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Marvels of Vidarbha - 2

Overview: Vidarbha region, located in the cotton belt of Maharashtra, is home to a number of ancient temples. We had a chance to visit this magnificent Markand Deo temple near Chamorshi. Located on the banks of Wainganga river, this place is one of the 8th century marvels built by the Rashtrakutas. We were at the temple very early in the morning to avoid the crowds, and were fortunate to find just ourselves inside the premises. The temple looks like it has been assembled, though remains of several other temples could be seen inside the temple area. One thing which stands out in this temple is the wall carvings of different dieties, dancers and also some images of some visitors from places outside the region. A few images had Egyptian like features (long ears, square beard..).
Markand Deo Temple

Markand Deo Temple

Markand Deo Temple


Markand Deo Temple

From Chamorshi, we came to Chandrapur and took a train to head northwards towards Nagpur.
Nagpur has a lot to offer apart from oranges, one place which we explored was the ancient Vedic and Buddhist site of Mansar. The main attraction here is the palace of the Vakatakas. This has been one of the important excavations carried out in India, and the location has been identified as Pravarapura. Several large and small rooms can be seen in the palace complex. On the Western end of the mound, Shiva shrines have been reported to have been found, but we could not locate that place. A few sculptures of Lajja Gauri, Kubera and a few inscriptions have also been reported, perhaps now protected in some museum.

Palace of the Vakatakas, Mansar

Palace of the Vakatakas, Mansar

From Mansar we headed towards the Gad Mandir at Ramtek. This temple, along with being a heritage structure, is a popular pilgrimage site as well. A series of steps leads one to the top of the fort, and a series of temples can be seen, built in the 15th-16th century. The main temple here is the Ram temple, built by Raghuji Bhonsale, after his victory over fort of Deogarh in Chindwara. Apart from the Gad Mandir, Ram Tek also has a beautiful stepwell, and the ancient Shantinatha Jain temple.


Stepwell at Ramtek

Varaha at Ramtek

Ram Temple at Ramtek

Ramtek Fort

From here, we stopped at Nagardhan Fort, built during the Vakatakas. Though the Fort has been repainted, a few excavations were being carried out by the State Archaeology department in the fort premises. Several pottery remain were unearthed by the team and we had a glimpse of the findings.


Findings at Nagardhan Fort

Nagardhan Fort

On the way back, we visited the Zero Mile stone, a stone pillar erected by the British during the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India. The distances from Kowtah, Hyderabad, Chandah, Raipur, Jabalpur, Seoni, Chindwarah, Baitool have been indicated in the pillar.

Zero Milestone, Nagpur
                     
At Rail museum, Nagpur
Overall, a good visit to the Vidarbha region. We had a chance to stop for a while and admire the cotton fields in the rural settings.

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