Rani Mahal of Jhansi – The erstwhile residence of Rani Laxmi Bai

The Rani Mahal or Queen’s Palace is a royal palace in the city of Jhansi in the Uttar Pradesh state of India. It was built by Raghunath II, who belonged to the Newalkar family of Peshwas, the rulers of Jhansi from 1769 to 1796. After the death of Raja Gangadhar Rao, his wife Rani Laxmi Bai resided in this palace. The palace rose to significance during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, as it was the main center of activity and was attacked by the British.

It is flat roofed, two-storeyed building having quadrangular courtyard with a small well and one fountain. The darbar hall inside the palace is beautifully decorated with paintings in bright colours exhibiting various floral and faunal motifs.

The Rani Mahal is converted to a museum and houses a vast collection of stone sculptures collected from the surrounding areas dating from the Gupta to Medieval periods.

Rani Mahal – Main Entrance
The courtyard inside the Mahal
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Painted ceiling of the Durbar Hall
The Durbar Hall
Arched ways inside the Mahal

Brahminy Kite

The brahminy kite (Haliastur indus), also known as the red-backed sea-eagle in Australia, is a medium sized bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. This species is distributed in Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia.

The brahminy kite species is a medium sized bird. The female kite is slightly larger than the male. The male measures 45 to 50 cm in length and weights 400 to 650 grams. The female weighs 430 to 700 grams. The wingspan is 110 to 125 cm. The adult has chestnut back, wings and belly. The head and breast have a contrasting white plumage.

The brahminy kite species feed mainly on dead fish, crabs and carrion. They also catch and feed on live preys such as small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. They are known to snatch feed from other birds.

Sanchi Buddhist Complex – A legacy of the Maurya era

Sanchi Buddhist complex, famous for its great stupa at Sanchi, is located in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh. Commissioned by emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, the Great Stupa of Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India. The stupa was built over the relics of Buddha. The original construction work of this stupa was overseen by Ashoka, whose wife Devi was the daughter of a merchant of nearby Vidisha. Sanchi was also her birthplace as well as the venue of her marriage with Ashoka. In the first century BCE, four elaborately carved toranas (gateways) and balustrade encircling the entire structure were added.

The stupa may have been vandalized in the 2nd century BCE during the rise of the Shunga emperor Pushyamitra Shunga, who overtook the Maurya Empire and was believed to be rebuilt by his son Agnimitra. The original brick stupa was covered with stone during the Shunga period. During the later Shunga period the stupa was expanded with stone slabs to almost twice its original size. The dome was set on a high circular drum meant for circumambulation, which could be accessed via a double staircase. A second stone pathway at ground level was enclosed by a stone balustrade with four monumental gateways facing the cardinal directions. Other structures which were commissioned during the Shunga period are the second and third stupas.

In the first century BCE, during the Satavahana period the gateways were constructed. Further Buddhist structures were added over the centuries until the 12th century AD. Temple 17 is attached to the Gupta period (5th century CE). This structure consists of a flat roofed square sanctum with a portico and four pillars.

Temple 45 was the last Buddhist temple built during the 9th century. With the decline of Buddhism in India the monuments of Sanchi went out of use and fell into a state of despair. Between 1912 and 1919 the structures were restored to their preset condition under the supervision of Sir Johns Marshall.

The stupas of Sanchi
The great stupa with the northern gateway
A closer view of the northern gateway
Details – the dvarapala from the gateway
Rear view of the northern gateway
More details from the gateway
The eastern gateway of the great Stupa
More details from the gateway
Another view of the great stupa
The balustrade of the great stupa and the eastern gateway
Another view of the balustrade
Stupa no.3
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Ruins around the area
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
More ruins around the area
Temple No.18 at sanchi
More ruins around
Temple No.17 at Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
The Ashokan pillar, which was reduced to pieces by a local zamindar
Details from the pillar
An inscription
View of the surrounding fields from the top
View of the surrounding fields from the top
The stupa at sunset
Sun setting behind the ruins

Today around fifty monuments remain on the hill of Sanchi. These monuments have been listed among UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1989.

Ahmedabad declared India’s first world heritage city by UNESCO – Proud moment for every Indian

Recognizing its unique heritage value, the walled city of Ahmedabad which is more than 600 years old was declared India’s first World Heritage City by UNESCO. This historic declaration was issued at the 41st session the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland on Saturday July 08, 2017.

Ahmedabad’s nomination was supported by 20 countries, including Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia, Portugal, Peru Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Finland, Azerbaijan, Jamaica, Croatia, Poland, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Korea, Angola and Cuba.

The 5.5 km walled city area with an approximate population of four lakhs living in century old wooden residences in around 600 pols or neighbourhoods, is regarded as living heritage and the UNESCO had preferred Ahmedabad’s entry over Delhi and Mumbai, the two main metro cities in the country.

There are 2600 heritage sites and over two dozen ASI (Archeological Survey of India) protected monuments in the walled city. In the walled city the dominant Hindu, Islamic and Jain communities peacefully coexists. Besides its architectural marvels, the city was the epic center of non-violent freedom struggle spear-headed by Mahatma Gandhi that led to the country’s independence in 1947.

Other cities from the subcontinent which hold the world heritage tag are Bhaktpur in Nepal and Galle in Sri Lanka.

