Monday, October 9, 2017

Part 1 : MP & UP Trip - Khajurao, Raneh Falls & Pandav Falls


6-Oct-17               Friday   0              Train     

Leave Kolkata at 10:00 PM          



PNR: 6305412579, Train : 12321


7-Oct-17               Saturday              1              Khajurao -  Check in Hotel Casa Di William. 
          

Reach Satna @ 14:50      

Khajuraho

Private cars are recommended because the buses are crowded and more time is taken to cover the distance. Bus timings:

Satna to Khajuraho first bus at 6:30 a.m(sharp)and every one hour afterwards

 Satna and Jhansi both are connected to Khajuraho by regular bus service. Roads from Jhansi as well as Satna are now in good condition,few patches in between are bad (feb,2016). But the buses takes more time to cover the distance because of their frequent stops to pickup people. Buses from Satna and Jhansi are luxury type and are in good condition. One thing to note that the buses are crowded during journey and do not board bus if you don't get a seat, wait for the next bus.Before journey the seats are given by the bus attendant.  It takes around 3 hours and 30 min to reach Khajuraho from Satna by bus (fare 120rs as of 27/2/2016) and nearly one hour lesser by private car.
A good way to get around and see the temples as well the village life in Khajuraho is by bicycle, which you can easily rent in the bike shops near the main temple complex, or bicycle rickshaw. They charge Rs.20 per day.
Beware of the fake school teachers, principals and students who are too much interested in your dollars as donation, which hardly goes to the school itself.

There are many car rental companies available. The Auto rickshaws provide a comfortable enough ride around the small town. Also they offer a lot cheaper deal with a friendly guide in the rickshaw drivers (auto charges for sight seeing of Khajuraho approx 250-300rs).

Western Group of Temples

There is a entry fee of Rs. 10 (for Indians) and USD Rs. 500 (for foreigners) to enter the Western Group of temples. (If you have a ticket from Taj Mahal, you can use it here again.) All the temples are open from sunrise to sunset. These are the richest and largest of all temple groups



Varaha temple - dedicated to the Varaha avatar of Lord Vishnu, it holds the statue of a Vraha[boar] in the centrestage with the Sheshnag lying beneath. Carving of an idol of Devi Saraswati on the snout of the Varaha reflects that every word/sound[dhvani] seeks blessing of Devi Saraswati [Goddess of speech,learning and knowledge]


Lakhmana Temple - The oldest and finest of the western group of temples, named after the ruler that built the temple. The A horizontal beam over the entrance of this beautiful Vaishnavite temple shows the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva with Lakshmi, Vishnus consort.







Kandariya Mahadeo Temple - This temple is decorated with a profusion of sculptures that are among the greatest masterpieces of Indian art.







Devi Jagdamba Temple - Dedicated to the Goddess(devi), this is smaller and much more delicately proportioned temple and is home to some of the finest sculptures of Khajuraho.The garbha griha has a huge image of the Devi of the Universe (Jagdambi), though it appears to have started as a Vishnu temple. It has the usual three bands of sculptures, but the third and most uppermost of these houses some of the most erotic sculptures.










Chitragupta Temple - is dedicated to the Sun God (Surya), it faces eastward to the rising sun





Vishwanath Temple - dedicated to Lord Shiva, also called Vishwanath [master of the universe]. In the same premises, a temple dedicated to Nandi, holds a huge statue of Nandi [the Bull, the companion, attendant and closest aide of Lord Shiva].







Matanageswara Temple - A temple dedicated to Shiva, a huge 8ft Lingam adorns the temple.



Chaunsat Yogini - The only granite temple in the Khajuraho group

Light and Sound Show at Western group of temples - After visiting the temple complex is over, the sound and light show, narrated by the Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachhan, is held every evening. Entry ticket Rs. 120/- for Indians and Rs. 400/- for foreigners.




Raneh falls.


This might be one of the most underrated tourist destinations in India. But it is as much rare and fascinating. Raneh falls is just around 20-25 minutes drive from temple town of Khajuraho, which has been among the top destinations for foreign tourists in India. But still, not even ten percent of the tourists coming to Khajuraho go to Raneh falls. Often you might be the only tourist around. As was with us this time around, when we couldn’t find any other tourist in the Raneh falls area. Well, obviously, it doesn’t have that glamour. But that can’t undermine its beauty.

