This weekend we decided to visit Bateshwar, 278 kms from Gurgaon and happens to the birthplace of our former PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Friday morning was very foggy and it was tough to drive on the DND and by the time we reached Agra it was 1.30pm. So we decided to stop for lunch at Trident Agra. It was a wise decision as the Lal Maas we ate at The Restaurant, Trident was cooked very well home style with not too much oil or spices. Thanks to the team of Chef Ashutosh Awasthi and Chef Praveen Madhukar it was a memorable lunch.
After lunch we headed for Bateshwar which is about 72 kms from Agra. The road is a single road and needs massive repairs as at some places there was no road at all and even though we were in a SUV, we had a tough time. We finally managed to reach Bateshwar, a small UP village with nothing to boast about at about 5.30 pm.
The village town is on the banks of Yamuna and is one of the oldest towns with a rich history, famous for its 101 Shiv temples and as a place of pilgrimage for Jains. The 22nd Tirthankar Lord Neminath was born here and in those days it was called Shaouripur after its founder Yadav King Shursen, great-grandfather of both the Hindu god Krishna and of the 22nd Tirthankar of the Jains – Neminath.
According to the locals a devotee of Shiva lived here under a magnificent Banyan tree (which is called Bat in Sanskrit). He raised a shrine which became known as Bat-Ishwar which later got corrupted as Bateshwar.
The excavations done here suggest that it was a thriving settlement in 3000 BC, during Lord Krishna’s time. According to Jain scriptures this place was abandoned by the Yadava clan for strategic reasons leading to its decline as the river Yamuna changed its course causing the settlement to move twice, ending at the site of present day Bateshwar.
Aundha Khera or overturned city and the Purana Khera or old city were also identified during excavations here. Sufficient proof of habitation has been found here during the Maurya period (around 300BC) and during the mighty Kushan Empire (First century AD). Some of the buildings and the incomplete fort have been found to be built by reusing Kushan era bricks.
King Badan Singh Bhadoriya who ruled here was a dynamic king who changed the flow of Yamuna river from east to west towards Bateshwar and built 101 Shiva temples in a sequence along the banks of river.
These temples are mentioned in Ramayana, Mahabharata and Matsyapurana and comprise of Bateshwar Nath Temple, Bhimeshwar, Narmadeshwar, Rameshwar, Moteshwar, Jageshwar, Panchmukhishwar, Pataleshwar and Gauri Shankar’s Nemi Nath Jain Temple. In Bateshwar temple there are idols of Shiv, Parvati and Ganesh carved out of a single stone.
For the last 400 years, an annual cattle fair is held here in the month of November in honour of Pasupati, another name for Shiva.
In the name of accommodation in this village town is Rahi Tourist Bungalow, run by UP Tourism. The bunglow is absolutely run down place and is in bad shape requiring major repairs. We were the first guests in the last 6 years so you can imagine how run down the place would be. Generally the pilgrims stay in the Jain dharamshala in the temple complex.
Next morning we left for Pinahat to see the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus). We were told that you can spot Gangetic Dolphins too but when we reached the banks of Chambal river we were told that no boats are avilable for that day. Typical of government departments, I wonder why they are known as Tourism Department when they try their best not to promote tourism or help tourists. A private party, Chambal Safari runs tours on Chambal but they are quite expensive, about 13,000 rupees per person as it includes accommodation also. Sadly we had to come back disappointed as they too refused to entertain us as they prefer foreign tourists only.