August 31, 2013

Quote of the Post: "Hanumat Dham at Khannaut river seems like the landmark of the Shahjahanpur city which will mark its prints on the world-map." - Quote about Shahjahanpur by Sachin Kumar Gupta

Shahjahanpur city in Uttar Pradesh was established by Diler Khan and Bahadur Khan, dignitaries in the regime of ShahjahanThough its name was after the Mughal Emperor - Shahjahan. There are two mazars which connect Shahjahanpur city from one corner to the other corner. One mazar is of Shaheed Ahmad Ullah Shah, a great freedom fighter of the 1857 struggle, and another is Shaheed Ashfaqallah Khan ( of famous Kakori Kand). City has a proud history of being a home for three key freedom fighters - Shaheed Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, and Thakur Roshan Singh who were major contributors to the Indian Independence - hence the name Shaheedon Ki Nagri or Town of MartyrsI wouldn't dig deep into the history further, but bring you some nice places to visit in Shahjahanpur.
A, B, C are marked in the map below. 

Shahjahanpur Map
[A] Hanumat Dham at Khannaut river: This is now the third highest Hanuman statue, 104 ft high, in the world after "Veera Abhaya Anjaneya Hanuman Swami at Vijaywada, A.P." and "Hanuman Murti in Shimla" as per Wikipedia list so far. [Last updated 25 Sep, 2013]

The orange colored statue with well defined details, is picturesque with grand mace, and Ram-Sita located at the heart. It's a divine feeling to look at Lord Hanuman's statue touching sky with calm river flowing around. The place is approx 4-5 k.m. away from bus stand and railway station of Shahjahanpur. This statue was built in approx 10 years and is situated at Visrat Ghat and sideby flowing Khannaut river just looks cool. 

I have been to this place many times on various occasions. You can see some people bathing and children jumping in the river to take away heat most of the times. Elders come here for a walk whereas people also come here for holy ceremonies and worship. The base is connected by a small bridge from ghat. With trees and flowers planted all around in the meadow, it's more like an artificial island. :) One can also mark the holy idols of lord Shiv family, The Sun and Saraswati within the Hanumat Dham. Daily aarti and chanting of holy slogans make the environment devout. Though just behind this place from where river flows, many buffaloes just roam around the place and make the place and river dirty. Government should take some action and people should also help to keep the place clean. 

[B] Shahid Smarak Park: The place is near Nagar Palika. This is main park of town having musical fountain as well. Now a days you mostly see some love birds roaming around and a few families.

[C] Factory Estate Ramlila Ground is known to host the festivities of Dashehra. Ramleela fair is one of the best event of this region which runs for almost a month. Nearby is another famous factory temple.

[D] There are various small temples and mosques in and around Shahjahanpur. 

Shahjahanpur is the home to the Ordnance Clothing Factory, setup by the Ministry of Defense, Government of India. There exists an army cantonment where you can see big grounds and small parks which are good for relaxing and walking. People enjoy driving in this less polluted area. Shahjahanpur is also famous for its carpet industry, as well as for Sarrafa (Jewelry) market. Shahjanhpur is well connected with major Indian cities by rail and road (from Bareilly and Lucknow). National Highway No. 24 connecting New Delhi passes through Shahjanpur. 

More nearby places to visit in Shahjahanpur in my coming posts ... 

August 9, 2013

India hosts nearly immense wealth of ancient rock-cut architecture for diverse tastes. One of the best is located in Karla Caves. This is one of the must see places to visit near Lonavala, also known as Karle caves.
If you are coming by road from Pune, you have to follow below route:
Pune (A) - NH4 - Khamshet - Malavali (Just before Lonavala) - Karli village - Karla Caves
If you are coming by road from Mumbai, you have to follow below route:
Mumbai (E) - Navi Mumbai - Follow Pune Mumbai expressway - Khandala (D) - Lonavala (C) - Malavali - Karli - Karla Caves (B)

Karla Caves Map
Train transport is cheaper either coming from Pune or Mumbai. Pune to Lonavala local train time table can be checked here. Lonavala to Pune local train time table can be checked here. 

We opted for train travel from Pune railway station to Malavali railway station. From Malavali railway station we traveled up-to the tail of Karla caves by auto-rickshaw @ INR 100. Though one can drive up-to the midpoint of the Karla caves up-to the parking area; well maintained staircase is always a preferred option in light drizzle. There are number of small shops, restaurants, bhutta (corn) and tea stalls throughout the trek. 

With my new SLR, I could not resist from capturing colorful bangles, hanging bottles, lovely garlands, hens, panoramic views of mountains and lush green grounds and whichever beautiful thing fell on the way. And it did not end there, we could also capture a few human faced and animal shaped rocks. These caves are declared by the Archaeological Survey of India as a National Monument.

It resides on a high spur of the chain of hills on north flank of Indrayani valley and approx 8 km away from the sister Bhaja caves towards south. As you enter the cave, you will find yourself near the Karla falls. Not to mention, it is possible only during monsoons! Some people also bathe and enjoy in this waterfall, but one should be very cautious, as some of the rocks become very much slippery. During monsoon, there are numerous waterfalls in the entire belt, thus making enough spots for people to stop by. The group of Karla includes total 16 excavations (One is Chaityagriha and 15 are Viharas) depicting artistic embellishment of Hinayana and Mahayana sects of Buddhism. Detailed information about Karla Caves can be found near Notice Board where we pay entrance fees.

Karla Caves Timings and Fees: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  
Indian: 5 INR; Foreign Nationals: 100 INR

Lion sculptures in top of pillar in front of chaitya, just look amazing. The hall features beautifully en-carved sculptures of people from ancient times along with royal animals - lions and elephants. There is a stupa and one can notice some interesting carvings inside the caves. The inner frontage has the sun window, ornamental arcades and sculptures, marks the culmination of the Himalaya type of Chaitya Hall. The figures of Buddha carved in relief belong to the later mahayana phase. The hall is divided into a nave and tow aisles by two rows of pillars. Inside the cave are carved a number of inscription records in Brahmi characters giving the names of donors who contributed for the excavation of this cave.

Ekveera Mata Prashannav:
Some space outside is occupied by a temple dedicated to the goddess Ekveera, where villagers and many visitors worship daily. It seems like during festive season, it attracts quite a crowd, handled in a big queue.

One can visit Karla and Bhaja Caves in a single day. In splendor these caves can be compared to Ajanta and Ellora caves but are much less popular – thus visit here is pleasant due to less crowds specially during monsoon.

Chasing the monsoon...

Other caves to visit in Maharashtra:

Worldwide famous Ajanta and Ellora caves near Aurangabad - Daulatabad
Monsoon visit to Bhaja Caves near Bhaje Village 
Lenyadri Caves near Junnar - one of the Ashtavinayak Ganpati

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