Raneh falls are natural. They are actually a canyon formation which you will not find anywhere else in India. It is said that these canyons would have formed because of volcanic eruptions thousands and thousands of years ago. As a result, in the path of Ken river (also called Karnavati river) there is a five kilometre long canyon formation. This river actually comes from Vindhyachal Hills, which are 125 kms from here and go further 200 kms from here till Banda in UP where it merges with river Yamuna. In whole journey of 325 kms, this canyon formation exists only in five kilometre length.
Even in this five kilometre length this canyon has variable depth and that actually creates the beauty of this  Raneh falls. At some places it is upto 50 metres. Interesting is the fact that you can’t see the beauty of this place during monsoon, when Ken river is in full flow. At that time all the crater gorges are full with watering river overflows in the canyon with no hint whatsoever of the outstanding geological structure beneath. The actual beauty of this place is in winters, when water has subsidised a bit and the canyon below is visible. River still has water and the flowing water from one gorge to another creates a fascinating array of waterfalls. There are numerous such gorges around and as a result there are numerous such big and small waterfalls. Locals say that you may not be even able to count the total number of waterfalls. They also call it a mini Niagara.


The larger and smaller falls run all through the year except for the peak of summer, when river flow starts drying up. This canyon is formed of igneous rocks rich in Granite and Dolomite. But actually there are five types of igneous rocks here and it is said that no where else in whole Asia, will you find these five rocks together at one place. See for different colours in photos. Green ones are dolomite, there is red coloured Jasper, brown quartz, pink granite and black basalt.
Have a look at the marvellous structure and the rock formation at Raneh Falls in this gallery:



Just a few kilometres upstream, Ken river passes through Panna National Park and Tiger Reserve and flows down to Raneh falls area. Actually the Raneh waterfall area is itself in the extended area of the jungle which is a protected forest. Locals say that even in this area around Raneh waterfalls, there used to be tigers until a few decades ago. All of them were probably hunted down. But other than big cats, you can find many wild animals in the forest area around Raneh falls. You can luckily see a few of them on the way to falls from the entry point and then from falls to the Ken Ghariyal & Crocodile sanctuary.
A glimpse of the area:




The Ken Gharial Sanctuary is located at the confluence of the Ken and Khudar rivers further down from Raneh Falls, almost seven kilometres through jungle, just ahead of the point, where canyons end. River here is again in its full flow. As with Raneh falls, here is also an observation deck atop the hill overlooking vastness of river. One can go down and do boating here in the river and don’t be afraid- crocs or gharial will not attack you. Boating here is very soothing and relaxing experience. Mind it, Ken is said to be the cleanest of Indian rivers. Surprised! Yo won’t, once you see the water here.
A look at the Ken river area:


When: Anytime except monsoon and peak of summer. Winters are the best time to be here. Even for sighting of crocodiles and Gharials, winters is good as we can find them taking sun bathe on the rocks in and around river. In summers, they will usually cool themselves off inside the water.
How: Raneh Falls is just 20 kms from Khajuraho, almost a half an hour drive. You can hire a vehicle or even take two-wheelers on rent from Khajuraho. Raneh Falls is in reserve forest, hence entry is not unrestricted. Entry is per vehicle (Rs 495 per vehicle for 1 to 6 persons). A guide is a must and his fees is 75 Rs. Fees for a single person without a vehicle is 55 Rs. All fees include Raneh falls as well as Ken Gharial sanctuary area. But boating is not included in this. One has to pay separately for that, and it is very cheap. There is also a forest rest house near the falls, where you can stay for just 1500 Rs per night per room.
9-Oct-17               Monday               3              Khajurao                              




Pandav Falls

Pandavas can be credited, besides Mahabharata, also for being the earliest tourists.  Their 13 years in exile were actually years of travel around the country. Almost in every part of the country we will find a place dedicated to Pandavas- either they visited there, or stayed there or meditated there or did many other type of things. And, all these places were visited by them during their years in exile. Pandav Falls inside the periphery of the Panna Tiger Reserve and National Park is also one of the place associated with this mythological story.


Pandav Falls is not a destination into itself, as we can consider Raneh Fallsto be. Pandav Falls is part of the bigger itinerary of Panna Tiger Reserve and Khajuraho temples. But it is descent place not to be missed. Pandav Falls is a multiple step waterfall around 30 metres in height. This is located on a tributary of the Ken river. Actually Ken river passes through Panna Tiger Reserve. A small stream breaks out from it, towards Pandav Falls and later again goes and joins the main river just before Raneh Falls. It looks very beautiful when it is in full flow, post monsoon. But that’s not the only reason to be here.


So, the place has a myth associated with it that Pandavas visited this pace during exile and stayed here. There are some limestone cave formations adjacent to the falls inside the rocks. These stalagmite and stalactite caves are called as Pandav caves as well. Interestingly, these caves are also five in number (which goes well for five Pandavas). But there is also a bit of recent history associated with this place. It is said that freedom fighter and revolutionary  leader Chandrashekhar Azad held a meeting of fellow revolutionaries at this place on 4 September 1929. In the memory of that event a bust of Azad was also placed here (at the top, near the parking slot) around six years ago.



