Circled by some of the big towns of India – Delhi (110) miles, Agra (32 miles), Mathura (22 miles), Jaipur (115 miles) lies the historical city of Bharatpur, now the Eastern Gateway of Rajasthan to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and the Punjab. Not long ago it was the capital of the State of that name and occupied, as it does even now, a significant position.
Maharaja Suraj Mal in the thirties of the Eighteenth Century began the consolidation of his territorial gain and for control and protection, he built a new capital, the third, which might be proof against attack. He thereupon laid the foundation of Bharatpur Fort which has gone down in history as Lohagarh (the Iron-Fort) which has proved to be impregnable. The virginity of the Fort has remained unmolested on account of the ingenious defensive works, conceived and designed under the instructions of the founder. Throe walls one round the other, separated by formidable moats afforded protection to the garrison and the people inside from guns and enemy. The peculiarities of the forts of Suraj Mai were that the outer walls were made of mud so that the cannon balls got stuck without doing any harm to the masonry fort inside. The perimeter of the outermost wall was seven miles. It took eight years to complete the earth work. The Bharatpur fort was completed in 1756 A.D.
The fort has eight bastions and two gates, the one in the North is known as the Ashtadhati or the Gate of Eight Metals. Maharaja Jawahar Singh brought it from Delhi as a battle trophy. The gate on the South is known as Lohia Darwaza or the Iron Gate. It was also brought by Maharaja Jawahar Singh from Delhi in 1764 and comes from the famous Red Port. Burj or Bastions The fort has eight bastions of which one figures prominently and deserves a little discription, i.e., the Jawahar Burj. Jawahar Burj on one side of which is an Iron Pillar about 12 inches in diameter inscribed in Hindi, describing names of all the Rulers and their collaterals in Genealogical order.
Gangamandir: The construction of this big temple was started by Maharaja Balwant Singh and contributions were made by a unique method where all persons employed in the services of the State were asked to donate one month's salary of their service or any rise in pay towards the shrine. The temple is of beautiful architectural design.
Banke Bihari temple: it is another such temple that is always crowded with hundreds of devotees.
Nestled in the center of the city, this temple is established on a vast expanse of land. Inspired by Brij architecture, this temple has a beautiful building. The main hall of the temple has striking statues of Lord Krishna and is perpetual companion Radha. Amazing pictures depicting the childhood of Lord Krishna are shown on the walls of the verandah outside the main hall. Wonderful paintings of various deities have been beautifully painted on the walls and ceilings of the temple.
Laxman temple: Situated right in the heart of the city, the temple makes for a major attraction in the city. In fact the center of the city has two temples of Laxman. The temple that is the most ancient one is the one located in the main market area and is around 400 years old. Naaga Baba, a sage who worked for the upliftment of the mankind, established this temple. A large number of devotees from all across the world come to this temple and pay homage to the deity. Neighboring this temple is another Laxman temple that was set up by the founder of the city of Bharatpur, Maharaja Baldev Singh. It is believed that the temple is as old as the city itself. This temple is said to be around three hundred years old and is a beautiful piece of architecture. Made of sandstone and white marble this temple makes for a beautiful site in the center of Bharatpur city.
Museum: The Government Museum, Bharatpur is located inside the historic Lohagarh Fort which is about 4 Km. away from the main bus stand and railway station. The Kachahri Kalan and Kamara Khas buildings built during the reign of Maharaja Balwant Singh in first half of 19th century A.D. In 1939, sculptures and other objects were collected from various places of the region and initially displayed in Public Library under the patronage of H.H Maharaja Sawai Brijendra Singh. These were shifted to the present building of Kachahri Kalan in 1944 A.D. and it was formally opened to public on 11th Nov, 1944. Later on the Kamara Khas building was added to it. It has rare and distinguished collection of sculptures, inscriptions, coins, arms and weapons and decorative art objects. The museum has in its possession above 4000 antiquities. The buildings which house the museum in itself are marvellous examples of artistic beauty.
