We think some places invite you to visit them! During our weekend stay at Noor-Us-Sabah Palace, in Bhopal, the suite curtains rolled up to offer a stunning view of the ancient Manua Bhan Ki Tekri. Or ‘Mahaveer Giri,” as now named by the city governor. Even though we didn’t have this place on our sightseeing bucket list, the hilltop temple looked splendid from far. Surprisingly the events took a turn, the next day as we set out to explore the city of Nawabs.
On this bright day, we had chosen to take a city tour with one of Noor-Us-Sabah Palace’s most reliable chauffeurs. After giving us a brief tour of the Bhopal lake, and a few remarkable landmarks, the driver insisted on us discovering Mahaveer Giri, the former Manua Bhan Ki Tekri. As we approached the ground-level entrance of the hilltop temple, the driver slowed down to point out the large ropeway on our right. He proudly exclaimed, “our state officials have installed this ropeway to establish better connectivity for the tourists.” And, narrated the earlier complexities of up-hill travel when the only option was to either drive or walk up the slope to get a ‘momentary’ view of the ancient Jain temple Mahaveer Giri.
In real time, Mahaveer Giri was built by Jain devotees in 10th-century near the Bairagarh road hilltop. Close to Lal Ghati, this famous pilgrimage destination is today the most exemplary architecture of Bhopal. As we drove up, the ‘hilltop’ began to unravel Bhopal’s blue lakes from across the space separating the ‘regional’ plantations. All along the drive, our chauffeur had us learn the history of the Manua Bhan Ki Tekri. Which in fact, was the best part of the journey. That is, getting to know the place before you randomly land up at its off the latch gates.
Mantua was a jeerer in King Bhoj’s court who entertained the empire by performing acts and stand up comedy. One day he decided to quit his official services, to find solace in spiritual activities. Which, is when Raja Bhoj named the hillock after him. With time as Mantua made more spiritual offerings, he eventually got the title of Mantugacharya. That was the time when Mahaveer Giri was built, along with, seven other caves near the temple. Many renowned Jain saints are said to have visited this exemplary place of worship. As, a matter of fact, the temple has on display Maharaj Shri Vijay Suriji, Acharya Manutung, and Shri Jindutta Sureshwarji’s footwear as the tributary mementos.
The temple’s Simha Gate features extraordinary manuscripts, intricately carved on its stone partitions. Although what makes these manuscripts one-of-the-most ancient texts in the history of India is the fact that its language is yet not deciphered. To, preserve carvings from fading away, temple management strictly prohibits photography inside the premises. We learned from the locals that this temple dates back to the Oswal Dynasty, a Jain community with origins in Rajasthan. Therefore, the architectural style has an intense reflection of the rare Rajasthani art.
During Begum Qudsiya’s reign, an Idol of Lord Mahaveer was recovered at this temple and was ‘eventually’ shifted to the Shwetambar Jain temple, at Bhopal Chowk. All in all, a great historic-temple worth visiting! Anytime is excellent to visit Mahaveer Giri temple, however, November adds an extra spark with its Kartik Purnima festival. Every year, a large gathering sees through, the traditional rituals of ‘Kartik Purnima,’ and you can join it, as well. Most importantly, the temple offers phenomenal aerial views of Bhopal.