Chanderi is a town of historical importance in Ashoknagar District of Madhya Pradesh state in India. It is situated at a distance of 127 km from Shivpuri, 37 km from Lalitpur, 55 km from Ashok Nagar and about 45 km from Esagarh It is surrounded by hills southwest of the Betwa River. Chanderi is surrounded by hills, lakes and forests and there are several monuments of the Bundela Rajputs and Malwa sultans. Chanderi finds mention in Mahabharata. Shishupal was the king of Mahabharata period. Chanderi is located strategically on the borders of Malwa and Bundelkhand.
History of Chanderi goes back to the 11th century, when it was dominated by the trade routes of Central India and was proximate to the arterial route to the ancient ports of Gujarat as well as to Malwa, Mewar, Central India and the Deccan. Consequently, Chanderi became an important military outpost.
Dominating the skyline of this lovely old town is a vast Mughal fort known as Chanderi fort. Its main gate is known as the "Khooni Darwaza". Chanderi fort is situated on a hill 71 meter above the town. The fortification walls were constructed mainly by the Muslim rulers of Chanderi. To the southwest of the fort there is a curious gateway called katti-ghatti made through a hill side.
Chanderi is famous for its hand-woven Chanderi sarees. It is a renowned centre for traditional weavers of saree. The Chanderi sarees have sophistication hard to match.The Chanderi saree is a common name in middle & rich societies and is in high demand everywhere.
At a distance of 19 km from present Chanderi town is situated the Buddhi (old) Chanderi. Buddhi Chanderi is situated on the banks of Urvashi river. It is believed that the Chaidnagar mentioned in Puranas is same as Buddhi Chanderi. There is a myth that when Raja Nala left Damayanti asleep in the forests of Narwar she moved through dense forests and reached Chaidnagar protecting herself from wild animals. The route through forests from Narwar to Chanderi is very short. A number of 9th and 10th century Jain temples are there in Buddhi Chanderi attracting thousands of Jain pilgrims from all over the country.
View of Chanderi town from Qila Kothi. The Chaubisi Jain temple with 24 shikharas, installed in 1836 by Bhattaraka Harichand of Sonagir, is in the center
The Chanderi area has been a major center of Jain culture. It was a major center The Chanderi area has been a major center of Jain culture. It was a major center of the Parwar Jain community. There are a number of Jain places nearby- Gurilagiri (7 km), Aamanachar (29 km), Bithala (19 km), Bhamon (16 km), Khandargiri (2 km), Thuvanji (22 km) and Bhiyadant (14 km), and Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh (20 km, across the border).
Chanderi is mentioned by the Persian scholar Alberuni in 1030. Ghiyas ud din Balban captured the city in 1251 for Nasir ud din Mahmud, Sultan of Delhi. Sultan Mahmud I Khilji of Malwa captured the city in 1438 after a siege of several months. In 1520 Rana Sanga of Mewar captured the city, and gave it to Medini Rai, a rebellious minister of Sultan Mahmud II of Malwa. The Mughal Emperor Babur captured the city from Medini Rai, and in 1540 it was captured by Sher Shah Suri, and added to the governorship of Shujaat Khan. The Mughal Emperor Akbar made the city a sarkar in the subah of Malwa. The Bundela Rajputs captured the city in 1586, and it was held by Ram Sab, a son of Raja Madhukar of Orchha. In 1680 Devi Singh Bundela was made governor of the city, and Chanderi remained in the hands of his family until it was annexed in 1811 by Jean Baptiste Filose for the Maratha ruler Daulat Rao Sindhia of Gwalior. The city was transferred to the British in 1844. The British lost control of the city during the Revolt of 1857, and the city was recaptured by Sir Hugh Rose on 14 March 1858. Richard Harte Keatinge led the assault, for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The city was transferred back to the Sindhias of Gwalior in 1861, and became part of Isagarh District of Gwalior state. After India's independence in 1947, Gwalior became part of the new state of Madhya Bharat, which was merged into Madhya Pradesh on 1 November 1956.
ccording to Ain-e-Akbari, the autobiography of Akbar, Chanderi had 14000 stone houses and boasted of 384 markets, 360 sapcious caravan sarais (resting place) and 12,000 mosques. Before proceeding to the individual monuments of Chanderi it may be of interest to the visitor to know certain essential characteristics of its historic architecture. A vast majority of he exiting standing monuments at Chanderi were raised in the the years between 1312 A.D. to 1687 A.D. These could be broken down into three main groups,Islamic architecture from the period of the Sultan's of Delhi, the Mughal period, and then which comprise the majority, the Malwa Indo-Islamic. Also there are monuments that are a mixture of these styles.
