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Old 29th April 2016, 16:39   #1
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Default A road-trip to magnificent Madhya Pradesh

Last year in October, we visited Rajasthan. Travelogue here (Bangalore to Rajasthan : 2 week road-trip in a Fiat Punto) . This year , we did a couple of short trips. The first one was to Tarkarli beach in Maharashtra in February. The second one was to Kodaikanal in March.

The yearning to be on the roads started once again, but it had to wait till April when the kids summer vacations would start. We finalized on Madhya Pradesh. One reason was our desire to visit Ujjain Maha Kumbh that would start on April 22. Another inspiration was Fauji's brilliant travelogue (Fauji's Drivologues - Fascinating Fortnight in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh) .

This was the route we chose :

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We spent 12 days covering 4400 km on the roads. Our trip schedule was as follows :

D1 (April 16) - Bangalore-Nagpur ( 1100 km )

D2 Nagpur-Pench NP. ( 100 km )

D3 Pench-Bhedaghat( 200 km )

D4 Bhedaghat- Katni -Amanganj- Khajuraho . ( 300 km ).

D5 Khajuraho - Chattarpur - Mau Ranipur - Orchha ( 175 km )

D6 Orchha

D7 Orchha-Sanchi - Indore ( 550 km )

D8 Indore - Ujjain - Indore ( 100 km )

D9 Indore - Omkareshwar -Maheshwar ( 150 km )

D10 Maheshwar - Mandav -Dhule ( 280 km )

D11 Dhule-Trimbakeshwar-Mumbai-Pune ( 500 km )

D12 Pune-Bangalore ( 900 km )

The travelers were me , my wife and my 2 twin boys aged 5 years. Summer had set in early this year, and temperatures had crossed 40 in all places we were to visit. Being used to the comparatively milder summers in Bangalore , we were worried about the rising temperatures. Nevertheless, we were excited and looking forward to the trip.

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Old 29th April 2016, 17:42   #2
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Default Day 1 : Bangalore - Nagpur

We started at 4:10 am in the morning. Took the usual route via Hyderabad to Nagpur. We had breakfast before Kurnool. Took a couple of more breaks and entered Hyderebad ORR at noon. Kept the speed within 100 on the ORR after I saw the fines that were displayed.

Took the Nagpur exit and had lunch at Medchal. Started from Medchal at around 2 pm and reached the Hotel at Nagpur ( Gayathri Inn Annexe ) at around 8:30 pm.

The overall road conditions were excellent. Traffic beyond Hyderabad, and particularly after Nirmal was sparse and I could maintain good average speeds. The 2 laned roads till Hinganaghat were patchy and bumpy, but without any potholes and I could maintain speeds of above 60.

So it took around 16 hours door-to-door from Bangalore to Nagpur with several breaks and moderate driving.

Had dinner and crashed in bed.

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Old 29th April 2016, 19:26   #3
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Default Day 2 : Pench

The next day was a leisurely one. Pench was only 100km away and we started at around 8am from Nagpur after having breakfast. Roads from Nagpur to Katni are mostly 2 laned, with a few stretches of 4 lanes in between. We stopped at a dhaba on the route , and he took over 30 mins to serve eggs , poha , bread toasts and tea. We didn't mind the time taken.

I had booked a room at MPTDC Kipling Court and evening safari tickets. Morning tickets were unfortunately sold out. Kipling Court has 2 Jeeps and 1 minibus registered for safaris at the Touria gate. Jeep charges are 2200/- for the evening safari - the charges will be higher for the morning safari as the duration of the morning safari is longer.

We had a sumptuous lunch and the Jeep was waiting for us at 3pm. We started at around 3-15 and headed towards the Touria gate. We reached the Touria gate soon - it's 2 km from Kipling Court - and saw a queue of vehicles in front of the gate.

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Our driver completed the formalities and got a guide for us. A forest official checked our ticket and identification cards. The gates opened at 4pm , and we were It was an open gypsy, and there was a heat wave blowing. The temperature was around 43 degrees. The forest was stark , scorched and there was little greenery around.

