Friday, August 27, 2010

MP: Monuments & History

Madhya Pradesh the center of India is a state with large area under forest cover. It is hence referred as a tiger state with highest tiger population in India. But not withstanding forests it is an ancient hub of civilization with interesting and colorful history. Substantial revenue is generated from tourism industry.

The state faced conquests and wars from within and from brute overpowering forces of Mughals and  ruling British. The state was under tribal domination for centuries but migrant war lords and ruling class from other states changed history. The tribal domination is very well mirrored in rule of the Raj Gonds like Rani Durgawati in Mandla & Jabalpur. 

During the Mughal conquest lot of upheaval took place with constant struggle against their forces. There was lot of plunder and loot during that period. Ancient Hindu architecture - temples, forts palaces where ruthlessly plundered and destroyed partially or wholly. The domination continued in form of chieftains who ruled on behalf of the Mughal Sultanate.  From Mughals the Marathas took over followed by the Raj and eventually freedom. 

The migrating Baghels from Gujarat settled in parts of Madhya Pradesh and carved out their own kingdoms. There were many dynasties like Maurya, Satvahanas, Saka, Culchuri, Baghel, Chandels and many more. The ancient or contemporary dynasties struggled through internecine wars to take their piece of cake. By the time the country got independent the state was divided in number of kingdoms, small and big, of rulers of various denomination,clans, descendants, chieftain who became rulers and what not. Every human endeavor left its tell tale mark.     

The union of Indian ended years of rule of pleasure seeking bigots, idolaters and many just rulers. But with independence democracy came to rule and the past slipped into annals of history - scarred and weather beaten.   

The historical ruins lie more as plundered and neglected than in a state of preservation. Nevertheless re -instituted and preserved monuments, places of worship, forts and palaces stand erect in modern Madhya Pradesh. These are some of the most interesting sightseeing elements in the state that withstood a hundred thousand tempest to make MP the most important tourism destination. They are a living testimony to a past ravaged by feudal lords and kings and queens of yesteryear. They exhibit on the other side colorful culture,  ancient architecture and arts & crafts of a burgeoning civilization.  

In the historical eras the state became a pot pourii of cultures which is more evident in its urban hubs. The rural MP is more of tribal communities inter mixed with migrants.  

The most important monuments of the state are:  

Fort & Palaces

Rajwada Palace - Holkars

Shaukat Mahal
Mosques & Temples

Mahakaleshwar Temple - Jyotir Linga
Kalideh Palace
Vedhashala Observatory

Madan Mahal - Gonds
Gwarighat Temples
Shankar Shah Temple
Gurudwara Gwarighat Saheb
Chausath Yogini - Nr. Marbel Rocks
Rani Durgawati Museum - Ancient artifacts. 

Madhav Vilas Palace
George Castle - Madhav National Park confines
Chand Patha lake monuments 
Marble cenotaphs

Kirti Durga Fort 
Koshak Mahal
Deogarh Fort
Jama Masjid
Badal Mahal

Jahaz Mahal
Hindola Mahal
Hosang Shah Tomb
Ashrafi Mahal

Ram Ghat 
Kadam Giri
Sati Anushya 
Janki Dhara
Hanuman Koop

Supas - Buddhist 
Nilkantheshwar Temple

Raj Mandir 
Jehangir Mahal 
Chaturbhuj Temple
Sawan Bhado Mahal 
Lakshmi Temple

Khajuraho Temples

Other places of historical interest are Bandhavgarh, Pachmari, Maihar, Rewa, Maheshwar, Omkareshwar Bhojpur and Panna. There are lot of ancient temples venerated by locals hidden from the tourist eye. While traveling through the state it is worth inquiring about local tourism places.     

There are many more monumental jewels in Madhya Pradesh in deep recess of the state. The state is mostly unexplored and scattered palaces, temples and forts go unheard. There is much more to the state than wildlife safaris and birding. The best means of travel is on  package tours in MP by tour companies in the state. Tourism in the state is picking up for historical and spiritual travel. The infrastructure is sound with safe roads, hotels and lodges for accommodation and rail and road transportation. Flights operate in major towns mostly connected to Delhi, Nagpur and Mumbai.    

There are many tour operators in Madhya Pradesh for affordable package travel. The best season is winters as summers are hot. Monsoon travel is not possible due to inundating rains. Tourism in the state peaks during X'mas and Diwali holidays.   

The language spoken is Hindi but English is quiet popular. There are many travel services and tourism information guides that disseminate information about travel and places of interest.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Indian Railways - The PNR Saga

Unlike many developed countries, Indian Railway is the primary source of  travel and transportation in India. This is the preferred mode of traveling by the less privileged, the lower, middle as well as the upper class in India. (Pun unintentional!)   

Due to perpetual rush, rail reservation is the primary focus of any Indian planning to travel long distance. The obsession with train ticket and securing one's berth is an exasperating phenomena.

Though not surprising!

Long distance rail journey could be terribly uncomfortable for those traveling without a reserved seat. You  feel like an out caste and an intruder - unwanted and guilty of trespass. Does not matter if you are among the  privileged  in your town.  But things do not end here. Even short distance passengers or those who have traversed more than half the distance, chase the ticket collector (TT) in a futile effort to get a secured berth. This is to boost their bruised ego or get a last minute nap.

I have been into all this and so have you. He!He!

Agla ishtation aye ga tab dekhien gein? Seat Khali hone do! Arre Sahab!

With thousands of tickets on wait lists, reservations become the first priority with all sorts of connection seeking and what not. Getting an RAC berth is like a windfall.

Kya Mila?
Kya Hua?
Hai koi Jugad?
Quota Mein?
TT se Milo ?
Kuch le lo yaar?
Kya peeche peeche ghoom rahe ho! Kahan na berth khali hogi tab dekhien gien! 

Well this may seem funny but it does not whence you do not have proper reservation on Indian train. The ticket reservation counter may show house full on the very first day of the opening of ticket booking. The tickets have been booked by early birds or online reservations have taken their toll. 

PNR stands for Public Name Record. It is designated by a number printed on the top left of the rail ticket. If you have bought a train ticket your particulars are noted down . This makes you eligible to  travel from one notified station to another  in general bogey, 2nd class, 3AC, 2AC and first AC if you pocket allows. 

It is a standard practice for would be passengers to buy the Indian Railway ticket on waiting list. Next  go online for Pnr status check almost everyday whence the Irctc website is refreshed. Finding Pnr status is like seeking exam results online. Same anxiety, same thrill and if ticket succeeds on the chart Hurray!Pass ho gayein!

Ho Gaya!Yaar!

The status becomes talk of the town - family, cousins, distant relatives, friends, neighbors and whoever who does not mind his own business.  

India is becoming live on the  Internet. Thanks to a search tool that helps check your reservation status using Pnr. In spite of server back log the tool popularity is growing in the same manner as that of blog sites. Rush or no rush the amazing Indian Railway works as it does......all the time!

Yatri Krupaya Dhyan Dein! Appki yatra safal ho!..........Chai Wala!