Chanderi has a number of ancient Hindu and Jain temple ruins, fragments, statues, and idols in modern and medieval temples which by style and speculation date probably to the 10th to 13th centuries (no inscriptions on these statues and idols have been found to confirm their dates). Chanderi has over 1000 mosques, over 1000 wells and ponds, 100s of tombs, 100s of temples, and many other monuments, haveli palaces, gates, and other constructions. In this chapter are listed some of the most famous.
The town of Chanderi is set in the midst of the natural beauty of the Vindyachal Range. Through the flow of time Chanderi has played a part in the religious, mythical, political, and glorious history of North India. Hindu, Jain, and Muslim religion have all flowered to their peak and lived in harmony here. Chanderi is full of historical landmarks, dating from the 11th century through the medieval periods of the 13th to the 18th centuries and to modern times. Its history has witnessed good and bad periods, flowering and decline over the centuries.
It is arguably Chanderi's defining monument. It has been given recognition nationwide and when the town of Chanderi is represented it is the Badal Mahal Gate that is used to symbolize it. For example, the Indian Postal Department issued a cancellation stamp for all posts leaving Chanderi and it bears the image of the Badal Mahal Gate. Also the Madhya Pradesh Government Cottage Industries uses a stamp bearing the image of the Badal Mahal Gate on all Sari and dress materials it manages. The fort town of Chanderi was protected by seven boundary walls surrounding the town and the fort on the hill with each wall having several gates and windows.
Many of these gates have been ruined by the forces of time and nature. Among the gates that can still be seen the Badal Mahal Gate has retained its own identity and uniqueness. This gate was built during the reign of Mehmood Shah Khilji in 1450 A.D. It is situated at the Southern end of the inner city near and facing the Jama Masjid and looking up commands a striking view of the fort above.
This tall gate was constructed with two towers which are joined together with arches and windows to give a gate like form. The upper portion of the gate shows four beautifully carved windows, each with a different design motif. Beneath the widows are an open section where attractive sculptured forms are placed. On the other side of the gate is a hanging balcony where the musicians used to sit to entertain guests. This balcony was also used to shower flower petals on the guests as they passed under. It is said that along with the Badal Mahal Gate a grand guesthouse was built for aristocratic visitors. After being received through the gate and feted with flower petals and music the guests were led to the guesthouse palace. However this talked about palace now no longer exists and no trace of it can be found. So its actual past existence cannot be verified. There are a lot of tales about how this gate came to be known as The Badal Mahal Gate. So say that probably the towers were so high they seemed to touch the sky. Others say that because of the unique balcony on the gate where musicians sat to play their vadak (musical instruments) that badal is a distortion of vadak. However no one really knows the real reason why or exactly when the gate gained the name it has today.
During the 10th century A.D. Boodi Chanderi was a very prosperous town situated 18 kilometers away from present Chanderi. Even today the ruins of this abandoned town still gives an idea how rich this place might have been. Originally it was a town known as Chandra Puri and was the capital of Chedi Maha Janpath. German Historian Claus Boon and the historian from Gwalior Heritage Society M.B. Gardey documented the ruins of 55 Jain and Hindu temples. Most of these temples are in the style of the 10th and 11th century A.D. The art and foundations of these temples resemble the style of the Chandela Dynasty, not unlike those at Khajuraho and nearby Deogarh. Today nearly all of the temples of Boodi Chanderi lie in complete ruin. At present Old Chanderi stands amidst dense forest with no roads or trails leading to most of the temple sites. The Indian Archeological Department has collected as as many of these temple fragments as they could find and has installed them in the new Chanderi Museum. They have moved all of these valuable historical objects to the museum because temple robbers and looters have in the past pillaged the site. In fact in 2006 the head of a major Jain statue was sawed off and stolen by looters in one of the few intact temples left in Boodi Chanderi. A sati pillar has been found in this area with an inscription dating the year 1488 and denotes Boodi Chanderi as being called Nasirabad. Today the noteworthy sites at Old Chanderi are a Jain Monastery with temples inside and the ruins of a Hindu palace known as the Fort of Shishupal, whose architecture dates it to the 14th or 15th Century A.D. and has installed inside pillars dating to the Chandela period. Various researches has been done in this area to document the ruins and art, but little if no research as to the history of Boodi Chanderi has yet to be made which can reveal the history of this mysterious place.
