First pit-stop on my #ExploreUP journey, Bhitargaon in #Kanpurdehat. Amidst squalor, in a village seemingly over-run by a combo of buffaloes & pigs, stands what may be north India's oldest existing temple. This brick temple dedicated to Vishnu dates to Gupta period, 6th century.
#ExploreUP: Having read abt a Lodi-era tomb at #Kalpi, #Jalaun dist, I expected it to be in line with the octagonal Lodi-Sur era tombs elsewhere in India. It turned out to be quite different. Locals call it the Chaurasi (84) gumbad.
#ExploreUP: The tomb @ #Kalpi, was described as that of a 'Lodi Badshah'. Aware that of the three Lodi rulers, two buried in Delhi & third in #Panipat, was puzzled abt the Kalpi person. Turns out to be a brother of Ibrahim named Jalaluddin who propped himself as ruler for a while
#ExploreUP: The Lodi tomb @ #Kalpi proved the tip of the iceberg. The settlement just outside Kalpi town is surrounded by a karbala (in local parlance) - a vast necropolis that is now spread over 100 acres. This burial ground is larger than the settlement itself. Bizarre place!
#ExploreUP: ASI #Kanpurdehat list shows many kos minars in the vicinity. Was tough to locate them, esp when locals - on being shown pics of a typical kos minar - would point me to the nearest brick kiln. When I found them, @ Gour vil, a design diff from any I had seen earlier.
#ExploreUP: Caught sight of a small domed structure while passing through Badevna vil in #Kanpurdehat. Thought it was a tomb from a distance but it turned out to be a temple. One of four such in the place, all still worshiped. Interesting paintings on one of them.
#ExploreUP: A walk-through of Badevna vil, #Kanpurdehat dist. Everything is an effort. The menfolk work hard from dawn to dusk, but for the women it seems 24 x 7 x 365 x all their lives. If our politicos were to spend one week in such a vil every year, rural India would improve.
#ExploreUP: When it came to brick temples in #Kanpurdehat, Bhitargaon was the only one I had read about. However, this is only 1 of 7 temple sites in this region. Pics here are of the ancient brick temples at Khurtha vil. Were in a worse state before this resurrection by the ASI.
#ExploreUP: Nimbia Kheda vil, #Kanpurdehat. While Bhitargaon better known, this is more interesting. A main temple in the middle of an elevated platform with 4 smaller ones at each corner. Acc to ASI, originally a Vishnu shrine, later Shiva. 9th century. Finest in north India?
#ExploreUP: The All Souls' Cathedral, now called #Kanpur Memorial Church. Built in 1875 in honour of Brits who died in 1857. Located in the cantonment part of the city, which is an island of orderliness and sanity in chaotic Kanpur.
#ExploreUP: From the All Souls' Cathedral in #Kanpur, memorials dedicated to Brits who died in 1857. The city also has a Brit era cemetery with graves dating to the late 18th century.
#ExploreUP: Graveyard shift in #Kanpur. Pics from the Katcheri cemetery in the city in which the oldest tomb inscription - from the ones that have survived - dates to 1789.
#ExploreUP: The last temple I visited in #Kanpurdehat. The most unusually shaped Jagannath shrine at Behata Buzurg village. Lots of fascinating local traditions associated with this temple, details of which will be shared tomorrow.
#ExploreUP: Video clip of the Lodi tomb at #Kalpi, #Jalaun district. The tip of a very large necropolis. Unlike other Lodi tombs, this one is not octagonal but four sided. All four sides are punctuated by four arches. ASI conservation work ongoing.
#ExploreUP: Nadan Mahal is no. 285 in Lucknow ASI circle list. Misleading -the name is not for a palace but a tomb. Locals know Nadan Mahal Road but are clueless abt its origin. Tomb is of Abdur Rahim, region's governor during Akbar's time, predates Lucknow's nawabi monuments.
#ExploreUP: Another structure frm Nadan Mahal complex, #Lucknow - 16-pillared tomb predictably named Solah Khamba. Contains graves of Abdur Rahim's descendants. Interesting to see elephant motifs in both this & the Nadan Mahal, rare that an animal motif used in Islamic tombs.
#ExploreUP: #Lucknow needs a closer, more detailed exploration, beyond its Nawabi-Mutiny heritage. Incl places such as this, the All Saints Garrison Church in the cantonment. The structure dates back to 1860.
Taking #ExploreUP further, research currently on for #Mahoba. A host of interesting sites there, many dating back to the Chandella period. Inputs from friends who know about the region would be welcome.
Secondary research into #Mahoba has accelerated, primary this winter. If anyone has an in-depth understanding of Mahoba's heritage, inputs requested. Seek info on the location of 2 places - Sukora & Chukta. These are either villages in the district or localities in Mahoba town.
