Chanderi, though famed for arts and crafts of Madhya Pradesh but is a place that I had never seen or heard of. And then one fine day I got a call confirming my trip to witness this hidden gem of Madhya Pradesh. Well, at least for me it was a whole new thing. With still about a month left before I pack my bags and leave on this journey my excitement was brimming with fascinations about all little things that I got to know about the town as I googled it. But, being fond of surprises I left much about its medieval heritage and astounding weavers to unfold layer by layer and grasp all about the History Heritage and Weavers of Chanderi.
The journey to Chanderi
With just one day prior to departure when everyone else would be wondering about how to pack light for Chanderi, packing was not what I was worried for but reaching there was. Yes, I was still wait listed to board the train which if not cleared could end my trip then and there.
With only 8 hours left for the train to depart, I was getting anxious for what if my PNR status didn’t change to CONFIRMED!! What other alternatives do I have!!
Sigh!!! A big BIG one. Finally, at the very last-minute somehow I managed to board the train to Delhi hoping there won’t be anymore downs during my jaunts through the Heart Of India.
The second half of the journey began from Delhi and it was covered in the company of fellow bloggers. The 8 hours journey from Delhi to Bhopal felt like quite long but the time passed chattering numerous travel experiences by Sahil, Avantika and Sapna. Saurav, who has been to Bhopal before shared stories about the haunted Chanderi and bits about its history. As the train halted at Bhopal Junction, we got down and headed to our abode for the day Hotel Lake View which no doubt was the best luxury hotel in Bhopal.
Settling down in the cosy rooms, the first thing we did was to savour the lake view from our balcony that comes attached with the Deluxe rooms. Post this a long round of chit-chat session begin until eve. I believe it’s the best thing about travelling that we always have some or the other stories to share.
As the sun decided to descend for the day, we went out for a walk through the hotel premises, sit by the poolside and we in fact also thought of going to the gymnasium but instead went to have some tummy filing snacks as hunger was striking hard. With not much options around we settled for a patty at a road side tea corner.
In a discussion with Mr. Ram Tiwari, deputy director MP Tourism, a rich potential of Chanderi as an attraction for the heritage lovers turned out to be the highlight of the eve. Besides this it won’t be wrong to crown Chanderi as an idle photography and filming location.
कुछ बात है चन्देरी की हसीन वादियों में और यहाँ की ऐतिहासिक इमारतों में। यूँ ही नहीं स्त्री और सुईधागा जैसी दिग्गज फ़िल्मों में चन्देरी के अनोखे दृश्यों को फ़िल्माया गया है।
The next day was to start early but we lazy souls… After a simple yet scrumptious breakfast we were all set to continue our third and final part of the journey to finally step on the grounds of Chanderi- A less explored tourist place in Madhya Pradesh.
Just ten mins of drive and we again took a halt knowing that we were already running late. For what?? For the love for tea. Aashiq bhai, our driver suggested to have tea at a famous tea stall of Bhopal. And then a flight of non-stop singing took off until we reached Chanderi.
The first sightings of Chanderi
As mentioned earlier, I had little to no idea about the weavers town of Chanderi. On entering the town or better call it a tiny village a thought crossed over my mind leaving me in a state of amusement. I was wondering how could this place have any tourist places of interest. But, the next three days were enough to prove me wrong.
My first love in Chanderi
I know that I haven’t even seen even a glimpse of all what this historical and weavers town of Chanderi has but still I fell in love.
Love at first sight…
Kila Kothi, was my abode for the next three days and what I fell in love with was the panoramic view. Being a hilltop hotel just one blink and a bird’s eye view showcased me the town of Chanderi from edge to edge. It was a view I never missed an opportunity to savour. From dusk to dawn, I made sure to take a glimpse of it again and again and again…
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Time to explore Heritage of Chanderi
Soon we filled up our tummies with home like food and were all set to begin with our tour which started off by an inauguration event. After all we all were there with some motive, a motive to highlight the gems of Chanderi and prove that its much beyond saree.
After being addressed we stepped out to begin with the first spot. Chanderi Fort, also called Kirti Durg is a place we were already living at. Oh! Didn’t I mention that Kila Kothi is a recreated part of the fort itself. It is the place where famous star cast Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma stayed for the shoot of the blockbuster Bollywood film ‘Sui Dhaaga’.
CHANDERI FORT- Dominating the skyline of Chanderi
Looming over the historical town, the Chanderi Fort stretches along the crest of the hill and is a major tourist place in Chanderi. The fort has witnessed ruling power going from dynasty to dynasty with each leaving their imprint on its architecture. Since its foundation in 11th century by Gurjara Pratihara king kirtipal, Chanderi Fort has been abode for the Khiljis, Tughlaqs, sultans of Malwa, the Lodi’s, the Mughals, the Bundelas, and Britishers too just before the Sindhias down the timeline. It’s no surprise to see such a peaceful co-existence of people from different communities till date.