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We drove through the forest and reached a water hole - towards the left of the photo below . Towards the right was a hillock, and our guide and driver figured out from various animal noises that there was a tiger there , waiting to cross over to the water hole.

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One Jeep after another came to the spot and with the ruckus of vehicles, it decided to stay put. There's intense competition between the Jeeps on a sighting - after all, the tourism survives on sightings. There was a Tata Nexon that was going back and forth on the track. The driver while reversing landed in a ditch with a bang . He had to severely gun the accelerator to get out. With all this commotion, we almost gave up hope of any sighting. Right at the end, we managed to get a glimpse from afar of the tiger. No photos though, it was quite far away and I had only a 24mm prime lens on my DSLR.

After the sighting, our Jeep raced towards the gate. They have to return by 6:40 pm, and we made it a few minutes late. Had dinner and went to bed.

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Old 1st May 2016, 20:07   #4
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Default Day 3 : Pench - Bhedaghat

Our Jeep driver had told us that 10 tickets were available at the gate for the morning safari. One needs to be there by 3am and stand in the queue. The counter would open at 5am, and the gate at 5-45 am. We dropped the idea of the morning safari as we had to travel to Bhedaghat. We were out by 9:30 am towards Bhedaghat. Roads were mostly 2 laned and good.

Bhedaghat is a tourist spot close to Jabalpur, well known for the Dhuandar Falls and the Marble Rocks. We checked into the MPTDC Motel Marble Rocks at around 1pm. The views from the hotel are fabulous , one can see the Narmada making her way through the gorge. Very close to the hotel was the "Nauka Vihar" and the ghat. Boating is stopped during the monsoons. We took a shared boat - charges were 100/- per head for an hour of boating. These boats were rowed and not mechanized.

Narmada is worshiped here. As we took the boat ride, there was chants of "Jai Mata". People drank from the river and collected her water in bottles.

Some photos from the boat ride. You can see the white marble rocks on the riverside.

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The towering marble rocks.

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The ghat at the river.

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A roadside shop selling colors.

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It was evening , and we headed towards Dhuandar in an auto rickshaw.

Approaching Dhuandar.

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The beautiful falls.

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The Narmada making her way downstream through the ravine.

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There's an evening arti held at Nauka Vihar and we didn't want to miss it. We reached a few minutes late and the arti was almost over.

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Returned to the hotel , had dinner and went to bed.

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Old 1st May 2016, 20:37   #5
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Default Day 4 : Bhedaghat ( Chausat Yogini Mandir) and drive to Khajuraho

We woke up early next day to visit the Chausat Yogini temple. It's a 10th century temple. One has to climb a flight of stairs to reach the temple. It's circular in shape, with statues of beautifully carved yoginis built alongside the walls.

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A yogini carved in stone.

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The temple entrance after climbing the stairs. Note the circular wall.

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Yoginis along the temple wall.

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The main shrine at the middle housing Shiva and Parvati.

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We returned to the hotel , had breakfast and started from Bhedaghat for Khajuraho at around 9:30 am. The 2 laned roads had heavy truck traffic and progress was slow. The traffic was sparse after we left NH7 at Katni. The roads turned desolate. We had lunch at a dhaba on the way. We crossed Panna NP. The roads were broken and dug up from Panna Madla gate to Khajuraho. We reached our hotel , Isabel Palace, at around 5pm.

We had a free evening and we drove from the hotel to the western temples. The temples had closed, but there was the evening light and sound program. We purchased tickets and attended the show, but I did not find it too impressive. Halfway through the show, I lost interest and lost track of what was being told. Had dinner at a nearby restaurant and called it a day.

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Old 1st May 2016, 20:45   #6
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Default Day 5 : Khajuraho , Eastern group of temples

Day temperature at Khajuraho was around 43. Fortunately, the temples open at 6 am , and we decided to cover the temples as early as possible. The temples at Khajuraho are broadly divided into 2 groups - the eastern group and the western group . We hired an auto and headed towards the eastern group first.

Our first visit was the Vamana temple. The temple was beautifully sculptured.

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The next visit was to the Javari temple dedicated to Vishnu, again magnificently sculpted.

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Our next visit was to the Jain group of temples .

