Shalabhanjika , Monalisa in Stone , Museum , Gwalior Fort

Shalabhanjika  is a price less  stone statue of a lady of World fame Ancient India art work recovered from Gyaraspur near Sanchi and Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh now kept in the museum of Gwalior Fort under high security , special permission is required from the Archaeological Survey of India to visit this particular  chamber.

There were two such sculpted statues installed at the entrance of Sanchi Stupa , during the raids of Mugal King Aurangzeb’s army  one of it was destroyed and this one was thrown in the forests of Gyaraspur, later to be recovered in 19th Century . In early 1980 a  Visitor French Tourist Group named it Monalisa in Stone

Shalabhanjika , Museum , Gwalior Fort

The beauty of this stone statue is the creation of very clear strange smile on a face by the sculpture , it is probably sculpted during 10 – 11 th  AD , the waist holds lower garment across her broad hips and her full bloomed body which  has a bare torso  with a  pearl necklace around her neck , a long necklace falling between her breasts and then one chain going down up to her naval . Eyes and bowed eyebrows , sharp nose , ear rings , her hair with bun decorated with jewelry and precious stones . The lady seems to be standing under a Saal tree holding a branch . She is also known as the Tree Goddess . The Sanskrit name Shalabhanjika means “A lady breaking Saal branch”

Shalabhanjika

Shalabhanjika are found mostly at the entrances of Stupa . The sandstone beams across the gateways were held up by bracket figures like this, representing female tree spirits called Yakshika . In an ancient  Indian fertility rite, beautiful young girls were said to usher in spring by kicking a tree trunk while breaking off a branch, so as to arouse it into blossoming. the Shalabhanjika Yakshika serves as a fertility symbol associated with the spirit of the tree and earth to ensure the auspiciousness of the site where the Stupa is built.

 

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Abhaneri Step-Well: Architectural Wonder of 8th century

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Abhaneri – A Small Village near Jaipur, Rajasthan

Abhaneri is a small village in Rajasthan near Jaipur, while driving on National Highway 11A towards Agra, after crossing Dausa at Sikandara take a left turn on a State Highway 25 to Bandikui, then turn right at Gular Chauraha  for Abhaneri, total distance from Jaipur is 96 Kms, upon entering into the Abhaneri, first visible structure is a ruins of a Hindu temple of Goddess Harshat Mata built in 7-8th century AD, considered to be Goddess of Joy and Happiness, it is built on a double platform, on the walls are the statues & sculptures of Gods and Goddesses which depict images from daily life, built by King Chand, ruins of the temple still boasts the architectural and sculptural richness of medieval India, this city was known as “Abha Nagari“.
The Harshad Mata Temple built around 7-8 century AD
The Harshat Mata Temple built around 7-8 century AD
The walls of the temple carved with images and sculptures of Gods and Goddesses depicting images from daily life
The walls of the temple carved with images and sculptures of Gods and Goddesses depicting images from daily life

Chand Baori, A Step-Well

Just next to the temple is a enclosed rectangular courtyard type of structure, upon entering one reaches a Jharokha and coming down stairs on left one can see, the Baori (Step-Well)  on right, something which is unique to India, it is a water reservoir which not only has water also respite from heat in dry summers it is about 64 ft deep narrowing towards the bottom criss-crossing steps provided with double flight of steps on three sides reach the the water surface, it is one of the deepest and the largest step-well in India, the geometrical pattern of stairs gives the different magical images of the stairs, the light and shadow makes one spell bound, the stairs are on the three sides while on the one  side are the three storied pavilion with beautiful carved jharokhas, the galleries supported on Pillars and two projecting balconies enshrining beautiful sculptures. This surrounding area is semi desert, shrubs and small trees mainly the Kikar and Ber (Ber Berry), Amla (Goose berry) are found, there are only two seasonal rivers Banganga and Morle, agriculture is totally dependent on rains and ground water. Chand Raja was from the Gujara Pratihara clan claiming to be the descendant of Lord Ram’s younger brother Laxman, they were at their peak during 6-10th century AD, almost North of India, founder of this dynasty was Raja Hari Chandra and once dominated the Rajasthan, their capital city was Mandore near Jodhpur, during this period open pavilion temples were built the best examples are the temples are at Khajuraho in Madhya Paradesh and Osian in Rajasthan.
The beautiful arched hallway in front of the step-well adds to the beauty of Abhaneri Step-Well
The beautiful arched hallway in front of the step-well adds to the beauty of Abhaneri Step-Well
The front view of the Abhaneri Step-Well, A Marvelous piece of Architecture
[quote]The front view of the Abhaneri Step-Well, A Marvelous piece of Architecture[/quote] Full view of the stairs of the Abhaneri Step-Well, which gives a sense of magical touch
Full view of the stairs of the Abhaneri Step-Well, which gives a sense of magical touch
A closer look on the double flight stairs of the Abhaneri Step-Well
A closer look on the double flight stairs of the Abhaneri Step-Well
The magical look of the stairs in the Step-Well, Only good architecture can explain that!
The magical look of the stairs in the Step-Well