You can read more about the city of Ahmedabad from the links below:

Ahmedabad – Part I : Bhadra Fort and Teen Darwaza

Ahmedabad – Part II : The Pols and Havelis

Ahmedabad – Part III : The Swaminarayan Temple at Kalupur

Ahmedabad – Part IV: The Hutheesing Jain Temple

Ahmedabad – Part V: Jama Masjid & Mausoleums

Ahmedabad – Part VI: Sidi Saiyyed Mosque

Ahmedabad – Part VII: Rani Rupamati’s Mosque

Ahmedabad – Part VIII: Rani Sipri’s Mosque and Tomb

Ahmedabad – Part IX: The Pattharwali Masjid or Qutbuddin’s Mosque

Ahmedabad – Part X: Sidi Bashir Mosque and the Shaking Minarets

Ahmedabad – Part XI: Raj Babri Mosque and the Mausoleum of Bibiji

Ahmedabad – Part XII: Kankaria Lake and the Dutch Tombs

Ahmedabad – Part XIII: Dada Hari Vav

Ahmedabad – Part XIV: Sabarmati Ashram

Jai Vilas Palace Museum – The grandeur of the Scindias of Gwalior

Jai Vilas Palace, also known as Jai Vilas Mahal is located in the city of Gwalior in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The palace was established by Jayajirao Scindia, the Maharaja of Gwalior in 1874 and is still the residence of his descendants, the former royal Maratha Scindia dynasty. A part of this palace was converted into a museum in 1964 which occupies 35 rooms of the palace.

It is a fine example of European architecture, designed and built by Sir Michael Filose. A combination of architectural styles, the first storey is Tuscan, the second Italian-Doric and the third Corinthian. The area of the Jai Vilas Palace is 12,40,771 square feet and it is particularly famous for its large Durbar Hall. The interior of the Durbar Hall is decorated with gilt and gold furnishings and adorned with a huge carpet and gigantic chandeliers. It is 100 feet long, 50 feet wide and 41 feet in height.

Supposedly, eight elephants were suspended from the Durbar Hall ceiling to check it could cope with two 12.5 m high 3.5 ton chandeliers with 250 light bulbs, said to be the largest pair in the world.

A visit to the palace makes you explore the royal times of the Maratha Scindia dynasty and will help you to flip back the pages of luxurious lifestyle of the kings and queens of those times. Items like cut-glass furniture, stuffed tigers etc. are exhibited in the museum.

The main entrance of the palace
One of the fountains inside the forecourt of the palace
Entrance to the museum
Some of the exhibits
Some of the exhibits
One of the exhibits from the museum
Some of the exhibits
Some of the exhibits
Various musical instruments
Some of the exhibits
Skull of a wild buffalo
One of the stuffed tigers exhibited in the museum
One of the chandeliers
Some of the exhibits
The traditional dining area
Dining area for the visiting dignitaries
Inside the palace
Beautifully adorned staircase
The durbar hall with the huge chandeliers
One of the chandeliers in the durbar hall
Durbar hall
One of the exhibits
This area is dedicated for exhibiting the life and times of Madhavrao Scindia the son of the last ruling maharaja and leading politician and congress minister who died in a plane crash on 30 Sep 2001

Bidar Fort – The erstwhile capital of the Bahmani Kingdom

Bidar Fort is situated in Bidar city of the Indian state of Karnataka. Originally built in the 8th century, the old fort of Bidar was captured in 1321-22 AD by Prince Ulugh Khan of the Tughlaq dynasty, who later on became Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq of Delhi. With the establishment of the Bahmani Sultanate in 1347, Bidar was occupied by Sultan Alauddin Bahman Shah. During the rule of Ahmad Shah I (1422-1486), Bidar was made the capital of Bahmani Kingdom. He rebuilt the old fort and erected beautiful madrasas, mosques and palaces inside it. Long and winding fort walls were constructed out of stone and mortar by Persian and Turkish architects.

Bidar fort was captured by the independent Bijapur Sultanate in 1619-20 but fell to the Mughal viceroy Aurangzeb in 1657, and was formally absorned by the Mughal Empire in 1686. In 1724 Bidar became part of the Asaf Jahi Kingdom of the Nizams. Nawab Mir Said Muhammad Khan, also known as Salabath Jung, who was the third son of Asaf Jah I ruled from Bidar fort from 1751 to 1762, till his brother Mir Nizam Ali Khan also known as Asaf Jah II, imprisoned him and later killed him in the fort on 16th September 1763. The old name of Bidar “Mohammedabad” refers to the rule of Salabath Jung. In 1956 when the state of Hyderabad was partitioned, Bidar fort became part of the newly formed Mysore state, now Karnataka.

The Bidar fort was constructed on the edge of a plateau and has a haphazard rhombus-shaped layout. The present day fortress was rebuilt using red laterite stone around the old fort in 1428 by Ahmed Shah Bahman. The fort is 1.21 km long and 0.80 km in breadth. The fort walls measure 2.5 km on the outside and include within numerous buildings, arches, pavilions, mosques, gateways and gardens. To the north and east, steep cliffs provide natural protection to the moat and the glacis elsewhere, the walls are protected by a unique tripe channeled moat. There were seven gates to the Fort.

There are 37 bastions on the fort walls, with cannon made of bars of metal welded together and held together by metal hoops were mounted on the bastions. The fort has number of monuments within the fortress complex. Prominent among them are the Rangin Mahal, Takht Mahal, the Jami masjid and the Sola Khamba Masjid (Sixteen pillar mosque). Most of these structures are in ruins now.

The spiked doors of the Bidar fort
Another gate of the Bidar Fort
An arched door inside the fort
The triple moat of Bidar fort
Another arched gate inside the fort
Inside the fort – ruins
Inside the fort
One of the buildings inside the fort
More structures inside the fort
Fort interior
The dome of the Sola Khamba Masjid
Arched gateways inside the fort
More ruins inside the fort
The steep cliff at the north end
More structures inside the fort
One of the arched gateways inside the fort
One of the bastions and the moat below
Inside the fort

How to reach:
Bidar railway station is well connected with the rest of the country.

Bidar is well connected with the nearby cities by a network of buses by both Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation and private buses. Hyderabad is 147 kms from Bidar.