Sunday, December 2, 2012

Madhya Pradesh Tour - Day 2 (Bhimbetka, Bhojpur and Bhopal)

Day 2 (17th Nov 2012)
          Our hotel (Hotel Kamal Regency) booked a vehicle for us at our request at a cost of INR 2250 (minimum 250 kms for INR 9). The other option is hiring a smaller vehicle for 80 kms or INR 900). We opted for the former since our family size was bigger and we had a lot to cover today. So we drove.....
Bhimbetka


Paintings at the rock shelters at Bhimbetka

Stand.
Close your eyes.
Imagine!
Survival is more important than shame.
You are in the era of the Hunters and Gatherers.
Shaggy hair, naked bodies, strongly built limbs
Sharpened spears and primitive bows with poisoned arrows.
A wild elephant is cornered somewhere with spears and stones being hurled.
Somewhere else the hunters watch with watchful eyes the movement of the alert deer, hidden behind the grass, the bark of the trees a perfect camouflage for their dark skin.
Sparks from rocks struck with force kindle the grass and the gathered dry sticks, a fire emerges, and the animal is hung to be brought down and torn and eaten later. No salt. No spices.
One of them is more than a hunter. There is no canvas. So the vignettes are made on the rock surface where their habitation lies. He knows not how to say the story. So he sketches beating the rock surface. He delineates his expedition, his friends, the animal they were chasing in the morning, the sun, the moon, things he doesn’t understand, things he does, their dance around the fire on a moonlit night, his kid who follows him everywhere. He can’t sing, there are no words, so he hymns for the God he doesn’t know, he feels, it makes him feel happy though he doesn’t know what happy is!

          Open your eyes. A huge rock stands in front of you and your expression is….F***, S*** (depending on the good words you generally use).
Bhimbetka, about 40 kms from Bhopal, is an archaeological World Heritage Site and is an unintended assemblage of huge rocks of different shapes and forms. It is beautiful!! Some of the Stone Age rock paintings are approximately 30,000 years old (Paleolithic Age). As you walk from one rock form to another, your eyes are mesmerized and you are happily awed by the magnificence of nature.

          This place is beautifully maintained with placards everywhere describing each rock. The tiled path is a delight and your camera goes click, click, click as you and your family pose against the rocks. Caved formed by rocks, with the sun rays flowing like a river through some of the naturally formed depressions or holes make you wish you had a cup of tea in your hands and that favorite novel of yours. This is an ideal place to play hide and seek. Huge ficus trees penetrating the rocks like an arrow shot from above. Some of the trees invading the rocks look like snakes enjoying their slumber.

          Bhimbetka is a part of the Ratapani wild life sanctuary and one of the placards at the farthest structures mentions that wild animals and the most venomous snakes are found here. But then there is no need to be afraid, once you have lived with your wife!
          There are rock paintings of a bygone era, hunting expeditions sketched out in detail, somebody’s family, some dancing and animals painted out with a delight which time has not been able to erase. Thanks to the Government and the Archaeological department for preserving this. At the farther end is a rock formed like a turtle – it actually looks like one. If I had more days to spare on my itinerary, I would definitely have visited this place again, just to sit and enjoy the peace, the solitude. The rock paintings are from different periods or eras.
          You will enjoy every bit of your walk here. My nephew couldn’t stop running and jumping around and leading the way! He just loved it and so will you. This is one of the best places in MP and is a must visit!

Tourist Pointers
  • Getting there: Bhimbetka is around 40 kms from Bhopal. You need to hire a private vehicle if you don’t have one since there are no buses or trains to the site. Since Bhimbetka is part of a sanctuary, tourists have to pay INR 10 each and INR 50 for vehicles.
  • You can avail of a guide at the entrance of the rock shelters.
  • While driving towards Bhimbetka, on the left you see similar rock structures like you see at the site. Keep looking!
  • Spare 2-3 hours for a worthy tour of the rocks.
  • Roti (Eating Options): Didn’t see any eateries on the way except a hotel/lodge at the entrance to the sanctuary where you pay for the tickets.
  • Kapda (What to wear): Suits for men and zari bordered sarees for women…just joking pal!!
  • Makaan (Staying Options): Saw a lodge at the entrance to the sanctuary, else you are better of staying at Bhopal or Habibganj.
  • Around and Nearby: Start early! For the days tour, you can club Bhimetka with a visit to the temples of Bhojpur and some site seeing of the city of Bhopal.
Some History
          The name Bhimbetka is associated with Bhima, a hero-deity renowned for his immense strength, from the epic Mahabharata. The word Bhimbetka is said to derive from Bhimbaithka, meaning "sitting place of Bhima. Read more on the type of paintings and it's descriptions on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhimbetka_rock_shelters

Bhojpur

 
          Bhojpur is a just few kms (around 10) away from Bhimbetka and on the way to Bhimbetka from Bhopal. This is a temple you would not want to miss.
Unfinished stories have a deeper story to tell and this is an unfinished temple dedicated to the Lord of Lords, Lord Shiva. It is the biggest and broadest Shivling I have ever seen. Raja Bhoj, after whom the city is named, had taken up the task of building this structure. And what a commendable job his artisans have done. Just look at the dome and you will get a glimpse of the wonder that artisans of yesteryear's were capable of – surpassing excellence! Yakshas floating in the air, carrying structures, Kirtimukha carved outside the temple mocking you out of the momentary piety you have come with.
                   