The foundation of Jama Masjid began in 1251 A.D. to commemorate the victory and capture of Chanderi by the Delhi Sultanate under the command of Ghiassuddin Balban. They defeated the Pratihara Maharaja, Chanha Deva. Over the halls of the Jama Masjid are three huge domes making a commanding and beautifulpresence over the town. It is the largest mosque in Chanderi with a capacity for 3400 persons. The mosque is known for Friday prayers. Currently the Jama Masjid is being conserved by the Archeological Survey of India and is open to tourist between 10 AM to 5 PM.
The chronicler Mohammad Kasim in his book the Farishta writes that Sultan Mehood Shah Khilji attacked and defeated Sharki Sultan Mehmood of Jaunpur at Kalpi in the year 1445 A.D. After the victory when he returned to his capital in Mandu the Sultan expressed tha they should celebrate their victory in the form of a seven day celebration. At that time he also ordered a seven story building and a village to be called Zafrabad constructed near Chanderi for the advent when the sultan would visit.It had been said that the Sultan ordered the construction of the Kushk Mahal as a civil project to help the population of Chanderi.
At this time in Chanderi there was a shortage of work and many were unemployed. Using his victory in battle as a pretext the sultan ordered the construction of Kushk Mahal to give the people of Chanderi work and pay. 100s of workers spent years building this fanciful Mahal. Kushk Mahal is located four kilometers from Chanderi off the Isagarh Road. The monument is erected on four pillars and is 116 square feet in size. Each story is 15 feet high and the verandahs are 43 by 43 feet wide. The two main door entrances are 45 feet high and 26 feet wide. The width of the walls is 10 feet thick. Every story has six doors and one window. The architect of this palace has blended and incorporated the styles of the Malwa Islamic, Iranian, Afghani, and Indian Vedic architecture forms. At one side the monument is decorated with lotus flowers and on the other side betel leaves. As one enters the palace staircases from both sides lead up to each story. At the doors of each staircase are a few lines inscribed in Farshi and Nask script. As the structure exists today there are three fully constructed floors and a fourth half constructed. There are conflicting stories as to if the Kushk Mahal's planned seven stories were ever completed. Some argue that the project was never completed, while others say that all seven stories were built but only three and a half exist today.
It has been told that during the 1930s and 40s the Kushk Mahal went through a restoration project. Workers from Chanderi who helped clear the palace state that there were vast amounts of large stones inside and outside the monument that were surly parts of upper floors. It has also been said that after the events of 1857 the British Army instigated the demolition of many palaces and Mahals in retaliation against the royalty and aristocracy who had attempted revolution against them. The Kushk Mahal was one of the buildings that was cannon shot by the British Army. Another story that is associated with the Kushk Mahal is that when construction of this monument began and the first story was almost complete the problem of lifting the very large and thick stones to the second story arose. To overcome this problem the first story was covered with dirt and an incline hill on four sides served as a ramp for the large stones to be hoisted. So as each story was complete it was buried and not until the project was fully finished that cleaning was done to reveal the whole building.
This elegant structure, built on a 12 feet high platform, stands near the Parmeshwar Pond. On the outside the wall has been divided into the tall first storey and the slightly shorter second storey which are relieved by a series of arched depressions. The most striking element of the monument are the unusual, serpentine brackets which support the eaves at both the levels. The inside of the monument, however, is a single square room with only one true storey. Originally, the whole structure was crowned by five domes, four at the four corners and a larger one in the middle, but these are now mostly ruined. Attributed to the 15th century, the building is actually a tomb built by the then Hakim or governor of Chanderi in the memory of his daughter Mehrunissa.
The story behind the memorial goes that Mehrunissa had fallen in love with the chief of the army. Her father, however, was against the alliance and decided on drastic action when his requests went unheeded. The army was to go to battle soon, so he hired some soldiers and asked them to make sure that the commander did not return alive from the battlefield. The commander was grievously injured but he somehow escaped and managed to ride back to Chanderi. His strength finally gave way and he fell from his horse at the exact spot where the memorial now stands. When Mehrunissa heard of the tragedy, she rushed to find her lover but when she reached his side he had already succumbed to his wounds. Unable to bear this sorrow, she ended her life as well, right beside him. The Hakim had loved his daughter dearly and he decided to bury both of them together and build the beautiful tomb. He made a pond around the tomb to make sure nobody could reach it, a metaphor for their impossible love. This pond no longer exists and the tomb is instead surrounded by farmland.
