Ratlam is one of the well-known cities in Madhya Pradesh, India. Ratlam is a tourist attraction point in the state with its rich historical background. The last name of Ratlam was “Ratnapuri”, which means “city of precious jewels”. Ratlam, where roads and rails connect significant district areas, is also an important city for the region’s economy. The town, which has lived through different processes in the history of India, reflects this situation architecturally too. 

An architectural review of location: Ratlam, MP - SHeet1
The location of Ratlam_©Google Maps

Historical Background

The Name: “Ratlam”

There are different opinions about where the name of the city, Ratlam, came from. Pre-independence period, Ratlam was a princely state in Madhya Pradesh’s Malwa region. The princely state was dissolved after independence, and it is now a developing city in the country. Historians believe the name was derived from the ruler Maharaja Ratan Singh and was previously known as “Ratnapuri,” which meant “city of gems.” Another line of thought holds that the Varika clan once ruled the region under King Vyagrarata in 420 A.D., from which the name “Ralam” was derived as inscribed on the Mandsaur Pillar. The most widely held belief is that the city got its name from Ratnapura.

An architectural review of location: Ratlam, MP - SHeet2
Ratlam Junction railway entrance_©ratlamisev.me

Brief History

Ratlam’s history is an exciting story. Ratlam was known as Ratnapuri in ancient times. Ratlam’s story began when Ratan Singh, a Rathore clan of Rajputana (modern-day Rajasthan), saved the then-emperor of India, Shah Jahan, by stabbing a crazy elephant trying to attack the king. The elephant fight, famous in ancient India, piqued Shah Jahan’s interest. He came to Ratlam to watch the game, and the incident occurred. The brave Ratan Singh rescued him when no one else would stand up for the king for fear of their lives. As a token of appreciation, the Emperor of India endorsed Ratan Singh as King of Ratlam.

From 1652 to 1658, Maharaja Ratan Singh reigned as the first Maharaja. It was ruled by successive Maharajas, one after the other. There is a long list of Rathore clan kings who have led the city, and each has made significant contributions. It came under British rule after the Rathore clan’s rule as part of the Malwa agency in Central India. The Rathores’ long reign has endowed the city with a princely aura. 

British Era

During British rule, Ratlam was also a princely state. Captain Borthwick founded the new town, primarily urban Ratlam, in 1829. It was then outfitted with wide streets and well-built houses. During British rule, it was a commercial hub in Central India due to its central geographical location. Opium, tobacco, and salt were all traded extensively from here. Ratlam railway station is still a vital hub today. Ratlam was reorganised in 1949 after the country’s independence.

Ratlam’s Historical and Religious Sites

There are numerous places of worship in and around Ratlam. Religious sites such as Kalika Mata Temple, Mahalaxmi Temple, Barbad Hanuman Temple, and many others can be found throughout the city. These archaeological sites provide insight into the city’s rich history. Most old monuments in Ratlam date from 10-11 A.D Aside from the Mughals, several Hindu rulers were also in the region. The Paramara Dynasty also remained in the region. Ruined statues of an ancient Shiva temple can be found in the Jhar area near Ratlam City. Hussein Tekri, another ancient Islamic shrine, was founded in the early nineteenth century by Nawab Mohammad Iftikhar Ali Khan Bahadur.

Kalika Mata Mandir

Kalika Mata Mandir is a well-known temple in Ratlam. The temple is a remarkable example of delicate carvings and sculptures on the walls, making it one of the most exciting places to visit in Ratlam for historians and Hindus. The temple, which is dominated by statues of three goddesses, is visited daily by hundreds of devotees. The sculptures are a great example of ancient architecture. The temple, surrounded by gardens, is a good place for families and tourists to spend time in Ratlam.

An architectural review of location: Ratlam, MP - SHeet3
Kalika Mata Temple_©freepressjournal.in

Bilpakeshwara Temple

The Bilpakeshwara Temple is located 18 kilometres southwest of Ratlam. It was built in the Pachayatana style and is dedicated to Lord Siva. Its construction dates from the 10th century A.D. This is an eastern Nirandhara Mulaprasada with a Sapta-Ratha-Garbhagriha. This temple’s architectural plan is Gurjara-Chalukyan, a contemporary style of Paramara temples, with east-facing Garbhagriha, Antarala, and Mahamandapa.

