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Bateshwar: Temples of Dacoits

“Come to Red Fort to meet me this Sunday”, said Sh. K.K. Muhammed, the then Superintending Archaeologist of Delhi Circle ASI. “Where in Red Fort?”, I asked. He said, “just say my name and guards will direct you.”
Till this point, all I knew was that K.K. Muhammed is just another ASI officer and I wanted to seek his permission for my Delhi Heritage Photography Club’s next event. But when I reached Red Fort to meet him, he turned out to be a legend, a great human being and master of his work. He used to stay in the Chapel inside Red Fort, which was temporarily converted to his residence. While sipping tea, he showed us his collection of photographs from the site of Bateshwar in Morena District (Madhya Pradesh). Please note that this Bateshwar is different from Bateshwar in UP. The UP Bateshwar is on banks of Yamuna River between Fatehabad and Etawah. It is a complex of 101 small Shiva temples, painted white and still in use. The one we are talking about is deep in ravines of Chambal. When Muhammed sir started narrating the story of this restoration, every line gave me Goosebumps. So here’s the secret of Bateshwar of MP…

Site of Bateshwar originally consisted of 200 temples (mostly Lord Shiva) from Gujjar-Pratihar Dynasty. It is located deep in ravines of Chambal and were occupied by Dacoits like Nirbhay Singh Gujjar and Ram Babu Gadariya. The Temple Complex was in very bad shape. Stones were lying all over, mixed with each other. When KK Muhammed was made Superintending Archaeologist of Bhopal circle ASI, he asked for the most challenging archaeological site. His staff pointed to this Bateshwar and suggested him to avoid that path. But he did not listen. Through a mediator, Mr. Muhammed approached the Dacoits and requested them to allow the restoration of these temples. While I can go on and on explaining how things unfolded in this magnificent bollywood-like epic, I think it is better that you hear it directly from Mr. Muhammed:

 

Some clicks from the site…

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Location:

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Tilangani’s 7 Wonders of Delhi

Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah Tilangani, the prime minister of Feroz Shah Tughlaq brought a revolution in the Mosque Architecture of India. His creations were majestic, beautiful and well planned. Last month, I wrote about Jauna Khan, who later became Muhammed Bin Tughlaq and was widely misunderstood. Today I write about another Jauna Khan, whose wonderful contribution is victim of neglect and poor keep.

 

Who was Tilangani

Gannama Nayaka, aka Yugandhar, the commander of Warangal was converted to Islam in 1323 by Muhammad bin Tughlaq (then Shehzada Jauna Khan) and made governor of Multan after the defeat of King Prataparudra of Kakatiya Dynasty. He was given the name “Malik Maqbul”, and soon became Masnad-i-Aali Ulugh Qutlugh Azam-i-Humayun Khan-i-Jahan Maqbul Tilangani. During the region of Feroz Shah Tughlaq, Malik Maqbul was made the Prime Minister and one of the highest paid ministers of Indian history with a salary of 13 lakh Tankas (silver currency of Tughlaq regime) annually and therefore earned the title of ‘Lakhtankia’. Not only this, he also succeeded in saving his office of Prime Minister for his son Jauna Khan (later known as Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, the hero of our story). Maqbool Tilangani named his son after his first master Junan Shah was creative, but a weak commander. He could not lead armies like his father. So he spent more time in constructing beautiful marvels for his architecture loving master Feroz Shah Tughlaq, which changed the way mosques were built in India. Unfortunately, he could not last long and was soon captured and executed in a conflict for succession. But during his tenure, he succeeded in constructing seven architectural wonders on 14th century Delhi. He built 7 mosques, which broke all the rules of mosque architecture known till then and established a new trend, which later spread to the length and breadth of Sultanate Empire.

NOTE: Some historians claim that these mosques (or some of them) were built by Khan-i-Jahan Maqbool Tilangani (Malik Maqbool), whereas the ASI record correctly identify his son Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah Tilangani to be the architect of these buildings.