Now about the nature. As I told, this is a natural waterfall.  We would have seen in the images that it is actually a deep gorge, which seems to have come out of nowhere in the midst of this valley. This surprises. It seems that such gorges are typical of topography of this area, as we have seen in Raneh Falls as well. So, the water falls in this gorge, which becomes a very beautiful pool of clean, serene water and then when the pool overflows, the water moves further ahead to the Ken river. Mythologically, it is said that second of the five Pandavas, Bheem made this hole by his mace to get water and quench the thirst. Some other tales give the credit to Arjun and his arrows.


Have a look at the caves and few sculptures found here which resemble sculptures of Khajuraho, which is not far from here.


This natural pool also works as natural nursery for the big rohu fishes. Fishes lay eggs here, once they are hatched, young ones on getting full grown move down to the main Ken river with the flow of water during the monsoon. As the place is considered as sacred, fishes are not caught here. See in the image below that how clear the water is and how big the fishes are here.

Still, besides these all, there is one another thing that is associated with this place and what locals find miraculous. This is continuous presence of water in the pool. And actually this water doesn’t comes from the main water fall only. The water continuously drips here from either the rocks or the roots or shoots of the big trees on the top of the gorge. As locals say visibly there is no water up there on the land. Hence, this might be the underground water, which is finding its way to the gorge. This phenomenon takes place on the side of the gorge which is right opposite to the stairs going down to gorge.


Abundance of good clean water,  has also turned this place into a very fertile ecosystem. Many birds- migratory as wells domestic, wild life minus the big cats are regular visitors here. As you can see the beautiful parakeets and the Arjun trees. See on the stem of the Arjun trees, these are the marks made by the sloth bear, who are very frequent visitors to this place.

Quick Facts: While going towards Panna from Khajuraho, the way to Pandav Falls is on the left side of the National Highway few kms ahead of the Mandla gate of the Panna Tiger Reserve. Mandla gate is on the right side. Although Pandav Falls area too comes under the Panna Tiger Reserve, but actually there are no big cats on the left side of the highway, almost all of them are towards right, where the core area is. There might be some occasional or accidental crossings but they return. Besides, all other wildlife can be seen in the forest area around the Pandav Falls. Distance from Khajuraho to Pandav Falls is 34 kms. Actual falls are less than one kilometre from the main gate right on the national highway.
Entry: Entry to Pandav Falls is not free. There is a fee per vehicle, exactly the same as Raneh Falls. This fee of Rs 495 per vehicle carrying 1 to 8 persons is collected at the forest entry gate. Similarly, there is also a guide fees of Rs 75. But, if yo have purchased a safari ticket for the vehicle to enter the Panna tiger reserve, than you can enter the Pandav Fall area too on the same ticket. There is absolutely no provision to stay in this area. But if you are less people and don’t want to pay vehicle fees, than you can walk down to Pandav Fall by paying individual entry fees of 55 Rs.
There is a parking area on the top and then there are 294 stairs and ramp to take you down to the pool. But these stairs are comfortable not too steep.
Southern Group of Temples

Chattarbhuj Temple Or The Jatkari Temple - Built in 1100 A.D., is well-known for its architecture, and is also the only temple to be devoid of any erotic sculpture. 3 km away from the Eastern Group. Facing West, have to take 10 steps to reach the sanctum. The massive 9 feet intricately carved Vishnu idol in Chaturbhuja (four-armed).





Beejamandal Temple - It is a ruined temple, and is near the Chattarbhuj Temple



Dulhadev Temple - The last temple of Khajuraho, lies to the south of Ghantai temple. The temple enshrines a Shivalingam. The apsara and ornamented figures are the temple's most striking features.





Eastern Group of Temples

Adinath Temple - Dedicated to Jain Tirthankar(God), adinath, the temple is lavishly embellished with sculpted figures, including yakshis.






Ghantai Temple - This Jain temple has a frieze which depicts the 16 dreams of Mahavira's mother, and a jain goddess on a winged Garuda.

Parsvanath Temple - Largest among the group, with exquisite carvings in detail. The sculptures on the northern outer wall are the highlights of this temple. The image was installed in 1860.The three roofs of this temple depict mixture of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim influences.






Brahma Temple - considered to be one of the oldest temples of Khajuraho made entirely in granite and sandstone, is dedicated to Vishnu.






Hanuman Temple


Vamana Temple - is the dwarf form of Lord Vishnu, located in a secluded place and is known for its simple architecture.




Javari Temple






10-Oct-17            Tuesday               4              Jhansi  

Train from Khajuro@9:25 AM to Jhansi @13:30  

Information taken from wiki & https://vagabondimages.in

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