The Kanch Mandir, as the name suggests, is a temple which is entirely made up of glass and mirrors. It is also known as the Seth Hukamchand Temple, as it was built by the "Cotton King" Sir Hukamchand Seth in the early 20th century. It is primarily a Jain temple and is a wonder in glass. The walls, ceiling, floor, pillars, doors, everything here is entirely adorned with glass. The Kanch Mahal has always been an object of interest for almost all the Hindu rulers in India.
The dazzling Sheesh Mahal in Amer Fort of Rajasthan is an exemplary piece of art and provides a breathtaking sight. The Kanch Mahal of Indore is somewhat the same. The major difference being that it is a temple rather than a palace. Owing to its beauty, the palace attracts a number of tourists. Kanch Mandir is located quite close to the Rajwada. The temple is decorated with thousands of mirrors with patterned ceramic tiles.
The charisma of the temple is further intensified with the delicately crafted Chinese lantern-type glass lamps and cut glass chandeliers. The interiors of the Kanch Mandir are just mesmerizing. The temple boasts of more than 50 murals depicting Jain stories. They also depict scenes of conversion to Jainism, torture of sinners in the afterlife and 19th century court life. The Kanch Mahal is quite different from all the other such monuments in the country.
Its uniqueness arises from the fact that it is too showy and splendid to be the shrine of a religion which advocated simple living. Infact, not just simple living, rather austerity. The colorful glass beads and raised sculpted figures give a special 3D effect to the temple. The idol of Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism is made from shimmering black onyx. The temple is a place of interest for both the Jain pilgrims as well as the tourists. The temple is situated on Jawahar Road near the Rajwada and opens at 10:00 am.
The Maratha Rulers were skilled in the field of architecture. An exquisite example of their architectural style comprise of the Chattris of Indore. These chhattris are the cenotaphs built in the memory of the Holkar rulers. The memorials are built in stone and have stood the test of time. They stand elegantly on the banks of the Khan River. The cenotaphs are tombs built on the cremation spot of the Holka rulers near Rajwada. The Chhatris have dome type structure with pyramidal spires on top.
According to historical records, the Holkars ruled over a large area of the state of Madhya Pradesh. They were great rulers and enjoyed support of their people. During the year 1858, British dominated the country and India came under the rule of the Queen. The Holkars were defeated by the British in the war and had to submit their kingdom in their hands. As their capital was also lost, they shifted to Indore. The city derives its name from the famous temples named Indreshwar and Indrapur.
As a result, they erected these Chhatris, a constant reminder of their rule and their glory. Facing west, there is the cenotaph built over the ashes of a woman ruler of Malwa, Maharani Krishnabai. There are two other Chhatris dedicated to Tukoji Rao II and Shivaji Rao, father and son respectively. These cenotaphs are linked by a common prayer hall, which has delicately carved arches and pillars. It also contains life size statues of these rulers on a high platform along the garbha grihas.
There is a place called Chhatri Baag here, which has two compounds. There is also a beautiful Chhatri in the memory of Bolia Sahib. It was constructed after his death near this Chhatri Baag. At night, these Chhatris provide a breathtaking sight, as they get illuminated. The Chhatris glow ethereally against the dark of the sky and pay tribute to the great souls of the Holkar rulers. An artificial lake has been created in this stretch of the otherwise dry Khan River. It has been further beautified with a fountain, well laid gardens on both banks and boating facility.
Rajwada is the historical palace of the Holkars. It was built about two centuries ago and is located near the Chhatris in the main square. It is a seven storied structure, which serves as the living example of the grandeur of the Holkars. Rajwada stands in the centre of the city. The new palace is on the northern side, while the old palace stands in the old part of the town. The old palace is a multi-storied building which also serves as a gateway of the Rajwada. It stands amongst the crowded streets of the Kajuri Bazar and faces the main square of the city.
