Jain Cliff Sculptures

17th February 2014 (Day 9) Gwalior

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On the way back from Gwalior Fort, we stopped to photograph some massive Jain sculptures on the cliffs below the fort.

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The sculptures were created in the mid fifteenth century, at the time of the Tomars.  Many were defaced by the army of the first Mogul Emperor Babur in 1527.

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(Interesting the usage of words.  “Defaced” usually merely refers to an act of vandalism that changes the appearance of something but these scultures were defaced.  Literally.  The original meaning of the word.).

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The sculptures represent Jain Tirthankars or enlightened people who were traditional role models.

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As with all images in this Blog, click on the image if you want a closer view.

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We only had a few minutes here and I raced around getting what I could.  Even so, the whole bus was waiting for me by the time I got back.

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We stopped for lunch at Datia, halfway between Gwalior and Orchha. Opposite, the other side of a river is this Satkanda Mahal.  It was built from 1614 to 1622 to honour the Mogul Emperor Jahangir by Veer Singh Deo of the Bundela Rajput dynasty that ruled Orchha. He was an ally of Jahangir in his struggles with his father Akhbar.

The palace has 440 rooms, 20 courtyards and seven stories. The overall structure when seen from above is apparently in the form of a swastika.

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Road conditions on the superhighway were better than the previous day.  Here the paved left hand part of the road was mainly out of action due to deep potholes.  The dirt road we were on at the right was better.  The oncoming truck appears to be heading straight for us but no doubt after the requisite exchange of horn soundings, there was no problem.

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Passing a village, I would think.

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Gwalior Fort

17th February 2014 (Day 9) Gwalior

Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

This is the Man Mandir Palace, built by Man Singh Tomar between 1486 and 1516.

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

The main fort itself dates back to the eighth century during Tomar rule (or the Kachwacha rajputs), or possibly further back to the fifth century.  It is on a hill that rises 100 metres from the city and the surrounding countryside, and covers an area of three square kilometres.

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

The Man Mandir Palace has four levels, two of which are underground.  When Akhbar captured the fort, he made it into a political prison.  He executed his cousin Kamran here and Aurangzeb executed his brother Murad and nephews Suleman and Sepher Shikoh here.

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

The dungeons would not be the cheeriest of places to be held prisoner.

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

Although the fort is very formidable, it has been stormed many times over the centuries.  This is probably partly due to its large size and the large garrison required for effective defence.  It is said to be designed for a garrison of 15,000.

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

In 1857, towards the end of the Indian Mutiny, Lakshmi Bai, (female) Rani of Jhansi, died here as a war leader in a battle against the British.  She was a very capable individual and a reluctant convert to the mutiny.

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Man Mandir Palace

Man Mandir Palace

The outside of the Man Mandir Palace was originally covered in colourful mosaics, much of which have fallen away over the years.

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View from plateau

View from plateau

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Sas-Bahu Temple

Sas-Bahu Temple

The Sas-Bahu temple was built in 1092 as a temple for Vishnu.  There are two temples and you see here the larger one.

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Sas-Bahu Temple

Sas-Bahu Temple

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Sas-Bahu Temple

Sas-Bahu Temple

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View from plateau

View from plateau

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Street view from above

Street view from above

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Sas-Bahu Temple

Sas-Bahu Temple

This is a view from the smaller temple.

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Sas-Bahu Temple

Sas-Bahu Temple

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Teli Ka Mandir

Teli Ka Mandir

Teli Ka Mandir is an eleventh century hindu temple that fuses northern and southern architectural styles.

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Sikh Temple

Sikh Gurudvara Temple, quite close to the Teli Ka Mandir

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Sikh Temple

Sikh Gurudvara Temple with Teli Ka Mandir in the background

We only spent ten or twenty minutes at the temple.  The people I met were very friendly and a Sikh from Singapore invited me inside the temple and to their restaurant but we were not staying long enough for that.

KSG in a comment below advised me of the historical significance of this shrine, formerly a prison for the sixth Guru Hargobind.  I will now relate this in the context of a brief Sikh history:

The Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak in the early sixteenth century. It postulates an invisible, infinite, unknowable god where caste distinctions are irrelevant and righteous conduct and truth is the path to salvation. Initially there was no political or military dimension to the Sikh faith and it accorded well with Akhbar’s subsequent project to create a composite faith that included the best parts of all religions.  It is likely that Sikhs were welcome guests of Akhbar at Fatehpur Sikri.

This situation changed as the Mogul Emperors became more intolerant.  The fifth Sikh Guru Arjan was executed by Jahangir after supporting Prince Kusrau in the succession crisis of 1605. The eighth Guru Har Krishnan incurred Aurangzeb’s displeasure by providing hospitality to the liberal Prince Dara during the civil war of 1658.  Har Krishnan‘s son was inducted into the Mogul hierarchy so when he died, the Sikhs chose his brother Tegh Bahadur instead as seventh Guru. He toured the country encouraging conversions, including by Muslims. This enraged Aurangzeb who executed Guru Tegh Bahadur for blasphemy.

Partly in consequence of this, the sixth Guru Hargobind departed from the previously entirely pacfic and spiritual nature of the faith and armed and trained his followers. This was an affront to Jahangir, who imprisoned him for a year in Gwalior Fort, more specifically in what is now the Sihk Gurudvara Temple (images above). When he was released, Guru Hargobind insisted on fifty-two rajas being released from imprisonment in Gwalior fort at the same time.

