Sunday, January 3, 2016

Burhanpur, here we come !

This was a 3 day road trip to Burhanpur, with Treks and Trails, at the border at Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

Burhanpur is a city of around 800,000 people, situated along the Tapti River. The Satpura mountains to the north of Burhanpur separate Burhanpur  from Khandwa , a major city of the state. They also separate the Narmada river from the Tapti River.  The pass through the Satpura mountains that connected Kahndwa with Burhanpur was a major gateway to South India  during the Mughal and other times, and was greatly prized. The Asirgarh fortress that guards the pass was known as "Key to the Deccan".

Burhanpur has many interesting places to visit , but is often remembered as the place where Mumtaz Mahal , wife of Empereor Shah Jehan , died, giving birth to her 14th child.    The same Mumtaz Mahal , in honor of whom Shaha Jehan , built the Taj Mahal at Agra .  Mumtaz Mahal was interred at Burhanpur and her remains shifted to Agra, when the Taj Mahal was complete.

Burhanpur lays claims to many Mughal and Faroqui monuments , Sikh monuments, and temples, besides being a town involved in textile industry stuff.

We started at around 9 pm from Dadar in Central Mumbai , and reached Burhanpur in the early morning after a quick stop for tea at dawn  a little before. The temperature was 7 degrees C , and the hot tea was most welcome.

We leave Dadar for places due north. The Chev 4WD lights up.

This was at dawn when the temperature hovered around 7 degrees C, and a desperate need for tea was felt by one and all.  This gentleman obliged.

At the Hotel Ambar, one of the 4 "decent" hotels (as they say ) in Burhanpur.
The show starts right here at these amazing screens in the hotel  foyer.

Something on display at the hotel . I cannot recall what this was. If anyone knows, please enlighten ! 

We are at the Shahi Quila .  The Badshahi Qila, on the banks of the Tapti River, a fine example of Mughal and Persian styles of building.  Once the Mughals were in control of Burhanpur, a posting here was greatly valued, and only folks close to rulers were posted here. The Governer of Burhanpur was always picked from the Royal Family, so to speak. ( Looks like nothing has changed in today's world....)

A lovely view from another part of the Shahi Qila. The palaces, the Diwan-e-Khas and Diwan-e-Aam  have now turned to dust, with several ruins all around.
Another view captured by me from a high elevation in the Qila.

This is the grand entrance door to the Shahi Qila. It seems to have been maintained to this day , or was amazingly constructed to withstand the onslaught of the centuries,  and it was clearly an honor to pose and have myself clicked.

A close up of the door fortifications.

The inner environs of the Shahi Qila, are like a lesson of Geometry in Stone . The Shahi Qila is a seven storeyed fortress, and was once home to Shah Jehan and Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal had her 14th delivery here, but did not survive it. 
One of the ramparts of the Shahi Qila.

Another view.

 This arched entrance at the  Asirgarh  Fort is supposed to lead to what might have been a jail inside the Fort.

Sometimes Nature conspires to create  Art, and you applaud.

This is what remains of the Jama Masjid in the Asirgarh Fort, 20 kilometres away from the city .
A closer look at the entrance .

There were separate areas demarcated for the ladies and gents to sit.  The area facing the sun was supposed to be for the ladies. 

A view of the same area, along with some ladies who came to check it out !

Another view from within the corridor.

The sole remaining minaret. Framed ....

The interiors of the mosque.

Beauty in symmetry. I wonder what building tools were used in those days. 

Adorned doors. With possible restoration happening. 

Some distance away from the Jama Masjid at Asirgarh, is  a Shiva temple, situated in a deep square enclosure which contains a pond called Ashwatthaamaa Kund. Ashwatthaamaa is a character from the Mahabharata condemned by Lord Krishna to wander the earth for eternity without a home. It is believed that he visits the temple  on dark nights and worships Shiva.
The temple itself is well preserved. Much of the painting inside and outside has faded, but traces of red and blue remain.  