 

The Seven Mosques of Tilangani

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Khirki Masjid

Khirki Masjid, Delhi Hidden behind a thin row of small shops right opposite the famous shopping malls of Saket, it’s a 288 feet long and 288 feet wide square-shaped Mosque with 11 feet high basement containing 100 cells. It’s 81 domes stand on 22 feet high 180 columns and 60 pilasters and it has 15 Mihrabs (arches on praying wall). There are three huge gates on north, south and east sides. But what’s most important is that this was the first mostly covered mosque of India. It has four openings in the roof to let sunlight come in. The only fully covered mosque built during that time was that in Gulbarga (Karnataka), which was built few years after completion of Khirki Masjid by a Spanish Architect and is smaller in size. In order to ensure proper ventilation, Junan Shah built red sandstone windows instead of walls, from where the mosque got its name “Khirki” (meaning window).

 

Begumpur Masjid

Begumpur Mosque, Delhi Unlike Khirki, Begumpur mosque is single storied and is slightly bigger in size (308’ X 289’). It has total 68 domed compartments and a huge open court. The main Pishtaq (central arch), which is the most prominent feature of the building is flanked by sloping buttresses each containing a winding staircase leading to the roof. There is an attached Mallu Khana, which is an independent mosque for ladies and also has a Taikhana. Mallu khana is accessible from a very small opening in North wall, where you have to kneel to get through. I have not seen or heard of any mosque from that era, which contains such a huge and beautifully decorated mosque for women, attached to the main mosque. Mallu Khana is approx 1/4th of the size of Begumpur Masjid and has beautiful Mehrabs and Windows. An entire village was settled in this Mosque at one time. British forced the villagers out, and who established their small houses along the walls of this mosque, but within the Lal Dora.

 

Jami Masjid

Jami Masjid, DelhiJami Masjid of Kotla Feroz Shah is a combination of both Begumpur and Khirki Masjid. Its uniqueness is the material used, which is local quartzite rubble, externally rendered with limestone, originally of a dazzling whiteness and giving the effect of marble. It contains a huge open courtyard with thick walls with open arches. Lower level of Mosque contains Taikhana with a series of cells, which are now habitat of bats and are illuminated with earthen lamps and incense sticks as locals believe this place to be the abode of Djinns. A very huge circular pit covers most of the courtyard of mosque, which is assumed to be a well (unlikely for any mosque to mark such huge space for ablution zone or wazoo-khana right in the middle of the courtyard). There was a unique octagonal dome over this well supported by 260 pillars of 25 feet in height. Documents suggest that these pillars were removed and used while constructing towers in the wall of Shahjahanabad. Amir Taimur lung (Tamerlane) was so impressed with this grand mosque of Delhi, that after offering his prayers here, he took 200 craftsmen from India to build a similar mosque for him in Samarqand. Few of them were rewarded for their service but many were beheaded for negligence after completion of mosque. This mosque today stands proudly as Bibi Khanum Mosque of Samarkand,Uzbekistan.

 

Masjid Kalu Sarai

KaluSarai This is another marvel by Junan Shah, but now in ruins. It fell into the hands of locals and in last 2 centuries, pieces of the mosque have been falling down. Only few arches are left and original size or design of this mosque is no longer known. Some historic travellers mention of this mosque as a magnificent piece of architecture. The main building is now consumed by row houses and while walking down the tight lanes, one can see remains of arches and walls. However,  it is assumed that the portion shown in this picture was the original area of mosque.

 

 

Kalan Masjid

Kalan-Masjid-Turkman This is the huge active mosque near Turkman Gate of Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi). It is a double storied mosque with double-apartments in the basement, which are till date used by locals. This is an active mosque and so badly surrounded by row houses, that the original façade of Mosque is totally hidden. As you can see from this picture, it is half covered and has domes all over it. the green circle on the eastern wall is actually the green dome of projected entrance, which is reached through a flight of stairs. From inside, the mosque is now beautifully plastered and coloured, while the floor is decorated with marble slabs. The exterior however is white washed and thankfully, the mosque management committee is taking good care of the place.

