Vidisha – One of the oldest cities of the Indian subcontinent

Vidisha is located 10km northeast of Sanchi, between Betwa and Bes Rivers. It was one of the oldest cities in the Indian subcontinent and was a major commercial centre in the 5th and 6th centuries BC. Later it was known as Besnagar during the Buddhist emperor Ashoka’s reign and then passed through the hands of the Mughals and then to the Scindias. There are few important monuments located near this town.

Bijamandal
Bijamandal, which is popularly known as Vijayamandira is Temple built during the Paramara period in the eleventh century and is located at the eastern edge of the old town of Vidisha. The temple was destroyed in the year 1682. After its demolition, Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor, constructed a mosque called Alamgiri Masjid, at the site. The materials of the destroyed temple, was used in the construction of this mosque.

Other materials are scattered all around the site. One of the pillars bears the inscription which suggests that the original temple was dedicated to Goddess Charchika. The same inscription also bears the name of King Naravarman and Goddess Vijaya, after whom the temple is believed to be named.

It appears that the original temple was of considerable dimension approachable by a high flight of steps on its three sides. Not far from the temple site one could see the ancient baoli (stepwell) with carved pillars belonging to the eight century.

The huge platform where the temple was once
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Some of the pillars
Some of the pillars
Some of the pillars
More sculptures which are scattered around
More sculptures which are scattered around
More sculptures which are scattered around
More sculptures which are scattered around
More sculptures which are scattered around
The ancient stepwell near the temple

Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri is about 4km from the town of Vidisha and about 13km from the Buddhist site of Sanchi. Cut into a sandstone hill, are some 20 Gupta cave shrines dating from the reign of Chandragupta II (382 – 401). Most are Hindu but two are Jain. Some of the caves are closed due to unsafe roofs. Cave no. 5 has an image of Vishnu in his boar incarnation. On the top of the hill are ruins of a 6th century Gupta temple dedicated to the sun god.

Udayagiri Caves – boar incarnation
Udayagiri Caves – boar incarnation
Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri Caves – sculptures
Udayagiri Caves – sculptures
Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri Caves – sculptures
Udayagiri Caves – Ananthasayana
Udayagiri Caves – Inscriptions
Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri Caves

Heliodorus Pillar
Not far from the Bijamandal is the Heliodorus Pillar. The Heliodorus pillar is a stone column that was erected around 113 BC in Vidisha by Heliodorus, from Taxila. He was the Greek ambassador of the Indo-Greek King Antialcidas. The pillar was surmounted by a sculpture of Garuda and was apparently dedicated by Heliodorus to the god Vasudeva.

The pillar is worshipped by local fishermen. On full moon nights one is chained to the pillar, he becomes possessed and is able to drive evil spirits from other locals. When someone has been exorcised, they drive a nail into the tamarind tree nearby, fixing to it a lime, a piece of coconut, a red threat and supposedly the spirit. The large tree is bristling with old nails.

Heliodorus Pillar
Inscriptions on the pillar
Heliodorus Pillar – details
The tamarind tree near by
Here you can see the lime nailed to the tree
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Jhansi Fort – A symbol of the Indian Mutiny of 1857

Jhansi Fort is situated on Bangira hilltop in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It was constructed in 1613 by Bir Sing Deo the king of Orchha. In 1728 Mohammed Khan Bangash the Mughal General attacked Maharaja Chattrasal. Peshwa Bajirao helped Maharaja Chattrasal to defeat the Mughal army. As a mark of gratitude, the Maharaja offered part of his state including Jhansi to Peshwa Bajirao. In 1742 the Peshwa appointed Naroshanker as the subedar of Jhansi. During his tenure of 15 years he extended the fort and built many buildings inside the fort. From 1766 to 1769 Vishwas Rao Laxman served as the subedar of Jhansi. Then Raghunath Rao (II) Newalkar was appointed the subedar of Jhansi. He was a very able administrator and built the Mahalakshmi temple and Ragunath temple.

During the time of Raja Gangadhar Rao, a generous and sympathetic administrator the local population of Jhansi was well satisfied. In 1842 Raja Gangadhar Rao married Manikarknika Tambe who was given the new name of Laxmi Bai. She gave birth to a boy named Damodar Rao, in 1851, who died after four months. The Maharaja adopted a child called Anand Rao, the son of Gangadhar Rao’s cousin who was renamed Damodar Rao on the day before the Maharaja died. The adoption was in the presence of the British political officer who was given letter from the Maharaja instructing that the child be treated with respect and that the government of Jhansi should be given to his widow for her lifetime. After the death of Maharaja in November 1853, because Damodar Rao (born Anand Rao) was adopted, the British East India Company, under Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, applied the Doctrine of Lapse, rejecting Damodar Rao’s claim to the throne and annexing the state to its territories. In March 1854, Laxmi Bai was given an annual pension of Rs. 60,000/- and ordered to leave the palace and the fort. In 1857, the revolt broke out and she took the control of the fort and led Jhansi forces against those of the British East India Company.

Jhansi was besieged by the company forces of General Hugh Rose in March and April 1858 and was captured on 4th April 1858. Rani Laxmi Bai was able to make a daring escape on horseback from the fort and the city before the city was pillaged by Rose’s troops.

The fort of Jhansi spreads over 15 acres and the colossal structure measures about 312m in length and 225m in width. There are twenty two supports with a mammoth wall surrounded by a moat on both sides. The granite walls of the fort are between 16 and 20 feet thick and on the south side meet the city walls. There are 10 gates giving access to the fort. The Kadak Bijli cannon used in the uprising of 1857 can be seen inside the fort.

Jhansi Fort – towards the main entrance
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Interior
‘Kadak Bijli’ cannon used in the uprising of 1857
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Panch Mahal
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – View from top
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Panch Mahal
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Kal Kothari the jail
Jhansi Fort – Interior

Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Panch Mahal
Jhansi Fort – the baradari inside the fort

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.