Mahishmati : Unfolds the history of Maheshwar

Mahishmati the Bahubali origin…….It was a storching heat and from Indore we have decided to take short break to the bank of river Reva. We reached in the evening Devi Ahelhiyabai’s own city Maheshwar.It is famous for its colourful weaving Maheshwar sarees and beautiful historic monument.The massive Maheshwar Fort stands on hill overlooking the Narmada River on the south. The walls of the Maheshwar Fort rises straight out of the Narmada River to a height of more than 30 meters. Bahubali movie if you have enjoyed then surely you will enjoy the Glimpes of Mahishmati which is now known as Maheshwar.

Photo Steps

 

The town enjoyed a golden age in the 18th century under the Holkar queen Ahiliyabai ,She was was a great devotee of Lord Shiva so in Maheshwar you will find shiva’s presence in every monument of city.

It was weekend so car was not allowed till fort so we parked the car down side from there fort was up and slope  was there to go. We asked two small boys who were playing cricket in parking area that any other way to reach up except climbing this sloop? they answered very innocently that there is a short cut of steeps but you won’t be able to enjoy the view. when you want to enjoy need to take some pain so we climed the slope. We were tiered by walking and suddenly saw one small garden on height so start walking and their….Devi comes with Mahadev..

 

 

Statue

The height was almost 6 Meter. It was amazing few people was taking photograph paying homage in her feet that showed her popularity still.we ask for govt.approved guide and we meet sachin. He was a young and enthusiastic boy showed and explained us the monuments

Rajbada :

Which  was the resident of queen.It is now converted into heritage hotel but small portion is there as museum. The prime attraction of the museum is the  Rajgaddi of Ahilya Bai. Today her photograph is there on her gaddi. The palanquin of Ahilyaa Bai is displayed at the entrance of the two storeyed wooden building which goes to take city tour on her birthday and death day to visit her own people.

Pooja sathal :
From there we went to visit pooja sathal  temple where Rani Ahilyabai used to do Pooja of Lord shiva.There are 108 shivling which she had collected from River Reva and she used to do daily Pooja.Next to this pooja sathal from so many years 11 Brahmins are daily performing pooja  from morning 8-10 AM making savalakh shivling from mud on big wooden plate and lastly combined it in a mudball and put back into the river.when I asked the Brahmins why this Pooja they said its parampra and we are bound to it to do.This is for well being of all mankind.Ahilyeshwar Shivalaya:

Although it sounds like a Shiva temple, and is definitely built like one, it is actually the chhatri of Ahilya Bai Holkar. Built by the queen’s daughter in law Krishna Bai.

There were steeps leading towards riverbank.When we reached riverbank again few Bollywood movie scenes came in front of eyes

River Ghat

Narmada or Reva flowing without any boundaries.It was almost 6.30 and I witnessed far other side cremation was going on and this side people are enjoying life. words can create magic here….

स्वप्न सुनहरे घाव गहरे,  हर धारा में लेके चली जीवन नीर

परवत रोके चीरे घाटी,  धार समय की रुक ना पाती

कल-कल यह अविराल यह, बहती जाती प्राण नदी जीव नदी.

We took the boat ride till the last sun light and promised our self to see sunrise .The view was so charismatic that only it can feel.It is said that pürierst river Ganga also comes in a black cow Avatar to clean herself in River Narmada. Each pebble of Narmada is consider as a Shivlinga.Shastrabahu is a place where River divide her self in many streams.

Rajrajeshwar Sahstrabahu Temple:Ghats with Shivling

Close to the Ahilya Devi fort is the Raja Rajeshwara temple ,which is renowned for the famous 11 eternal burning lamps believed to be burning for centuries. Folklore says Hyhay destiny king Sahastrarjun was a brave emperor, he tried to stop the stream of Nanda river by his thousand arms.For him Loard parshuram had set this temple by himself.

