Offbeat Destinations of Madhya Pradesh - Part 1


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Offbeat destinations in Madhya Pradesh

Are you tired of visiting the same old tourist spots? Do you crave something more unique, more adventurous? If so, then this blog series is for you! Welcome to our new series where we will be exploring offbeat, multi-speciality destinations that are sure to leave you awe-struck. In this first part, let's uncover the hidden gems of Burhanpur and Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh.

Offbeat Destinations in Burhanpur

1. Kala Taj Mahal (Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan):

We all know about the beautiful Taj Mahal in Agra, but have you heard about the Kala Taj Mahal of Burhanpur? Located just 7 km from Burhanpur Railway Station, the Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan, also known as the Black Taj Mahal, is a captivating mausoleum situated in Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh. Perched on the banks of the Utavali River, this architectural masterpiece is one of the finest attractions in Burhanpur.

Built between 1622 and 1623 AD, the mausoleum is a tribute to Shah Nawaz Khan, the eldest son of Abdul Rahim Khankhana, who was a renowned commander in the Mughal army. Raised in Burhanpur, Shah Nawaz Khan's bravery earned him the position of commander. Upon his demise at the age of 44, he was laid to rest here, alongside his wife.

The Black Taj Mahal is a magnificent structure, reminiscent of the iconic Taj Mahal but on a smaller scale. Constructed using locally sourced black-coloured stone, it exudes an aura of elegance and grandeur. Surrounded by lush gardens, the mausoleum boasts a large domed structure, typical of Mughal architecture. The monument, square in shape, features a central dome and hexagonal minarets on the four corners, with arched verandas running all around it. Inside, the walls of the dome are adorned with beautiful paintings, adding to its allure.

However, the actual grave of Shah Nawaz Khan lies below the mausoleum and can be accessed via a small stairway. Adjacent to it stands a ruined monument known as Paandan Mahal, owing to its resemblance to a paandan.

2. Dargah-e-Hakimi:

Located just 4 km away from Burhanpur Railway Station, Dargah-E-Hakimi is not just an ordinary religious site, but a profound spiritual centre that holds immense significance for Dawoodi Bohra Muslims. This sacred pilgrimage site was built in memory of Syedi Abdulqadir Hakimuddin Mola, a revered saint known for his healing powers.

The word 'hakim' translates to 'healer', and thousands of Bohras flock to his shrine seeking cures, blessings, and restoration of both physical and spiritual health. It is believed that every prayer made here is answered, leaving no one disappointed.

Constructed entirely in pure white marble, the mausoleum is an outstanding example of Mughal architecture. The complex comprises not only the mausoleums but also a mosque, lush gardens, and accommodation facilities for visitors. Three marble qubba (domes) dedicated to Syedi Abdulqadir Hakimuddin, Syedi Jeewanji Saheb, and Syedna Abdul Tayeb Zakiuddin adorn the serene surroundings, making it a haven of peace and tranquillity.

In the middle of the tomb complex was the initial grave of Syedi Abdulqadir Hakimuddin. Legend has it that a dispute arose regarding the burial of his body, and three weeks later, the grave was dug again. To the amazement of the crowd, the body was found fresh and tidy, prompting a sense of shame and remorse. The saint was then reburied at the present location a few yards away on the same campus.

Each year, thousands of pilgrims visit Burhanpur to pay their respects at the memorial Dargah and seek the blessings of the saint. 

3. Asirgarh Fort:

Situated about 27 km from Burhanpur, Asirgarh Fort stands as a testament to the rich history and strategic importance of the region. Stands impregnable in the Satpura Ranges, this historical fortress is steeped in legends and tales of valour.

Said to have been built in the early 15th century by King Asa Ahir, Asirgarh Fort was considered a crucial stronghold for regulating the southern part of India. Referred to as the "key to Deccan" by historians, its strategic location made it a prized possession for many rulers throughout history. 

Throughout its storied history, Asirgarh Fort has witnessed numerous battles and conquests. It was besieged by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1601 and later served as a stronghold for the Marathas. The British captured the fort twice, in 1803 and 1819, leaving behind their architectural footprint.

Asirgarh Fort is not just a historical marvel but also a cultural and architectural treasure. Influenced by Mughal, Islamic, Persian, Turkish, and Indian styles of architecture, the fort is an amalgamation of various cultural influences. Constructed primarily of stone and limestone, it boasts a magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Shiva called Gupteshwar Mahadev Mandir. According to local legends, Ashwatthama visits the temple to worship Lord Shiva.

The fort also houses the ruined Asir Masjid, a mosque with minarets, along with several man-made ponds that provided water supply to the inhabitants. Perched on the highest point, Asirgarh Fort offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and travellers alike.

Offbeat Destinations in Mandsaur:

1. Chaturbhujnath Nala:

Nestled within the serene landscapes of the Gandhi Sagar Sanctuary, Chaturbhujnath Nala is an archaeological treasure trove waiting to be explored. Located just 85 km from Ratlam, this hidden gem is a paradise for history buffs and nature enthusiasts alike.

Dating back to the pre-pastoral era, spanning over 6,000 to 12,000 years, and extending into the early mediaeval age of the 10th century, the Chaturbhujnath Nala Rock Shelters stand as a testament to the enduring creativity of our ancestors. 

As you explore the 5-km trail that winds through Chaturbhujnath Nala, you will be greeted by a kaleidoscope of ancient artwork, meticulously preserved amidst the rugged cliffs. Intricate paintings in shades of red, ochre, white, and black adorn the rocky canvas, depicting scenes of men riding cattle, women dancing, warriors marching, and hunting expeditions depicting early civilisation. 

2. Dharmrajeshwar Temple:

Located around 100 km from Mandsaur, this ancient temple complex is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region.

The temple is a 50-metre-long, 20-metre-wide, and 9-metre-deep monolithic structure, carved out of the solid natural rock body of a hill. Dating back to the 8th century, the Dharmrajeshwar Temple was initially dedicated to Lord Vishnu before being converted into a Shiva temple. 

As you step into the temple complex, you will be greeted by a sense of tranquillity and serenity. The main temple houses a large Shivalinga, along with a statue of Lord Vishnu. Carved images of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi adorn the entrance gate, adding to the temple's grandeur and beauty.

Maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, the Dharmrajeshwar Temple was included in UNESCO's tentative list of Tangible Heritage in 2024. Whether you seek spiritual solace or wish to immerse yourself in the region's rich cultural heritage, a visit to this temple offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The vibrant landscape of Madhya Pradesh is dotted with many such wonderful sites waiting to be explored. If you're seeking a truly unique and unforgettable travel experience, look no further than the offbeat multi-speciality destinations of Madhya Pradesh. Stay tuned for the next part of our series!