 

Kali Masjid

Kalan-Masjid-Nizamuddin This mosque from Nizamuddin Basti is an architectural replica of Kalan Masjid of Turkman Gate from outside. From inside, the difference both mosques have is in the partition of courtyard. Turkman Gate Kalan Masjid has half of the courtyard covered, whereas this one has a cross section (as appears in image on left) and has multiple domes over it. The lower right corner (South East) is now covered, which is a modern repair work. Its original name is also Kalan Masjid (huge mosque), but with time, the name got corrupted to Kali Masjid (black mosque). This mosque has multiple entrances and numerous domes but most of them have been repaired beyond recognition by local caretakers. When I went there last, I saw piles of building material as some repair work was going on. Most of the domes of this mosque have collapsed and caretakers have constructed plain roof in place of broken sections.

 

Masjid Waqya

Waqya Also known as Chausath-khamba Masjid (Mosque of 64 pillars), this mosque is situated on Mirdard Marg near the Maulana Azad Medical College. Its 64 pillars are made of White Sandstone and supports a huge roof over its 64 pillars. This is an active mosque and rarely known to the outside world. As far as size is concerned, this is a much smaller mosque (as compared to other 6 mosques of Tilangani). However, nowhere else he built a proper Chausath-Khamba before this.

 

It is pity that this marvellous architect was brutally murdered and the revolution he brought to Indo-Islamic architecture had a major setback.

– Vikramjit Singh Rooprai

The Moti Masjids of Delhi

When we say Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), the first image that comes to our mind is the small box-shaped mosque inside the Red Fort, which we never get to see from inside. But fact is that the last Mughal Emperors built another Moti Masjid in Mehrauli. These mosques were built as the private chapel of the emperor and his family. You will find Moti Masjids in almost all Mughal Palaces This article is about these two beautiful marble pieces of history from Delhi.

Moti Masjid of Qila-i-Mubarak (Red Fort)

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The Moti Masjid of Red Fort was built by Aurangzeb. He did not miss his prayers and the Jama Masjid (merely 600 mts. from Badshahi Gate of Red Fort) was probably too far for him. So he commissioned his own private mosque and decorated it with nice white marble. Originally this mosque had golden domes but they were severely damaged during the mutiny of 1857. This mosque was built at a cost of 160,000 in 1659 AD. It is situated to the west of Hammam. The female of harem were also allowed to attend prayers in it. The main entrance on eastern side has a small door with decorated copper plates nailed to it. There was originally a door in the northern wall for women, but during the repairs after 1857, it was closed. Archaeologists at that time were not able to restore the original domes with their Copper plates, but did good work restoring the Pietra Dura (embossed artwork on walls).  It also has a small ablution pond (wuzu-khana) in the centre of courtyard.

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Moti Masjid of Zafar Mahal, Mehrauli

Mehrauli The Moti Masjid of Zafar Mahal in Mehrauli is not as beautiful or as big as the mosque of Red Fort. But it serves the same purpose of offering a place to offer prayers to the royal family. It has similar three dome structure and have marble patterns on Mussallas(Praying Mat) on floor. There is hardly any embossed artwork (Except for flowers near the keystone of arch and some floral patterns near ground). Mehrauli-1The only beautiful thing about this mosque is that it is to the immediate west of the Dargah of  Hazrat Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (ra). A small wall separates the courtyard of Mosque and the Dargah. This mosque was built around 1707 by one of the last Mughal Emperors. Only one minaret of this mosque survives in shattered state, and which is now supported by external scaffoldings to avoid its collapse.

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The dome with stairs in this picture is of the Dargah Sharif and the triple marble domes are of the Moti Masjid. This pic shows the distance between the Mosque and the Dargah. On the lower right corner of picture, we can see the sardgah, the enclosure containing graves of Emperor Akbar Shah II and the empty slot, where Bahadur Shah Zafar wanted to be buried. One door of the mosque opens inside the Dargah complex, and is usually kept locked. This palace (Zafar Mahal) was built adjoining Dargah of Hazrat Kaki, when Akbar Shah II started the famous Sair-e-Gulfarosha’N (Phoolwalo’N ki sair) festival of Delhi. Royal family along with other nobles from Red Fort used to stay in this palace during the 7 days of festivities.

Today, these mosques lie ignored and silent.

