Chanderi: A Fusion of Heritage and Elegance


Blog :: Heritage

Chanderi: A Fusion of Heritage and Elegance

A quaint town in Madhya Pradesh, Chanderi has earned global fame for its beautiful textile - Chanderi sarees- known for their elegance and design. But there's more to this town that emanates an old-world charm, and you might have seen glimpses of it in movies like 'Stree' and 'Sui Dhaaga'.  Did you know the town also has a great historical significance, showcased through its various monuments? You can even visit Chanderi Festival, which will be hosted by Madhya Pradesh Tourism between September 21-26, 2023, to experience the rich heritage and culture of the place.  

Let's know more about this destination. 

A Melting Pot of Cultures

Historians argue that early traces of human civilisation in Chanderi date back to the Mesolithic period, as depicted in the cave paintings of a nearby rock site, Nanaun. More prominently, the stone inscriptions excavated in the region indicate that Kirti Pal of the Pratihara dynasty made it his capital in the 11th century. 

The occasional mention of Chanderi in the Mahabharata further establishes the importance of the town. Legend goes that the picturesque city was built by King Sishupala, Lord Krishna's cousin, in the Vedic period. Moreover, it used to be a busy trade route in ancient times, as documented in famous travel chronicles like that of Ibn Battuta. 

Over the centuries, Chanderi served as the seat of many important rulers--from the Kachhwahas to the Mamluks, from the Mughals to the Bundelas and the British, and then the Sindhias in 1861--with each of them leaving behind remnants of their heritage and culture, adding to the historical significance of this town and influencing its deep-rooted traditions. The magnificent architectural structures in this destination bear testimony to its rich and fascinating past.

Architectural Marvels 

Here are some of the top heritage sites in Chanderi that you should not miss: 

Chanderi Fort

The fort, home to kings from subsequent dynasties during different periods, shows how different cultures shaped its architecture. The fort has three important gates called Khooni Darwaza, Hawa Paur, and Kati-Ghati, which have fascinating historical anecdotes associated with them. 

For instance, historians say that it is at Khooni Darwaza that the Malwa Sultans hung the bodies of enemies. On the other hand, Kati-Ghati, located on the south-western side of the fort, was built under the patronage of Jiman Khan, who wanted to impress his father and the then Sultan of Malwa, Ghiyasuddin Khilji. The legend goes that while building it, the architect realised he had committed an error in the construction. Locals believe he committed suicide and his spirit continues to haunt the gate even today.  

Koshak Mahal 

Located just a few kilometres away from the main town is Koshak Mahal, built by Sultan of Malwa, Mehmood Shah Khilji. This ancient multi-storeyed palace is known for its arched gateways and unique structure that distinguishes it from the other monuments in the town. It has four palaces of equal dimensions that are situated at equal distances from one another to ensure adequate ventilation and light on all four sides. 

Badal Mahal 

This beautiful sandstone gateway, with a height of about 50 ft, surrounded by high walls, was built to welcome kings and other important guests to Chanderi. While it is called 'Mahal', there are no palaces on either side of the gate!

Jama Masjid

This is the largest mosque in Chanderi, constructed under the Delhi Sultanate in the 15th century. The premises comprise a spacious open court with a sanctuary and arched cloisters on its north and south respectively. While the structure of the building is unique, the detailed carvings on its arches, door and windows speak of a refined artistic taste. Interestingly, the finial (decorative top) of the massive domes has elements of Kalasa and Padmakosa, which are typically seen in Hindu temple architecture. 

Lakshman Temple 

Located near Parmeshwar Tal (pond), this temple has the perfect setting and makes for a unique travel experience. Dedicated to the Hindu deity Lakshman, the temple is known to have been built by Bundela king Anirudh Singh in the 18th century. 

Shehzadi ka Roza

You must visit this memorial dedicated to Princess Mehrunissa. The legend goes that her father did not approve of her falling in love with a commoner and ordered his assassination. Unable to accept this, the aggrieved princess ended her life. Her father built Shehzadi ka Roza in her memory in the 15th century and entombed her next to her deceased lover. It is a beautiful structure made entirely of grey sandstone and features designs inlaid with blue enamels. 

Six-yard Elegance 

A symbol of royalty, Chanderi sarees are not just a part of our heritage but also valued immensely in the world of contemporary fashion. This delicate and opulent handloom, which was first weaved by the Koshti community who migrated from Jhansi to Chanderi, flourished the most during the Mughal era. In the early 20th century, the then-declining art received its due recognition once again under the patronage of the Scindia royal family. An integral part of the rich legacy of Chanderi, what makes these elegant weaves eye-catching are their gorgeous motifs embroidered with golden or silver zari on a sheer, lightweight fabric made of silk or a cotton-silk combination. 

Chanderi Festival 

To celebrate the many unique features of Chanderi's rich heritage, Madhya Pradesh Tourism will be hosting 'Chanderi Festival 2023: Weaving Tales of Tradition' with much pomp and enthusiasm. The five-day festival, marked by various exciting events and activities, promises an enriching and memorable experience, as you explore the cultural elements that are synonymous with Chanderi.

Stay connected for the latest festival updates by joining us on social media. But wait, there's even more excitement in store! Brace yourself for an upcoming mesmerising sound and light show, where the rich history of Chanderi will unfold in all its glory. 

How to Reach 

Reaching Chanderi is quite convenient whether you travel by road, rail or flight. Take a look: 

By Road: You can avail of cab service to Chanderi from Gwalior, Indore, Bhopal, Shivpuri, Jhansi, Tikamgarh, Vidisha, Sanchi, Lalitpur, Guna and Ashok Nagar. 

By Rail: In case you are travelling by rail, book your ticket to Lalitpur, Mungaoli or Ashok Nagar, which are the nearest railway stations. 

By Flight: For those who prefer flights, the nearest airports are Gwalior, Bhopal and Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport in Indore. 

As for accommodation, you can choose from a variety of hotels and resorts tailored to your taste and budget.