The palace was once the centre of all the trading activities in the city. It is a blend of Maratha, Mughal and French style of architecture. The entrance of the palace has a lofty archway with a giant wooden door which is covered with iron studs. The gopura-like monument is made up of wood and stone. It has a number of balconies windows and corridors. The entrance leads to a huge courtyard, which is surrounded by galleried rooms and the arcaded Ganesha hall, which was once the venue of all state and religious functions. This hall is now used for art exhibitions and classical music concerts.
Rajwada has been burnt three times in history. The last fire broke out in 1984 and caused the maximum destruction. The lower three floors are made up of stone, while the top floors are made of wood. This made it very vulnerable to destruction by fire. Now, only the front part of the original structure remains. The palace has recently been renovated, which has managed to bring back the old glory to some extent. In the rear part of the palace, a beautiful garden has been created. It contains fountains, an artificial waterfall and some magnificent pieces of 11th century sculpture.
Madhya Pradesh is called the ‘heart of India’, only because of its location in the center of the country. It has been home to the cultural heritage of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism & Islam. State has everything, spectacular mountain ranges, meandering rivers and miles & miles of dense forests. At National parks of Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna & Pench, you can spot tigers, bisons and a wide variety of antelope & deer. Madhya Pradesh is very accessible, bordered by five states. It is equally close to major tourist destinations from the North, South, East and West.
The history of Indore is inseparable from the history of the Holkar State. Ahilya Bai was one of the foremost Maratha personalities and an extraordinary woman ruler of India.
Lal Baag Palace
Lal Baag Palace is one of the most spectacular buildings in Indore. It stands on the outskirts of the town, towards the southwest. It is a three storey building on the bank of the River Khan. The palace was built by Maharaja Shivaji Rao Holkar during 1886-1921. Situated amidst dry and dusty gardens, it is architecturally quite similar to the New Palace. Lal Bagh Palace once hosted many royal receptions and even today, reflects the life style and taste of the Holkar Rulers.
The construction of the palace began in 1886 under Shri Tukoji Rao Holkar II. It was carried out in three phases and the final phase was completed in 1921 under Tukoji Rao Holkar III. Owing to its unique style of construction, it was one of the most stylish residences in India. The entrance hall on the ground floor is in marble and displays prehistoric artifacts. There is a coin collection on the first floor which dates back to the Muslim period.
There are also exhibits like contemporary Indian & Italian paintings and sculptures. The interiors of the Lal Baag Palace transport the visitors to the historic era. Lavish decorations in the style of Versailles Palace, Italian marble columns, grand chandeliers, rich Persian carpets, flying nymphs on the ceiling, Belgium stained glass windows, Greek mythological reliefs, Italian style wall paintings, stuffed leopards and tigers gives the visitor an out of the world experience.
The ballroom of the palace has wooden floor mounted on springs for extra bounce. The kitchen was built on the opposite bank of the river. It was connected to the palace by a well lighted underground tunnel. The gates of the Palace are a replica of the gates of Buckingham palace (London). Only, they are about twice their size. The gates were molded in cast iron and were shipped from England. They also carry the Holkar state emblem which states "He who tries will succeed".
The daunting gates of the Lal Bagh Palace are unique in Asia. The rooms of the palace have now been restored and furnished and it has been turned into a museum. Much of the furniture and ornamentation seen there belongs to late Regency and early Georgian style. The main attractions of the palace are the accurately proportioned and furnished rooms, with beautiful carvings on the walls as well as the ceilings.
The architecture and decoration of this Lal Baag Palace reflects the highly westernized outlook and aesthetic sensibility of the later Holkars. The Palace was inhabited by the Holkars till 1978. Tukojirao III was the last resident of this splendid palace. The Government of Madhya Pradesh is developing it as a cultural centre. The whole complex has a total area of 28 acres and boasts of one of the best rose gardens in the country. You can visit the Palace between 10:00 am and 05:00 pm on nominal charges everyday, except Monday.
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