Jamali Kamali Mosque and Mausoleum, Mehrauli – 1528 AD

This monument is present at

Mehrauli Archeological Park

and this article is part or my expedition

Didar-e-Dilli

 

Jamali-Kamali-Mosque

In 1536, a renowned Sufi Saint, Shaikh Hamid bin Fazlu’llah a.k.a. Shaikh Jamal-uddin Kamboh Dehlwi a.k.a. Jalal Khan a.k.a. Dervesh Jamali was buried near a mosque designed by him in 1528. The mosque, and the adjacent tomb are now popular by name “Jamali-Kamali”. Not much is know about Kamali , except that he was the best friend of Jamali. 

 

Shaikh Jamali Kamboh

Jamali-Kamali-Graves

Shaikh Jamali was a prominent sunni sufi statue of suhrawardiyya sect during the Lodhi and Mughal era. He was the tutor of Emperor Sikandar Lodhi. Due to his Persian work, he was also called Khusrau-e-Saani (Equal to Khusrao). His prominent works are Siyar-i-Arifin (account of Chisti and suhrawardiyya sufis of period), Masnawi, Mihr wa Mahi Shaikh and a Diwan of verses. Shaikh Jamali died 1536 AD while accompanying Mughal emperor Humayun to Gujarat. He was then burried in a tomb next to his mosque. Later, his best friend Kamali was also burried there. If you look at the graves closely, you will find that Jamali’s grave takes up the central area, and kamali’s grave was somehow adjusted in remaining space on right side later, blocking the passage.

 

The Mosque

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The mosque was built in 1528. It is said to be designed by Shaikh Jamali himself. The main entry is always closed. But there is an attendant, who upon request opens it for viewing. The side entry is permanently closed. When we first went there, we found few kids playing cricket in the backyard.

 

Jamali-Kamali-Mosque-Outside

Mosque contains a water pit  just near the entrance in large open area. Main building is made with red stone. The central of five arches is having a dome and this mosque is known to be the first of such mosque structures in India. Mihrabs decorate the west facing prayer wall, which also has koranic inscriptions. The second storey of mosque is locked for public access. But there are small stairs leading to vents in four octagonal towers.

 

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The Mausoleum

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The tomb of Jamali and Kamali is accessible through a small gate from mosque. There is another entry to the porch from north-east corner, but it is also sealed.  Towards north west corner, is the enclosed tomb with very nice engraving and beautifully decorated walls in blue and red color. There are koranic inscriptions everywhere. Jamali’s grave takes the center part, and as I said earlier, Kamali’s grave is adjusted on the right side blocking the path. It looks like he was burried much later to the famous poet. There is a very huge porch enclosed with wall containing windows. There is another wall dividing the porch into a proportion of 80-20. This 20% area again has few graves. There are several other unknown graves in the main porch, one of which is even covered with a pavilion.

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How to Reach

IMG_5485When you enter Mehrauli Archeological Park, you will find such pillars everywhere. Just follow your way towards the ‘Jamali-Kamali Mosque’. 

 

If you are coming from Gurgaon on MG Road (Aurobindo Marg), towards Qutub Minar, as you cross the road towards Jain Dada Badi (don’t turn on it), you will find a small entrance to some park with a standard board outside (like it is outside all other parks in Delhi telling do’s and dont’s for a park). Take your vehicle inside, and you can find parking next to Jamali Kamali.

Hazrat Kaki’s Dargah

 

www.monumentsofdelhi.com

Dargah-Hz-Bakhtiar-Kaki-(3)

HAZRAT KHWAJA QUTBUDDIN BAKHTIYAR KAKI, r.a., born in 1173 was an Islamic Dervish (Sufi Mystic) following Chisti Order of Sufism. He was born in Aush in Transoxiana (A region in central Asia corresponding approximately with modern-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and southwest Kazakhstan) and left his body on 27-11-1235 in Mehrauli, Delhi (INDIA), where he is buried.

Hazrat Sahab was disciple and spiritual successor of Gharib Nawaz Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti (r.a.), one of the most famous sufi saints of world. Further, his most famous disciple and spiritual successor was Baba Farid, who in turn became the spiritual master of Delhi’s noted Sufi saint, Nizamuddin Auliya, who himself was the Master of Amir Khusro and Nasiruddin Chirag-e-Delhi. His name was Bakhtiyar and titles were Qutub-Ul-Aqtab (Chief of the great saints) and the Qutub-ul-Islam (Chief of Islam).