The road through the Kati Ghati gate leads up to the Ramnagar Palace which is also a museum maintained by the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Archives, Madhya Pradesh. Termed as palace, the structure is in fact a hunting lodge and retreat which was built by Maharaja Durjan Singh Bundela in AD 1698. The stone blocks used in its construction are not consistent in size, shape or decorative carving. This clearly indicates that these blocks were sourced from older monuments and ruined structures in the vicinity. Objects on display include fragments from Hindu temples, idols of deities as well as some well-preserved examples of Sati stones.
The temple remains range from the 9th to the 12th century while the Sati stones belong mainly to the 16th to 18th century. These remains were collected from villages which were submerged under water after the construction of the Rani Lakshmibai Sagar. Surrounded by lush greenery on one side and the Mehjatiya Pool on the other, the palace serves as a popular picnic spot. The Governor Bahjat Khan had ordered the creation this artificial lake and it was initially named Bahjat Khan Pond but the name was later distorted to Mehjatiya. This lake is of historical importance as well. It was here that Babur had camped the night before he mounted the attack on the Chanderi fort, on January 28, 1528.
Built in 1450 under the aegis of Mahmood Khilji I of the Malwa Sultanate, this elegant structure is actually the tomb of a mudarris (teacher) and the aalim (vice –chancellor) of the darool uloom (university) which was functional during this period, and the ruins of which can be seen in the vicinity. The term madarsa is a misnomer; it probably got associated with this monument due to the presence of a madarasa in the surrounding area. The walls of the tomb boast of intricately carved jaalis in which the six pointed star, analogous to the Star of David, finds ardent expression along with other decorative motifs. Roundels with beautifully carved flowers adorn the upper portion of the interior and exterior walls.
The square central chamber is surrounded by an arcaded corridor. The chamber is accessed through a single arched doorway in the middle of the front wall. Within this chamber are two tombstones, placed next to each other, which are engraved with exquisite geometrical patterns in high relief. Also, on the interior of the western wall, the central section is ornately carved to indicate the direction of prayer. The structure, made entirely out of sandstone had five domes, the biggest of which stood in the centre, surrounded by four smaller ones.
This heraldic structure, cut entirely out of living rock, is situated on the southern edge of Chanderi, forming a link between Bundelkhand on the north and Malwa on the south. Standing tall at 230 ft above ground level, the gate itself is 80 ft high and 39 ft wide. An inscription both in Devnagari and Nask scripts, on the eastern wall of the gate states that its construction was commissioned in AD 1495 by Jiman Khan, the son of the then Governor of Chanderi, Sher Khan. The legend associated with the construction of this gate is extremely tragic. The gate was to be cut in order to welcome the Sultan of Malwa, Ghyasuddin Khilji, who was to arrive in Chanderi the very next day.
A frantic Jiman Khan announced an award for any mason who would be able to carve out the gate in one night. Only one mason accepted the challenge and assured Jiman Khan that he with his crew would accomplish the task. The next morning, Jiman Khan was pleasantly surprised to see the gateway in place, but on further inspection he noticed that it lacked the provision for door hinges. Since the gate was located at a strategically important spot, it was mandatory for security reasons, that there be a door in place. Jiman Khan refused to pay the stone mason for making this mistake. The latter walked away empty handed despite the fact that he had accomplished the impossible feat. Dejected and inconsolable, he later committed suicide. Till today, the Kati Ghati Gate stands without a door.
Located 3 kilometres away from the village of Behti, which in turn is 20 kilometres south-east of Chanderi, is the 5th century Behti Math temple that has escaped the attention of tourists and authorities alike. However, being a well-preserved Gupta period construction, examples of which are extremely rare, its importance is undeniable. Built upon a base of two mouldings, the stone temple is a square in plan with plain unadorned walls. The pillars and pilasters however are elaborately carved with floral scrolls, in half medallions, vases overflowing with foliage, kirtimukhas, stylized lotuses etc. Also striking are the makara headed spouts, one of which is still in place.
