Madhya Pradesh is renowned for its history, monuments, and great architecture, much like many other cities around India. Due to the state’s extraordinary fusion of vibrant culture, spectacular architectural treasures, well-known temples, and wildlife, tourists enjoy wonderful touring options and experiences. One of the many little towns in Madhya Pradesh, Raisen, is notable because it is a significant historical and religious site. It is the administrative hub and takes its name from the well-known Raisen hilltop fort. The names Rajavasini or Rajasayan, both of which denote “the royal residence,” were once used to refer to Raisen. This small district town in Madhya Pradesh is known for its religious and national purity, as well as its historical significance. The Raisen district was once a part of the Bhopal Division.

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Bhopal-City of Lakes_©www.flickr.com

Bhopal’s streets showcase the architectural imprints of mosques and temples. These architectural marvels are some of the strongest examples of Bhopal’s rich cultural history. Bhopal, like many other Indian towns, was under the Mughals’ authority at the time. However, it was ruled by the Mughal queens known as Begums. The architecture showcasing this society’s affluence reflects the dominance of women in it. Up to the 15th century, Raisen was governed by various rulers. Sher Shah Suri, however, captured it from the Puranmal in 1543 and held onto it for a very long period. However, in the year 1760, the renowned Faiz Mohammad Khan, the third Nawab of Bhopal, did acquire Raisen, and from that time forward, this small town became a part of the princely state of Bhopal. Raisen was included in the newly created Bhopal state in 1956 when India attained independence. On November 1st of the same year, Bhopal merged with Madhya Pradesh. The history of the village of Raisen permeates every square inch. The Raisen Fort, which is how Raisen got its name, was constructed in the year 1200 AD.

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Taj-ul-Masajid_©mytourismguide.com

As a part of the Bhopal division, Raisen has a history reflected in the architecture that has survived. One can find the rich history of Raisen in Sanchi. Sanchi is around 46 kilometers from Bhopal. It is a holy place of historical and archaeological significance. Sanchi is considered one of India’s most stirring and impressive Buddhist structures surviving all the destruction and repair efforts. The images engraved on the pillars and stupas tell the dramatic story of Lord Buddha’s life events narrative of Raja Bhoj, the legendary Parmar king of Dhar, and the inspiration for the town’s name is told in Bhojpur, a well-known Shiva temple. Bhimbetka is a hilly area with lush vegetation, jagged cliffs, and 600 Neolithic rock dwellings. The Bhimbetka group is an archaeological jewel and an important record in the history of man, with paintings in over 500 caves describing the prehistoric cave dwellers’ lives.

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A 10th century old Shiva Temple, standing testament of time, known for its single stone Shiva Linga_©www.mptourism.com

The Bhimbetka Rock Shelters has India’s largest collection of ancient paintings, demonstrating the richness of Raisen culture and art. The rock art at Bhimbetka depicts the social life of the time. Dancers are shown in art in a range of dance styles. The cave walls display the respect and consideration shown to both domesticated and wild creatures. Some people have discovered paintings of Natraj that show Lord Shiva in his three functions as the preserver, creator, and destroyer as he is described in Hindu mythology, wielding a trident, in addition to representations of men being pursued by wild boars. The sculptures found in the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters depict ancient people dancing, hunting, and participating in royal processions.

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Concrete evidence of human progression over tens of thousands of years_©www.wowabouts.com
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Auditorium Rock Shelter_©www.mptourism.com

Architecture frequently reveals something about the values and ethics of the local population. Buddhism is one such religion that expresses its principles in both human behavior and architectural design. The Buddhist stupa is a symbol of the Buddha’s burial mound and a mark for a sacred site. Buddhist architecture is seen at the Great Sachi Stupa. It is one of the biggest buildings of its sort in the whole nation, with a pedestal diameter of 120 feet and a height of 54 feet.

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The Great Sanchi Stupa_©https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons

The stupa’s basic framework is a straightforward hemispherical dome. A relic chamber is located underneath the foundation on which the dome is fixed. To protect the artifacts, three chhatris were placed on the decoration. The Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha are supposed to represent Triantha, the three gems of Buddhism. Numerous fortunate symbols, scenes from Jataka tales, incidents from Buddha’s life, scenes from the early days of Buddhism, and sights from early Buddhist scenes may be seen at the ceremonial gates.