According to his biography mentioned in, Ain-i-Akbari , written by Akbar’s vizier, Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, he was the son of Kamalu’ddin Musa, whom he lost at a young age, and came from Ush, a small town in Farghana (present Fergana Province in eastern Uzbekistan, part of historic Transoxania). The name Kaki was attributed to him by virtue of a keramat(miracle) that emanated from him at a later stage of his life in Delhi . He also belonged to the direct lineage of the Prophet Muhammad, descending from Hussain ibn Ali. Khawaja Bakhtiyar Khaki was one and half years old when his father died . His mother arranged for his education.

About the place

Few clicks from the place…

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After we took these photos, some noble person from the shrine told us that photos should not be taken at this sacred place. So we stopped with further photography, and uploading only what we clicked.

We went straight from Qutub Minar, and passed small congested streets of Mehrauli. Though the main entrance of Dargah is on other side, we reached the back side of Dargah, which is also known as the Ajmeri Side or the Ajmeri Gate. It is adjacent to Zafar Mahal, built by Akbar Shah II. Also, next to the shrine is Moti Masjid, the private mosque of royal family residing in Zafar Mahal. There are several other graves adjacent to Dargah, including that of Akbar II.

Moti Masjid and other Tombs

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(left) Tomb of Bahadur Shah I near Moti Masjid, next to Dargah

(right) Other graves in the premise including Akbar Shah II, Shah Alam II and Mirza Fakruddin (son of Bahadur Shah Zafar II), with Moti Masjid in background. The gumbad of Hazrat Kaki’s Dargah is also visible (with ladder)

Dargah-and-Moti-Masjid-from-Zafar-Mahal

Moti Masjid (three Gumbads) and Hazrat Kaki’s Dargah (bigger gumbad) is visible from Zafar Mahal with Qutub Minar at Distance (between both). On right side, below that pillar (under renovation), lies the grave of Bahadur Shah I (in marble enclosure) and Bahadur Shah II (outside enclosure). Ruins of walls of Zafar Mahal are also visible.

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Moti Masjid, next to Zafar Mahal, and Hazrat Bakhtiyar Kakai’s Dargah

Phoolwalon-ki-sair Festival

The Dargah shrine of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki has also been the venue of the annual Phoolwalon-ki-sair Festival (Festival of flower-sellers) in autumn, which has now become an important inter-faith festivals of Delhi .

The festival has its origins in 1812, when Queen Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Mughal Emperor Akbar Shah II (r. 1806-1837) made a vow to offer a chadar and flower pankha at the Dargah and a pankha at the Yogmaya Mandir, also at Mehrauli, if her son Mirza Jehangir, who after inviting the wrath of Sir Archibald Seton, the then British Resident of the Red Fort, was exiled to Allahabad, returned safely. And as the legend goes he did, and so began the tradition henceforth .

Incidentally, Akbar Shah II is now buried in nearby a marble enclosure, along with other Mughals, Bahadur Shah I (also known as Shah Alam I) and Shah Alam II [1]. An empty grave also known as Sardgah of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, can also be found here, as he had willed to be buried next the famous shrine, as did his previous Mughal predecessors, though unfortunately after his exile to Rangoon in Burma, he never returned and died there, talks of bringing back his remains here have been raised in the past, from time to time .

How to reach…

Go straight from Qutub Minar towards Mehrauli Market, crossing Mehrauli Bus Stand. That straight road leads to Hazrat Kaki’s Dargah.

Map

More stuff coming up…

Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh

I have seen many forts including the Forts of Delhi, Kangra, Agra, Hyderabad and Siliserh (Alwar). But this one in Gwalior almost took my breath. In my entire life, only two forts have made me hold my breath and praise silently. These are Forts of Gwalior and Golconda (Hyderabad).