Near the village of Nanaun, along the river Urr (Urvashi), can be found the earliest imprints of human existence in the region. Sandstone rock formations, which would have served as shelters from sun and rain for the pre-historic man also became the canvas for his art. These rock paintings can be found all the way from Chota Bharka to Bharka waterfall. Most are simply executed in red ochre and depict themes which reflect the concerns of wandering humans of the age. Scenes of hunting, humans carrying weapons and riding, animals including bulls, cows, deer, stags, tigers, elephants, camels, monkeys, crocodiles, snakes etc. as well as birds and even beehives are drawn.
Time period of the paintings ranges from the Palaeolithic age when stick-like line drawings were made to the Neolithic age when figures with internal patterning and filled-in forms were done. The paintings at Nanaun are not the only rock drawings in evidence in the area. Similar drawings have been found in cave shelters at Raja Caves, Gidkhal, Chiroli (along River Belan), Bharki, Aamkho (along River Ghoda Pachad), Deokani hills, Thubon (along River Lilat).
This mosque, situated a short distance from the main town, was built in AD 1495 by the Governor Sher Khan during the reign of Ghiassuddin Khilji. It consists of a two-stroreyed arched facade with minarets on either side. In front of this is a 80 feet by 100 feet stone platform where Muslims of the area gather to this day to offer prayers on the occasion of Id-ul-Fitr and Id-ul-Zuha.
Set in the midst of the the Vindhyachal hill ranges, the Singhpur Palace is located at a distance of 4 kilometres from Chanderi. This three-storeyed structure was built under the orders of Devi Singh Bundela in the year 1656 and served as a hunting rest house. Near the palace is a pond which was built by Malik Haiwat Nizam in 1433 during the reign of Hoshung Shah Ghori. Thick forest and the nearby lake make it an ideal place of retreat.
The Kirti Durg was first constructed by the 11th century Pratihara king Kirti Pal and is named after him. The structure we see today is not the original fort, it has been rebuilt several times and added to by subsequent rulers like the Mahmood Khilji, Durjan Singh Bundela and others. Built on the highest point of the Chandragiri Hill, the fort is a characteristic sight in Chanderi and is visible from virtually every point in the town and beyond. Its 5 kilometre long perimeter encloses several monuments which are worth a visit. On one end is the Khilji mosque whose arches and pillars are carved with graceful floral ornaments and verses from the Holy Quran.
Hawa Paur, Naukhanda Palace and the tomb of Hazrat Abdul Rahman Narnuli are all points of interest. The Baradari is a vantage point which not only gives a commanding view of the city but also of the ruined Kirat Sagar, the Kati Ghati gateway, and Babur Katan. The sight of the setting sun from this point is especially picturesque. The importance of Chanderi in the times past is clear from the many attacks that were mounted on this fort by successive campaigners. The most famous of these was the attack by Babur in 1528 which had led to the mass ritual suicide or jauhar by over 600 Rajput women. The memorial of this tragic event can also be seen within the fort premises. Also present are the Baiju Bawra memorial, the Gilaua Taal and an English soldier’s gravestone. There are three different ways to approach the fort. The first is the originally planned route which passes through the Khooni Darwaza and Hawa Paur. The fort can also be reached by first climbing up to the Jageshwari Temple and then ascending another steep staircase. The main approach used these days is a modern motorable road. The erstwhile Maharaja of Gwalior Jivajirao Scindia had constructed a bungalow on the northern verge of the fort which is now a PWD guest house and is commonly referred to as Kothi.
The founding of this temple is interlinked with the lore of founding of modern Chanderi, when the Pratihara king Kirtipal is said to have witnessed the Miracle of Water. Although no inscription has been found to corroborate the date of its foundation, certain elements of the temple appear to belong to the 11th and possibly earlier centuries. Situated on a hillside, the temple is reached by climbing a long flight of stairs from the foot of the hill. Another approach to the temple is the steep flight of stairs which descends from near the fort Kirti Durg. The main idol of the temple is the face of the goddess Jageshwari, which is located in an open cave.
