I don’t know why but it seems some kind of travel bug has hit me and I just can’t stop myself from wandering around these days. As soon as I heard that Pradeep was going to organize Sky Diving event at Indore I immediately decided to go ahead for this awesome event. This was something which I’ve always dreamed of, I mean it would just feel out of this world to jump of a plane at heights of around 20000 ft. Luckily I also found a place in the team and our jump was scheduled for Monday, 21st of Sept. As weekend closed by my anxiety also began to increase and I just wanted to move out and visit Indore. On last working day i.e. Friday, Nipun asked me if I’d some other plans for weekend. He is an avid trekker and just wants to move to the wild, but as I was going to catch my train to Indore on Sunday morning so I didn’t want to rush into a trek on Saturday and I told him that it won’t be possible for me to go for any trek this weekend. However suddenly I realized that instead of going for a trek and me going all alone to Indore, it would make more sense if we both paid a trip to Indore and I asked him if he was interested and a real quick positive reply came back from him.
We’d no plans till Friday evening to visit Indore on Friday night itself and here we were on verge of starting our next trip. We both took off to my house at Bandra and Safeer also accompanied us. It was real nice of Safeer to be with us, as he was the person who finally managed to find a place at my apartment where we could surf Internet to find some sort of bus or train to Indore. Time was passing by quickly and as we were inquiring from some travel agents we came to know that all the buses had left for Indore and last train was also on verge of leaving. As none of us wanted to stay back, we decided to break up our journey and we decided to visit Ratlam via Golden Temple Express which was scheduled to leave at 9:25 P.M. from Mumbai Central. It was 8:00 P.M. and both me and Nipun rushed out of our house. A quick ride in taxi and by 8:40 P.M. we were at Mumbai Central station. As we were about to enter the station I saw some shops of travel agents and decided to inquire about some bus service. As expected there was no bus service at that time to Indore but one guy told us that we could move to Shirpur and Indore was just 4 hrs. away from there. None of us had heard the name of that place before but we decided to take our chances and bought tickets for Non A/C Sleeper coach. The fare was Rs. 495/- per person and later on we found that this was a bit high and we could’ve bargained for a less fare but whatever the journey had started now and it was a great start as our bus driver decided to give us comfort of a A/C ride though we’d Non A/C tickets 🙂
As bus crossed Thane we landed up at a Dhaba and after a quick munch it was time to hit bed. I must admit that sleeping in a bus with windows open is the best thing that one can have. I slept all night long and when my eyes opened we’d reached Dhule district of Maharashtra. Shirpur wasn’t far from this place and we decided to have few snaps. Along the way we saw Tapti river and by 7:00 A.M. we were at Shirpur. As against my imagination this was a fairly decent place and bus station was also quite big. Shirpur is a Taluka place in Dhule district and is right at Maharashtra – Madhya Pradesh border. As we inquired about the State Transport (ST) bus we found that bus was supposed to come at 8:15 A.M., so it was time for some tea and quick refreshments.
The ST bus to Indore arrived right on time at 8:15 A.M. and we managed to find Window seats as well. The fare from Shirpur to Indore is around Rs. 125 /- and it takes around 4 hrs to reach from Shirpur to Indore. Though the distance is not much (around 180 kms) but the time is spend mostly in ascending up the hills along the way. We saw that another 4 lane high way was being constructed and it seems to me that after this construction the time taken to travel this distance would reduce considerably.
The journey from Shirpur to Indore was okey though it was really hot and we managed to reach Indore by 2:30 P.M. The bus stopped at Sarvate bus station and now it was time to find a hotel. We wanted to spend as less money as possible and we went around inquiring in some hotels and soon found New Standard Lodge, which is a hotel above Gurukripa Restaurant. The room was well priced at Rs. 235 /- and even had luxury of TV. We decided to take a quick shower and ordered a cup of tea as well. As we took first sip of tea we were amazed to see the quality of the tea and the price tag associated with it. The tea was just superb, with just as sweet as it should be and the milk used to prepare the tea was also just wonderful. It was so wonderful that we couldn’t resist ordering for second cup. Having done with tea it was time to xplore Indore. As we asked at hotel reception we were told name of few places like Rajwada, Kaanch ka mandir and Lal Bagh.
Xploring Indore (Day 1)
We started of our Indore exploration by visiting Rajwada. Rajwada is the historical palace of the Holkars. It was built about two centuries ago and is located near the Chhatris in the main square. It is a seven storied structure, which serves as the living example of the grandeur of the Holkars. Rajwada stands in the centre of the city. The new palace is on the northern side, while the old palace stands in the old part of the town. The old palace is a multi-storied building which also serves as a gateway of the Rajwada. It stands amongst the crowded streets of the Kajuri Bazar and faces the main square of the city.