The place is famous for its palaces and gardens laid with fountains in the Mughal style and the fort. It is 22 miles from Bharatpur. The beautiful palaces were started by Maharaja Badan Singh and added to by Maharaja Suraj Mai and Maharaja Jawahar Singh. They were modernised by Maharaja Jaswant Singh. According to the Historian Thronton, the palaces of Deeg are only second to the Taj Mahal Agra in perfection of workmanship. They were built of local white sand stone, quarried from the hills at Bayana. Their most interesting architectural points are the Double Chhajjas (Eves) and the huge tank on an upper storey of a building which holds six lakh gallons of water for the fountains. The pipes to these fountains are made of clay covered with cloth and lime mortar. Copper pipes are only used at the heads of the fountains of stone. These are even laid out inside the various palaces.
GOPAL BHAWAN: The main building in the quadrangle facing the East is Gopal Bhawan. It is the largest of all the palaces and is seven storied with spacious and beautiful halls. It also has the famous white and black marble slabs, which were originally brought by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir to Delhi from Allahabad and Maharaja Jawahar Singh brought them to Deeg. In front of the Gopal Bhawan are large sand stone slabs measuring 36' x 3'. They were originally girders of the main hall and were brought by bullock carts from quarries at Baretha, a distance of 50 miles.
THE MARBLE SWING: This originally belonged to the Nawabs of Oudh and was brought to Deeg by Maharaja Jawahar Singh (as a war trophey). The floor slabs of this swing come from some historical bastion of Delhi.
SURAJ BHAWAN: On the south of the quadrangle is the Suraj Bhawan built of marble quarried at Makrana at Jodhpur and skillfully ornamented by in-lay work of semi-precious stones. It orice decorated the Red Fort of Delhi. After the Great Maharaja Suraj Mai was treacherously murdered at Shahdra near Delhi, this palaoe was dismantled from the fort in 1765 A.D. and was removed to Deeg by his son Maharaja Jawahar Singh who got it pieced together in memory of his beloved father and renamed it after him.
Shri Girraj Ji is the family diety of the present dynasty and is not only worshipped by the Ruling family of Bharatpur but by the entire population of Braj.
MANASI GANGA: The tank is famous for its scenic beauty and is surrounded by temples where devotees como from long distances to bathe and pray. The most notable feature of Goverdhan is the annual Deewali Fair when little earthen-ware lamps are burnt on the bank of the lake and only pure melted butter is used even to this day. The devotees also travel bare-foot along a pilgrimage of 14 miles round this sacred hill of Shri Girrajji. According to Mythology, Lord Krishna lifted it to give shelter to the oppressed. A large number of monuments have been erected in the form of Chhatris (Cenotaphs). All of them have beautiful roof and wall paintings in Rajasthani style and are richly ornamented in stone carving.
KUSUM SAROVAR: It is a beautiful tank about two miles North of Goverdhan. It is crowned by the magnificent monumented Chhatri, raised in memory of Maharaja Suraj Mai who, although was cremated on the banks of Jamuna at Shahdara near Delhi, this Chhatri was erected over his ashes which were brought from there and is built in the Hindu style of Architecture of white sand stone brought from the Bayana hills.
Kama, about 40 miles North of Bharatpur, is a very old sacred town of the Hindus and a part of Braj where Lord Krishna resided in his early life. It is also known as Kamaban.
Chaurasi Khambha: There are remains of an old mosque consisting of 84 pillars called Chaurasi Khambha. Kama had also been under the rule of Jaipur but was conquered and annexed by Maharaja Jawahar Singh.
There is a tank at Kama named Bimal Kund surrounded on all sides by temples and Chhatris built in memory of ancient rulers. Kama is served by a metalled road from Deeg and Kosi.
PARMADRA VILLAGE: Five miles from Deeg on the Kama road is the village of Parmadra. It is known as 'Sudama Puri' of the epic period and has a Sudama temple. The temple is visited every year by a large number of pilgrims.
