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Sightseeing

Mandu

Perched along the Vindhya ranges at an altitude of 2,000 feet, Mandu, with its natural defenses, was originally the fort capital of the Parmar rulers of Malwa. Towards the end of the 13th century, it came under the sway of the Sultans of Malwa, the first of whom named it Shadiabad - 'city of joy'. And indeed the pervading spirit of Mandu was of gaiety; and its rulers built exquisite palaces like the Jahaz and Hindola Mahals, ornamental canals, baths and pavilions, as graceful and refined as those times of peace and plenty. Each of Mandu's structures is an architectural gem; some are outstanding like the massive Jami Masjid and Hoshang Shah's tomb, which provided inspiration to the master builders of the Taj Mahal centuries later. Mandu is a celebration in stone, of life and joy, of the love of the poet-prince Baz Bahadur for his beautiful consort, Rani Roopmati. The balladeers of Malwa still sing of the romance of these royal lovers, and high up on the crest of a hill, Roopmati's Pavilion still gazes down at Baz Bahadur's Palace, a magnificent expression of Afghan architecture. Under Mughal rule, Mandu was a pleasure resort, its lakes and palaces the scenes of splendid and extravagant festivities. And the glory of Mandu lives on, in legends and songs, chronicled for posterity.

Ujjain

Mahakal of Ujjayini is known among the twelve celebrated Jyotirlingas in India. The glory of Mahakaleshwar temple has been vividly described in various Purans. Starting with Kalidasa, many sanskrit poets have eulogized this temple in emotive terms. Ujjain used to be the central point for calculation of Indian time and Mahakala was considered as the distinctive presiding deity of Ujjain. Ujjian enjoyed a position of considerable importance in the field of astronomy, Great works on astronomy such as the Surya Siddhanta and the Panch Siddhanta were written in Ujjain. According to Indian astronomers, the Tropic of Cancer is supposed to pass through Ujjain It is also the first meridian of longitude of the Hindu geographers. From about the 4th century B.C.. Ujjain enjoyed the reputation of being Indian's Greenwich. Also known as the Pancheshani Yatra, it is a grand tour of Ujjain in which thousands of people join in every year. The Chatdwar Yatra, the ceremonial visits to the four gates, is also associated with this Yatra. The legend goes that when Lord Shiva founded Ujjain at Parvati's behest on the banks of the Shipra, four gates were established to guard the city from all four directions.Four guardian deities, Pingaleshwar (East), Kayavarohaneshwar (South) Dardureshwar (North) and Bilveshwar (West) were appointed with Mahakaleshwar at the center of the town.

This academy was set up in Ujjain by the Government of Madhya Pradesh to immortalize the memory of the great poet dramatist, and to create a multidisciplinary institution to project the genius of the entire classical tradition with Kalidasa as the apex, enable research and study in Sanskrit classical and traditional performing arts, and facilitate its adaptation for contemporary stage in different cultural sittings and language groups. The academy complex consists of a theatre built according to the specification laid down by Bharata's Natya Shastra, an exhibition hall and theatre museum, library, lecture and seminary halls, research facilities for scholars. Hindu mythological tale of the churning of the ocean by the Gods and the demons, with vasuki the serpent as the rope. The ocean bed first yielded fourteen gems, then Lakshimi, the goddess of wealth, and finally the coveted vessel of nectar. Then began the wild scramble for immortality with the demons chasing the gods across the skies, and in the process, a few drops were split and fell at Hardware, Prayag, Nasik and Ujjayini. The magnificence and the awesome spectacle of the bathing ritual at the Simhastha defies description. Beginning on the full moon day in Chaitra (April), it continues into Vaishakha (May), until the next full moon day.

Omkareshwar

Omkareshwar located in Madhya Pradesh, on the Mandhata hill on the banks of the Narmada is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is located at a distance of about 12 miles from Mortakka in Madhya Pradesh. Omkareshwar, the sacred island, shaped like the holiest of all Hindu symbols, 'Om', has drawn to it hundreds of generations of pilgrims. Here, at the confluence of the rivers Narmada and Kaveri, the devout gather to kneel before the Jyotirlinga (one of the twelve throughout India) at the temple of Shri Omkar Mandhata. And here, as in so many of Madhya Pradesh's sacred shrines, the works of Nature complement those of man to provide a setting awe-inspiring in its magnificence.The island comprises two lofty hills and is divided by a valley in such a way that it appears in the shape of the sacred Hindu symbol 'Om' from above. Between the precipitous hills of the Vindhya on the North and the Satpura on the South, the Narmada forms a deep silent pool which in former times was full of alligators and fish, so tame as to take grain from human hand. This pool is 270 ft below the cantilever type bridge constructed in 1979. The bridge has enhanced the scenic beauty of the place, making it look exceedingly picturesque.

Bagh Caves

Western Madhya Pradesh. In the Narmada valley among the southern slopes of the Vindhya hill in Kukshi Tahsil of Dhar District. The caves are about 152 km by road from the nearest railway station Mhow, on Ajmer-Khandwa narrow gauge section of the Western Railway. These caves are 50 km west of Mandu, 7 km from the village of Bagh and 3 km off the main road. Before the caves were rediscovered they were home to many tigers or Bagh and this is how the caves got their name. Until recently these caves were roughly assigned to the Seventh Century from the style of architecture and painting, but a recently inscribed copper plate suggests a 4th or 5th Century AD origin.

Maheshwar

Maheshwar was a glorious city at the dawn of Indian civilization when it was Mahishmati, capital of king Kartivarjun. This temple town on the banks of the river Narmada finds mention in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Revived to its ancient position of importance by the Holkar queen Rani Ahilyabai of Indore. Maheshwar's temples and mighty fort-complex stand in quiet beauty, mirrored in the river below. Today, Maheshwar is also known for its distinctive hand woven sarees called Maheshwari.

Peshwa Ghat, Fanase Ghat and Ahilya Ghat line the river Narmada, flights of steps lead down from the sandy banks to the river and through the day a kaleidoscope of rural India can be seen here, in the pilgrims and holy men who sit here in silent meditation; in the rows of graceful women, who carry gleaming brass pots down to the holy, life giving river; in the ferry loads of villagers who cross and re cross these surging waters. Lining the banks too, are poignant memorials in stone to the satis of Maheshwar, who perished on the funeral pyres of their husbands.