History of Jhansi- Jhansi was a stronghold of the Chandela kings but lost its importance after the eclipse of the dynasty in the 12 century. It rose to prominence again in the 17th century under King Bir Singh Judeo of Orchha. Nearly four centuries ago, bir singh had a visitor, the ruler of Jaitpur. To impress his fellow Raja, Bir singh asked him if he could see the new palace he had built atop a hill on the dusty heat-hazed horizon. The raja of Jaitpur shaded his eyes, squinted and then admitted that he could see it but only 'Jhainsi' or indistinctively. That is what Bir Singh decided to call it and from Jhainsi it became Jhansi. Jhansi remained a small village until it was taken in 1742 by Naru Shankar, a Maratha. He built the Shankar Fort. In the 18th century, Jhansi was a power to reckon within the region. Under the pretext that the Maharaja of Jhansi had died laving no heir, the British intervened in the affairs of Jhansi. The East India Company acquired control in 1803 and took over the state of Jhansi and pensioned off the Maharani. The fort was seized in 1857 and most of the occupants slaughtered. The Rani, who had a $6,000 pension from the British still had a grievance with them because under this new system she was not allowed to adopt an heir. When the Indian Mutiny burst into flames, the Maharani was in the forefront of the rebellion. The British Resident posted at Jhansi was wiped off. She joined the rebels and led her forces against the British and sacrificed her life to the cause of India’s independence. She was killed on 18th June 1858 in a battle at Kotah-ki-Sarai dressed like a man, holding her sword two-handed and holding the reins of her horse in her teeth. Since then she is adored as a great heroine for India’s struggle for independence. Five thousand people died in the siege and fighting around Jhansi.
Tourist Attractions in Jhansi- The main tourist attractions in Jhansi are the Jhansi fort, Jhansi Museum, Rani Mahal and Chhatri of Gangadhar Rao.
Jhansi fort- The Jhansi fort was built by King Bir Singh Judeo of Orchha in the 17th century on the top of a hill, as an army stronghold. The Jhansi Fort offers excellent views from its ramparts. The British ceded the fort to Maharaja Scindia in 1858 but later exchanged it for Gwalior in 1866. The fort has been a witness to the fiery battle led by Queen Laxmi Bai. The fort consists of a tier of ramparts which varies in height from 5.5 m to 9 m. They are built of solid masonry and have ten gates: Khanderao, Datia, Unao, Orchha, Baragaon, Lakshmi, Sagar, Sainyar, Bhander and Jhirna. The breach made by the British under Sir Huge Rose is between the Sainyar and Jhirna gates. There is a temple inside the fort which is attended by a priest. There are beautiful temples of Lord Shiva and Ganesha inside the fort. The Karak Biji and Bhawani Shankar cannons of the queen are also kept here.
Rani Mahal- The palace of Queen Laxmi Bai or Rani Mahal is a fine piece of traditional architecture, which has now been converted into a museum. It houses a collection of archaeological remains of the period between the 9th and the 12th century AD and the sculptures excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India. On the first floor of the palace, decorative murals grace the ceiling as they used to do it when they resided here after the British annexed her kingdom.
Chhatri of Gangadhar Rao- The chhatri or cenotaph of Gangadhar Rao, the Rani Laxmi Bai's husband stands in a walled enclosure. This cenotaph is centred around a pavilion and devoid of frescoes. It has a quiet and nostalgic feet about it. A door leads to a reservoir or tank where local men bathe.
Jhansi Museum- Weapons, statues, dresses and photographs that represent the Chandela dynasty and a picture galley, are the main features of the Government museum. The Museum's folk art gallery is fascinating with its exhibits of finger painting from the walls of village huts.
Deogarh- Deogarh is situated about 123 kms. from Jhansi. Deogarh is situtated on the right bank of the Betwa river, at the western end of the Lalitpur range of hills. It is of great antiquarian, epigraphical and archaeological importance. It remained in glory during the region of the Guptas, the Gondas, Gurjara-Pratiharas, the Muslim rulers of Delhi, the Marathas and the British. The architecture and sculptures of these temples display a high level of craftsmanship. The great Gupta dynasty of the 4th and 5th century AD, fortified Deogarh and built the hand crafted Dashavatar Temple. This fine temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and the earliest known Panchayatan temple in North India. The Guptas have left an indelible stamp on the sculptural art and architecture of India and this temple is among their best.
The carvings in the temple almost seem as if they had been moulded, rather than been fashioned painstakingly with a hammer and chisel. Lord Vishnu reclines on an elbow and the cushions below him have been indented to take the varied pressures of his hips, back, shoulders. All around the temple such minute details have been depicted on the hard stone with the most exquisite fidelity. The Deogarh's most famous attraction is the walled complex of temples belonging to the gentle and non-violent Jain community. The site was a Jain centre from the 8th to the 17th century. There are 31 Jain temples, all situated inside the Fort of Karnali, on the hill overlooking the river Betwa. This complex has the world's largest collection of the Jain sculptures belonging from the 9th to 12th centuries. Most of them have been imbedded in the walls of the complex which not only protects them but also makes them accessible to visitors. There are also beautiful images installed in the various temples of the complex. Gorakhgiri is the hill where Guru Gorakhnath once resided with his disciples. The spot is ideal for rock-climbing and picnics.
Mahoba- Mahoba is situated about 140 km from Jhansi, and associated with the Chandela kings who ruled over Bundelkhand between the 9th and the 12 centuries. Mahoba is believed to have been existed under the different names in all the successive cycles through which the world has passed. Mahoba is said to be derived from a great sacrifice, performed by its reputed founder the Chandela Raja Chandra Varma in 800 AD. Mahoba was also a prominent cultural centre. Ballads praise its days of glory and narrate the inspiring saga of Alha and Udal, the two legendary warrior brothers who sacrificed their lives for the honour of their land. The Chandelas constructed four lakes in Mahoba. These lakes are Madan Sagar, Vijay Sagar, Kalyan Sagar and Kirat Sagar. The Ram Kund lake marks the place where the dynasty's founder died and on an island in Madan Sagar, the main lake, stands a Shiva temple that belongs to the 12th century. The shores of the lakes and the islands are littered with ruined temples, large rock figures, Buddhist and Jain sculptures, a dancing Ganesh of whitewashed, a sun temple dedicated to Surya and a vast figure of Siva cut into the rock. There are various temples, besides the numerous lakes that dot the rocky islets. The Sun Temple at Rahila lies to the west of Rahila Sagar, an artificial lake credited to Chandela ruler Rahila, who ruled between 890 to 910 A.D. Though in a ruined state today, the temple is a fine example of early Pratihara architecture in the area. Maniya Dev Temple is dedicated to the tutelary deity of the Chandelas and stands on the bank of Madan Sagar.
How to get here
By Air: The nearest airports is located in Gwalior, about 98 km. from Jhansi.
By Rail: Jhansi is well connected by an excellent railway network with all other major cities. The nearest railway station for Deogarh is Jakhalaun, about 13 km, which can be reached by Jhansi-Babina passenger train.
By Road: Jhansi is well connected with a good network of roads. Jhansi is located on the National Highways 25 and 26. It is also connected with all major cities like Orchha, Datia, Khajuraho, Agra, Lucknow and Delhi.
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