Strategically on the trade routes, Chanderi was on every travellers list during the medieval times but with time once a shining diamond was turning into a coal. To polish it and bring back its shine Muzaffar Ansari known as Kalle Bhai is working round the clock trying to highlight Chanderi on the tourist map and get it recognised as a World Heritage City. He was our guide right from the very first day and is a person so humble. Visiting Chanderi for the first time even we were not as excited as he was to take us around and very generously welcomed with such a beautiful calligraphic piece of paper with our names on it and to make those he woke up at 4 in the dusk. His feelings made a worthless piece of paper priceless for us.
Stepping out of our dining room, within a minute we made a back door entry to the fort premises. Perched on a 71m high hill dominating the 360 degree skyline the backdrop of the fort shines out in crimson hue as the sun approaches the horizon. Once a strategic fort whose wealth and splendour was chronicled by Al Biruni, Ibn Batuta and many others, today the only ruins to be found to be the highlights of Chanderi fort are Naukhanda Mahal and a mosque (as they say it). Apart from this a structure has been erected to commemorate the act of Jauhar adjacent to which is the Smarak of a legendary musician Baiju Bawara.
JAUHAR- An act of love or cowardliness….
Performed during the night, post the act of Jauhar all the men don in saffron use to rub the ashes on their forehead and chew tulsi, which symbolises their resolution to fight & die with pride against the impeding death in the battleground.
Baiju Bawara Samarak
Baiju Bawara (1542-1613), a renowned musician was associated with the court of Raja Man Singh and is said to have defeated Tansen in presence of the emperors. Born in a small village of Chanderi, Baiju was very much inspired by the natural beauty of Chanderi and its history, heritage and weavers.
Kati Ghati, name to given to a heraldic 80 ft. tall gate cut out of a living rock on the southern edge of Chanderi. The gate forming a link between Bundelkhand and Malwa has many legends associated with it.
It is believed that the gate was to be built overnight for which no worker took the lead. And then one person came forward to fulfil this challenging task with his team of workers. Even though on successfully finishing this marvellous task one mistake caused him his life. The gate was missing provisions to install a door due to which his payment was forfeited and had to foresee lot of embarrassment as an engineer. This guilt within him grew so much that he choose to end his life.
Dancing to the folk music of Chanderi
As the stars blanketed the sky, then began our eve. An eve in the name of musical bonanza. Listening to some age-old melodies of Baiju Bawara and getting mad over dance. No music was just music but hidden in the lyrics was a story; story of chanderi, its heritage, its weavers and what not.
And the night got even more young when we circled around the table and had a long round of singing & laughter session while enjoying the glittering city views from the terrace. #perksofstayingatKilaKothi
Chanderi- as the sun rises
Well, yes that was the plan but we lazy souls. A bit late, we still sticked to the plan of seeing Chanderi- as the sun rises.
Today we began our day from Parmeshwar Taal. A narrow lane led us to the pond that was shining with blissful reflections of the structures rising its bank. Starting from the right holding their positions on the four corners of the pond are Cenotaph of Bhagat Singh Bundela, Shahjadi Ka Roza, Laxman Mandir and Cenotaphs of Anirudh Singh & Devi Singh.
Following this we went back to Kila Kothi for breakfast and tidy up ourselves for the long day ahead. Further we explored spellbinding premises of Badal Mahal Gate- A gate to nowhere and then went to the largest Mosque of Chanderi and probably of whole Bundelkhand region. Jama Masjid is not only largest mosque in Chanderi but also has a unique architecture having no Minarets which is unlikely for a Mosque.
Koshak Mahal, was another structure that mystifies my thought for why would someone build such a huge seven story palace with no rooms. As people say, it was built just to depict victory. But, the style of the structure and super dope photographic shots you get here is just more than enough to spend an hour of your day. From here we headed to Ramnagar Mahal, a hunting rest house for the king. Situated on the river bank the views couldn’t get any better.
Now, before we would call it a day and enjoy a vocal session at Kila Kothi we were still left to witness the arts and crafts of Madhya Pradesh. Walking through the streets lined by numerous house of Bunkers, I learnt a lot about how it evolved and how the efforts put in by the weavers make me say that Chanderi – Is Not Just A Saree
Chanderi Heritage Walk- Spending few hours in Chanderi
A morning walk thorough the streets of Chanderi is the best way to have a sneak peek into the life and lifestyle of the locals. Such a heritage walk also makes for a good way if you are wondering ‘How to spend few hours in Chanderi ?‘ The walk we went on was organised by India City Walks as a part of City Walks Festival, an initiative by MPTourism. We began our walk from largest mosque of Chanderi – The Jama Masjid followed by Chakla Baodi. The Chakla Baodi was established in the 15th century by the sultans of Mandu serving the bathing purpose for the women. On either side of it in the west has two cenotaphs of Sufi Hazarat Baba and wife of Shekhraj Mohammad namely both built-in 1684.
Next on the line was the Haveli of Bundela King from 17th – 18th century and since the Judicial court was conducted here in those days it is named as Purani Kachahari ( Old Court). Just a few steps ahead of the court is the Unt Sar, a state protected monument of Chanderi District. Lost somewhere in the human settlements was Shri Narsingh Temple with an attractive and delicate work on the front.
With this the trip came to an end but the jaunts never won’t so keep following me here and on social media. Oh and yes, if you loved my narratives then don’t forget to share it among your peers and motivate them to travel. I must be going but only until I come with a new rant and that would be soon. Bon Voyage