#ExploreUP in the western edge of the state. Pics of tombs in Tappal, an overgrown vil in #Aligarh dist. The ASI list mentions the tomb of a Brit Capt here. Neither of these has a protective signboard & with no sign/local knowledge of any other tomb, it may have vanished.
#ExploreUP: A couple of built-over gateways a two corner cupolas are all that remains of a once-graceful Mughal caravan sarai at Kosi Kalan, about half-way on the Delhi-Agra highway.
#ExploreUP: Another highway town on the Delhi-Agra road revealed another encroached-upon Mughal caravan sarai. This time at Chatta, where the sarai gateways and walls are structurally intact. Despite large parts being built upon & lived in.
#ExploreUP: To & from views of the #Mughal era Akbari Sarai (as it is called in the ASI list) at Chatta, on the Delhi-Agra highway. Massive encroachments with 300+ households + their commercial establishments in the sarai area but the sarai is still structurally intact.
#ExploreUP: A view of the walls of the Akbari sarai at #Chatta. A protected monument but ASI rules about distance from a monument have never been enforced here.
#ExploreUP: ASI rules being thrown out of the window at the Akbari sarai in Chatta. Or shall we call it the sarai supermarket? With a saree shop (complete with shutters), a vegetable store and more.
#ExploreUP: Last pics from the Akbari sarai at Chatta, on the Delhi-Agra highway. A glimpse of life inside the sarai & of a ruined chapel, perhaps built in the Brit era. Now re-purposed for domestic storage by a household here.
#ExploreUP: Rural UP hides some heritage gems. Such as this Chandella-built temple, possibly dating to the 10th century CE. 2 storeys high, standing alongside a water reservoir which is also a Chandella creation. Urwara vil, #Mahoba. In a state of total neglect.
#ExploreUP: The ruined Sun Temple at #Mahoba. Built by a 10th century CE Chandella ruler called Rahilya. The Chandellas had a practice of creating large irrigation tanks and reservoirs and building temples alongside. This Sun Temple too, stands alongside the Rahilya Sagar.
#ExploreUP: The Kakra Math is perhaps north & central India's most spectacularly located temple. A 10th century CE Chandella-built Shiva shrine, it stands on a rocky island in the Madan Sagar, #Mahoba. A structure that should be our pride is obscure & in a state of ruin.
#ExploreUP: Structure known as Alha-ki-lat, named after the legendary warrior Alha. In #Mahoba. Perhaps the lat once stood in front of a temple that no longer exists. Located close to the Madan Sagar.
#ExploreUP: For those who think #Mirzapur is only about gangsters, here are some nuggets of its heritage. Did a story in @ETPanacheTravel today: economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/trav…
Continuing #ExploreUP: In a lane near Keshi Ghat is the Jugal Kishore temple, dating to 1626-27. Its standout feature is the continued use of red sandstone, a trend that began here with Govind Deva temple - built under the patronage of Raja Man Singh of Jaipur. #Brajtrail
#ExploreUP: A magnificent haveli gateway in #Vrindavan. Gateway locked, like so many other buildings of this place. No idea how elegant it must be from within. #Brajtrail
#ExploreUP: Noticed something interesting happening in #Vrindavan in recent times. Some entity (don't think it is the ASI) is excavating in spots. At this site, encroachment around a set of cupolas was cleared & digging showed them to have towering bases with ghats at the bottom
#ExploreUP: Another excavation in progress in #Vrindavan. Has thrown up more built structures which had been buried below ground. The men working at the site were clueless abt which govt dept was getting the work done.
#ExploreUP: Sharing the first story I did, back in 2016, to begin the Hidden Heritage column in TOI Lucknow. On Deogarh, Lalitpur dist, one of the finest heritage sites in the state.
#ExploreUP: Continuing the #Brajtrail - #Vrindavan also has a stepwell. Located at the outskirts of the city in a temple complex at Tatia-sthan, is a medieval baoli. Such a city would have had more baolis but either hidden or built over now.
#ExploreUP: Madan Mohan Temple, #Vrindavan, #Brajtrail. In most cities, this elegant shrine would have had pride of place. The current structure dates to the late 16th century, built under the patronage of a merchant from Multan. Today, one approach is via narrow, dingy alleys.
#ExploreUP: The Madan Mohan stands midst a cluster of buildings, many of which don't look like temples at all. These were probably later additions to the site, though most continued using the red sandstone material.
#ExploreUP: Frm 1580, when it was built, Madan Mohan temple remained in worship till1670. When the threat of attack, possible destruction - attributed to Aurangzeb - forced priests to shift the idol to Amer (Jaipur). As the story goes, idol later taken to Karauli where it remains
#ExploreUP: Standing in the Madan Mohan complex is a temple that, at least to me, had a vague resemblence to temples seen in eastern India. Research revealed that around 1819, a Bengali merchant built a new shrine at this site, which is perhaps this structure on the left.