 

Anil Kumar Rajput – Managing Director at Promark Travel, is in the travel trade since 1980, Hes has worked in India and abroad. A boxer, a Rifle Shooter and a Para Jumper in his college days, as a Boy Scout and NCC cadet, attended camps at many places which developed his interest in traveling and to explore new places, trekking and photography, loves driving to adventurous places , owns a business (promarktravels.com) which caters all the travel needs of it’s clients. Connect with him on Facebook (htttp://www.facebook.com/anil.k.rajput) and Twitter (@PromarkTravels)
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Orcha, Fort and Palace

Orcha a small sleepy town on the banks of river Betwa but it was once the capital of the mighty Bundelkhand  State of Madhya Pradesh .

Orcha , Madhya Pradesh

Founded by the King Rudra Pratap Singh, a Rajput ruler of Bundelkhand , was the first king of Orcha and built the Fort in 1501 AD ,  a warrior tribe, whose  ancestors  one young Rajput prince  sacrificed his life for a  Goddess, Vrindavasini, in return, the Goddess blessed  that he and all his descendants would come to be known as the ‘Bundelas’, meaning, ‘those who gave blood’   the Orchha Bundelas came to be known as the chief of the Bundela clan.

Orcha Fort & Palace

The succeeding rulers, the most notable was Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo who built the exquisite Jehangir Mahal, in the 17th century, to celebrate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orcha,  a tiered palace crowned by graceful Chhatris. The whole Mahal is decorated beautifully with different geometric patterns and paintings of peacocks and flowers which represent the finest flowering of the Bundela school of painting. From here the view of soaring temple spires and cenotaphs is spectacular.  the mother of Jahangir was also a Rajput, Jodha. It is with this in mind that the Rajput king of Orcha had built the Jahangir Mahal.

Ceiling Paintings Raja Mahal Orcha

The Durbar-e-Khas, or the Durbar Hall, is situated on the first floor of the palace and is surrounded by high battlement walls. It is well fortified, and right above it are a number of musket holes through which the enemy was shot at. The Diwan-i-Am is an assembly hall where the king often held meetings with his council of ministers.

Jahangir Mahal Orcha

Rani Mahal  is famous for its lovely paintings and unique architecture. Rani Mahal, was the royal residence of the Queen of Raja Madhukar Shah. A great devotee of Lord Ram, the queen decorated her bedroom with murals featuring scenes from the epics. The exquisite paintings of Bhim and a bird flying with elephants are really fantastic.

Wall and ceiling paintings Orcha

The Rai Praveen Palace was constructed by Prince Indrajit Singh for his beloved  of three stories. The walls of the central hall on the second story bear many paintings depicting the several moods of the Rai Praveen. The palace is combined with a garden divided into two parts wall and which is popularly known as Anand Mahal Bag (Garden). The Rai Praveen was a great beauty whose main accomplishments were dancing, horse riding and poetry. The famous poet Keshavdas has compiled Kavi priya to honor Rai Praveen and praised her beauty.