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Our last visit in the eastern group was the Duladeo temple , dedicated to lord Shiva.

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Attached Thumbnails
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Old 1st May 2016, 21:00   #7
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Default Day 5 : Khajuraho , Western group of temples

The Western group of temples is the treasure trove and the prime attraction at Khajuraho. Notable are the Kandarya Mahadev , Lakshman , Chitragupta and the Vishwanath temple. I'll let the pictures do the talking . The temples are exquisitely sculpted and carved . Pictures do little justice , and one must visit and see for themselves the wonderful sculpture.

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Old 1st May 2016, 21:03   #8
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Default Day 5 : Khajuraho ( Western Group ) , and drive to Orchha.

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Cropped images of the sculptures showing the fine details.

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We finished the Western group by around 10:30 am , returned to our hotel , had a late breakfast and headed for Orchha. The route was through Chattarpur and Mau Ranipur. The roads were 2 laned and good throughout. The only bottlenect was Mau Ranipur where a railway overbridge was under construction leading to a traffic mess. Lost about 20 minutes there. Had lunch after Mau Ranipur and reached MPTDC hotel Sheesh Mahal at around 5pm. The hotel is located right inside the fort and is a great place to stay !

Sunset seen from the Fort.

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Full moon at Orchha.

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Sheesh Mahal hotel and restaurant with cars parked outside. Mine is the white Punto.

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Right opposite the road was the well known Ram Raja temple - it does have a legend associated with it , read here . We visited the temple in the evening and spent some there. Photographs are not allowed inside the temple, and I'm posting the photos of the approach and the outside complex.

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Returned in the evening , had food in the hotel restaurant and called it a day.

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Old 1st May 2016, 21:20   #9
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Default Day 6 : Orchha

Orchha is well known for it's palaces and forts. It's located right next to the Betwa river. The Jahangir Mahal , Raja Mahal and Sheesh Mahal ( now converted to a MPTDC hotel ) are located within the same palace complex. We had breakfast and hired the services of a guide who explained to us the history , and the fort and palaces of Orchha. I'll again let the pictures do the talking. While the palaces fort are beautiful in their own right, I thought that the overall maintenance could have been better.

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A cropped view of the beautiful paintings.

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Raja Mahal.

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Beautiful paintings on the wall depicting the avatars of Vishnu.

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Chaturbhuj temple viewed from the Fort.

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A closer view of the domes.

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Rai Praveen Mahal. Rai Praveen was a well known dancer and musician.
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The Shahi door behind Rai Praveen Mahal.

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It was past noon and we returned to the hotel for lunch. We decided to relax and spend the full day at Orchha. In the evening, we left for Laxmi Temple, about 2 km from the hotel.

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Our next destination was the beautiful Chattris. These are a group of 14 cenotaphs next to the Betwa river. The sunset gave them a golden hue and I could capture some nice shots.

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Old 1st May 2016, 21:23   #10
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Default Day 6 : Orchha

A few more photos of the Chattris.

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We had the evening to ourselves and we attended the light and sound show. This one was more captivating than the one at Khajuraho, and we spent an hour here.

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Old 2nd May 2016, 07:08   #11
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Default Day 7 : Orchha to Sanchi , and then to Indore

Our next destination was Indore with a stopover at Sanchi. Had breakfast and reached Sanchi post noon. Sanchi is located atop a hill.

The giant Stupa , over 2000 years old.

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A view of the pillar.

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One can climb the stairs and walk around the Stupa.

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Another view of the pillars.

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A closer view of the carvings on the pillar.

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A smaller Stupa.

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There was a ASI store outside and I bought 2 pamphlets - one on Sanchi and another on Bhimbetka. We also bought a Buddha bust as a souvenir and then headed towards Indore.

We checked in at the Indore hotel - Hotel Samrat - at around 9 pm and called it a day.

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Old 2nd May 2016, 07:12   #12
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Default Day 8 : Ujjain and Indore

One of the main reasons of our trip was to visit Ujjain Mahakumbh. We reached Indore on April 22 evening, the same day the mela started. The first day was the day of the Shahi Snan. We headed towards Ujjain the next day morning. We reached Ujjain around 9am. At that time there were no traffic restrictions and I could enter the city easily and park my car close to the mela area.

