I didn’t imagine that Jabalpur would take up three parts on this blog, but that’s how it has turned out to be.
Jabalpur town as we saw in Part 1 has a long history, and there are sights within the town that tell the story.
The Madan Mahal Fort is one of them. We drove to the suburban part of Jabalpur where the Balancing Rock is located. The balancing rock is presumed to be a result of eroded rock formations, which has withstood even earthquakes. These formations are fascinating and are found elsewhere in the world too. Geologists say that these geological formations only appear to be balancing, but are in fact firmly connected to a base rock by a pedestal or stem. You will be reminded of the Mahabalipuram ‘butter ball’ too, but this rock is much smaller.
The Madan Mohan Fort is right opposite the balancing rock, where a flight of steps take you to the small fort that was built by the Rajgond rulers in the 11th century A D and is attributed to Madan Shah. From the fort you get a birds eye view of Jabalpur and this fort perhaps served as a vigil post for the town. Halfway to the fort is a temple for Lord Shiva, which is called the Sindh Pancheshwar Bhole Nath temple.
Rani Durgawati Museum: This museum is dedicated to the memory of the feisty Gond queen Rani Durgawati, and is situated close to the Sadar Bazaar market. To commemorate Rani Durgawati’s 400th year of martyrdom in 1964, it was proposed that a museum be built in her memory to showcase the city of Jabalpur. Well, the museum isn’t exactly a Louvre, but in its own humble capacity it tries to showcase the history of Jabalpur.
The museum houses close to 2500-3000 architectural remains that include sculptures, architectural remains, and art. The largest collection is art from the Kalachuri period. The ground floor displays stone sculptures from the 10th-13th century, of deities of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religions. The sculptures of Uma-Maheshwar dominate the gallery.
There is a series dedicated to Vedic deities such as Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, Agni, Indra etc.
The 12th century temple at Bhedaghat, the chausath yogini temple that I mentioned in the previous post has an entire gallery devoted to it.
There is a tribal exhibit with miniature models that depict the lifestyle of the tribals, specially the Gonds and Baigas, who live around Mandla area, near Jabalpur.
There are other pictures of important landmarks and buildings in Jabalpur.
The Shahid Smarak (Memorial for the Martyrs) building that was built to honour the memory of those who fought for India’s freedom.
The Gandhi Smarak is a memorial for the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, whose ashes were immersed at the Tilwaraghat in the year 1948, after his assasination.
The Victoria Town Hall has now been renamed as Gandhi Bhawan Library. It was inaugurated on September 2, 1892, to commemorate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign and has been constructed in the Indo-Saracenic style.
I have to mention about the statue of Rani Durgawati (5th October 1524- 24th June 1564), after whom the museum is named after. She is known to have lived up to her name as she was known to be valiant, beautiful and brave and also a great leader with administrative skills. In 1556, she repulsed the attack by Baaz Bahadur, the Sultan of Malwa. Her battle with the Mughal kings is legendary and she even won the battle despite heavy losses. However, with the expansion of Emperor Akbar’s reign, there war became a mismatch of strength and she chose martyrdom over defeat on 24th June 1564, a day that is celebrated as ‘Balidan Diwas’. Indeed a true torch-bearer and a fine example for Indian women for generations to come.
Kachnar Shiva Temple: And if you still have time left in the day, you could drive to Kachnar City, a suburb of Jabalpur to see the ‘tallest’ statue of Lord Shiva, that was open to public on 2006. This statue measures 76 feet and is under the open sky. It is built on a cavern where one can enter and see the replicas of the 12 jyotirlingas.
And with that we sum up the day I got to spend at Jabalpur that has ancient as well as modern history connected with it and not to mention the natural beauty of the River Narmada that lends it religious importance too.
Look forward to your responses.