I don't know who this person was, but this scene was asking to be clicked . Silhouettes !

Sections of Moti Mahal at the Asirgarh Fort , built to enclose the tomb of Moti Begum, one of Shaha Jehan' s other wives. A fairly unkempt monument, it has several staircases that lead to various parts of the building under the two domes on top.
Some interior views of Moti Mahal .  Notice the preferred shape of the windows . 

The preferred window shape, highlighted by the Sun !

And we try and bring in some color amidst the ruins of Moti Mahal.

Some more interiors  with some possible truths scribbled on the walls, by those, who do not realize that the Mughals were aware of it all. 

Sunset at Moti Mahal ....

And I climbed a bit higher to click this one ...

And then into the city for food ....

The Yummy Street Food of Burhanpur

Chaats Galore !

The variety continues !

The Dahiwadas ! 

Gulaab Jamuns !

Fresh Rumali Rotis everywhere on the street ...

The Burhanpur speciality!  Two types of Jilebis.  Mawa Jilebis  for breakfast ! 

A mosque within the Shahi Qila, is now in ruins, and has only one minaret remaining. It is referred to as the "laung"  minar by the locals since its shape resembles that of a clove or "laung" . 
Frescoes in the Zenana Hammam,  or women's Baths in the Shahi Qila, as they exist today .

Begum Mumtaz Mahal's built in bathing tub.  The baths had provisions for hot and cold water running along inclines in the walls.  This bath is 1.8 metres deep. 
 Us shower types are happy to just sit and get clicked there. 

Amazing ceilings and frescoes on the walls .
The Remnants of the Diwan-e-khaas  at the Shahi Qila, that may be seen today .

The Ghats by the Tapti River, with the temples.  Burhanpur is on the Northwestern bank of the river.   In the Mughal period , this was used as a harbour for boats by the royal family. Later on Ahilya Bai Holkar, built temples on these ghats , and one is dedicated to the Goddess Tapti.  The Tapti Purana says , " Bathe in the Ganga, Behold the Narmada, Rmember the Tapti, and you shall be absolved of all your sins " .....     Across the river is Zainabad, and the boatmen ferry you across the river for a nominal charge. 

The ruins of the Shahi Qila stand along the banks of the Tapti. 

We pose amidst the ruins at the Shahi Qila.

I wonder what this was used for, and did the royal children use this ?

The Jama Msajid, is located in the centre of Burhanpur, in Gandhi Chowk. Its minars are almost 36 metres high.  Inside , inscriptions in Sanskrit as well as Arabic indicate that it was built by Adil Shah in 1589.  Stones were brought from Mandu. The symmetrical arches  and sparsely decorated pillars, create a sense of severe simple beauty. You can see mats laid out for the devotees , with overhead fans , something probably never expected by the Mughals....

An old medieval prayer rosary being displayed by the caretaker of the mosque.

 This is the tomb of Begum Shah Shuja, who was Shaha Jehan's daughter-in-law who died in childbirth.  The shape of the dome earns it the name Kharboozi Gumbaz, and although the exterior appears plain, the interiors are intricately decorated. 

 Every niche in the walls inside, is decorated with floral patterns, and the colors have remained fairly intact over centuries.  Above and below.

Burhanpur has a thriving industry in making ropes from waste material. One such entrepreneur  in the city. 

Ropes in reels prepared  and ready to be sent wherever needed. 

The Gurudwara Bari Sangat. The Sikh connection with Burhanpur dates back to the 16th century when Guru Nanak  Singhji is supposed to have visited the city. 

This complex, about 2 kms out of town, consists of a large assembly hall, pilgrim rooms and a langar. The assembly hall contains a display of weapons on the walls .

The most chersihed possession of the gurudwara, is an old handwritten copy of the Holy Book, the Guru Granth Sahib, with an inscription by Guru Gobind Singh himself. This is displayed for the public on the 14th of each month.

