the other being Tapti. Rest all the major Indian rivers flow eastwards. Narmada river has a total of 30 dams irrigating and supplying drinking water to many areas of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. It is also called the Lifeline of these two states.

Bargi dam, constructed in 1988 is the first among the 30 dams of Narmada. Situated some 40 km south of Jabalpur, this dam is about 70 meters high and has over 5 km in length. Its huge reservoir covers an area of 75 km by 5 km spreading across some of the areas of 3 the districts of Madhya Pradesh.

Bargi Dam, view from downstream

Bargi Dam, view from the Lake Side

Bargi Dam is a day trip attraction for the people of Jabalpur and also the tourist visiting Jabalpur. MP Tourism Corporation has developed an accommodation facility, a restaurant and also boating at Bargi Dam. The MPT hotel here is a compact one with just 6 rooms overlooking the lake and the dam. However, considering the day visitors, the restaurant is much bigger and can cater for a large number of visitors.

Bargi Dam MPT Hotel and Tourist Complex, seen from the lake

Among the boating facility, there are cruise boats, speed boats and paddle boats. Cruising in the lake which is a trip of over 30 min is great fun. The whole experience is a lovely family outing.

One of the islands in the lake

Let me catch a fish

I need to digest it

Sometimes its nice to be ahead of the camera

In conclusion, this trip to Rani Durgavati Samadhi and Bargi Dam is a worthwhile day trip from Jabalpur.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Best of Switzerland in 8 Days - Day 6 - First Half - Lucern -Lucern Old City.

Remember my last post about our day 5 trip description out of our 8 days Switzerland trip. 

On that day after our half-day trip to Schilthorn mountain. we took a train from Interlaken, traveled through the famous Golden Pass Route of the Swiss Railway, and had reached Lucern. It was already evening and we just rested after reaching Lucern You can read all about day 5  travel here -

On Day 6 of our Switzerland trip, Our plan was to visit Lucern City, A settlement in existence since 750 AD but achieved prominence in 1178 AD. The next part of our plan was to also take a cruise of Lake Lucern, a 114 sq km lake connecting for u cantons of that area. It may be interesting to note that the official name of the lake is Vierwaldstättersee meaning "four forested States lake" or a lake that is spread in four forested cantons.

However, in this part of my blog, We would enjoy our trip to Lucern Old City. In the next part, we will take a cruise of Lake Lucern. Let's Go.

Lucern Old City.

Lucern is an ancient city but unlike most European cities of that age, this does not have many things like city squares, old cathedrals, etc. The old city is beautiful, paved, and historic but Switzerland is all about natural beauty hence expecting grand palaces, etc is out of place. Major attractions here are Lion Monument, Chaple Bridge, Jesuit Chruch, and the cobbled streets and old buildings. There are also good bakeries and chocolate shops (after all Swiss Chocolates are world-famous).

Lion Memorial 

This beautiful Lion in its den, injured and defeated as also very sad is a monument carved out of rocks in a small garden on Denkmalstrasse (Denkmal Street). The carved Lion is a very poignant depiction of the pain and suffering of the Swiss Body Guards of the French King who got killed defending him during the french revolution. The story goes that the French king was guarded by Swiss Guards. 

During the french revolution in the year 1792, when revolutionaries arrived at Tuileries Palace in Paris to arrest/kill the French King, they seem to have given the option to the Swiss Guards to leave safely but not only they refused, they put up a strong fight till their last man was standing. One of the Lieutenant of Swiss Guards who was on leave in Switzerland at that time got this memorial built in memory of his colleagues,

Lion of Lucern (Lion Monument)

See the pain and suffering on the face

Leaving the Lion Monument, we strolled through the cobbled streets of Lucern's old town. These streets are lined with shops selling fine Swiss watches, garments, Perfumes, and Chocolates. Who has not heard of Swiss Chocolates? Tasting them elsewhere and tasting them in Switzerland is different. The fresh Swiss Chocolate does taste far better than anywhere else.

Lucern Old Town

The old town has many sculptures also erected on some of its squares. Most of these are actually water fountains that have statues on top. One such ornate statue can be seen below. 

One of the Ornate Fountains

Another Fountain

These historic streets have many beautiful buildings. Mostly compact (compared to other European cities) but as beautiful as anywhere else in Europe. The Town Hall of old Lucern can be seen below. This Town Hall is on the way leading to the banks of river Reuss which drains into lake Lucern.

Lucern Town Hall

The clock tower of this town is made of stones. It is worth taking the time to stop and look at it.

The door seen below is from the tower adjoining the town hall. the intricate pattern of this entrance door finds a place in blogs of architects about how entrances should be made. 

Going down from the town hall, we went to the bank of the River Reuss. the bank on the side of old town has old buildings stretching all along this bank. These buildings have pubs and restaurants on their ground floors. Strolling through this bank, we reached the most enduring symbol of Lucern, the Chapel Bridge.

Chapel Bridge

This bridge is a covered wooden bridge spanning the river Reuss, interestingly, diagonally. This bridge was originally built in 1365, however, the current bridge is a shortened version of the original bridge by about 40 meters.

This also is the oldest surviving Truss bridge in the world. It has (even today) 17th-century paintings of some of the local artists, though some of the paintings and part of the bridge were lost in 1993 fire incidence the bridge has been restored to its glory and the surviving paintings also are displayed. The roof is tiled. There is a column somewhere in the middle called Water Column (because it stands on water). This tower is older than the bridge by few years. This tower has been used for various purposes over its long life.

Chaple Bridge across River Reuss

Water Column, Has been used for many purposes in the past

Beautiful flower beds around 

Ancient Paintings

Another View of Chapel bridge

The street on the bank which adjoins the old city has beautiful graphics on the buildings. Just to give an idea, one such building is shown below.

Artwork on Building walls on the shore

Another building having permanent artwork and is part of the Christmas Market area looks like this -

Advent Calendar Building, A beautiful building
having permanent decoration for Christmas Market

Walking across this historical bridge is a nice feeling by itself. The views we get from the bridge are the added attraction.

Beautiful Shoreline, seen from the Bridge

A Duck enjoying swim

Chateau Gutsch Heritage Hotel seen from the Chaple Bridge

Another lovely view

Jesuit Church

There are some important buildings on the river bank on the newer town side. One such building is Jesuit Church. It may not be as imposing as other Europen Churches and Cathedrals, nonetheless, it is beautiful from outside and inside. Some of the pics of this church are given below.

Jesuit Church

Close up

Inside the Jesuit Church

Another View

And finally, here is the Lucern Theater, the nerve center of Art and theater at Lucern

Luzerner Theater (Lucern Theater), A Historic yet modern theater

With this, we finished our Lucern Old City walking tour. Thereafter it was true of window shopping, chocolate buying, and lunch in a local restaurant.

Post Lunch we were embarking on Lake Lucern Boat Cruise which is getting covered in another blog post.