This was my very first trip to Rewa in Madhya Pradesh and as soon as I set my foot in the town of old lifestyle with modern infrastructure, I knew my days were going to be about exploring the untouched beauty of this city.
I had left Manali on low spirits as Oreo had not returned home in last 5 days. But commitment is a commitment, so here I was in the city of White Tigers, waiting for history and adventure to unfold.
I was in MP with my sister, thanks to Tourism Board's #MPWithMyLovedOnes Campaign. We together visited many temples of historic importance, went on a barefoot walk in Son River, hunted for a glimpse of tigers in Sanjay Dubri National Park, tried different cuisines, mingled with the locals; there's just so much! Read on to know the details.
Though it cuts the travel time, reaching Rewa by flight can be tiring as there is no direct flight to this city. You'll have to fly to Allahabad Airport and then get a taxi or bus to cover the next 150kms of your journey.
Train is probably the most convenient mode of travelling to Rewa. Only catch is that there's just one train (Anvt Rewa Express) running to it, which departs from New Delhi at 21:15 and reaches Rewa at 11:00.
Around Rewa - Places To Visit
As mentioned previously, Rewa and its surrounding towns are rich in history, culture and wildlife. The area has numerous archaeological sites, waterfalls, temples, forts, museums, national parks - so much so that a week is not enough to explore them all. Following are the places I covered, most of them not even known to the locals (just so you get an idea of how raw & unexplored the city really is!).
Zoo, Safari, Sanctuaries and National Parks
Mukundpur Zoo and White Tiger Safari
On the day we reached Rewa, I wanted to tick off Mukundpur Zoo from my list. I had heard much about the place and its forest-like ambience that I couldn't stop myself from rushing to it. Entry timings of the zoo are 10 AM to 4 PM and it remains closed every Wednesday.
We reached the entry gate at 3:55 PM, got our tickets (Entry - INR 20/person) and rented bicycles at INR 30/person an hour to go about the premises. You can also hire a Golf Cart or roam on foot, all details here.
The enclosure of all animals are not like a cage and there is near to no noise pollution in the vicinity. You can see here White Tigers, Lions, Bears, Panther, different species of deer and langurs. There's a reptiles section as well which we couldn't visit due to time constraint. Once through the zoo, we opted for the Safari costing INR 50 per person. It is a short safari of about 3kms and 2 white tigers. There's also a museum which details about Mohan, the first captured white tiger, whose offsprings are in the zoo and National Parks around the world.
Cycling in the zoo was probably the best decision we had taken because feeling the rush of air against your face in the lush alleys is beyond description. Also, it leaves you famished which can be eliminated by dining in the White Tiger Resort adjacent to the zoo.
Son Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary
Gharial is a crocodilian from the family of Gavialidae which is critically endangered. Found in the Indian Subcontinent, MP Govt is trying to conserve this species by breeding it in Son River.
The Sanctuary derives its name from the river as it stretches along the length of this waterbody. The gharials can be seen in their natural habitat accompanied by various other animals. It is located at a distance of 50 km from Amarkantak and the forest's boundary starts from the Bansagar dam site.
Hard luck, I couldn't spot any gharials but that doesn't mean you won't. Right?
Sanjay Dubri National Park
It is another wildlife paradise located in Madhya Pradesh. 10km from Parsili and 70km from Sidhi district, fauna of Sanjay Dubri has plenty to offer. It is home to Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, Spotted deer, Sambar deer, wild boar, Nilgai, Chinkara, Civet, Porcupine, Monitor lizard, and 309 species of birds. Spread in more than 800kms, the National Park currently has 8 tigers.
I had heard that tigers can be spotted early in the morning so we left for safari at 6 AM. By 7:30 AM we came across some fresh paw-prints of a tiger who had entered the dense woods. Round and round we went in hope of spotting the tiger but to no good effect. We could easily spot some Chinkara, Nilgai, Wild Boar and other animals but of tigers, only paw-prints, again and again.
After receiving no outcome in 3 Hours, we stopped this hunt and went back to the resort. Again, I couldn't spot any tiger but I hope you do!
Rani Talab Kalika Mandir
One of the oldest water wells of Rewa, Rani Talab dates back to more than 400 years. There's a ruin in the middle of it which is home to wild ducks and snakes. In the west end is a well-built Kali Temple.
