In simple words, I can define Chanderi as a one time township with 1200 ponds & temples. It is indeed a hidden gem & promising tourist destination of Madhya Pradesh in Central India, recognized by Bollywood. Most of us don't know about this great historical city thus under-rate this destination and not even well explained to rest of the world. Only after visiting this magnificent place, I can say that Chanderi deserves to be most versatile & popular destination of Central India. Except wildlife, here we can find everything like temples, fort, palaces, handloom work, rural setups, tombs, samadhi, rock-carved work, museums, art galleries, rock-painting, Yogini temple, mosque, hilly terrains. Its location is such that many classic tour plans are possible with Chanderi. It is a tribute to the Malwa sultans & Bundela Rajputs. Chanderi is a town of historical importance in Ashoknagar District of Madhya Pradesh state in India & is located strategically on the borders of Bundelkhand & Malwa its history takes you to the 11th century, when it was dominated by the trade route of Central India. During the period of emperor Akbar, 1200 baolis were counted within Chanderi. There are approximately 375 monuments in Chanderi, It has number of 9th and 10th century Jain temples attracting thousands of Jain pilgrims from all over the country. There are number of Jain temples, statues, caves etc in nearby areas. This indicates towards the fact that in past, this place was the centre of Jain Culture & society. Apart from their historical monuments Chanderi is famous for its hand-woven Chanderi saris as that is really hard to beat as well. On the whole the current population is about 40,000 & more than 50 percent of Chanderi's population is implicated with hand loom cottage industries, making sari, salwar suits, and other dress fabric. Its geographic location is 24.42 N Longitude and 78.11 E Latitude & 360 meters above sea level. It is situated in an extremely healthy climate in the valley of the ancient Betwa river in Madhya Pradesh.
Chanderi history begins with Chaid Kingdom, somewhere around 5000 years back. This kingdom description comes in Hindu epic Mahabharata. King Sishupal was from same Chaid Kingdom and was killed by Lord Krishna. The history of Chanderi has gone through many rulers hand & finally it transferred back to Scindias in Gwalior in 1861 by Hug Rose(1858-1861) & became part of Isagarh District of Gwalior state & in 1947 after Independence Gwalior merged into Madhya Pradesh on November 1, 1956. The history of Chanderi been started when the Ghyasuddin Balban captured the city in 1251 for Nasir ud din Mahmud, Sultan of Delhi. Sultan Mahmud I Khilji incarcerated the city in 1438 as he was the sultan of Malwa . But History of chanderi first settled when Rana sanga of Chittor Establish its capital at chanderi & gave it to Medini Rai the powerful wazir of Mandu, after long ruled by khiljis, Mamluk’s & Tugluk’s in 1519, then in 1540 again the rule gone back to Mughal Emperor Babur & been captured by Sher Shah Suri, after ruling the city for long years Rajput’s of Bundela incarcerated the city in 1586, then the time came when Devi singh in 1680 was made a governor of the city & Chanderi been into the hands of his family until the city invaded by Daulat Rao Scindia of Gwalior, but the vague period got started when British annexed the city in 1844 till 1857 when British lost control over the city.
There are only few places in Madhya Pradesh where you can find large number of monuments at small area or destination and Chanderi is one among such must see tourist destinations. Approximately 375 historic monuments can be seen in Chanderi, but some are very famous & antique. Here we have tried to short-list some of them for readers:
Babur’s Mosque: A place of prayer having Arabic script carving. A shelf of land behind the mosque gives outstanding, though vertiginous views of the town below.
Jauhar Monument: Jauhar is a mass suicide ritual in Hindu religion in which women jumps in to fire for sake of self respect & pride. A place where Rajput families used to commit suicide it’s a place where hindu women commit suicide in throng to avoid being invaded & subsequent harassment by rivals especially by Islamic forces.
Khuni Darwaza: Also known as ‘Blood gate’ a place where rajput met their enemies & slaughtered by them.
Jama & Juma Masjid: It is the largest mosque in Chanderi with a competence for 3400 persons, the mosque is typically use for Friday prayer & for the funeral as well.
Badal Mahal: The gate was built during the supremacy of Mehmood Shah Khilji in 1450 A.D. It is located at the Southern end of the inner city near and facing the Jama Masjid and looking up orders a prominent view of the fort above. Badal mahal gate got recognition nation wide as it is a defining monument in chanderi as well as the the Indian Postal Department issued a cancellation stamp for all posts leaving Chanderi and it bears the icon of the Badal Mahal Gate. Not only this even Madhya Pradesh Government Cottage Industries uses Badal Mahal Gate image on all Sari and dress materials it manages.
Nizamuddin Tombs: There are number of graves set in a walled compound with beautifully carved stones & patterns. Locals of chanderi believed that these tombs belong to 14th century Sufi saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s family but other contends that these belongs to descendants of the 16th century Nizamuddin Ahamad Bakshi a writer of the best historical book named Tarikh-i-Nizami a commander in chief in Mughal Army in Gujarat.
Jain Temple: There are number of jain places nearby as we can say chanderi is most likely the centre of Jain Culture & attracting the devotees of Jainism for at least 900 years & having beautiful sites like: Seronji, Deogarh, Sona giri, Boodi Chanderi etc. The very recent construction is Sri Coubisi Temple it has its own fame & recognition & every year it attracts thousands of pilgrims. The temple also contain a very giant statue of Sri Bahubali & has a large library containing thousand’s of Ancient Religious scripts written on “Leaves”.