The modern temple has been built around the cave to accommodate the devotees who come for darshan and puja. Also within the temple complex are installed two large Shiva lingams whose surface is carved with 1100 lingams. Another lingam is carved with the faces of Lord Shiva on all four sides. Several natural springs, whose water is considered sacred, flow down the cliff side near the temple. Shrouded in greenery, with sounds of birds, monkeys and cascading water, the temple has the atmosphere of being set deep within a forest. After climbing up some distance on the stairs, on the left, is a pond which is referred to as Sagar and where the water of all the springs and streams is collected. Remains of four ancient temples have been found around this pond.
Approached by the Chanderi Mongawali road, situated near the Jama Masjid, in the Andar Shehar or Inner City, this site is under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India. Although the tombs are referred to as those of the family members of Hazrat Nizamuddin, more accurately these belong to the followers of the Chishtia Nizamia sect. The complex is scattered with the gravestones, most of which lie under the open skies. Some of the important ones, however, are housed within domed tomb structures. Only one of the tombs is still intact, the domes and portions of the walls of four others have collapsed. What is most impressive is the highly intricate stonework which is found both on the tombstones and the tombs. One of the tombs has an inscription which mentions that the tomb was constructed in 1425, during the rule of Hoshung Shah Ghori by his minister Malik Salar. The entire complex must have been built over the 15th century.
Hazrat Wajihuddin Yusuf spent his early years at Kalkahari, near Delhi where he was born in the year 1260. As a young man he left for Delhi, where he became a disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. During the reign of Alauddin Khilji, Hazrat Nizamuddin sent Hazrat Wajihuddin to Chanderi to look after and serve the people here. Hazrat Wajihuddin reached Chanderi in 1305 and soon gained thousands of devotees from not only Chanderi but even other places, who began to frequent his khanqah. The then Governor of the province, Malik Tamar became envious of Hazrat Wajihuddin’s popularity and instigated his army to attack the khanqah and the devotees.
The situation became so volatile that Hazrat Wajihuddin was advised to move to nearby Lukhnoti. He travelled to Delhi to seek guidance from Hazrat Nizamuddin whereupon he realized that he had been given the responsibility of serving the people of Chanderi and he had to fulfill it. He returned to Chanderi where he built a new khanqah and continued his service till his passing in 1328. Hazrat Wajihuddin’s dargah is built near the Rajghat road. Around his tomb are the tombstones of the most dedicated of his followers. Even today the faithful come to pay their respects and seek his blessings. Every year from March 27 to 29, the Urs celebration is organized where his devotees flock to the dargah to offer chaadars and pray for the fulfilment of their wishes. To the left of this dargah are the mausoleums of two other Muslim saints. The decorative jaali work and carving seen on their walls is as lavish as that of the Nizamuddin tombs. The structures are however crumbling and in desperate need of restoration and recognition.
One of the main gateways in the city fortifications, the Delhi Darwaza was probably given this name as it faced north towards Delhi. Today it forms the main entrance to the buzy Sadar Bazaar, Chanderi’s main shopping area. On the walls flanking the gate can be found large carvings of soldiers mounted on elephants and holding weapons. What is most surprising about this depiction is that such figural representations are almost never found on Muslim constructions. An inscription in Persian and Arabic above the arch of the gate states that the construction of the gate began during the reign of Sultan Nusrat Shah, under the direction of Dilawar Khan Ghori. It was completed in the year 1411 when Hoshung Shah was the Sultan of Malwa.
Situated near the Purana Madarsa, this bawdi or stepwell was built in 1485 by Qazi-ibn-Mehran under orders from the then ruler of Chanderi, Sher Khan Ghazi. The well is circular and two staircases descend to the well from opposite sides. There are two arched entrance bays and these are flanked by two inscriptions. The inscriptions inform us that four constructions were carried out during the reign of Sher Khan Ghazi. These were: this stepped bawdi, a palatial caravanserai, a mosque and a garden known as Aatishay Namrood. No vestiges of the garden remain and only ruins of the rest house can be seen. However, the step well and the mosque have survived.
This stepwell is located to the north-west of the city and is the largest of all stepwells in Chanderi. It is square in shape, each side being 60 ft in length and 4 storeys deep. Steps descend from one storey down to the next and at each storey there are eight ghats. The number of ghats total to 32 which has given this Bawdi its name. The main stairs are on the southern end which proceed through two doorways. Beside the stairs are two inscriptions in Arabic and Persian, written in the Nask script.