Morning at Ghat:

Almost two kms of the riverfront of Maheshwar has been paved in stone to give rise to a series of ghats.From total of 28 ghats, the most important are Ahilya, Peshwa, Phanse and Mahila.All the gates are having steps and its been well chained for safety.you can hear the Om Namah Shivay chanting and temple bell sound in the air…

Locals people believe that the waters of the river have purifying properties and hence a morning dip ensures good health and success.Some divers were adding music of splash to the nature.

Diving

The amazing thing about Maheshwar its natural look and simplicity and cleanness.Local people care a lot about its cleanness.I have seen people washing cloths and cleaning their leftovers of Pooja and other material.Like other tourist places it is yet not very modern and pollutant.It still lives in its own era and believes in traditional belief and culture that Devi Ahliyabai comes twice to visit city.

Weaving threads and emotions:

Maheshwari saris are usually coloured using vegetable dyes,The most popular colours used in Maheshwari saris are angoori (grape green), Rani (dark pink)gulbakshi (magenta), jaamla (purple), tapkeer (deep brown) and aamras (golden-yellow). The pallu of Maheshwari  sari is distinctive with five alternating stripes .The unique feature of a Maheshwari sari is its reversible border. The border is designed in such a way that both sides of the sari can be worn. The fine, airy cloth is a bliss for summer.Three fourth of population of Maheshwari is involved In handloom sari business.With a modern demand now a days dress materials and duppta and scarfs are also seen in market.

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I didn’t buy saree ! To have a reason to come back again here and enjoy the eternal beauty of river Narmada and spent some time with my self in this charismatic town again……

Nightwalk @ First Indian heritage city.

 

The 600 year old city Ahmedabad has many unique heritage sites that’s why it is declared India’s first world heritage city in 2017 . To explore city Ahmedabad municipal Corporation organizes morning heritage walk from many years. Well, to get the different flavor of Heritage walk we have choose walking at night into pols ( Old city Streets) and exploring Havelis  and tradition which is organized by “House of Mangaldas”. It starts with one of the heritage hotel House of mangaldas at 9.30 PM and ends at Ahmedabad’s unique night streetfood market at Manekchowk at 11.00 PM.

Our journey at night Heritage walk on 6-Jan-18 unfolds with unique celebration to welcome 2018.

Night walk in the pol ( Street) :

A pol in Ahmedabad is a housing cluster which comprises many families of a particular group, linked by caste, profession, or religion. The city has many big and small pols which is having wooden gates and unique identification. Mostely pols have their named as famous person or occupation of residents living into it. First pol of the old city was known was Muhroot in pol which means beginning. The biggest pol of Ahmedabad is known as Mandavi-ni-pol. At present, there are about 60,000 houses in 600 pols of Ahmedabad. Many pol have small lane connecting to each other. On chilled winter night we have seen many residents of pol sitting near fire, munching peanuts different edible seeds while discussing about the election results of Gujarat. It is always near to big Birdfeeder (known as Chabutro), so that the remaking snacks doesn’t get wasted at all. While going through one pol to another we had seen that there are some secrets roads also which is connected through small channel from one pol to another it was just like illusion that you are entering into one small gate and walking few minutes and you are in another pol.

 

Walled city old houses :

The houses have peculiar construction with khadaki, entrance and the open space. There is an Ottla stepping up stone outside the house where all ladies used to chitchat and finish their vegetable chopping and other works.. Then there is a space open to sky called chowk. The rainwater falls in the chowk and then collected into underground water tanks. There you can find typical matka stand which is known as paniyaru. There were sitting kitchen so no knee problem for womens. In drawing room you will found swing which can be converted in to bad when required.Many pol houses have basement also.big copper utensils Oil lamps and traditional swings are benchmarks of old houses.

