After spending a night in Nagpur I took a flight to Indore at 8:15 am. I had picked a hotel not far from the airport as I had to reach the airport by 6 am. I got a cab at 6:15 and reached the airport by 6:25. The flight was just an hour long journey. Before leaving for Indore, I had a conversation with my elder brother’s childhood friend – ‘Rajesh Mohite’ and his wife ‘Ruchi’, who are more like family members to me. I call them Raju Dada and Ruchi vahini respectively. They both insisted that I stayed at their friend’s place. So I called up this friend of theirs (Pradeep Desai) and took his address. Raju dada had told me exactly how much the cab fare would be from the airport to his friend’s place. When I took a cab, the driver was a very old guy and the cab was very clumsy. His fare quote was 150 rs more than what Raju dada had told me. Looking at the old man, I didn’t bargain. We had an interesting conversation about the state of the city and the nation in the old times and how it has turned out now. He dropped me at the address. Pradeep dada had already left for work and had left the keys with the security guy. This security with a very thick mustache and plump built, asked my passport for identification and also made me call Pradeep dada just to be extra careful. When he was confident that I wasn’t a thief in disguise, he gave me the keys.
Pradeep dada’s apartment was huge. It was a 3 Bedroom apartment. I didn’t know which bedroom would be allocated to me so I kept my bags in the hall. I freshened up and was ready to explore the city. When I landed at the Indore Airport, I had received a call from an unknown number, apparently Raju dada had given this guy my number. This guy was a driver and provided transportation services. He told me to call him if I needed to hire a car for sight-seeing. I called him and told him to pick me up in half an hour.
He arrived after an hour or so. His name was Suresh and he was a middle aged man, hence I started calling him Suresh dada (Dada in Hindi and Marathi means elder brother). Even though our conversation was in Hindi since the beginning, I couldn’t help but notice a unique tone in his accent. A tone mostly Maharashtrians have when they speak in Hindi instead of Marathi. “Are you Marathi?” I asked him.
“Ho! Tumhi pan kaay?” was his reply. Which meant “Yes, you too?”. I replied with a yes and the smile on his face became wider.
From then on all our conversations continued in Marathi. He told me how he and his wife came to Indore at a young age and settled here. I told him to show me around the city. Since Indore wasn’t on my travel plan in the beginning but was added later on, I didn’t have any idea about the interesting places to see here. Even though Google did show me a list of most visited places, I relied on Suresh dada to enlighten me on the subject. He thought for a while and narrated the plan to me. Most of the places he mentioned were temples. I told him I’m an atheist but still I would love to visit a temple if it has a beautiful architecture or if it is ancient. He thought for a while again and came up with another plan which I agreed to.
We first went to Khajrana Ganesh temple. It was a huge temple with rows of shops outside selling prasad and flowers. But since camera wasn’t allowed inside, I decided not to step in. Architecture wise I didn’t find it that amusing either. We came back to the parking lot and decided to go to the next destination. On the way Suresh dada just pointed out to another famous temple of Indore and its gate caught my eyes. It had beautifully carved idols of hindu gods and goddesses on the outer gate. I asked Suresh dada to stop the car and pull over. I said i’ll be back in a minute. I wanted to take a photo of that beautiful temple entrance. I took the photo but also decided to explore the interior complex. The temple was small but beautiful. There were more idols inside. I spent a little time walking in and around the premises and went back to the car.
Suresh dada told me that we are going out of the city from here . It was 12:51 pm. Before heading to the next destination I wanted to have my lunch. I asked Suresh dada to take me to a well known restaurant in Indore. He took me to Gurukripa restaurant which is a big open restaurant by a roadside. I asked Suresh dada to join me for lunch but he refused as he was on a religious fast on that day. I stuffed myself with some amazing food. I picked up some juice bottles for Suresh dada and went back. I was so full that I was already feeling sleepy. I made it a point to have a tea as soon as we reach the next destination. Our next destination was ‘Patalpani Waterfall’. Ever since I heard that name it was ringing a bell but I couldn’t quite place it. I had heard it before, not only heard but I was sure I knew something about the place but I just couldn’t remember at the time.
We reached Patalpani after driving on a large, very large flat open ground. When we reached there, I saw a very deep cliff. and that’s where the waterfall was. We parked the car and walked towards a promenade made just to take in the view of the waterfall. From the parking lot, the depth of the waterfall was not visible but when we came on the promenade, the long rocky wall with white water sprays created a beautiful scenario. In an instant I remembered why I found the name so familiar. About 9 years ago on 17th July, 2011 five people had met a tragic accident on this waterfall and the video had gone viral. It was a very disturbing video to watch and now visiting this waterfall brought all the same emotions back. Despite the tragic accident, the waterfall was really scenic. Authorities have now built barricades around the waterfall to avoid the same accident again.