The inscriptions inform us that work on the Bawdi was begun during the reign of Sultan Ghyasuddin Khilji by one Taghi, who was the son of the then collector or shariq-ul-mulk and the structure was completed in the year 1484. The inscription also tells us that besides the bawdi, a garden, as well as a mosque, which has been compared to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, was also built. Another inscription, to be found above the second gateway, gives the name of the artist who etched the two inscriptions.
Located to the north-west of the city, near the Maula Ali hill, the Hauz Khas is one of the largest ponds of Chanderi. Its inscription is no longer in place here but is displayed in the Gujri Mahal Museum in Gwalior. The inscription states that the Hauz-e-Khas was built by one Subnam in the reign Mahmud Khilji I and it was completed in the year 1467 AD.
This Bawdi is located some distance away to the south of the town, at the base of the Khandargiri hill. Two inscriptions can be found installed within the walls of its steps. Inscribed in Persian language in the Nask script, the inscriptions are written in the form of verses. They mention that the Bawdi was constructed by Savai Khair and Gule Bahashad, the wives of Sheikh Burahamuddin during the reign of Sultan Naseeruddin Khilji. Work was started on the 25th of November 1502 and the Bawdi was completed in 1504.
Renowned earlier for its palaces and havelis, Chanderi is once said to have had as many as 260 mahals. Today, however, only about 43 of these remain. Situated in the Andar Shehar, the Raja Rani Mahal or the Rajmahal is actually composed of two separate palaces. The imposing Raja Mahal is a seven storied structure which has now been attached to the smaller Rani Mahal. The two are though built in completely different styles and clearly do not belong to the same time period. The two inscriptions found in a Bawdi within the complex are illegible but the style of calligraphy points to the Khilji period.
This implies that the Raja Mahal must have been originally built by the Khilji rulers in the 15th century. The Rani Mahal, however, appears to be an earlier construction. The upper portions of both the Raja and Rani Mahal, which are in the Bundela style, indicate that these structures were repaired and built upon in the 17th century when the Bundelas came to control the region. Reeling in a state of disrepair previously, efforts are now on to restore and preserve the palaces. Khilji Serai This serai or rest house was built during the reign of Gyasuddin Khilji by Qazi ibn Mehran. Although in ruins today, the towering minarets betray the structure’s majestic past. The building consists of an arched colonnade surrounding a central courtyard with the remains of three distinct gates and possibly a fourth one.
This serai or rest house was built during the reign of Gyasuddin Khilji by Qazi ibn Mehran. Although in ruins today, the towering minarets betray the structure’s majestic past. The building consists of an arched colonnade surrounding a central courtyard with the remains of three distinct gates and possibly a fourth one.
The name Pachmadhi is derived from the five vaulted domes that once roofed the mosque but are now entirely damaged. Situated near a small stepwell, this 15th century structure also has a basement underneath.
Situated in the Pathani Mohalla, this gateway consists of two lofty turrets flanking the arched doorway. Another arch would have crowned the gate but it no is no longer extant. The gate forms the entrance of a cemetery which has the tombstones of saints or other eminent people, many decorated with highly plastic carving.
Bahadur Nizam Shah of the Ahmadnagar Sultanate was a minor when in 1600 Emperor Akbar’s son Prince Danyal attacked Ahmadnagar and imprisoned the entire royal family. Bahadur Nizam Shah spent practically all his life in the Gwalior prison and even died there. Upon his death in 1698, his body was being taken for burial in Ahmadnagar but it had to be buried at Chanderi. Situated on the Chanderi Mungaoli road, near the Jama Masjid, this mausoleum is built in the Mughal style. Square in plan, the structure has four pillars on each of the four sides supporting a domed superstructure. The tomb of Saint Sheikh Raji’s wife, which is built upon the Chakla Bawdi is the only other tomb in Chanderi built in the Mughal style.
The Chanderi area has been a major center of Jain culture. It was a major center of the Parwar Jain community. There are a number of Jain places nearby- Gurilagiri (7 km), Aamanachar (29 km), Bithala (19 km), Bhamon (16 km), Khandargiri (2 km), Thuvanji (22 km) and Bhiyadant (14 km), and Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh (20 km, across the border).The Jain Bhattarakas of Mula Sangh,Balatkara Gana had a center at Chanderi that flourished for several centuries. Chanderi is a place of attraction among tourists & pilgrims for its handicrafts, natural beauty and historicity. In previous centuries it was a part of Gwalior State.