The camping grounds of the Kumbh.

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Roads leading to the Harsiddhi temple.

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A naga sadhu.

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Many were taking a holy dip in the Kshipra at Ramghat. My wife took the holy dip. Good arrangements were in place - there was plenty of police presence, changing rooms, public convenience places etc.

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A shop selling toys.

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We first visited the Harsiddhi temple , a Shakti Peeth. We then visited the Mahakaal temple. This was thoroughly crowded , but we managed to get a darshan. We then headed to Indore.

Indore is famous for it's street food. Sarafa market opens at 9pm. We had to travel the next day and decided to visit Chappan Dukaan instead. This is a group of 56 shops selling street food. We had kulfi at one of ths shops. A couple of photos.

We then roamed the nearby Palasia market and returned to the hotel in the evening and retired for the day.

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Old 2nd May 2016, 07:18   #13
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Default Day 9 : Omkareshwar

We started early from Indore the next day for Omkareshwar. Omkareshwar is another Jyotirling in MP, about 80km from Indore. The temple is located in an island on the Narmada. There are 2 bridges that can be used to walk and reach the island. One of them was built very recently for Kumbh. There are boat services as well, but they were closed by the police due to the ongoing Kumbh. There were many visitors to Omkareshwar as part of the Ujjain Kumbh , and heavy police and security arrangements.

The narrow and colorful streets of Omrareshwar , with shops lined on both sides.

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The boat service ( closed ) at the ghat. We're still on the mainland - notice the bridge on the left of the photo that takes you to the island on the Narmada.

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A view of the Narmada from the bridge.

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The Omrakeshwar temple as seen from the bridge.

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Queue at the temple entrance.

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We had a good darshan and came down to one of the ghats.

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Another view of the temple and the newly built bridge.

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We visited the Mamleshwar temple , had lunch and left for Maheshwar.

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Old 2nd May 2016, 08:10   #14
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Default Day 9 : Maheshwar

Maheshwar is about 70 km from Omkareshwar and is a beatiful place to visit. We checked in at MPTDC that's right on the banks of the Narmada. The Narmada looks beautiful here.

The eternal Narmada flowing by. It had such a soothing and calming effect. One could spend hours on her banks watching her. The Baneshwar temple was right in the middle of the river.

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The river was bluish and very clean.

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The Ahilya fort , and the ghats next to it.

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We took a boat ride. It took us close to the Baneshwar temple, and gave us a good view of the fort and the ghats.

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A chattri inside the fort.

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Ahilya Bai Holkar's statue.

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The fort lit up with different colors in the evening.

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The ghat in the evening.

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Maheshwar is well known for it's sarees. We visited a shop close to the Fort. Wife purchased a saree and a salwar suit piece from the shop. We noticed several saree shops on the street leading to the fort entrance.

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It was late in the evening. We walked back to the hotel , had dinner , and crashed.

Last edited by sdp1975 : 2nd May 2016 at 20:22.
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Old 2nd May 2016, 08:24   #15
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Default Day 10 : Mandav

The next morning , we started for Mandav , about 40km from Maheshwar. The road from Palash on NH3 is under repairs and it took us almost an hour to reach Mandav. Mandav is at an elevation and one needs to drive through ghat roads to reach it. It looks best in the monsoon, with the greenery and rains all over.

Our first destination was Roopmati's pavilion. The story of Roopmati and Baz Bahadur's love for each other is well known.

The palace and stairs leading to it.

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The ground floor was a stable for horses.

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Misty view of the plains from atop.

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There are 2 domes on the roof, this is one of them.

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The first and second floors - used for horses and soldiers with the domes on top.

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Next was Baz Bahadur palace , quite close to Roopmati Pavilion. The entrance to the Palace.

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Views of the the ground floor.

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This gentleman claimed to be a Sarpanch for 15 houses and was happy to pose for us. He insisted that we show his photo to as many people we knew.

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Dome on the first floor. One of my better shots in the trip.

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We next went to Jami Masjid.

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Last edited by sdp1975 : 2nd May 2016 at 18:56.
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