A further climb ahead revealed a railway track. The track was narrower than any railway track I had ever seen. A heritage train runs on this track once a day. The train ‘Patalpani-Kalakund Heritage Train’ leaves Dr. Ambedkar Nagar railway station at 11:05 am and reaches Kalakund station at 2:55 pm. The route is 9.5 kms long but goes through some picturesque forest sections of the region and provides a great view of the Patalpani waterfall. It returns to the starting point at 3:40 pm. The tickets for the reserved compartments is 200 rs. The first three rows in these compartments are for 240 rs. Whereas in non-reserved compartments, the ticket would cost 20 rs per head. For more information you can visit this link click here.
I finally saw a tea vendor near the parking lot. I had hot tea with Suresh dada and went ahead for the next destination. On the route Suresh dada showed me many beautiful vegetable farms.
We came back into the Indore city. Suresh dada stopped the car near a huge marble monument. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s tall statue was visible from a long distance. Suresh dada told me this is the birthplace of Dr. Ambedkar. He is a very respected historical figure in India. His contribution in assembling the constitution of India post independence made him a national hero. I had absolutely no idea that Dr. Ambedkar was born here in Indore. We went inside. His original home no longer exists. This monument was built on the same site instead. It hosted paintings, murals, photographs and statues depicting his entire life journey. We took a long tour of the place and came out. Once out, I saw a small house with an open door within the premise compound. A guy was seated on a sofa with his legs crossed. He looked at me and waved me to come inside. Me and Suresh dada both stepped in. This guy just pointed a finger on the right side without saying anything. I looked at the wall on the right side. There was a small enclosure covered with glass. A meditating Buddha statue was on the right and on the left, in another glass cube which had a metal ‘kalash’ (urn) safely contained in it. This pot contained the ashes of Dr. Ambedkar and hence this was a very revered place for anyone who has good knowledge on India’s freedom fight and Dr. Ambedkar’s role in making a new India after the independence. We left Dr. Ambedkar birthplace by around 5 pm and drove at the heart of the Indore city.
It was very difficult to find a spot to park the car but with a little bit of effort, we did manage to find one. We were now at a place called ‘Krishna Pura Chatri’. This place was a cenotaph built by the Holkars, and hence was also known as ‘Holkar Chatris’. Holkar dynasty ruled Indore until India’s independence. To be precise, their rule on this place ended in the year 1948. There are three chatris in total and they are amazingly beautiful.
Right in front of the chatris stood this amazing building which is one of the key interests of the city. It’s famously known as ‘Rajwada’. It displays a royal grandeur and is a fine example of Maratha architecture style. Unfortunately a renovation work was being carried out in and out of the Rajwada therefore the entire rajwada was covered in metal sticks. But the beauty of the palace was still admirable even amidst the temporary cage. This palace was constructed in 1766 and the southern part was rebuilt in 1811-1833. This rajwada also has a well maintained garden hosting a statue of queen Ahilyabai Holkar. We took a tour inside the palace and saw only the parts that were open for the common public.
Outside Rajwada was one of the famous streets of Indore. Famous for its food and is known as ‘Sarafa Bazar’. Since I mostly avoid crowded places I decided not to enter the street even though I was craving some delicious street food. Also the sheer crowd that I saw on the street was overwhelming.
I still had another day in Indore and wanted to explore more. Suresh dada told me that he can send his son the next day since he already had a booking. He gave me his son Vicky’s number and told me that he’ll pick me up at 8 in the morning. We were to visit Mandu and Maheshwar.
Suresh dada dropped me and I went to Pradeep dada’s apartment. He was already back from work. I met him for the first time. So in the beginning we both introduced ourselves. Pradeep dada being gujarati, our conversation was in Hindi but his Marathi was fluent. He continued the conversation in Marathi from then on. He had lived in Indonesia before moving back to India. He told me about his experience in a foreign country and also suggested a few places that I would like to explore. He was a simple, soft spoken guy. We had dinner together where I told him about my previous travels and adventures and the plan for tomorrow. Apparently he had not explored the city entirely even though he had been living here for quite some time. Therefore I asked him to join me on the next day’s trip but he could not take a day off from work.
To be continued…