In the Laxminarayan Temple and Raj Mahal, vibrant murals encompassing a variety of religious and secular themes, bring the walls and ceilings to rich life. Long tapering structures of temples and places act as the major landmark of this small town .

Raja Rudra Pratap started the work on Raja Mahal but after his death in 1531, his son Bharath Chand did the main portion of the palace but it was completed Raja  Madhukar Shah , one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture. It has the typical “jali” or lattice work at the entrance , a square shaped palace, divided into two beautiful courtyards. The outer courtyard has some beautiful arches, while the inner ones have some of the most beautiful paintings.

Ram Raja Temple , it is the only place in India where the Lord Ram is worshiped as a King in a Palace receives the Guard of Honor every day , Raja Ram is seated in a Padama Asan with the left leg crossed  on to right thigh ,  has a sword in his right hand and a shield in the other , Mata Sita is on the left  brother Laxman on the right , Maharaj Sugreev , Narsingh Bhagwan and  Durga Maa are also present in the darbar on the right side ,  Hanumaan ji and Jamwant ji are praying just below Mata Sita.

Chaturbhuj Temple , Raja Ram Idols were to be kept here

 

Originally the Chaturbhuj temple was built to place the Idols of Lord Ram but when Idol  was brought from Ayudhya it was kept at the Queens Palace  the Ranibas or the Rani Mahal to be installed at Chaturbhuj Temple which is right next to the palace  but next day it could not be removed and since then Lord Ram is being worshiped as Raja Ram  at the palace .

There are fourteen Chatries or memorials  constructed as a mark of respect for the imperial blue blood of the mighty rulers of Bundelkhand dynasty. The royal tombs of MaharajasChhatris are placed on a elevated platform three floors buildings are open on all sides, have domes or pinnacles.

Royal Family cremation site , Chattries banks of River Betwa

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Gwalior , Madhya Pradesh

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Gwalior is situated 320 km from Delhi,  in Madhya Pradesh state , one can reach by road , there are regular daily trains from Delhi it is about four hour journey by fast trains ,  also there is a domestic airport which is connected with Mumbai and Delhi flights.

Gwalior a historical city of central India founded by a Kachwaha Rajput  Suraj Sen of Silhonia Village  in 8th centenary , the legend is the Suraj Sen who was suffering from Leprosy lost his way on a hunting expedition in this area , suffering from thirst and hunger  he was then helped by a Sage Gwalipa who not only led him to  a water pond but also got him cured of Leprosy . To pay him a respect and in gratitude a city was founded by his name , initially wall was made to protect the area where sage Gwalipa lived , then Suraj Sen built a palace within the walled area upon the hill , slowly people started living around it .

Water Pond where King Suraj Sen Leprosy was cured

 

Temple dedicated to Sage Gwalipa

After its establishment many different rulers came , ruled around and over it and became a prominent place for religion and cultural development . 6 BC it was under the control from Patliputra under Naad Kingdom , in first centenary Naag  Dynesty Kushans came and ruled till 3rd AD , it was with Guptas till 467 AD  and then Pratihar Dynesty ruled and made it capital of Kannauj till 740 AD . Kachwahas were the rulers when Mohmmad Gauri invaded and plundered the area around it  but could not succeed to capture the fort in  1195-96 AD ,  It was Shams Ud- Din Iltumish in 1231 AD after one year siege , succeeded and this fort came under the Muslim rulers .

Man Mandir Palace , Fort Gwalior

Tomar Raja Veer Singh became the ruler in 1375 AD and during the Raja Man Singh the present Palace Man Mandir was constructed . It came in the hands of Scindia in 1730 AD and became a Princely state during the British period .

Shalbhanjika

Places to be worth visiting are  Gwalior Fort , Fort Museum , Sahatrabahu temple, Teli Ka ( Telang)  Mandir , Gurudwara Data Bandi Chor , Gujri Mahal and Museum, one must ask the curator to show the Shalbhanjika  10th Centenary a beautiful carved lady in a stone feminine features with smiling face , it is kept in a strong room because of its archaeological importance .

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