We reached the temple early morning and set to boat in the well. Our movement created ripples and it was so satisfactory! Plus nobody else was in sight, which made the place feel like it belonged to us. Boating here costs a mere INR 120 and start at 8 AM. After this, we visited the temple which is in a small space but gives great vibes.
I'd rather want you to visit the place in the morning than at any other time.
Hargouri is an idol of Lord Shiva holding Parvati in an embrace. Don't confuse it with a temple as sadly I did and the locals couldn't direct us to the right place.
This bust is situated in the Padamdhar Park near Ghora Chauraha in Rewa city. State Archaeology protects this monument which was found in the 11th century from a place called Gurgi. It is kept under the shade of a canopy at present.
Bhairav Temple, Gurh Road
Gurh Village is on the outskirts of Rewa and is not connected with well-paved roads. We drove and drove for hours and finally reached the temple which is surrounded by barren land to the horizon.
A sadhu sits in the corner of Bhairav Temple that houses the monolithic structure of 8 metres in length and 3 metres in width. The statue belongs to 10th-11th century and has been declared a protected monument. It is more a historical site than a spiritual one.
Maa Sharda Temple, Maihar
On the 3rd day of our trip, we drove to the Maihar town which is 70kms from Rewa. Here, on a hilltop is Maa Sharda Temple which draws devotees from around the country. You can either climb the 1000-something stairs or take ropeway which costs INR 180 per person, to and fro.
We took a ropeway due to time constraint. Apart from the divinity of mandir, view from the top is really spellbinding. We spent a good 30 minutes there and had a pleasant time.
Alha Dev Temple, Maihar
Just a kilometre from Maa Sharda Temple is Alha Dev Temple with a pond in its periphery. It is a small temple dedicated to Alha, who is believed to be alive even today.
When I asked a pujari about the significance of this place he told that Alha meditated here and Maa Sharda gave him blessings to be an immortal. Folklore says Alha visits the temple in the morning in invisible form and offers first prayer and garland to the goddess.
There is nothing significant in the temple but because it is so close, it can be visited to intake the archaic feel of the place.
Next, we visited Golamath Temple which is under 3kms from Maa Sharda Temple.
It is a Shiva mandir of historic importance as it was built during the Kalchuri period, in 10th-11th Century A.D. But I reckon not many people are in the know of it because even after being in the city there were no tourists/travellers except us.
The temple is beautiful! Its entrance has a modern structure but the rest is as preserved as found. The ceiling of the temple is decorated with Shatdal lotus motifs. The lower part of the pillars is octagonal and the upper part of the pillars has sixteen faces.
Certainly, you won't be spending more than an hour here but the place deserves to be visited.
Chandreh Shiv Temple
On the 4th day of our trip, we drove all the way from Maihar to Parsili (over 100kms). Within 20kms from Parsili Resort is Chandreh Shiv Mandir which houses not only a 1000-year-old temple but also a monastery built during the same period.
The temple belongs to the early stage of Chedi Dynasty (850-1015 AD) and resembles the Parshurameshwar temple of Kerala. According to the local guide, it was built by the guru of Prabodhashiva and the monastery was built by Prabodhashiva himself who was reputed to be the guru of Chedi rulers.
There are symbols carved out on every stone of the walls in the monastery which have different meanings. Moreover, Murals are carved at the entrance and in the lobby of the place. The monastery has 2 floors and it is believed there may be more under the ground.
It is charming in itself and pours quintessential divinity out of every corner. Must be visited!
Museum, Fort and More
Venkat Bhawan Palace
Venkat Bhawan is an architectural masterpiece created in Indo-Sarsanic style. It is in the city of Rewa and remains open from 10 AM to 5 PM. Photography is not allowed inside the Bhawan so I can't show you all the beautiful sculptures it houses which date back to more than a thousand year.
This museum is a treasure trove for those who have a thing for walking in the past. All sculptures here are labelled well and placed in a manner that you feel surrounded by history. The doors remain closed where the figurines are kept and the only source of light is either the CFL or sunrays entering through translucent windows or door cracks.
On the ground floor, some statues are kept in open with labels describing their origin. There's also a tunnel in the basement which gives really spooky vibes. But all in all, it is a great place to be.
Rewa Fort and Baghel Museum
Now, one thing to be cleared is that Baghel Museum is a part of Rewa Fort and is at a few km from Venkat Bhawan. The Fort has a small cafe, Mahamrityunjya Temple, a girls' school and a Radha-Krishna Temple on its land today. There is just one corner which has remains of the fort and it is in ruins.