          Our driver told us that the whole temple was built in a day. Visiting the complex, I seriously doubted that. But the real story came when I asked the panditji. Legend is that Raja Bhoj started building this beautiful temple. However, the Mughals raided the Somnath temple in Gujarat and Raja Bhoj turned his attention there and started building that temple. Before he could complete this work of art and devotion, he was no more and the temple remained unfinished.
         
          It is a huge complex and there are parks around it. There are small shops outside the complex selling souvenirs like Shivlings, photos of the temple, other deity statues, some toys and other memorabilia to remind you were here.

Van Vihar
         
          By the time we had our lunch and were back in the city of Bhopal, it was already around 5 pm. So the Manav Sangrahalay was cancelled and we headed to the Van Vihar. This was a day of pleasant surprises and even though the national park was to close down in another 30 minutes, we got enough to feed and savour our eyes. This is unlike the zoos I have seen till now. Herds of deer loitering a few metres ahead, a crocodile with its unbrushed, uneven, ugly teeth lying like a dead rock as geese take off and land near it oblivious of the lurking danger.
Cacophony of huge black birds returning to their nests in the trees, wild boars, black bucks, antelopes, sambars and chinkaras lingering freely in the open brings on the excitement as you keep walking.
          We didn’t have much time, so ventured in our vehicle and saw a caged leopard, hyena, black bear, turtles, and some other animals. We missed the lion and the tiger in the land of Mowgli.
          As we were herded out by the officials, we went to the Upper Lake.

Upper Lake
         
          The Upper Lake is a fun spot for residents of Bhopal. Boating is available and during the evenings, the place is swarmed by people, to enjoy the bhel-puris, ragda chaats, to listen to some live music (a singer sings to background music playing on the tape), have some ‘Top-in-Town’ ice-creams and candies. There is a huge statue of Raja Bhoj near one of the banks, towards the highway. There is a nice ship replica and also a real railway engine. Our resourceful driver told us that there are plans to build railway tracks around the lake and the train will zhug-zhug on these tracks.

Other places to see in Bhopal
         
          The city of Bhopal near the railway station is analogous to Old Delhi. The area near the station is not a very happening place and looks unsafe. As you move away, towards the main city, it is different though. Other interesting places for the tourist which we just saw from the outside are:
  • Taj-Ul-Masjid: Said to be the largest mosque in India
  • Jama Masjid: Gold spikes crown the minarets of this beautiful mosque.
  • Moti Masjid: Architecturally compared to Delhis’ Jama Masjid
  • Shaukat Mahal
  • Gohar Mahal
  • Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalay: Situated at Shyamala Hills, near the Upper Lake, the site is the largest open-air anthropological museum in India. It depicts the story of mankind through its Tribal Habitat, Coastal village, Desert Villa, Himalayan Village etc.
  • Laxminarayan Temple and Museum
  • Upper and Lower Lakes
  • Various Gates built throughout the Chowk area
  • Aquarium
Rock Shelters at Bhimbetka


 
Slow and steady wins the race
Krishna used one finger, he used his hands
Jungle fight


Ek akela is shehar me


Thinking time - ye kahan aa gaye hum
 
Where is the bloody breakfast table

Zor lagake haiyya

Sheltered in the rock shelters

Chattan with a hole


Ek tha tiger

Sleeping time


Shark with its deadly teeth

The Hunters

Sphinx of India

Bhojpur

Well carved dome of the Shiva temple at Bhojpur

Yakshas



The huge Shivling at the temple



Statues outside the temple

Kirtimukha

The panditji who told me the story





Van Vihar






Later Alligator







Raja Bhoj without Gangu Telli

7 comments:

  1. Hi this is a wonderful write up with class apart pics . must say that the angles captured while taking pics are wonderful . Enjoyed reading keep writing .
    I too write sometimes about traveling would be a privilege if you give a visit to my blog in spare time http://creativedarshan.blogspot.in/

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  2. Fantastic Trip. Impressive Content and good information provided by you.. Thanks for sharing your personal experience with us. Pics are awesome. After seeing ur article I hope I will see it one day with my own eyes. See more information about How To Reach .

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    Replies
    1. Hey Swathi,

      Thanks for reaching out and the appreciation. It was sincerely a wonderful place and hope you visit it someday. Enjoy!

      Soumen

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