Haveli :

Big houses of wealthy people are known as Havelis. It is Genreally single or double stories having small rooms in it. Normally one has to enter into Daheli, the entrance with open space first, in order to enter into the Haveli. The wooden entrance gate has beautiful,carving on it. The entire structure of Haveli stands on wooden beams, pillars, roof structure and balconies. The balcony and the pillars supporting it, recesses in the wall, doors, large wooden pegs driven into the wall, etc. have carvings of geometrical designs or the designs of flowers/designs with sculpture.

 

Sidi Saiyad Mosque and Teen Darwaja:

Saiyad Mosque is one of the famous mosque situated at heart of walled city. Mosque was the building constructed in Mughal rule. This Jali becomes inspirations for logo of Indian Institute of management Ahmedabad. The other heritage assets are the Indo-Islamic monuments of the 15th to 17th centuries: the Jama Masjid, the Teen Darwaza, the Bhadra Gate and Tower and the Tombs of Queen and King located in the historic core, the remaining sections of the original fort wall. Bhadrakali temple is one of the oldest temple in walled city which showers its divine blessings.

Teen darwaja which is of the main entrance of walled city is having big local market for all type of small vendors.one of the gate has oil lamp which is lightened from last 600 years.

 

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Manek chock :

Its a big gold and silver market in the day time and at night it turns into mouth watering local street food market. From traditional Gujarati food to Italian and Chinese all are available. There are beautiful folksongs are also describing this area. Local jewelry are there at night for window shopping. Best part of it is that market is alive till 1 at night and its is again cleaned and get ready for its new attire at morning 5.

One special thing about this area is, there is tomb of Badshah Ahmedshah where  musicians from generation are playing daily music at morning 7:00 am and night 11:00 pm as a duty of closing and opening bell ringers of big gates of walled of old city for last more than 400 years. No matters visitors are there or not they will perform their duty by playing music by drums and Shehnai.

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Amazing experience with local Guide Bhailal Bhai panchal who had showed the all minuet aspect of walled city.

Yet morning walk to be done in short time with close friends…….till then Avjo….

Christmas Celebration in Basel, Switzerland

Tree

Christmas bells are ringing in the air. December is the month for feast and festival for all over the Europe. In 2015, when we were in Basel, a city in Switzerland, we have experienced this amazing Christmas fever.

The preparation for the same get started before One month of Christmas. The shops gets ready in new red attire, bakeries are fully loaded with cookies, biscuits, chocolates …. Tons of varieties. Red colors with sparkling shining stars are all over in the market celebration Christmas begins with typical Swiss traditions in Basel

Custom of Advent Calendar:

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Traditionally starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve. Many children here take it on themselves to make the Advent Calendar, a calendar with 24 little flaps opening onto windows with images within a Christmas scene. The Advent Calendars are a significant part of the Swiss Christmas tradition now a days chocolate Advent calendars are available in the market. I guess it teaches the children to be patient.

 

Advent wreath:

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A green spruce garland which you can see on every local person’s home. It is having four candles on it, one for each of the Sundays in Advent. A single candle is lit on the first Sunday, two are lit on the second, three on the third and four on the fourth.

Christmas Mart:

Basel’s Christmas market is one of the most beautiful and largest Christmas markets in Switzerland. Throughout the market around 180 rustic wooden chalets are set up for dealers to sell their diverse, regional products and culinary delights. You will never forget the charm and charismatic magic of that whole atmosphere. There are something for everybody like rides, games, merry-go-round and street food like potato roasty, cheese fondue, spice cookies, Christmas cakes, Basel Lacerli (Ginger Bread), Swiss Raclett and Glühwein wines for the foodies. In chilled winter, sometime with the drizzling snow if you have glass of Glühwein(Mulled wine ) in the hand, ralish it sip by sip gives you inner warmth.

Christmas Tree:

The Christmas tree is usually decorated here on Christmas Eve evening. This is a time of joyous family celebration in the country. The tree is set up by adult members and adorned with small ornaments, candles or electric lights. Wrapped gifts are placed underneath. Also placed at the foot of the decorated tree is a crèche complete with little figures .In the main streets big Christmas trees are kept which is decorated with light for whole night.