The palace was once the centre of all the trading activities in the city. It is a blend of Maratha, Mughal and French style of architecture. The entrance of the palace has a lofty archway with a giant wooden door which is covered with iron studs. The gopura-like monument is made up of wood and stone. It has a number of balconies windows and corridors. The entrance leads to a huge courtyard, which is surrounded by galleried rooms and the arcaded Ganesha hall, which was once the venue of all state and religious functions. This hall is now used for art exhibitions and classical music concerts.
Rajwada has been burnt three times in history. The last fire broke out in 1984 and caused the maximum destruction. The lower three floors are made up of stone, while the top floors are made of wood. This made it very vulnerable to destruction by fire. Now, only the front part of the original structure remains. The palace has recently been renovated, which has managed to bring back the old glory to some extent. In the rear part of the palace, a beautiful garden has been created. It contains fountains, an artificial waterfall and some magnificent pieces of 11th century sculpture.
We spent almost 2-3 hours at Rajwada, taking photographs and trying to learn about it’s history from some of the instructions written on sign boards and also inquiring from the guards. It was almost 7:00 P.M. when we moved out of Rajwada and as it was too late so we decided to drop idea of visiting other places during the day. As we were deciding to return back to our hotel, Nipun suggested that we walk all the way back instead of taking an auto rickshaw. The suggestion seemed okey and we both walked back amidst crowded market place of Indore. As we were walking we noticed that Indore is a place where a lot of distributors and dealers operate from and this is true for every commodity that one can think of. And I guess this is prime reason for Indore being called commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh. After walking for about 30 min we finally reached our hotel. It was time to order food and as was the case with tea, the food was also simply fantabulous and real cheap. It was so cheap that we even managed to order dessert for both of us 🙂
Xploring Indore (Day 2)
Today we’d decided to visit Omkareshwar. It’s a Hindu temple about 81 Kms away from Indore. The bus service is readily available from Indore and one can catch a bus from Sarvate bus station. The bus fare is Rs. 50/- and it takes around 2:30 hrs to reach Omkareshwar. It is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlingas and is located on an island called Mandhata. The island is formed on confluence of Narmada and Kaveri river and the name of the place is Omkareshwar cauz’ it’s believed that the shape of the island is like shape of word “Om” in Hindi.
We reached Omkareshwar around 12:00 noon and after walking some distance we managed to reach the temple. As we were deciding if we should take a bath we found that the confluence (called Sangam in Hindi) of Narmada and Kaveri was not too far away and it was considered that Parikrama of the island was one of the things that, if done before the visit to temple, makes the visit all much more fruitful. So we both decided to first visit Sangam and in this course of journey half of our Praikrama was completed. The path laid down for this journey has Geeta shlokas embedded on stones all along the way. We reached Sangam after 30 min of walking and taking a dip in the cool water in such scrotching heat was just wonderful. We got rid of our sins or not is something which is debatable but we sure got rid of scrotching heat that had really put us into a misreable condition. I simply didn’t want to come out of water but had to, due to lack of time. The rest of journey was now even more tough as the bath had opened up all the pores in our skin and sweat was dripping out like anything. As we were walking we soon decided that we needed a break and there we found a hut with an old Sadhu lying down reading something. We inquired if we could’ve a cup of tea and he nodded positively. Coool, the guy was having tea and puffs as well. We asked him to prepare 2 cups of tea and ordered some puffs. As he was preparing tea, he started a discussion about science and I was surprised for once to see a fellow of his age and looks talking about science. As discussion progressed he showed us couple of letters that he’d written to Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and some heads of Universities in Madhya Pradesh, seeking miniscule funding of around Rs. 50,000 for building a pump which would pump out water without consumption of fossil fuel or electricity. The guy could’ve been a fake but I don’t know why I believed him and I hope that he soon gets some kind of funding for his project. We thanked him and took a photograph for which he instantly agreed and it was time to complete rest of the Parikrama.
As we were reaching other end of the island, we found some real nice places along the way like Chand Suraj Dwar, Dharamraj Dwar etc. We were wondering why so many dwars were there along the way (Dwar is a Gate). And soon we found the answer to this question at a place whos beauty was unparalleled. This place was BarahDwari Siddheswar temple. It’s called BarahDwari because there are 12 gates (Barah means 12 in Hindi and Dwar means Gate) through which one could enter this temple. All the gates that we’d seen so far were part of these 12 gates. The architecture of the temple was superb and it’s believed that the temple is of days of Mahabharat. Narmada flowing in near vicinity adds to the nostalgia and we spent nearly 1 hour just admiring the beauty of the place. The temple is now under Archeological Survey of India and is being renovated at some places as well.
As we moved ahead we soon began to see Omkareshwar town in near distance. There is a rope bridge as well there to reach from one bank of Narmada with Omkareshwar temple to other bank with Mamleshwar temple. We quickly descended to Omkareshwar temple and visited the place before leaving from last bus to Indore at 6:00 P.M.