Mathura & Vridavan
Brajbhoomi: the land where Shri Krishna was born and spent his youth, has today little towns and hamlets that are still alive with the Krishna legend and still redolent with the music of his flute. Mathura, a little town on the River Yamuna was transformed into a place of faith after Lord Krishna was born here. Vrindavan, a village - once noted for its fragrant groves, is where he spent an eventful youth. There are numerous other little spots in the area that still reverberate with the enchantment of Shri Krishna.
The City of Mathura, in Uttar Pradesh is 52 km far from bharatpur. For about 3000 Year it was the hub of culture and civilization. Held in sanctity by the Buddhists, Jain and Brahmanical faith alike, it has a long and chequered history. Pilgrims and visitors can visit SHRI KRISHNA JANMA BHUMI, VISHRAM GHAT, DWARKADHEESH TEMPLE, GITA MANDIR, GOVT. MESEUM and many more temples.
Vrindavan, just 15 km from Mathura, is another major place of pilgrimage. It is noted for its numerous temples - both old and modern. The name Vrindavan evokes the playfulness and lovable characteristics of Shri Krishna. This is the wood where he frolicked with the gopis and tenderly wooed Radha. Pilgrims and visitors can visit GOVINDA DEV, SHAHJI TEMPLE, RANG JI TEMPLE, MADAN MOHAN TEMPLE, KRISHNA BALRAM MANDIR (ISKCON VRINDAVAN ), RADHA BALLABH TEMPLE, GOPI NATH TEMPLE, GLASS TEMPLE, NIDHI VAN, SEVA KUNJ, BANKE BIHARI and many more.
About 22 kms from Bharatpur is this vast complex, built during the second half of the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar. Akbar shifted his residence and court from Agra to Sikri, for a period of 13 years, from 1572 to 1585 to honour the Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti, who resided here. Akbar revered him very much as the Saint had blessed him with a son who was named Salim in 1569. He raised lofty buildings for his use, and houses for the public. Thus grew, a great city with charming palaces and institutions. Akbar gave it the name of Fathabad and which in later days came to be known as "Fathpur Sikri".
Fatehpur Sikri is now a World Heritage site. The Panch Mahal , or Palace of Five Storeys, and the Buland Darwaza, a massive gate which provides entrance to the complex, number among the finest specimens of Mughal architecture. The architecture of Fatehpur Sikri has a definite all-India character. It is prolific and versatile Indo-Muslim composite style, which is a fussion of the composite cultures of indigenous and foreign origins.
Taj Mahal at Agra is located at a distance of 55kms from Bharatpur. The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan's favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, and one of the three World Heritage Sites in Agra. Agra Fort (sometimes called the Red Fort), was commissioned by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565, and is another of Agra's World Heritage Sites. The Empress Nūr Jahān built I'timād-Ud-Daulah's Tomb, sometimes called the "Baby Tāj", for her father, Mirzā Ghiyās Beg, the Chief Minister of the Emperor Jahāngīr. Sikandra, the last resting place of the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great, is on the Delhi-Agra Highway, only 13 kilometres from the Agra Fort. The Swāmī Bāgh Samādhi is a monument to hold the ashes of Huzūr Swāmijī Mahārāj (Shrī Shiv Dayāl Singh Seth) in the Swāmībāgh section, on the high road that goes from Bhagwan Talkies to Dayāl Bāgh, in the outskirts of the city.
Keoladeo National Park
The Ghana Forest and the Swamp are one of the finest and most densely populated bird and wild life sanctuaries in India.
The Keoladeo National Park or Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India is a famous avifauna sanctuary that plays host to thousands of birds especially during the summer season. It is also a major tourist centre with scores of ornithologists arriving here in the hibernal season. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971. It is also a declared World Heritage Site.
Keoladeo, the name derives from an ancient Hindu temple, devoted to Lord Shiva, which stands at the centre of the park. 'Ghana' means dense, referring to the thick forest, which used to cover the area.