The tenth Guru, Govind Singh, went further in abandoning the initial pacifism of the Sikhs and arming his followers, prepared to resist Mogul incursion. He also introduces a new standard of orthodoxy, with baptism into the kalsa (or pure), uncut hair, carrying of armsand adopting the name of Singh (or Lion). Even today, Sikhs are allowed to carry their ceremonial daggers on domestic Indian flights.  Guru Govind Singh was murdered, probably by a Mogul commander.

His successor, Banda Bahadur conquered various towns and successfully created a Sikh state for a while until defeated and killed by the Moguls in 1715.

As an independent political entity, the Sikhs achieved their apex in the 1830s with the Empire of Ranjit Singh, which included the Punjab, Kashmir and Ladakh, about equally divided between present-day India and Pakistan. The Sikhs were too realistic to attack the British and the British too cautious to attack the Sikhs so they formed an alliance safeguarding the boundary of India to the North-West. Later, when the Sikh kingdom was incorporated into the Indian Empire, Sikhs came to play key military and administrative roles for the British.

The Guruvadra Temple has only been in the possession of the Sikhs since independence. What you see from the outside was constructed in the 1970s and 1980s to encompass the pre-existing shrine.

 

Blog trivia; imaginary milestones just passed:  This blog now has nearly 3,500 images.  If one were to print them out at A4 size and lay the prints end to end, they would stretch one kilometre.

There are also over 150,000 words here.  I am currently reading a biography of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem and Sicily.  It runs to 323 pages and has very close to the same number of words as this blog.

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Deo Bagh

16th February 2014 (Day 8) Gwalior

After our long rough drive from Agra we received a most pleasant surprise with our accommodation for the night in Gwalior. This was Deo Bagh, an historic residence open as a hotel for two years only.

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Deo Bagh is a charbagh which is a Persian garden layout with the garden divided into four quarters.  Mogul Emperors camped here in the sixteenth century and this is the chhattis-dari (36-pillared pavilion) at its centre.  It is surrounded by a moat and there is a room beneath.  The women of the court would take refuge in that room as a cool place to hide out in the summer heat.

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In the grounds of the hotel are two Hindu Temples from the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries in a very fine state of preservation.  Unlike many other places we visited where we were obliged to rush through under time constraints, here we could consider these temples at our leisure and use tripods.  They are private family temples and date to the eighteenth century when the Marathas took over Gwalior.

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These are some of the details on the outside of one of the temples.

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To put this remarkable place in context I need to say something of the history of Gwalior.  There has been human activity in this area for a very long time.   Paleolithic implements have been unearthed in the region.  There are many cave paintings in the area and also iron age pottery has been found in Gwalior.

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A city here dates back to at least the second century AD and the area is dominated by the mighty fortified massif, of which we shall see more in the next post.

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For much of its history, Gwalior was controlled by the Kachwacha rajputs and from time to time the Sultans of Delhi then the Moguls for about two centuries.  From 1754 a Scindia family of the Marathas took over.  They came to be closely allied with the British and there is still a Scindia Mahajarah of Gwalior.

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Villagers and crocodiles

16th February 2014 (Day 8) Between Agra and Gwalior.

No, no, not in the water together. While on the road between Agra and Gwalior we visited a village and later a crocodile farm.

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Here are a couple of boys riding up the back lane as we turned up.

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The children were generally very eager to interact.

At one stage I was surrounded by children eager for anything I could give them, especially pens for school. I gave them the one pen I had in my pocket.  I had a cheap camera raincover protruding from an open pocket of my camera bag.  One of the younger children relieved me of it and one of the older ones retrieved it and handed it back.  I had not noticed it was missing.

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Buffaloes and cows.

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Father and son, it would seem.

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Making “pancakes” of cow or buffalo dung for fuel for fires.

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Pancakes of dung.

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Distribution of the pens.

Our guide told us not to give away any money or everyone would want some and it would get out of hand.  We paid a prescribed amount to our Guide and he paid it to the head man, for all the villagers, while everyone was watching.

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Later we stopped at a crocodile farm.  This is a conservation initiative to breed crocodiles and release them in the river in the interests of the health of the ecosystem.

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These are gharials, classified as rare and endangered due to encroachment of humans on their habitat.  Juveniles eat insects and frogs; adults eat fish.  They live mainly in the calmer areas of deep, fast-flowing rivers.  They can grow to around six metres long.

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This is a marsh crocodile or mugger.   They have a wider diet, potentially including reptiles, birds and monkeys and grow to about four metres long.  They are also a fresh water crocodile.

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Agra to Gwalior

16th February 2014 (Day 8). On the road between Agra and Gwalior.

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All the images in this post are from the bus.

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The first few images are in or near Agra; the last few are in or near Gwalior.  It’s only 120 kilometres but it was a long and arduous journey.  The condition of the road was very poor with many large potholes, even when it hadn’t deteriorated to a dirt track or extensive road works in progress.  This is a major road.  It’s condition was more like a minor side road in very poor condition.

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Driving in India is most curious (and I have no desire to try it myself).  There is little in the way of observance of road laws.  Mainly people drive on the left but not where it’s more convenient to drive on the other side of the road.  Right of way involves liberal use of the horn to warn others to get out of the way.   There’s little inhibition against passing even on blind corners and it’s only because the speeds are usually low that the carnage is not greater.

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As well as cars, trucks and buses, you will see on the road tuk-tuks, motor scooters, motorbikes, horse carts, ox carts, camel carts, hand carts, cycle carts, bicycles, dogs, cows, buffaloes, camels and pedestrians.  Potentially there could also be elephants but the only one I saw on the road was on the back of a truck.

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Some improvements are in process, though seemingly very slowly.  Either insufficient funds are allocated or they’re swallowed up by corruption.

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Sandstone slabs for paving or construction

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