Today was the day I’d been waiting for since a long long time. I was about to jump off a plane at a height of around 20,000 ft. I decided to call the event host, Pradeep but what the hell, I was told that there would be no jumps today as Govt. of India had issued a notification disallowing all private planes to take off from Indian soil due to some kind of terror threat report. This was a real shocker for me, but I didn’t want to spoil my mood for the trip and we decided to explore Indore a bit more before moving to Ujjain. We visited Lal Bagh (also called Bunkingham Palace of India), Maa Annapurna Temple, Bada Ganpati Temple and at the end we reached Kaanch ka Mandir. Kaanch ka Mandir is a place which I’d recommend everyone. This is a Jain temple built by Seth Hukumchand and every thing inside the temple is built out of glass (Kaanch means Glass). The only sad thing is that photography is not allowed. After having spent quite some time at Kaanch ka Mandir we walked towards Krishnapur Ki Chaatriyan. This monument is again a wonderful peace of architecture and is presently being maintained by Archeological Survey of India, but the condition of this monument is not very good and people litter around everywhere and we even found goats roaming around in the corridors. Hope things will improve for the place in future.
As we reached hotel, it was already 2:00 P.M., so we ordered food and decided to take a quick nap before starting off our journey to Ujjain.
We left our hotel around 3:00 P.M. and took a bus to Ujjain from Sarvate bus station. Buses to Ujjain are easily available and the frequency of buses is also very good, with buses available every 10 min.
We took a place on a bus and fare was Rs. 35/- per person for a 50 km journey which took us nearly 1.5 hrs due to bad roads and frequent stoppages. However we reached Ujjain around 4:45 P.M. and as usual our first objective was to find a nice, cheap, decent place to dump ourselves. Hotel Ajay near railway station on Mali baazar road is a nice place and we found a room for Rs. 250/- again with a TV 🙂
The waiter was a real nice person and he told us about every place worth visiting in and around Ujjain.
We took a bath and it was time to explore Ujjain. As it was late around 6:45 P.M. so we decided to abandon the idea of visiting temples like Mahakaleshwar and instead decided to explore Ujjain city. Ujjain is a small town and like Indore it’s busteling with noise of scooties and auto rickshaw etc. As we were strolling in the streats we found a place where an event was going to be organized and upon inquiry we found that a garba dance event was scheduled late at night. It was already 9:00 P.M. so we decided to have food and we found a decent restaurant named Hotel Sudama which was decent and at same time not very expensive. Food was nice and we decided to move to garba dance. By the time we reached the place, the event had started and we could see lots of girls and boys dancing on bollywood beats. It was a wonderful scene and I managed to catch a small video clip of the event.
Xploring Ujjain (Day 4)
Today we’d earlier decided to visit Mahakaleshwar temple in morning around 2:00 A.M. to see Bhasm Aarti which is considered to be the mega event. However inspite of all the alarms we both just couldn’t wake up and kept on sleeping till 8:00 A.M. Anyhow we decided to pay a visit to Mahakaleshwar Temple. This is an ancient temple with beautiful carvings done on stone. As camera is not allowed inside temple, we could not take many photographs of the temple. However one uncle who belonged to Mandir Samiti allowed us to take photographs from a distance and we thanked him for this gesture and moved on to Ramghat. Ramghat is on banks of Shipra river and this ghat has been formed by stagnating the flow of Shipra river. As we were returning from Ramghat we decided to hire a local autorickshaw for returning to hotel. The auto rickshaw here in Ujjain are a bit different and we found that they are dead cheap too. It must have been atleast 25 min of ride and the fare that we’d to give was just Rs. 3/-. It was just wonderful and now we’d to decide where to move next. We’d two options, one being Bhrithari Caves and other Iskcon temple. We opted for Bhrithari Caves and this proved to be a decision worth taken. An autorickshaw ride from Ujjain Junction to Bhrithari Caves takes around 30 min. and the driver settled for Rs. 150/- for to-and-fro journey.
Bhrithari caves are located outside Ujjain city on banks of Shipra river. There are two caves in here. The caves have Bhrithari and Neelkantheshwar (Shiva) temple inside them.
It was afternoon when we finally reached back hotel and now we’d to think of moving back to Mumbai. As we inquired at Ujjain we found that though the travel agents were ready to book the tickets but we’d to catch the bus from Indore and above that they were charging around Rs. 100/- for commission. So decision was simple and we decided to move back to Indore. Upon reaching Indore, first thing that we did was have a Puri Bhaaji plate for lunch and I must admit that Indore has been one of the best places I’ve ever been to, as far as food and hospitality is concerned. We took our tickets back to Mumbai costing around Rs. 400/- per person and we could’ve even negotiated on this price (remember we’d travelled to Shirpur from Mumbai for Rs. 495/-). The bus started late but finally we were on our way back to Mumbai with sweet memories of Indore and Ujjain.
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