Talking about Baghel Museum, it is probably the best place to see how rulers of the past have lived. There's a family tree which shows all the male lineage who have ruled Rewa. There are mirrors, vases, armours, ammunitions, toys, even dinner sets of the olden times. Ruler's clothes have been kept separately, as well as their throne and other possessions.
In the museum itself is the dummy of Mohan's bust, who was the founding father of White Tigers of Rewa. The Raja of Rewa captured him as a cub in 1951 and brought him up to breed, so more White Tigers can be produced. His cubs were exported to zoos of different parts of the world and it is said that all white tigers in captivity are an offspring of Mohan.
There are heads and body of other animals as well which may fascinate some but were a sad picture for me. Apart from that, everything was so engrossing - it's perfect!
Deur Kothar is some 80 km from Rewa and is an archaeological site of Buddhist Stupas of Mauryan Period. The place is open from sunrise to sunset, that is roughly from 6 AM to 6 PM. I was lucky enough to reach barely 5-10 minutes before the sunset otherwise the 80 km drive would have been a waste.
Anyway, the site is gorgeous. The stupas here were discovered in 1982. From then, remanents of more than 40 stupas have been found. Out of these remanents, the new stupas have been structured.
The place is raw as not even a stone has the touch of modern art to it. Some rocks have rock paintings and inscriptions in Brahmi script. It would have been better had I visited the place in little more light, but all's well that ends well. Right?
Baba Allaudin Khan House
Recipient of Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan, Baba Allaudin Khan hailed from Bengal but lived briefly in the Maihar City of Madhya Pradesh. His house here is preserved in the same condition as before though the face of the building has received a modern touch.
When we visited the place, it seemed like it was closed but we were wrong. The building is maintained by a caretaking family who opened the gate in no time and took us around. First, there is a hall that houses the tomb of Baba Allaudin and his wife. Then. in the house, you can see his room, his old instruments that include a Sarod, Veena, Sitar, and even a guitar.
If you have a penchant for music and history, this is the place to be in!
Art Ichol (pronounced as आर्ट इचोल) is an open-air sculpture park which also has a residency for artists. It is on Satna Road and remains open from 10 AM to 7 PM with INR 50/person as an entry fee.
We reached here in the afternoon and went around the park which has numerous creative displays with artists' name and thoughts behind it. I believe the place would be even more lively in the evening with lights showering magic on different sculptures.
There's also a cafe, a place for meditation and an enclosed presentation area with a chandelier of more than a 100 bulbs. All the items here are an extreme depiction of what wonders an imaginative mind can do. You can also buy small souvenirs if you like.
Barefoot Walk In Son River
During our stay in Parsili, we had the chance of walking in the shallow waters of Son River. The resort is built at the banks of the river so just by skipping a railing, we were knee-deep in the soothing flow.
I remember the day was a little tiring and we were exhausted by the evening. But we mustered a little strength and stepped into the river. After that, it was like the water had pacified our tiredness. Though we could get only about 15 minutes in the water, it was one of the best experience I had in the entire trip.
Where To Stay?
There may be varied and cheaper options of stay in Rewa and around but following are the places I stayed at and had a great time.
Vindhya Retreat Hotel
If you are someone who prefers sumptuous food, cosy and neat room with polite staff, then this is the place to be. Managed by MP Tourism, this Hotel has a variety of food and you can actually plan the places to visit as it provides with a detailed exploration guide to Rewa.
Again, another property managed by MP Tourism with a comfortable stay option. It is in Maihar and is within the entry gate of Maihar Temple. The hotel's backyard was under construction when we stayed there so I actually don't have many photos. But all in all, it is a good property to stay at.
Situated on the banks of Son River, Parsili Resort was the best property I stayed at. With its warm and homely cottages and closeness with nature, it will certainly win your heart as well.
Being away from the city, the place receives no network connectivity hence proving to be the best escape from the interference of technology.
Apart from this, the staff here is so humble and kind that they specially prepared Bharta at 9 PM because I requested. At 6 AM when we were leaving for safari, one of the staff drove us to the place because our driver was asleep. Very considerate and gentle staff.
All this sums up my beautiful journey to the heart of India. I had very few days to explore so I missed on some waterfalls, palaces and caves that reflect the potential of Rewa to be a traveller's den. I hope you visit the place and have a great time!!
All images used in the blog are copyrighted unless mentioned.
This post was originally published on It Is In The Name.