#ExploreUP: Back-view of two shrines dedicated to Madan Mohan. I found one locked while the other has idols of Radha & Krishna within. As per the priest, these idols are replicas of the idols that were taken away for safety. A trip to Karauli is called for to see the originals.
#ExploreUP: Local legends state that Madan Mohan temple is thousands of years old. Legends apart, it certainly looks as if the temple stands on a mound that deserves to be excavated. Take a look at this view of the temple's back. Perhaps there was a shrine here even before 1580.
#ExploreUP: View of the side walls that make up the base of the platform on which Madan Mohan stands. The walls rise at least 30 ft. Why would anyone elevate a temple from its backside to this extent? The entire thing resembles a hill which is called Dwadashaditya tila locally.
#ExploreUP: The #Hiddenheritage column is back in @TOILucknow. I could have written 5k words on #Kalinjar's magnificent fort, a few hundred not enough to do justice.
#ExploreUP: A few more pics, depicting iconography carved in #Kalinjar over centuries. Amazed that no govt has given this site a push towards World Heritage status. Could positively impact the entire Mahoba-Banda-Prayagraj region.
#ExploreUP: Sharing pics taken over a decade ago, of a fragile looking Chandella temple standing precariously next to a irrigation tank built by the same dynasty. A lonely Varaha completes the site. Dudhai vil, #Lalitpur dist, #Bundelkhand.
#ExploreUP: The latest #HiddenHeritage story in @TOILucknow is about the heritage of #Mahoba. Perhaps UP's least visited region & notorious for crime, its pristine heritage could become an agent for transformation if leveraged by those in authority.
@TOILucknow #ExploreUP: Another exploration of the vanishing Chandella temples of #Mahoba. One of these is a magnificent Jain shrine in which 3 sanctums combine into 1 mandapa. One observation: The more you separate heritage from the local community, the less chance it has of surviving.
@TOILucknow #ExploreUP: My story on the heritage sites of Garhwa and Bhita. For those going to Prayag, Garhwa should be a must visit. A disclaimer: In the ver I originally wrote, the city was mentioned as Prayagraj, changed by the powers that be to its old name in print.
@TOILucknow #ExploreUP: To me, the highlight of Garhwa is a set of rock cuts that depict Vishnu's incarnations. Each nearly 6 ft tall. Superb set, one can only imagine the shrine they were originally part of. Pics here of the matsya (fish) & koorma (turtle) forms.

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More from @Hiddenheritage

14 Jun
Beginning a thread on some less-known temples of #Gujarat. These pics are of a grp of 7th century CE temples, Maitraka dynasty, Bhanasara vil, #Junagarh. Lie a short drive frm the coast, on the road that connects #Mangrol to #Porbandar.
A giant stepwell, with four entrances, outskirts of Chobari vil, #Surendranagar, #Gujarat. But perhaps more shrine than stepwell, going by its ornate iconography, including a 12-13th century CE Shesasayi Vishnu. A story I did on this once: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad…
At Miyani vil, close to #Porbandar, a medieval gateway leads to two 13th century CE temples. One of these, called the Neelkanth Mahadev, remains in worship, despite being in bad shape. #Gujarat
Read 4 tweets
23 May
Rajgir, #Bihar, once the capital of a powerful kingdom - a kingdom that grew into an empire straddling much of the subcontinent. Today, it is a second-rate town even in its state. But a town dotted with heritage, such as this stupa dated to the 4th-5th centuries BCE.
A pity that the heritage of #Ragjir, #Bihar has been allowed to gently decay sans restoration. This is the shrine of Mani Naga, dated to 4th-6th centuries CE, Gupta period. Now called Maniyar Math, its focal point is a stupa-like circular structure with a hollow core.
Structure called Jarasandh-ka-akhara, #Rajgir, #Bihar. Date unknown. A feature common to many structures here is an elevated platform. There is a site called Jarasandh-ka-teela, in Haryana, a partially excavated stupa site. Not sure of the latter's connection to Jarasandh though.
Read 7 tweets
28 Dec 18
Beginning #MPtrail with this pic - taken in #Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. This is at a Chandella temple site of the greatest antiquity, a site whose temples pre-date those of #Khajuraho. This pic shows the state of heritage in our country. More on this site tomorrow. Image
#MPtrail: This pic was taken from the top of a Chandella water reservoir's stone embankment. The green area on the left was once a large water body. At the far end of the reservoir is a group of temples which date to the 9th century CE. I'll take you there over the weekend. Image
#MPtrail: A fragile set of temples which, in my view, showcase two varying streams of temple architecture. In Vyas Bhadora, a small village in MP's Chhatarpur dist. Managed by the state archaeological dept. Over a dozen temples built nxt to a Chandella irrigation reservoir. Image
Read 19 tweets

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