Here Choubeesee Bara Mandir is very artistic and unique example of architecture. Front part of this temple is called Bara Mandir & back part is called Choubeesee Mandir. Bara Mandir is older. In Bara Mandir, there is an inscription on a pillar written in V.S. 1350. So many beautiful idols of 13th to 18th century are installed on 12 shrines of this temple. Circular spire of this temple is excellent.
Chanderi has attached the devotees of Jainism for at least 900 years. In and around Chanderi there are various ancient Jain religious sites. For example: Seronji, Deogarh, Sonagiri, Boodi Chanderi are but a few. The Sri Choubisi Templealthough of recent construction has its own fame and recognition. In this temple there are 24 main Idols. Every year it attracts 10s of thousands of pilgrims. The temple is divided into two parts. The first is an ancient one with a large dome. Around its walls are 24 artistic drawings depicting 24 religious places and events.
The second part houses 24 large statues of the Jain saints carved and polished from stones of different colors and characteristics, starting from the first, Sri Aadinath, to the last, Sri Mahavir. According to the Shastras, sacred text of Jainism all of the 24 idols are made from stones of color and texture that must have been the real colors of the spiritual leaders. In the center of the courtyard is an impressive pillar made of white balua stone. This temple also contains a giant statue of Sri Bhubali. Also the temple has a large library containing 1000s of ancient religious writings written on "leaves".
Khandargiri is situated high on the hillside 2 kilometers South of the main town and can be reached by its own road near Kati Ghati Gate. This place is known for its 45 foot high statue of Rishabhnath that has been carved from the living rock of the hill. It is also famous for its religious training given to Jain disciples. The site is open during daylight hours to the public and people of all religions. Six caves have been cut out of the hillside. Inside there are a number of religious carvings of Jain saints and decorations carved into the existing hillside. It is not clear how old these caves actually are and they very well may be much older than the rock cut carvings. The oldest dated cave is Cave 6, In this cave inscription in Sanskrit and Nagri script can still be found underneath each idol.
An inscription dating back to 1236 A.D. can be read. Inscriptions telling of a Dharm Kirti 1645 A.D., Padam Kriti 1683 A.D., Lalit Kirti 1711 A.D. and a disciple Guddas can also be read.At present some restoration and renovation work is ongoing at Khandargiri by the Choubisi Jain Temple Trust. In recent years protective structures have been built to house the caves, a garden has been maintained, and stairways built to reach the caves. Below the caves a Jain Dharmasala is also under construction.
This sacred place Thuvonji came to knowledge during the period of famous businessman Shri Padashah. It is said that Shri Padashah was dealing in Metal Tin and when he put his Metal Tin here that converted in to Silver. Here is a little pond known as Padashah Talaiya. Here are a group atues have dates that correspond to the 9th century A.D. This temple is considered much more ancient than the rest of Chanderi and it is used today as a meditation center for Jain devotees.
ancient Chanderi is divided into two parts, the inner town and the outer town. In the outer town one of the colonies is name Manganj. It is said that in ancient times there lived in the Mangani colony a prominent businessman of the Jain community who built a Jain temple there and the temple came to be know as Chandraprabh which may have been the name of this businessman. There is no inscription or writings on the builder or construction of this temple. However on some of the statues in this temple are inscribed dates that correspond with 1147 A.D. and 1204 A.D. and some of the statues have dates that correspond to the 9th century A.D. This temple is considered much more ancient than the rest of Chanderi and it is used today as a meditation center for Jain devotees.
The Choubeesee Mandir is built in back of old Bara Mandir, actually this has 24 temples with beautiful spires having installed the 24 idols of 24 Teerthankars. These idols are made by the stones of actual colors as the Teerthankar’s color was. In this way this is the only Choubeesee Mandir in India. In this temple, idols of Lord Chandraprabhu & Pushpdant are white, Padmaprabhu & Vasupoojya are reddish, Suparsvanath & Parsvanath are green in colors. Lord Munisuvrit & Neminath are in black colors and remaining 16 idols are in golden or yellowish. All idols are same in dimensions, which is very difficult in real. These idols were installed in V.S. 1893 in the headship of Bhattaraka Shri Harichand of Sonagiri. Other Temple: There are so many temples in Chanderi, a must to be seen. At a distance of 1 km from city, Khandargiri is a very beautiful, attractive miraculous place with natural hilly environment. So many idols are there carved on the rocks of hills in caves, so charming & wonderful.