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Each of the gateways has two square pillars with a set of four lions, elephants, or pot-bellied dwarves supporting a large grid with three architraves_©Michael Turtle
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The gateways and the stone balustrade were added after the stupa was enlarged following the death of Emperor Ashoka_©Michael Turtle

The Udayagiri Caves, which are close to the ancient city of Vidisha, are said to be the site of the first representations of Hindu imagery. The Gupta Period, which is represented by the sculptures, symbols, and inscriptions found at the Udayagiri Caves in Sanchi, exists from the fourth to the fifth century CE.
Between the 4th and 5th century AD, a variety of artworks were etched into the rocks at Udaigiri Caves. There are 20 caverns with religious symbols and tales etched into the rocks. They were created throughout the fourth and fifth centuries AD across multiple generations. Since the majority of the caverns were carved out of solid rocks, they contain precisely chiseled pillars, architraves, and entrances. Some of the exquisitely carved underground gates are protected from the elements by legendary beasts and pillared porticos. The most impressive murals are those depicting Vishnu as Varaha.

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The unusual linga with a carved face that is found in Cave 4_©Michael Turtle
Udayagiri, Cave 5, Viṣhṇu as the Varaha Avatar_©https://en.wikipedia.org

The Raisen Fort at Raisen, Madhya Pradesh, was physically and artistically decades ahead of its time. The 800-year-old fort in Bhopal contains nine gates, defenses, domes, and the ruins of various early medieval structures. Some of the earliest known instances of rock art may be seen in the natural tunnels of the fort. It is still possible to see the remnants of palaces with names like Badal Mahal, Rohini Mahal, Itradaan Mahal, and Hawa Mahal, despite the fort’s general state of disrepair. Itradaan Mahal’s wall niches feature peculiar acoustics. A person facing a niche may be able to hear their voice in a niche on the other wall even if the two walls are at least 20 feet apart if they speak in a mild or natural tone.

The fort’s most noteworthy aspect is its well-planned water management and conservation system, which has been in existence for many years. Rainfall may be gathered and transported through a variety of underground channels to a huge reservoir built inside the fort. Similar methods were adopted to ensure that there would always be water in the wells with a number greater than forty, even during the warmest summer months.

References

www.brandbharat.com. (n.d.). Raisen History of Raisen, Madhya Pradesh. [online] Available at: https://www.brandbharat.com/english/mp/districts/Raisen/history.html [Accessed 3 Nov. 2022].

‌www.ecoindia.com. (n.d.). Bhimbetka Caves, Location of Bhimbetka Caves, Architecture of Bhimbetka Caves : Eco India. [online] Available at: http://www.ecoindia.com/caves/bhimbetka.html [Accessed 3 Nov. 2022].

‌visitworldheritage.comhttps. (n.d.). Udaigiri Caves | World Heritage Journeys Buddha. [online] Available at: https://visitworldheritage.com/en/buddha/udaigiri-caves/995be0a4-cdea-4618-b5aa-9d9668f83cc5 [Accessed 3 Nov. 2022].

Anon, (2021). Magnificent Udayagiri Caves of Madhya Pradesh. [online] Available at: https://imvoyager.com/udayagiri-caves-madhya-pradesh/ [Accessed 3 Nov. 2022].

‌FabHotels Travel Blog. (2019). Stupa at Sanchi: Information, History, Timings, Entry Fee, Architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.fabhotels.com/blog/sanchi-stupa-madhya-pradesh/#:~:text=Sanchi%20Stupa%3A%20Architecture [Accessed 4 Nov. 2022].

‌www.jehannuma.com. (n.d.). Bhimbetka Caves | Cave Painting in Bhimbetka | Bhimbetka Rock Shelters. [online] Available at: https://www.jehannuma.com/blog/bhimbetka-caves—glimpsing-into-the-past.html#:~:text=Bhimbetka%20Caves%2C%20consisting%20of%20seven [Accessed 4 Nov. 2022].

‌Anon, (2021). Raisen Fort, Raisen, Madhya Pradesh. [online] Available at: https://sahasa.in/2021/09/23/raisen-fort-raisen-madhya-pradesh/ [Accessed 4 Nov. 2022].

‌www.holidify.com. (n.d.). Raisen Fort, Bhopal | History, Photos, Timings @Holidify. [online] Available at: https://www.holidify.com/places/bhopal/raisen-fort-sightseeing-120678.html [Accessed 4 Nov. 2022].

‌harshadpatel (2022). Raisen Fort History And Architecture | Raisen Fort Bhopal. [online] History of India 1. Available at: https://historyofindia1.com/raisen-fort-history-and-architecture/ [Accessed 4 Nov. 2022].

Author

Shivani Jadhav, a Mumbai-based architect, is attempting to explore architecture through words. She is passionate about discovering new perspectives on structures and bringing them to life through her writing. Her experiment focuses on the social, cultural, and philosophical aspects of architecture.

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