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Friday, January 23, 2015

Bandhavgarh: Up The Hill

Sesh Shaiyya
Blessed with eternal beauty Bandhavgarh National Park is a paradise on earth. It was some where in the nineties that I accompanied wildlife photographer Gertrude. She was from Germany and a frequent visitor to India. 

Hindu Temple
Tiger
On that hot summer day we ascended the Bandhavgarh Mountain at 800 MSL.The climb turns and twists precariously and tests the skill of the driver. A steep fall unto death awaits for those who go over the edge the abyss of silence. The weather beaten ascent crosses over a number of stables and small caves all man made craved out of the mountain walls.

On the way up is Shesh Shaiyya a twenty feet reclining Vishnu carved out of igneous rock. The statue lies besides the pool calm, composed and majestic. The Shesh Nag is as impressive hence the name. A number of freshwater springs trickle in to feed the pool - earlier used for bathing. The grove is surrounded by an aura of mystic and grandeur.  

Bandhvgarh Mountain
Stables
Old Temple
We spent considerable time at this spot. Inexperienced I poured large amount of water inside to deter the conquering heat.

Pristine.Fairy Tale Like. Esoteric.

Best way to describe the amazing holy domain of Lord Vishnu. Serenity prevails and an occasional tiger appears sometimes. The dense canopy is ideal for raising families for tigresses of the park. The location is an enchanting spectacle, picturesque to the core. Large looming trees provide shade and shelter from the sweltering heat of the sun.   

As we climb up the mountain on foot we encounter the Pujari. He was the priest appointed by Maharajah of Rewa for the upkeep of Ram Janki Laxman Temple on the hill top. Walking almost every day he trudged along the jungle road covering a distance of 11 km in order to reach the temple. On this trek he would often encounter a tiger. "I stand still whence the big cats are close to me," he narrated nonchalantly. Unimpressed by series of queries from us he moved on.        

Ram Janki Temple
The entrance is a majestic structure perhaps all that is left of the 2000 year fort. The massive door and sentry chamber greets the visitors in the abyss of silence. The chambers now house bats and that  is what we stopped to  photograph.

We then proceeded further on a jungle road that was surrounded by tall grasses. As we moved further we came across a towering statue of Lord Vishnu. We encountered statues of the Lord in zoomorphic forms. Amazing esoteric world of ancient is what we encountered. The fort now in ruins was ruled over by many dynasties but initial architecture is Gond - a tribal community in Central India or Madhya Pradesh.

The Bandhavgarh Mountain is a tabletop one with extensive plateau. The fort complex contains man made reservoirs besides ruins of the Fort itself.  All along the complex are scattered artifacts and run down walls.  

Reservoir
Ancient Temple

The visit to the ruins takes time and we sit down to have our lunch. Prepared by expert  chefs in our resort in Bandhavgarh we savor the gastronomic delights. But I was facing acute shortage of water having drunk a large amount on the way. Gertrude was kind enough to share hers with me.

We could hear the squeals of wild boar as we stood at the edge peeping right into the vast landscape of Bandhavgarh National Park. As we climbed down a memorable safari had just concluded.    

All images by Teerath Singh