Saint Nicolas’s Day:

December 6 is celebrated as Samichlaus and his companion celebrated “Schmutzil” emerge from their cottage in the woods to visit children at their home. They come with their donkey. Kids put their Shoes or boots on the door at night and they believe that Saint Nicolas will fill them with mandarin oranges, nuts and cookies.

In Basel, one Special celebration also goes on that group of bike riders with loaded bags on their Harley Davidson rides in city in a set time to give gifts to children.

Special Christmas Eve:

On the night of 24th December, all the members in a family treat themselves to a Christmas dinner. Everyone gathers around the Christmas tree and sings songs or hymns related to the occasion. Some read the passage concerning Jesus Christ’s birth from the Holy Bible. Gifts are also exchanged. Many Swiss families go to local churches to attend the Midnight Mass. After the service, families gather to share hot chocolate and huge homemade doughnuts.

Christmas is pretty much celebrated within family and friends and therefore, the streets are empty during these days, stores are closed and even most Restaurants don’t open on December 25 to 26.

Local Events:

Main Church organize Toy Exchange Program in Basel. In School child have to submit one old toy few days to charismas on a set time child can go with the receipt and can choose another toy from the display in the church. Kids can dip a beautiful candles or simply listen exciting Christmas stories.

Christmas Tram: A Beautiful red Decorated Tram is there for kids to get free ride in whole city with live music and Christmas carol.

Swis Tram

Christmas Cookies: Many families back and decorate their own Christmas cookies. In Basel many local shop unwrap the festive traditions so you can have yourself a merry swiss-Christmas.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

The Oldest living Fort

Chittor 1

It is October 2017. We have plan to visit “The Oldest living Fort of India – the Great Chittor Fort”. However, the places like “Gosunda Dam” and “Savriya Seth templae ” could not be missed before we really start thrilling ourselves  with history. 

we visited “Gosunda  dam” and very famous “Savriya Seth temple” during second half of the day. People around Chittor grows Opium. It is being said by locals that the opium farmers donate some percentage of money earned out of Opium sale to temple. This has enriched the “Savriya Seth” temple so much that the inner walls are being coated by Gold. Surprisingly, one of the bank also offers the Auto debit facility from devotees’ bank account to donate regular basis to “Savriya Seth ” temple.  

The Gosunda dam situated around 10 Km outside Chittor city. One of the  key source of Water to Chittor city since very old time. This dam is also supply water to Zinc India manufacturing set up nearby Chittor – one of the biggest Gypsum producer of India.

Next day morning our journey started towards Chittor fort. The 13 km long fort which is symbol of bravery and sacrifice. While approaching towards the fort, the pages of history getting unfolded one by one in front of our eyes. Guides started following us to start their day and we picked up one of them and allowed him to join us in our car. However, my recommendation is go for only Government certified guide with I-Card. Since this is
“The Living Fort” – around 3500+ people lives in it. So it’s basically a city in the fort. If you are going by your own vehicle then you can access all the monuments all across the fort. Alternative is to have six sitter auto. Also, recommend to have a small booklet – available in local market of Chittor handy and read it before you enter fort. This will help you to visualize while guide explains you the history. 

The Fort had been ruled by multiple Kings and each of them had story to tell, monuments to watch and site to visit – sometime Guide confuse you by not following the sequence of events and monuments in the fort. The booklet reading comes to help here.  

This is the oldest fort of Rajasthan. Mythological legends says that it was build by “Bheem – Pandava” to get paras Stone. Tourist entries are from backside of the Fort since the front side is facing towards forest. The Front side ( Original Gate of Fort ) is being currently used by tribes who climb up the fort for their daily small tourism business. One of the Key Gate – “Padampol”,   Folklore says that during one of the battle of Chittor fort,  with blood flowing like river one calf of buffalo flooded till this gate, hence the named  “Padampol” . Padampol is the first entrance from back side of fort. One by one all the gates passed (total 7 gates). 