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Gwalior_Fort_StairsI went to Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh – India) in 2004 or 2005. We were 5 guys, on a college trip, there to participate in a National Level College Fest. We got time and thought it might be a good idea to check out the famous Gwalior fort. We took a taxi, and he took us to the gates of fort. The taxi driver asked if we want a tour guide. We said no. We entered the gate and found ourselves at the bottom of thousands of meter long steep and tight road. On both sides of this road, were very high walls, fro m where any you can attack any enemy, without being hurt. Anyway, we started marching and continued to do so for nearly 1/2 hour. All we could see were huge walls of fort on both sides but the path was not ending.

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Finally we reached another huge gate, which was having very nice blue paintings all over it. There was a big pit near the gate and a wooden plank was kept to cross it. When we entered that gate, we found a huge compound and on our right side, was standing the mighty fort with blue painting all over it. (see first picture of this post).

GurudwaraBandiChhod We were now so tired, that all we wanted was a place to rest. Then suddenly my attention went to the White Building on my left. Oh great, it was Gurudwara Bandi Chhor. This place has a very inspiring history. In 1619 AD, Sixth Guru of Sikhs were taken prisoner by the king of Gwalior. But soon, the king was so impressed by his talks, that he decided to release him. But Gurujee refused. He said, that there are 52 other kings of neighboring states, who are imprisoned in this fort. Release everyone. The King of Gwalior said, I will not release others. But, those who can hold the onto your gown (Chowla), can go. Then gurujee immediately ordered his sikhs to prepare him a huge gown. Once it was ready, Guru wore it and all 52 kings got space to hold the gown. This was the day of Diwali. From that very day, Every sikh celebrated Diwali as “Bandi Chhor Divas” (Day of liberation/freedom of Prisoners).

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So we reached this nice gurudwara and sat inside the hall for nearly 15-20 mins. When we were back to normal, we proceeded to have Lungar at gurudwara. It was truly refreshing.

GurudwaraBandiChhod_Palki

Then we moved to see the actual fort. Some guy near entrance asked us if we wanted a tour guide. We refused! When we were entering the fort, The gatekeeper asked us where is our tour guide, and we said we don’t need any. But by this time, we started thinking what is so special about tour guides. Anyway, we entered the fort. There was this nice big porch and stairs going down. We went downstairs and found another staircase to reach the second level of basement. We kept on finding stairs and kept on going down till we reached 4th level. The Gwalior fort has 6-7 levels of basement. Now we were standing in the Prison Room. A very foul smell was coming. It was total dark and we were lost. We tried every gate and window. But every time, we ended up in reaching same prison room. There were small holes in roof and floor. We could see other basement levels. But we were not able to go there. Bats were flying on our head and they were scaring us like anything. Then we heard a tourist group and ran towards them. Their tourist guide was explaining about the fort and told that it is designed in such a way that prisoners can never get out of this level. Levels below this are even ferocious and dangerous. We just walked behind this tour group, came out and ran out of the fort. We didn’t even bothered to see the rest of Fort. We just reached the exit, took a taxi, headed for railway station, and took a train to Agra.

Gwalior_Fort_Foot MyFriends

But I must say…

Hats off to Architects of Gwalior Fort.

McLeodganj, Dharamshala (Kangra-Himachal)

TibetFlag McLeodganj, named after David McLeod, teh governor general of Punjab (British-India), is house of the exiled Tibetan Government and is blessed by the presence of H.H. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama (See my post on Dalai Lama’s Residence). This place is also sometimes called Little Lhasa.

This place is so peaceful and energizing, that you will never feel like leaving it. There are lot of Tibetans and Europeans (mostly Israelis) in here. Nearby Villages are populated with Europeans. I have heard that there are villages nearby McLeodganj, where lot of Drugs and illegal stuff is available. I don’t know if it is true or a rumor.

McLeodganj_Street1

I like this place so much that I have been there so many times. Luckily, my father designed couple of shops and restaurants at this place. This helped me make dozens of trips to McLeodganj in past 5-6 years.

It is situated near Dharamshala. Infact, sometimes, it is also called Upper Dharamshala. There is a small road, from where, McLeodganj is only 2 Km from main Dharamshala market. This road is very steep and reaches the Dalai Lama Temple. The other way is lot Stjohnswildernesslonger, but safer. This road reaches the other end of McLeodganj.

