|The Royal Chhatris at Rajwada, Indore|
Indore, one of the most prominent cities of the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh, is a city that has been added to the recent future smart city list but the place still prides itself for town-ish feel and its royal history. The present city had been founded in the late 15th century and has been growing ever since, and the town tells you all about it. Narrow and busy lanes, temples at almost every corner, old havelis in shambles, royal palaces and sudden change in scenario with flyovers and small IT parks – but it is the part of Indore speaking of the time gone by is the part I loved the most!
|Rajwada - A place that every Indorian loves!|
I had first been to Indore 10 years back for a wedding and all I remember of the place was Rajwada, the heart and soul of Indore. Back then this royal palace of the Holkars was partially open to the public and had a huge garden with a fountain and a lot of benches. The crisscross path that ran between the lawns ended at the entrance of a huge temple which is believed to be the personal prayer place of Queen Ahilya Bai Holkar and the rest of the fort was closed.
|A wooden window on the stone walls of Rajwada|
I remember munching popcorn sold in the compound and staring at the burnt windows and pillars of the palace, which were apparently burned down during the 1984 riots but were examples of both Mughal and Maratha architecture. Though now entrance to the wada is limited to area covered during the sound and light show in the evening, the grand entrance still is worth admiring and the whole of the market area of Indore is established around this structure, hence it still remains the heart in every way for Indore.
|The sign of Royalty!|
The other palace in the area which was supposedly connected to Rajwada through a hidden tunnel is Lalbagh Palace. Still grand, still lavish, still stuck in the 1900s, it the era just before the royal splendor vanished. Every pillar, every room, every item in this place tells you how grand the lifestyle of Holkars was. They did lose a lot to British, but that didn’t hamper their royal way of life and Lalbaugh Palace with its European touch is a living proof of those changing times in the history of India. Imagine back in the 19th century, this Palace was known for housing furniture and ornamentation of Regency and early Georgian style and had a ballroom that held a lot of parties. I wonder if they actually lost anything to the British government!
|Cascading pillars at the Royal Cenotaphs - Krishnapura Chhatris|
But none of these royal residences had the beauty and the calm of the royal cenotaphs next to Rajwada. Krishnapura Chhatris stand tall, silent and peacefully (even after being in the market area!) on the banks of the Khan river, displaying the elegance of Maratha Architecture. These cenotaphs are memorials built on the cremation spot of the Holkar rulers who moved to Indore after it was made the capital of the Holkar Dynasty, followed by their defeat from the British.
|Closed doors of faith at the Chhatri|
The three Chhatris belong to Maharani Krishnabai (stands independently), Tukoji Rao II and Shivaji Rao. The structure also has a prayer hall but it does not have a very religious atmosphere. The best part of these cenotaphs is its delicately carved arches and pillars which are very similar to Mughal architecture but the carvings, when noticed carefully tell you that they are non-Mughal. The brilliance of the artists I tell you! The Chhatris contain life size statues of these rulers but mostly remain closed, while the temple is closed post afternoon.
|When you fall in love with the architecture and go crazy clicking!|
Sad part about the Chhatris is that they are the least maintained of the three Holkar structures, but the most beautiful according to me, and the Khan river which has been reduced to a garbage dump surely tarnishes the magnificence of the structure and the experience altogether. Still I won’t lie! I loved travelling back in time, of sorts, in Indore and I wish someday soon the river is back in its old form and we can feel the clock stop completely when we visit these places again.
|Indore without temples and prayer areas - so not possible!|