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2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Indore - The city of the Holkars




Indore is the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh, known for its textile industry. For us, it was simply the station nearest to Omkareshwar, from where we could board our train to Bombay. Considering its importance as an industrial city, we expected to find accommodation easily, and it was a great surprise to us that MP tourism did not have a single hotel here! The only hotels available via online or phone booking seemed terribly expensive (about 2500- 3000 per room), so we decided not to pre-book a room, but land there and search for one within our budget. Like most places in India, an auto wallah took us to various hotels until we found Hotel Mayur, which was conveniently located ( 5 minutes drive from the station), clean, and well within our budget (Rs. 650/- for a family room, air-cooled, with 4 beds!).  Though there was no restaurant, they had a kitchen from where we could order food for room service. The food was great, though a little spicy by our standards.

I had a list of places to visit at Indore – temples and palaces, of course. We pondered about hiring a car or doing the rounds in an auto, but finally, it was the hotel manager who offered the best suggestion – hiring a cab! Indore has call taxis, Metro Taxis, which have sightseeing packages. A half-day package consists of 5 hours of travel in and around the city, and costs Rs.500/-. A full day tour costs Rs.800/-. They even have special packages for Omkareshwar, Ujjain, Mandu and Maheshwar. This, we found, was the most cost-effective way of exploring the city. You can hire a Metro Taxi by calling up their Call Centre at (0731) 4288888. For more details about the service, click here.  .

Indore, at one time, was the capital of the Holkars, and there are plenty of temples and places of historical interest. We, however, were tired after the Omkareshwar Parikrama, and decided to visit just a few of these.

Kaanch Mandir

A Jain temple known for its intricate glass inlay work (as its name suggests), the Kaanch Mandir is right in the centre of the city, in the middle of one of the busiest cloth markets of the area. I was looking forward to seeing this beautiful temple, but since it was the Diwali week, some prayers were on, and non-Jains were not allowed inside the temple till the prayers were completed. We left, planning to look in later, but by the time we were through, we were too tired to visit the temple again, and decided to save it for another trip!

The gatekeeper told us that cameras were not allowed inside since it was a place of worship, but when I requested him, he allowed me to take a photo from the road, so here is a glimpse of the beautiful temple for all of you…..





Khajrana Ganesh Mandir






One of the most popular temples in Indore, this temple is credited to Ahilya Bai Holkar, though it is believed that it is located at the site of another, ancient temple.




The temple is beautifully decorated, and crowded at most times of the day. The temple complex is huge, with shrines for every imaginable deity, from Ganesha (the main deity here) to Sai Baba of Shirdi (one of the newest additions to the temple).




Bijasen Tekdi



Located on a small hillock, the Bijasen Mata Mandir on Bijasen Tekdi is a shrine dedicated to the nine forms of the Devi – Nava Durga.




There is a small pond opposite the temple, and the place is a popular picnic spot.




An erstwhile guest house of the Holkars is now a Border Security Weapons Museum, and that too was closed when we visited.




Bada Ganpati Mandir

Built in 1875 by a resident of Indore as the result of a dream, the Bada Ganpati temple houses the tallest Ganesha idol in India (and probably the world!). the 25 feet tall Ganesha is made of some interesting ingredients: bricks, lime stone, a mixture of Gud (jaggery), methi seeds, soil collected from the seven Moksha puris: Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya (Haridwar), Kashi, Kanchi (Kanchipuram), Avantika (Ujjain), and Dwaraka, mud from stables of horse, elephant and cow, the powder of Pancharatna : heera (diamond), panna (emerald), moti (pearl), manek (ruby) and pukhraj(topaz), and the holy water from all major places of pilgrimage. The metallic frame is of gold, silver, copper, brass and iron.





Annapoorna Mandir




Inspired by the Meenakshi temple of Madurai, the Annapurna temple is built by the Annapurna math with a South Indian style gopuram.




4 elephants support the main doorway, and inside the temple are shrines to other deities, as well as plaster reliefs depicting mythological stories.





Holkar Palace

The Lalbagh Palace of the Holkars on the banks of the Khan River is spread over 71 acres of land. Built by Tukoji Rao I and later by Shivaji Rao and then expanded by Tukoji Rao II, the palace has been converted into a museum depicting the way of life of the Holkars.




From bedrooms to ball rooms, different dining rooms for Indian and western guests, studies and libraries, the rooms have all been furnished in their own distinctive style, and efforts have been made to give the visitor a glimpse of the royal life. However, the condition of the furniture in some of the rooms is pitiable, considering the grandeur of the palace. Photographs were not allowed inside, so here are a few glimpses of the sprawling acres…


















Indore Central Museum




Our final stop was at the central museum, where we expected to quickly go through the collection and rush back to our room for some much needed rest. The museum turned out to be a pleasant surprise, and we spent quite a while there, clicking pictures left right and centre! Paisa vasool for the Rs.25/- I paid as Camera fees!




Inside the museum are the usual exhibits of prehistoric men, dinosaurs, fossils, etc. The only thing that caught Samhith’s attention was the display of ancient weapons, especially bows and arrows.  I found the exhibits very interesting, especially since I had no idea that Madhya Pradesh, especially Indore had so many areas of archaeological interest.







The best part of the museum, however, was its wonderful collection of sculptures found at Hinglajgarh in Mandsaur. The beauty of the sculptures is absolutely astounding, and the sight of broken arms and legs and chipped off faces in some cases actually brought tears to my eyes….. What a pity that we have such wonderful treasures, but we can’t protect them and care for them!!!!








By the time we were through with the museum, we were just too tired to go anywhere else, and headed straight home to get some rest before boarding the train in the afternoon. There are more places to visit, especially the Rajwada, another palace of the Holkars, as well as the Chattris, the royal tombs, both of which deserve another trip!!



Comments

  1. The flowers that you have posted, I have the tree in front of my house too.

    Indore seems to have so many temples!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Rs650 a family room is dirt cheap. None of the metropolis u can really find Government accommodation. Economic logic suggests that government intervenes if only it has to develop a place.

    It was rather saddening to see such archeological treasures in this state, especially the Guest house..Maybe we Indians don't really have any sense of history.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @ Mridula : Hey, thats nice! do you know their name???

    yes, there are so many temples in Indore... in fact, many more that we didnt visit.. On our return journey, we met a tamil couple from Indore who told us about many more temples.....

    guess you will find temples no matter where you go......we have a penchant for setting up places of worship more than any other religion!!!!

    @ Tarun : yes, Tarun, it was dirt cheap, which is why we were worried about the state of the room. But it was surprisingly clean and big! only the toilets were old fashioned, but clean,thankfully!!!

    My hubby says that most commercial areas would be like this... those who travel on company business would be compensated by the company for the hotel room.. others have to make do with other accomodation. There wouldnt be many tourists, so the tourism dept wont bother about it!

    Yes, we Indians have no sense of history...I recently read a book where the author described having to try and distinguish between hsitory and mythology, and how Indian history was only written by the British... When you travel to differnet parts of India, this becomes more and more obvious....

    ReplyDelete
  4. So I must look forward to your another trip there :)

    Very nice post!

    Long-tailed Shrike

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for posting pictures and information on where to go in Indore for sightseeing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for posting pictures and information on where to go in Indore. Its a place I am looking forward to visiting.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Tarun & Anu
    If on budget trip to Indore, one can opt for the Trust maintained Dharamshala's. They provide you with basic needed amenities at a very cheap cost and also they are well maintained.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for sharing this amazing and beautiful pictures. I really like your informative blog.

    ReplyDelete

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