From Chanderi, we took a bus to Lalitpur, just about making it to the 1.45pm train to Bhopal. Upon reaching Bhopal, we headed to Hotel Sangam , which was fairly close to the station. We booked a zoomcar for the next day since we felt it might be cheaper and easier to explore the places we wanted to go to on our own... Also we had read about the buses, most of them dropped off passengers few kms ahead of the places we had in mind. This made sense! Next morning, after breakfast, we got into the car and headed off to make the most of the day.
Bhimbetka rock shelters
Having seen a few cave paintings, I was quite eager to explore Bhimbetka to see what lies in store here.. Some of the cave paintings here date back to nearly 30,000 years. The Bhimbetka Rock shelters is located at a distance of 45kms from Bhopal. These are know to have been home to humans, over a millennia ago. Located amidst rich flora & fauna, today it is a tourist spot where visitors can walk across the 3km distance and see the various rock structures and cave paintings. A path has been neatly marked to help us navigate the place and there are rocks that have been placed as steps, so it is easy to walk around. An archaeological marvel, Bhimbetka has around 243 rock shelters of which 15 have been clearly marked out. Some of the paintings depict regular day to day life, while others are on hunting, some are dancing, feature animals & birds as well. Some are white in colour while others are brown, and there are a few overlaps as well. Once you start noticing these paintings, your eyes get trained and you start spotting lot more with ease :) In a few caves you literally have to lie down to see the sketches that are on the ceiling of the rock.
Read on one of the sites that the paintings found in the rock shelters here have a striking resemblance to the ones discovered in Kakadu National Park in Australia; to the cave paintings of Bushmen in Kalahari Desert and Upper Palaeolithic Lascaux cave paintings in France.
Ideally hire a car or take a cab as the public bus drops you off nearly 3-4kms away and you have to walk. It was fairly hot even in Dec, and quite a walk through nothing but dry land. We gave a ride to two guys who had come by bus, who shared their experience of the tiring walk... You do need to get permit to go inside [it is charged per car and not per person], so buy the ticket near the main road at the office. Also carry water with you when heading inside the cave rock shelters..
The 7.5mt tall Shivling
From Bhopal, again Bhojpur is about 45kms but since we were headed there from Bhimbetka, it was around 25kms, which took us around 45mins. Bhojpur is renowned for the unfinished Shiva temple- Bjojesvar temple, which is said to house the tallest Shiv ling. Situated along the river Betwa, Bhojpur is said to have earned its name from King Bhoja of the Paramara Dynasty. Why the temple was unfinished is a mystery, but we did see the gigantic structure housing the shiv ling. The architecture is more like a fort than a temple, on the outer walls too there are no indications of it being a temple. Beyond the temple on the mountain plains are markings said to have been made by the architects either for this temple or another one similar to this. As you walk along, you will reach River Betwa... Down the road is a Jain Temple which bears resemblence to this temple in terms of architecture. Rumour has it that it was the same mason for both places.
The Upper lake and around in Bhopal
As the sun went down, after a quick visit to Sanchi Stupa [by then my phone & camera battery had died, managed to charge phone wee bit in the car], we decided to wind up for the day and head back to Bhopal, explore the city a bit. We drove around the massive upper lake for a while, looking for parking and then found a spot near the old part of Bhopal which was almost across the road from the lake. Parked the car and walked through the beautiful archway, down a flight of steps, and across the road to the lake. On the lake was the state of Raja Bhoj, who was loved and revered by all. Near his statue is a broken structure that could have been a part of a bigger one.
There was also a huge "Welcome to the City of lakes" sign on one side of the lake which lit up around 6pm, as did the lights on the bridge...
After spending about an hour or so walking around the lake, we headed back to the car. The two of us were talking about how there was so much to see and one lifetime just ain't enough. We had infact reached the last leg of our trip as well, with just Indore left.... Oh well, see as much as you can right!!