Embarking on a road trip is like turning the pages of an adventure novel, each mile revealing a new chapter of excitement and discovery. My recent journey took me from the historic city of Jhansi to the lesser-known gems of Mahoba and Chitrakoot, promising a treasure trove of history, spirituality, and natural beauty.

Mahoba: the ancient Sun Temple

Leaving Jhansi behind, I set my course for the tranquil town of Mahoba, nestled in the heart of Bundelkhand. The drive was a picturesque one, with the Barusagar Waterfalls acting as my first scenic pit stop. The cascading waters, surrounded by lush greenery, provided a refreshing break and a glimpse of nature’s grandeur. While the Konark temple belongs to the 13th century, Mahoba’s Sun Temple was built even earlier, as far back as the 10th century. It was my third sun temple visit so I was extra keen to observe the glorious architecture and construction of the ASI protected monument.

But the real adventure awaited in Mahoba, where the Mahoba Sun Temple, locally known as Rahiliya temple beckoned me. This ancient temple, dedicated to the Sun God, is a hidden marvel that few travelers have had the privilege to explore. The temple, built during the Chandela dynasty, boasts stunning architecture that has stood the test of time. “It was constructed by Chandela king Rahil Dev Varman who ruled over Bundelkhand between 890-915 AD. Made of granite stone, its garbha grahiya was adorned with an image of the Surya. The idol was placed on a high platform and has a high adhisthan that has ornamental mouldings. The shikhar over the sanctum is tall and curvi-linear in design,” describes the ASI document on the temple. Elaborate carvings, intricate sculptures, and the awe-inspiring ‘Surya Kund’ (sun tank) left me spellbound. It’s a place where spirituality and history intertwine, making it a must-visit destination.

Kalinjar Fort: A Citadel of Legends

My next destination was Kalinjar Fort, perched majestically atop the Vindhya Range, a short drive from Mahoba. This colossal fort, dating back to the 10th century, is a testament to the military prowess and architectural brilliance of its builders. The steep climb to the fort was an adventure in itself, but the panoramic views from the summit were more than worth the effort. The drive uphill was a newly constructed road that takes you inside the fort and one can take their personal vehicle to visit the extensively spread out palace premises full of interesting ruins and old havelis.

Exploring Kalinjar was like stepping back in time. The fort is replete with temples, palaces, and colossal gateways. The Bhairav Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, exudes an aura of spirituality, while the Neelkanth Temple stands as a testament to the region’s artistic heritage. The fort also has an underground granary and water reservoirs, showcasing the foresight of its architects.

Chitrakoot: A Spiritual Sojourn

Continuing my journey, I made my way to Chitrakoot, a town brimming with mythological significance. The Ram Ghat, nestled on the banks of the Mandakini River, was a tranquil spot that invited reflection. It’s believed that Lord Rama and Sita spent their exile years here, and the serene atmosphere seemed to hold echoes of their presence.

The Hanuman Sagar and Sita Ki Rasoi were other poignant sites that brought the Ramayana to life. The caves of Gorakhnath, dedicated to the legendary saint Gorakhnath, offered a glimpse into a different facet of spirituality.

My road trip from Jhansi to Mahoba and Chitrakoot was a journey that traversed through history, spirituality, and natural beauty. From the enchanting Barusagar Waterfalls to the awe-inspiring Mahoba Sun Temple and the formidable Kalinjar Fort, every stop left me with indelible memories. Chitrakoot, with its sacred sites and serene surroundings, provided a spiritual experience that touched my soul. As I bid farewell to this enchanting region and headed back to Jhansi, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to uncover these hidden gems of Bundelkhand.

(Trip arrangements and stay courtesy – Travel Links magazine and Uttar Pradesh Tourism)