On the way up to the Fort, there is a memorial of two Chittor warriors ” Fatta” and “Badal”. Both are said to be Mama and bhanja ( Uncle and Niece). Both the warrior were so brave that their beheaded body continued to fight and climb down from the fort. The distance between the place where they both got beheaded and finally martyr is around xxx meters.

Then follows the divine Meera temple. As we know the Meera as great worshiper of  Krishna. This is the only temple of Mira in India. Samadhi of Meera’s guru saint Reevdas is also there. The Muslim emperor – Alluddin Khilji had broken all the idols of the carved on the walls and pillars which evident today even. However, the beauty of the  temple and carvings are still mesmerizing. 

Damaged sculptures on the wall of Krishna temple 

From the divine touched we moved towards the beautifully carved  tower “Vijay stambh – built in memory of Victory over the king of Gujarat state”.  It is an eyewitness of richness and enrichment of Chittor fort. Access to tower from inside is restricted for public now. The base pillars of towers are getting weak due to mines blasting in surrounding mountain area. I am sure it must be more beautiful and exciting to have an aerial view of Fort from the top of the “Victory Tower”, however, we are now not fortunate enough.  

The “Johar kund” which is closed now and converted to a “Samadhi” is still holding the ashes of life of Rajputi women who had sacrificed their life for purity and womanhood. Once in a year “Suryavanshi Rajputs” gathers and pays homage to them.

Besides that, there is an ancient shiva temple where “Rani Padmini” used to worship. The “trimurti – Idol with 3 faces” is having giant 9 feet tall idols from one big stone. It’s very uncommon look of God shiva as well.

 

 

With heavy heart, we moved ahead. At the gate there was one man with buttermilk his smile and our tiredness attracted us there. We asked him “Kaise di…?” Very lively he said “pyar se di “. The answer was so lively and touching that we could not resist our self by having two glasses of buttermilk each.

From there we had seen “Padmini mahal” which really needs to be restored now. The Lake in front of the palace is not maintained properly. Guide even will say no to visit to make trip short. One can try to visit by their own.  We have even seen Kalika Mata Temple and Tulja Bhavani Temple. Here, the folk stories says that merchant “Banvir”  had donated money and ornaments equivalent to his weight for the relief fund of the war. 

 “Rana Kumbha” and “Fatta -Badal mahal (the great Mama-Bhanja warrior)”  was also in a ruined condition. Chittor is said as “Water Fort” there are 84 taal (lakes) that is water taal made in ancient days. “Gomukh taal – shown below, key symbol of Chittor fort” which looks like a cows mouth so people consider it very holly.

 

In between we have seen  one of the many taal, which is known “kukareshwar taal”. The current residential houses above is has drainage flooding into the taal. What a spoil of heritage place ! Additionally, observed that the great religion rituals further spoiling non-flowing water of taal. This could have been managed better for sure. 

At end we concluded our trip at front gate which has ruined of other gates it is still used by tribal people to come on fort for picking up custard apple fruit which is grown over there. The tribal community use its fibers for making saris which have prominent sandal fragrance in it stays lifelong. 

This is the land which has wrote its history on stones of Arravali hills, devotion of Krishna is in the air, sacrifices of Rajputani’s are yet not forgotten. Unfortunate so that the fort is not being maintained the way it must be.

Although it is one of the oldest fort, it’s also the most neglected Fort in Rajasthan. There is not even written history any where at monuments. Tourist from all over the world visits this UNESCO world heritage site. Government should take some quick rapid action in this or some corporate should take some initiative. The glory of the Fort is getting faded due to negligence of authorities.

Must to be noted here before I conclude, I visited the fort in my childhood and had special memories + excitement about the Fort but I got disappointed this time while I tried to reiterate my experience to my daughter by making her visit. Not sure about next generations. Hope for the best.