Parmeshwar Tank (Raja Shishupal’s tank): A naturally formed pond is now an enclosed pool, the tank is having the white Lakshman Temple on one side & Ochre-coloured sandstone tower of the Durjan Singh Chhatri on the other side. The pond is also known as Kirti Shishupal Pond & Popular as there is a tale tells that this is the pond where King experienced "the miracle of water" which show the way to the founding of Chanderi.
Shahzadi Ka Rouza: Built in 15th century by the Sultans of Malwa, rouza is located at North of chanderi near Parmeshwar lake possibly the most impressive tomb of Chanderi. There is a tale behind the construction of rouza as King Hakim khan had constructed the rouza in memory of his daughter who loved Army-chief but gone against her father’s wish & killed herself after the chief been killed by the king’s hired mans.
Koshak Mahal: It is a tall building of arches & courts & a plaque says it was supposed to be of 7 stories but now 3 & half stories exists. The Architect of this palace has intermingled & integrated the styles of the Malwa Islamic, Indian, Iranian & Afghani Vedic architect forms. Koshak mahal is basically located off the Isagarh Road 4 kms from the Chanderi. It is located just close to Chanderi Museum so we can cover both the attractions while going in this direction. Koshak Mahal in Chanderi remains us of Mandu Hindola Mahal due to similarities in gateway arches as it was developed on order of Mandu ruler.
Khandagiri: These Jain temples were carved out of the rock about seven hundred years ago. There is a Colossal statue of the Tirthankar, the spiritual guide, Mahavira is leading when we embark on flight of steps. There were not only a single statue although more standing & seated images of the Tirthankars have been carved & protected by pillared. At the time of sunset the stone seems to glow of its own & this is the best time to visit these cliff temples.
Kati Ghati Gate: The gate is been used since its construction as the entry gate of Chanderi for visitors & guests from Malwa & Bundelkhand.According to an inscription on this dramatic gorge, the gateway was cut out on the orders of Jiman khan in 1430 during the Ghias Shah, Sultan of Malwa. The passage that leads to the gate is worth examining in some details & as a 15th century defensive structure its really fascinating as well.
Jageshwari Temple: Basically there are no inscription regarding the origin of Sri Jageshwari Temple as some parts of the temple are quite ancient & must be 11th century A.D or even earlier than that. The temple is built against the rock face of a hill like the jain one in Khandagiri. The Jageshwari temple, guarded by the statues of two lions. The idol has a white face with large eyes & seems to have been escalated on a tall dais.
Singpur Mahal: This is now the well kept museum of the Archeological Survey of India. The boar incarnation of Vishnu, at the sculpture of Varaha kept in the garden & at a gracefully executed Ganesh. The galleries inside have slide exhibits of the stone age rock paintings in Madhya Pradesh. This is followed by sketches of various Architectural styles, galleries devoted to Hindu Sculptures from old chanderi & then one playing Buddhist & Jain Sculptures. The Last gallery downstairs has blown up pictures of Mughal Miniatures including one of Babur fighting Ibrahim Lodi in Panipat in 1526; & particularly relevant one of Babur taking chanderi Fort in 1528. Not only this the gallery have different weapons, kitchen utensils etc that is kept in the first floor & also reserved different scripts & sculptures that represents the history of Chanderi in broader terms as well.
Ramnagar Palace: It is a small but nice place to visit in Chanderi. It is covered with Kati Ghati and for reaching Ramnagar palace, we have to pass through Kati Ghati gateway. Further we have to pass through narrow village road, in miserable condition. This palace is now a days act as open air museum, on the bank of pond. Due to lot of trees in its campus, tourists like to sit and spend sometime under shade.
Chanderi lies in Northern part of Madhya Pradesh state. It lies on the border of Malwa & Bundelkhand region. If we visit Chanderi town, we will realize that it is arid region where agricultural practice is poor and local people are engaged in other activities which means this region is arid. This will makes us conclude that here rainfall will be average or below average and effect of summers & winters could be more. Here Summer season prevails from mid of March to June month. May & June months are peak summer time when temperature remains above 40 Deg.Cel. in day time and thus tourism activities remains low. Here Monsoon begins from June end or with beginning of July month and remains active till September month. October & November is a normal time with some humidity factor in day-time. Feel of winters arises from beginning of December month and will be in peak at the end of December till January month. It is the time when we can experience the fog in early morning hours. During winters, temperature reaches to 2-3 Deg.Cel. in early morning & late evening hours.
Being a important tourism region, Madhya Pradesh state is visited by tourist through out the year. Broadly we can divide Madhya Pradesh tourism in 3 parts. Heritage tourism is active in Northern part of state which is more rocky and destinations comes under this region are Gwalior, Shivpuri, Orchha, Khajuraho, Panna, Chanderi, Datia etc. All these destination offers major palaces, forts, temples, cenotaphs of state. Best time to visit this region is from October to April as during this time climate remain pleasant and good.Southern part, south-west region and some of the Northern region of Madhya Pradesh are rich in Wildlife which includes Tigers, Leopards, Sloth Bear, Hard-ground Barasingha, Indian Gaur, Wild Dog (Dholes) and at least more than 250 bird species.
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