Exploring Chanderi beyond the Chanderi sarees

One of the most popular fabrics and traditional sarees produced in India is the Chanderi fabric and saree. The Chanderi fabric is woven in a small town in the state of Madhya Pradesh – Chanderi. The Chanderi fabric could be either silk-cotton (a blend of silk and cotton), pure silk or pure cotton. Typical of this Chanderi fabric/saree is the unique golden zari weaving done in the traditional yarns, creating the bright shimmering texture in the fabric. The fabric is used not only for making sarees but also for other traditional garments for women.

When you visit the town of Chanderi, you will find a lot of weavers who are actively engaged in weaving the Chanderi fabric. But, the Chanderi town is a lot more than just the fabric it makes. Chanderi could, in fact, make a great weekend exploration.

Chanderi has a long and rich history woven together by countless rulers before it was transferred to the Scindhias of Gwalior in 1861 by Huge Rose. The oldest reference to Chanderi is when it was captured by Ghyasuddin Balban in 1251 for Nasir-ud-Mahmud who was the then Sultan of Delhi. Many years later, Rana Sanga of Chittor established his capital at Chanderi, and went on to give it to Medini Rai, the wazir of Mandu. Chanderi went on to be ruled by the Khiljis, Mamluks, and Tughlaqs. The Rajputs of Bundela captured Chanderi again in 1586, which is when Devi Singh was made the governor of Chanderi.

Here are a few attractions you can check out when in Chanderi, after you’ve checked out the weavers and shopped the beautiful fabric to your heart’s full:

Chanderi Fort

This beautiful fort has been occupied by different dynasties over the years. Located on the hilltop, I would recommend everyone to begin their trip to explore Chanderi here. From here, you can catch a scenic view of the entire town, and get a good idea of the topography of the town too. The Chanderi fort has three entrance gates – the Hawa Paur, the Khooni Darwaza and the Kati Ghati. About Kati Ghati, it is believed that an opening was cut overnight through the gigantic wall of rocks, and the rock gate has no door. There is a Khilji mosque inside the fort. The Naukhanda palace inside the fort is also worth a visit. Legend has it that many Rajput women committed Jauhar inside the Chanderi fort, at what is now the Jauhar Smarak, after the ruler Medini Rai and the army lost the battle against Moghul emperor Babur, sometime around 29 January 1528. Near the fort, there is a memorial dedicated to the Dhrupad singer, Baiju Bawra.

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The Badal Mahal Gate is one of the most popular among all the monuments in Chanderi and has got nation wide recognition. The Indian Postal Department have issued a stamp which bears the image of the Badal Mahal Gate. Also the Madhya Pradesh Government Cottage Industries uses a stamp bearing the image of the Badal Mahal Gate on all Sari and dress materials it manages. The fort town of Chanderi was protected by seven boundary walls surrounding the town and the fort on the hill with each wall having several gates and windows. Many of these gates have been ruined by the forces of time and nature. Among the gates that can still be seen the Badal Mahal Gate has retained its own identity and uniqueness. This gate was built during the reign of Mehmood Shah Khilji in 1450 A.D. It is situated at the Southern end of the inner city near and facing the Jama Masjid and looking up commands a striking view of the fort above. This tall gate was constructed with two towers which are joined together with arches and windows to give a gate like form. The upper portion of the gate shows four beautifully carved windows, each with a different design motif. Beneath the widows are an open section where attractive sculptured forms are placed. On the other side of the gate is a hanging balcony where the musicians used to sit to entertain guests. This balcony was also used to shower flower petals on the guests as they passed under. (Info source : touristplaces.org) 😍😋 #therawtextures #chanderi #instagram #mptourism #madhyapradesh

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Badal Mahal Gate

If architectural heritage is your jam, then Badal Mahal Gate is a must visit for you. The place is sure to give you a lot of Instagram-worthy clicks. What attracts so many visitors to it every year, is the fact that the Badal Mahal Gate in Chanderi leads to nowhere and nothing. There is no building or palace or anything either in front of it or behind it. However, there is lots of greenery and vegetation around. A garden has built on the premises. Take the stairs on the premises, and you can go up towards a platform where a panoramic view of the surroundings await you.

Koshak Mahal

A trip to Chanderi is incomplete without visiting the Koshak Mahal, especially for heritage lovers. This palace has unique designs for the ceilings as well as the window carvings. From the top floor of the palace, one can enjoy a beautiful view of the town and unwind in the tranquility of the place, especially the green paddy fields around the palace. The best time to visit the Koshak Mahal is in the morning hours, when one can observe the heritage and architecture of the palace.

Shahzadi ka Roza

There was once a princess (shahzadi), who fell in love with the army chief. As it generally happens in India, the emperor did not approve of the match, and he had the army chief killed. Heartbroken, the princess killed herself. This tomb has been built in the memory of this princess. Attached to the tomb is the Parameshwar Tal, a water tank. On the banks of the Parameshwar Tal is the Laxman Temple, dedicated to Lord Ram’s brother – Laxman.

Looks like a great weekend exploring the heritage of Chanderi, going beyond the weavers and fabrics of Chanderi. And while you are don’t forget to shop the local fabrics and handicrafts to support the local weavers, artists and craftsmen.

Jain Temples of Chanderi

Chanderi has a rich culture of the Parwar Jain community who have built many beautiful Jain temples in the town. Visit them to experience spirituality and tranquility.

How to reach Chanderi??

The nearest airports to Chanderi are Bhopal (220 km), Gwalior (250 km) and Khajurao (250 km), and they are connected to other cities of India. The nearest railway station is Lalitpur, which is 40 km away on the Bina-Bhopal track. Chanderi is also well-connected by road to major cities around like Bhopal, Gwalior, Khajurao and Delhi, and buses & taxis ply regularly from there to Chanderi.

Where to stay in Chanderi?

Some of the best places to Chanderi are:

  • Kila Kothi – A heritage property
  • Tana Bana – The Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation property
  • Hotel Shri Kunj
  • Amraee Guest House

When is the best time to visit Chanderi?

Summers can get really hot in Chanderi. Winters and spring – from October to April is the best time to visit Chanderi.

Penny for your thoughts!