Recently I had the chance to see the city of Bhopal – the capital of Madhya Pradesh – central state of India. We had about an eighteen hours stopover there – out of which the time to see the city was cut short to about 8 hours, rest of it being the dead of the night :-).
So early morning we started towards the most important tourist attraction in Bhopal – the temple of Bhojpur. In fact, the name of the city comes from that. It was initially called Bhojpur, which over the period of time distorted to first become Bhojpal before finally taking the name Bhopal.
On the way, I couldn’t help noticing that the city was quite clean and green. It looked like a peaceful place without too much of traffic – even though it was a Monday. It was such a pleasant change from the hustle and bustle that one sees in Bangalore.
So after having a small breakfast of “dhoklas” on the way, we continued our journey towards the temple. It was built in the second century by the then ruler Bhoj, of the Parmar dynasty. The place was about 30 kms away from the city. The temple complex was quite large with a huge monolithic shiva – linga.
The temple was thankfully, not crowded as the other places of worship in India usually are, and therefore it was pleasant to sit there for some time in peace. But, since we were so hard pressed for time, we had to leave the place after spending a few minutes there.
After that, our driver decided to take us to another place a little further from Bhojpur. It is a world heritage site of prehistoric caves – the place being called “Bheem Baithika”. According to folklore, the Pandavas of Mahabharata fame, had been here and this place was where Bheem used to sit (“baithika” in hindi means place of sitting). Since this place was hilly, therefore it was a strategic place to watch over any enemies coming up.
Luckily we found a guide who explained the caves to us in some detail, as there was not too much information on the boards there.
One interesting thing was the formations that the rocks had taken up – being weathered over the thousands of years by rains and winds. As you can see in the picture, this rock looks like a tortoise.
Apart from this folklore, there were lots of artwork on the walls of the caves created by the prehistoric cavemen. The caves had the artwork done by the cavemen of different times. The older ones were made with white pigment created by mixing slaked lime (“choona”) with some jungle herbs.
The ones done by the latter set was with a mixture of which the most important ingredient is a type of soil called “geru”, which is used even to this date for colouring clay pots. Interesting thing was that the colours had not faded even after thousands of years.
The rocks seemed to have absorbed the colours.
Also evident was the evolution of man as the older paintings were more of geometric but precise representations of the animals, while the latter ones were closer to the way we paint now.
Another striking thing was the painting of the dances performed by those people, which is still the same way the tribals of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh (a state carved out of Madhya Pradesh).
After being awed by these caves which were inhabited by the people so many years before us, we decided to leave and see the more contemporary buildings.
We had a nice lunch before starting again.
Unluckily for us, the museums were closed – the day being a Monday. So we simply had to be satisfied with taking a short drive beside a huge lake – which was mostly deserted, besides a few college going couples.
Then we had to call it a day and we went to the railway station to start the next leg of our journey. All in all, it was time well spent.