Ratlam’s Natural Sites

Ratlam is lined with historical, holy, and religious sites that draw thousands of tourists annually. Aside from these archaeological sites, Ratlam has a lot to offer visitors. Some of these areas are natural areas, parks, gardens, and natural live observation places.

Cactus Garden

The cactus garden is favoured by many tourists, educators, and botanists due to the rare species of plants in the park. This garden in Sailana is almost 50 years old and includes popular species such as tuber cactus, snake cactus, and peacock feather cactus. The famous cactus garden is 7 hectares wide and holds vestiges of ancient sculptures.

An architectural review of location: Ratlam, MP - SHeet4
The Cactus Garden_©EBNW STORY
An architectural review of location: Ratlam, MP - SHeet5
The Cactus Garden_©EBNW STORY

Kharmour Wildlife Sanctuary

Kharmour Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Ratlam district in northern Madhya Pradesh, near Sailana village. It is located in the Malwa region’s hills and is internationally renowned for its rich and diverse flora and fauna. Because of favourable climatic conditions such as humidity, soil texture, and water availability, the region is covered with dense forest and grassland. The sanctuary’s life-sustaining requirements provide a habitat for various exotic species. A few migratory birds from colder regions visit here to mate in the autumn. These birds are housed at the sanctuary for three months. The primary flora consists of deciduous trees, teak and sal trees, and extensive grasslands.

An architectural review of location: Ratlam, MP - SHeet6
’Lesser Florican’ most popular bird in th sanctuary_©indiasendangered.com

Ratlam city, with its commercial and industrial activities, has been one of the fastest-growing cities in Madhya Pradesh since its beginning. Economically, the region helps the state by increasing income generation. Ratlam is a popular tourist destination due to its historical sites, religious monuments, parks, and gardens. Today, visitors to the city enjoy the experience of purchasing local products while experiencing the feeling of the historical process.

Ratlam city aerial view_©exploreouting.com

Reference List:

  1. www.ratlamonline.in. (n.d.). History of Ratlam, British Rule in Ratlam, Historic Events Ratlam. [online] Available at: https://www.ratlamonline.in/city-guide/history-of-ratlam [Accessed 13 Nov. 2022].
  2. www.ratlamonline.in. (n.d.). About Ratlam, Information on Ratlam, All About Ratlam City. [online] Available at: https://www.ratlamonline.in/city-guide/about-ratlam [Accessed 13 Nov. 2022].
  3. Encyclopedia Britannica. (n.d.). Madhya Pradesh | History, Government, Map, Capital, & Facts. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/place/Madhya-Pradesh.
  4. madhyapradeshholiday (n.d.). Bilpakeshwara Temple-Tour Destination Madhya pradesh Holiday. [online] madhyapradeshholiday.com. Available at: https://madhyapradeshholiday.com/destinationdetail/Bilpakeshwara-Temple/82 [Accessed 13 Nov. 2022].
  5. www.thrillophilia.com. (n.d.). Kalika Mata Mandir, Ratlam: How To Reach, Best Time & Tips. [online] Available at: https://www.thrillophilia.com/attractions/kalika-mata-mandir [Accessed 13 Nov. 2022].
  6. www.ratlamonline.in. (n.d.). Cactus Garden Ratlam, Attractions of Cactus Garden Ratlam. [online] Available at: https://www.ratlamonline.in/city-guide/cactus-garden-in-ratlam [Accessed 13 Nov. 2022].
  7. Anon, (2020). Cactus Garden Sailana: Asia’s Largest Garden, Which Houses Around 1,200 Different Species Of Cactus | EBNW Story. [online] Available at: https://ebnw.net/travel/cactus-can-make-gardens-too/ [Accessed 13 Nov. 2022].
  8. www.ratlamonline.in. (n.d.). Kharmour Bird Sanctuary Ratlam, Wildlife Sanctuary in Ratlam. [online] Available at: https://www.ratlamonline.in/city-guide/kharmour-bird-sanctuary-in-ratlam [Accessed 13 Nov. 2022].
  9. Sep 26, S.K. / T. /, 2016 and Ist, 22:39 (n.d.). Bird vs Man: A ‘lesser’ story | Indore News – Times of India. [online] The Times of India. Available at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/indore/bird-vs-man-a-lesser-story/articleshow/54530755.cms [Accessed 13 Nov. 2022].
  10. Anon, (n.d.). District Ratlam, Government of Madhya Pradesh | Gem City | India. [online] Available at: https://ratlam.nic.in/en/ [Accessed 13 Nov. 2022].
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