Thursday, 19 January 2012

Pranpur - by our first guest!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

An appeal from a village called 'Pranpur' and a place called 'Chanderi'

The weaver's village!
Amraee resort in Pranpur! The last sun-set of 2008!

Well, this new year (2009) we thought of going to a place that is far from the maddening crowd of non-sense business where even smallest of towns come alive (yeah we have seen that as well) dancing till mid-night after a few pegs of sharaab to some punjabi gaane-shaane (without even understanding a line of it). After much thinking we froze down to this place from a Govt. run initiative under UNDP where they are promoting rural tourism. They setup the system, adopt a village, train the villagers and then hand it over to them to run it! Self-sustainence is the key if we really need our villages to grow! Some places even have a home-stay with the villagers - and a best way to peek into their lives and be thankful of what you have (at least)! And ABOVE ALL spend a couple of days at peace to yourself in the lap of rural earth - without the noise of cities, with no mobiles ringing! We have been to such place earlier as well that I'll cover later. Well, the village this time is called 'Pranpur' in the heart of Chanderi (Madhya Pradesh) about 500 km from Delhi -nearest railway station being Lalitpur (UP). We had read about this somewhere so did some research on stay, places to see around and to reach there. We booked a taxi from Lalitpur. When we reached there, realized we took a wise decision - nothing but a small town! Alright, so the taxi waala a dark-thin man in the typical shirt-pant and pointed shoes with gutka in his mouth was waiting with a hand-written paper read it as placard please - next to his TATA Indica - Sunita Chakraborty from Delhi! He spelt it all correct btw!
Well, the journey started - about 45 mins - roads were good and we entered the resort - Amraee - meaning Mango Orchards - right on the state highway! Yes, the location was little disappointing - as we thought - but the ambience was lovely with just us in the place (We later realized it was inaugurated on 28 Dec and we reached there on 31 Dec, so were the first guests!) Our first love was the room called Atari - a low height room with a terrace - which had a thatched roof, open window for air-flow - in all, a typical village room without any fancy at all and a shared bathroom. Well, we realized it was cold and not sure if we'd be able to sleep we opted for another room which had nice Chanderi fabric curtains that we decided later to order for home! This was closed but the bathroom was still outside :) But the next few days spent here were going to be worth spending every thought of planning this trip!
The land of weavers, the green fields, ever thought of walking through the green fields in the morning, having a nice 'home made poha' in the morning breakfast and a lunch and dinner of bundelkhandi thali where even the 'gujiya' is served fresh out of the karahi, the rooms wihout ACs and rightly named as 'Atari' for it was on the roof top with a chappar to give the effect and without any window to give the way to the breeze from the Mango trees - the rightly named 'Amraee' - the rural resort located in a village called 'Pranpur' - a village of weavers - who weave in day in day out the beautiful Chanderi dress material - light, exotic and gorgeous specially for the lovers of sarees - but get just a few hundrd rupees a month! Yes I bought worth 10k, of course, a few for my friends and families - a few just for the sake of the hardship gone into making it! The village resort - Amraee - is a government initiative to promote the craft through tourism and also providing self-sustainment to the village. The resort is purely run by the people hired from the village(s) and trained - even the cook is a local lad who would make sumptuous meals as requested. Vegetables are grown there - you can help them - choose your choice of vegetables - though there isn't much variety (no non-veg food is server neither is alcohol permitted inside the premises). The people running were nice and were very hopeful that they might get some recognition for the efforts thereby helping the village to grow!
Alright, so coming back to 'tourism' - well, the village is actually a part of Chanderi - the famous bundelkhand dynasty! Places of inteterst are the Chanderi fort, Jama masjid, the hundreds of year of old bawris (quazi ki bawri), the remotely situated battisi bawri (32 steps all corners) -
shahjadi ka rouza (epitome of a love story of a princess and sepoy), the jama masjid, the shiv mandir sorrounded by water - parameshwar taal, the Badal Mahal Gate,
the khooni darwarza, the Mahavir temple - amazingly located and carved out of the sandstone hills, the koshak mahal initially planned for seven floors and has architecture similar to Mandu, the bundelkhand museum - better than so many of better cities of the country, AND the ruins of ISAGARH temples - all those lovers of Kharjuraho - you got to visit this unknown and forgotten remnants lying in a village that none of us would have heard of perhaps - the temples here are older than khajuraho but built in the same 'shaily' (architectural style) - in fact see the photo
doesn't it look like the khajuraho temples in first view.
Believe me there was nobody except the caretaker who hardly knew anything about the temple - a luxury if you visit the touristy places - not much document is available on Isagarh!
Oh how could I forget the unforgettable evening at the crocodile point which was distant but worth visiting for the rock paitings and the silent river flowing - it was scary as there was nobody but us with the guide - the vehicle had broken down due to the terrains but we still moved ahead by foot for alleast 1 km leaving the car with the driver to figure out how would he be fixing it (he did it - was the champion!) - walking past the barren lands, the sarson ke khet and the rocky terrains - telling the difficult story of people staying there (though we didn't sight a single soul) - but the sun-set was amazing - wish could have camped there - but the guide warned us to leave the place as early before the dark - perhaps he was scared!
The last on our itenary was the famous temples of Deogarh -

this is around 40 kms from lalitpur station - a feast for the ones who love the old ruins starting from 3rd century A.D - the famous jain temple ruins - hundreds of statues of lord mahavira and other tirthankars in the middle of a forest (now a National park) by the side of Betwa river. The most spectacular view of Betwa can be seen here where it looks peaceful yet gets ferocious swallowing the villages around during rains!

The hidden carved sculptures - be careful if you really want to see this - you'll have climb down the rock stairs to see these (I didn't go there)!

The hydel pump station which supplies water to the city and the 8 km man-made canal! Worth mentioning is the 1000 yr old but one of the most precious, beautiful, well-preserved and amazingly carved dashavatar!
Lastly, the amazing but simple people of the resort who were naive in their approach of services to run it as a resort yet warm in their hospitality - the manager was nice, the guide was an ambitious young lad trying to take money out of you, the cook was a local lad making just the ghar ka khana, Pragya the local girl who was working with the NGO to help the weavers sell their product - they all had hopes in their eyes and questions for us - will you visit again - do you think people would come here - it must be visited not for the luxury or a oh-so pampering vacation, - but for the people, for the dying art, for the thousand year old heritage (more for the rock paintings) and for the hope of a village that must survive - if anyone of you could visit the place I would believe my travel and writing the story has been worthwhile - it's an appeal to all travellers who would want to spend some time far from the freaking city life, away from the gizmos - under the shades of mango trees, walking through the farms, talking to the villagers, taking a visit to the long-lost history and giving them a hope - after all, this is all that they have in their difficult lives. There are MP Tourism hotels as well but my take will be the Amraee resort but do not expect it to be the fanciful place. Please do visit and am sure you won't be disappointed!

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