Madhya Pradesh trip -2: Visit to Mitavali, Padavali and Bateshwar Group of temples
Overview: I was always sceptical of travelling towards Morena side because I had heard some negative reviews about the safety in that region. But the moment I got some guidance from Shri Mohan from Indore that his friend Dinesh will accompany me, I was more confident because it helps if one travels with a local.
I took the morning train from Jhansi to Gwalior and it took around 1.5 hours for me to reach there. I reached Gwalior at around 9:20am and Mr Dinesh was waiting for me at the railway station. We set off on our journey and on the way we had our breakfast of Paranthas and tea.
Our first destination for the day was Mithavali, also popular as the Chausath Yogini temple or Ekkatarso Mahadev temple; which is around 40kms from Gwalior. The temple can be reached by climbing a series of around 100 steps, which are a bit steep and can be a challenge for those who have fitness issues. The architecture of the temple is unique, and similar temple can be seen near Jabalpur, which we will cover later in this series. The cells on the inner side of the temple are lined with Shivalingas and the main sanctum has a Shivalinga too. As per one inscription this temple was constructed in 1323 CE by Maharaja Devapala. Its incredible to see the precision of our ancestors in building such a circular structure in those times, and some believe that this temple was the inspiration behind the architecture of our Parliament House. The temple has withstood the test of times without crumbling being in an earthquake prone zone.
Padhavali, also known as Gadhi Padhavali is around 4km from Mitavali and is known for the 10th century temple dedicated to God Shiva. The entrance to the temple is flanked by two Lions on either side of the staircases. The temple was probably expanded during the 19th century by the Gohad rulers. The interior of the temple is richly carved with sculptures of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, and the stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Some erotic figures can also be seen on the temple walls. The temple was also fortified in the later part of the 19th century to protect it from invadors.
Bateshwar Group of temples
One of the most interesting temples in the region is the Bateshwar Group of temples, just around 1.5km from Gadhi Padhavali. This temple complex has more than 200 temples in the whole complex and archaeologists are still discovering hidden temples in the area. The temples date as far as the 8th century CE and are an example of the Gurjara-Pratihara style of architecture. As Dr KK Mohammad puts in, he hasn't seen so many temples in the same area before. Dr KK Mohammad was instrumental in leading the excavation of this site at a time when this area was occupied by the dacoits of Chambal Valley. He struck a chord with the dacoits where the ASI team was working on their task without getting disturbed and in return they wouldn't interfere in others business.
Strangely enough for me, I am amazed to see more temples emerging out and its difficult to imagine how it would have looked in its heydays.
There is a restaurant just opposite to the temple complex serving North Indian and continental food, and I would be happy to see more tourists exploring this region. Contrary to what I had heard, the people here seem to be quite friendly and we were actually guided by many locals when we approached them for help.
Just off the triangular circuit of Mitavali, Padhavali and Bateshwar is the 11th century Kakanmath temple, built by the Kachchhapaghata ruler Kirttiraja. The temple tower can be seen from quite a distance and on reaching the site, one gets overwhelmed with the size of the structure, which appears like an balanced set of playing cards which would crumble on slightest disturbance. However, the structure has withstood the test of times in this region, braving intense heat during summers and cold during winters. Also the region has experienced earthquakes in the past. In fact, only a part of the complete structure now survives. It is said that similar to the temple at Padhavali, this temple too had lion sculptures at the entrance which are now preseved in the Gwalior museum. There is a Shivalinga in the sanctum of the temple, and the outer walls are adorned with detailed carvings of Ganesha, Vishwakarma, Brahma and many other figures.
One more interesting thing I noticed here was a circular track along which the bullocks were made to walk to make a special type of Gum to waterproof the temples. This was a mix of Urad Dal, Bilvapatra, Jaggery, Lime and some colour; which were thoroughly mixed and ground using a grinding stone to prepare a paste and apply it on corners of joints for waterproofing to prevent seepage.
I wanted to visit a few places in Gwalior city as well but due to the lack of time I was unable to cover those. I had my train to Chitrakoot in the evening so I got dropped by Mr Dinesh at the Gwalior railway station in the evening.
How to reach?
Gwalior is located on the Delhi-Bhopal railway line and many trains from all parts of India bound to Delhi stop here.
From Gwalior, one can hire a taxi to reach these sites, its difficult to rely on buses.
One would need an entire day to cover these places, so to cover Gwalior city as well one needs to spend an extra day.
Accomodation: Being in an estwhile Princley state of Gwalior, there are several luxury and budget hotels in the city. The raiway station also has a retiring room but I didn't stay there.