On the northern outskirts of the city, about 2 kms away, the tomb of Shaha Nawaz Khan.  Set amongst an open landscaped ground, its exteriors are fairly plain, but frescoes adorn the insides. The actual tombs are underground and fake tombs are in public view inside.  Shaha Nawaz Khan was one of the royals posted in Burhanpur.

Below , the speciality of the Kundi Bhandara. 

The Mughals had a great interest in water architecture, and a number of internal springs flowing frpom the Satpura Hills to the Tapti river were intercepted  by wells built at regular intervals.Water collected in these wells would then flow to various destinations via underground tunnels .  This design was so good that it served the city water requirements well into the 20th century.  Bhandaras were the tunnels that transported the water .  These Kundi Bhandaras were often called Khuni Bhandaras , based on false rumors if murders etc.

These brightly painted wells each still taps the clear water flowing below.

The internal tunnels and passages. A tiny lift brings people 25 metres below to see these.  The walls show some leakage over the years.

Here is a photograph taken , looking upwards , from the bottom of one of the wells .

About 3 kms from the city lies the village of Lodhi. This is the location of the Dargah-e-Hakimi,  a place of scared pilgrimage for all Dawoodi Bohra Muslims. This is the Mazar of Syedi Abdulquadir Hakimuddin.  He was a saint who came here to propagate the word of the Prophet, and was one of the most learned men of his time, being proficient in Urdu, Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic.  He translated Sanskrit texts into Arabic and complied them in a book called Qalila Wadhima.  He also began the custom of collecting something from each family  within the community and arrange to spend it for the welfare of all . 

This Dargah-e-Hakimi complex contains 700 rooms for Pilgrims, , gardens and shrines,  gives a sense of being affluent , is extremely well kept, and the locals refer to it as Chhota Amrika . 

 Well organized set up, for all the devotees to come and pray  and interact.

 A distance view of the complex.

 6 kilometres  south of Burhanpur, one sees this Raja Ki Chhatri.  This was constructed to honor the commander of Aurangzebs troops, Raja Jai Singh, who died in 1666 at Burhanpur on his way back from the Deccan.  This is the place where he was cremated .  It is surrounded by green banana fields, and looks down at the confluence of Tapti and Mohana rivers.

 This chhatri stands on a 3 metre plinth, with 32 pillars with graceful simple leafy patterns.  Much in contrast to the intricte art work and frescoes of other Mughal monuments, this has perhaps something to do with Aurangzeb's instructions...

 This is the Ahukhana , situated in Jainabad, across the Tapti river on its eastern banks. Literally , it translates as Deer Park, and this was used by the old rulers as a hunting ground.  This was constructed by Akbar's son, who was the first Mughal Governer of the Deccan.  Besides hunting deer, the place was a recreation place with a square stage in the midle of some tanks, where musicians performed to entertain reclining  royal hunting parties. 

 An airy baradari facing the Ahukhana.  There was at one time a smaller tank opposite the airy baradari above, with lots of special trees and grasses planted there. The water for these came from the aforementioned kundi bhandara tunnels. Shah Jehans most beloved queen , Mumtaz Mahal was buried here and the body kept here for several months, till  the Taj Mahal at Agra was built, and then her body was disinterred and shifted along with the Mughal Court to Agra.

A closer look at the airy Baradari.

 Some of us finding something to smile about amidst the ruins.

The small tank in front of the baradari with a 5.5 m square platform at the centre.

Burhanpur is a small city,  but with a huge amount of history .  Some of which we learned in school and some that we did not. 

What did I like most , from what I saw during about this whole trip ?

Very clearly, the Kundi Bhandaras. Absolutely brilliant.

1 comment:

  1. Pictures are wonderful but it also tells the story of negligence of the Burhanpur city. Burhanpur is considered as a weekend getaway from Mumbai. Places to visit in Burhanpur are historically enriched and it should be restored for its glorious past. Thank you for sharing it