Vidisha, Gyaraspur & Udaygiri Caves - The historically rich circuit!
Vidisha near Sanchi is an antique town that has played a significant role not only in Ramayana and Meghdoot but also during the golden era of Mauryas and Guptas. Put together in the fork of the Betwa and Bes rivers, Vidisha district is an embodiment of numerous historical treasures. Just a few kilometres from the city situated the Udaygiri Caves and Gyaraspur, two of the supreme ancient sites to discover.
Get drenched into the ethereal splendour of Madhya Pradesh’s serenest yet unexplored heritage circuit of Vidisha, Gyaraspur and Udaygiri Caves situated near the capital city, Bhopal.
Vidisha - A region of ironic heritage
Once known as Besnagar, the town of Vidisha was ruled by the emperor Ashoka and it was named after his wife Devi (Vedisa-Mahadevi) who was a daughter of a rich merchant hailing from Vidisha. She practiced Buddhism and was also the reason behind the construction of the great Sanchi Stupa. Apart from having many Buddhist monasteries nearby, the Vijaymandir (Bijamandal) of the 11th century is a unique addition to the temples of Vidisha which was converted into a mosque in 1682. Today, the ruins of the property are conserved amid trimmed lawns and protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The District Archaeological Museum here has an eclectic collection of earliest antiquities dating back to 9th century. On the outskirts of Vidisha, stands the quaint Heliodorus Pillar dedicated to the God Vishnu, set up by a Greek named Heliodorus who said to have adopted Hinduism and became a disciple of Lord Vishnu. Today, the pillar is worshipped by the locals as “Khamba Baba”.
Udaygiri – A village known for its caves
Go about five kilometres from the west of Vidisha and you will be welcomed by a group of 20 caves called Udaygiri caves. Carved out of the sandstone hill in 4th-5th centuries, there are shreds of evidence found in the form of Brahmi inscriptions which indicates that the caves were excavated during the rule of Gupta King, Chandragupta II. Cave 5 has the most prominent and celebrated sculpture of Lord Vishnu, which depicts his incarnation as Varaha or boar, rescuing the Earth goddess from the demon Hiranyaksha who took her in the deep ocean.
Gyaraspur – A place that kept alive the antiquity with its beautiful ruins
Gyaraspur is another great addition to the district of Vidisha, the town originates its name from a fair which was once organised here during the eleventh month, denoted as gyaras. The architectural splendour includes Maladevi temple which is standing on a hill slope dating back to the 9th century. Midway down the hill from the shrine is the Hindola Torana, part of a once-glorious temple of Vishnu. The town is home to numerous other ancient ruins including the precisely elaborated Athkhamba (eight pillars) and Chaukhamba (four pillars). Just 1.6 km from Athkhamba, lies a Buddhist Stupa datable to 8th-9th century AD which is presently taken care by ASI. Another structure still stands here is the Bajramath temple which was assumed to be a Hindu temple that later became a Jain worship site.
A tour to these places will surely acquaint tourists with the monumental edifices left behind by the various dynasties. Monsoon is the ideal time to unfold the rich historical and cultural legacy of central India.