But this route, the longer one, is much better as you get a chance to see more scenic views. A very nice place on way is the St. John’s Church. This church, located in Forsythganj, popularly called Church of St. John in the Wilderness, is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, a British viceroy of India (19th Century).

This church is in a really peaceful place hidden under trees. Its view from road is so magical that you can’t resist visiting it.

McLeodganj_Street2The main street of McLeodganj is crowded and loaded with Tibetan shops. You will find Monkalmost every Tibetan handicraft item and Tibetan/Buddhist souvenirs. Besides, everywhere you will see people in traditional maroon dress of Buddhists everywhere.

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McLeodganj_Street4One must visit this place for peace of mind. There are lot other places to visit nearby. If you read this blog, you will find that most of my posts are from Dharamshala, and McLeodganj.

Do check out…

Murthal, Sonepat (Haryana)

I went to this nice peaceful place near Murthal in Sonepat, Haryana. This is a nice “Ashram” slightly inside the National Highway 1 (GT Road). The greenery and peacefulness of this place simply cast its spell on me. Here are some pictures of same…

Lawn_2 Pathway_3 Complex Pathway_1 Hall ResidentialBlock Lawn BuddhaStatue Pathway_2 Pathway_4

Dalai Lama Temple, McLeodganj

HH_DalaiLamaIt was my pleasure, that I got a chance to visit His Holiness Dalai Lama’s temple at McLeodganj. I have been to Dharamshal and McLeodganj many times. But I went to temple only twice. I hope to see His Holiness some day as well.

When I went there in 2007 with my friend Vinay, we decided to stop for a cup of coffee outside the temple. When we finished our coffee, we saw hundreds of  Buddhist monks coming out of the temple. We felt so sorry because we had missed a chance to see the ceremony and wasted 30 minutes. We could have probably seen Dalai Lama as well.

Here are some pictures from that mighty place…

BuddhaStatue DalaiLamaTemple_Hall DalaiLamaTemple_Interior DalaiLamaTemple_2

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TibetianMeuseum

There is this nice museum outside the temple. This museum contains many artifacts and literature from Tibet. The walls of this museum are covered with banners telling the sad story of how China attacked on Tibet and conquered the land.

Tibet was having very small force. These peace loving people were forced to fight against huge army of china. Then the Tibetan government, including Dalai Lama, were forced to leave their homeland. Indian government then gave them place in Dharamshala, and today, this place is as peaceful as heaven.

A Must Visit Place…

Ekasham Shailkritya Mandir Samooh, Masroor

Ekasham Shailkritya Mandir Samooh, or the Rock Cut Temples of Masroor, Kangra are one of the most magnificent temples I ever visited. It is an outstanding example of monolithic temples in Himalyan region. The entire complex comprises of more than 15 temple shikhars and a large water pond. The beauty of this place is that everything here has been craved out of sand stone rocks. There was a huge hill, and people of 8th or 9th Century, beautifully carved that hill into a series of temples.

Masroor-Temple

Unfortunately, this entire complex was destroyed in a very major earthquake, that almost devastated entire Kangra valley in 1905. Archeological Survey of India has tried its best to save this place. In 1914, this place was declared as a national monument.

Masroor-Temple-back

You can find debris of this majestic Temple all around the complex. One can image, how beautiful this place might be around 1200 years ago, when people were not advance enough to work on such huge projects. This could have been the wonder of that time.

It is a real sad thing to see this nice place destroyed due to earthquake .

Masroor-Temple-Thakurdwara In the center of the complex, stands the principal and the most elaborately carved shrine, the thakurdwara, enshrining the black stone image of lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, facing east. I must mention that at this place, I saw the largest lizard in my life. I first thought it to be a small Comodo Dragon, but later realized that it is just a large himalyan species from lizard family.

Masroor-Inside_Temple

This place is few Km away from the main Kangra City. It lies in a village called Masroor. It took us around 2-3 hours to reach there from McLeodganj (Dharamshala) by car. We passed the Main Kangra Bus Stop and Kangra Airport on way to this place.

Masroor-Temple-Climb Masroor-Temple-inside Masroor-Temple-side

Masroor-Temple-History

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