Chota Udepur - A tete a tete with the city
Location : Western India, Gujarat
Founded in : 1743 by Rawal Udaysinghji
Best time to visit : October to March
Local Transport : Cycles, scooters, bicycles, rickshaws.
Places to see : Kusum Vilas Palace, Ratanmahal Sanctuary, Sardar Sarovar Dam.
Souvenirs : Khadi materials, handicrafts.
Chota Udepur - The Tale of the city
Rawal Udaysinghji found this city of Chota Udepur in 1743 AD. History has it that the founders of Udepur are actually direct descendants of Prithviraj Chauhan. These descendants have fought valiantly against the Muslim invaders. After losing the battle, the Khichi Chauhan Rajputs went to Pavagadh and found their capital at Mohan. The capital finally shifted to Chota Udepur. Then the city signed a treaty with the British in 1822 and there was peace for some time. Chota Udepur was one among Gujarat, Rajpipla and Devgadh Baria.
Chota Udepur - Down the Ages
Chota Udepur, the Rathwa city is situated near a lake. It has a beautiful skyline dotted with blooming flowers like the lilies and a garden with amazingly picturesque palm trees. There are many temples, which make a perfect condition for a weekly market. Down the ages, the Chota Udepur, which was a state earlier, combined with the Union of India on March 10, 1948. The present maharaja of Chota Udepur is Aishwarya Pratap Singh Chauhan who is the third son of Maharaja Virendra Pratap Singh Chauhan. With its exquisite palaces and amazing constructions, Chota Udepur is a city to reckon with today.
Chota Udepur- A Rendezvous
With its historical background and immense folk lores, the city of Chota Udepur greets you with the Rathwa community. They are the small marginal farmers. Their main deity is Baba Dev. They believe in badhas and bhuvas. Another important deity is the Pithoro baba. The Rathwas believe that pithoro is a witness to all good and bad events. In this, a vow is taken, and a painting is done on the house of the person taking the vow. This city is near various hamlets, which belong to bhils, rathwas, Bhilalas, and other tribals. When one goes around the tribal village and hamlets, then one can have a rendezvous with the local tribal market. This is called the “haat”.
Chota Udepur - Travel Kitty
As we enter the city, we can see the rathwas with their colorful and sporting dresses. With their chunky jewellery, pithora painting, pottery, terracotta figures, they set the atmosphere colorful and vibrant. The city has a lot of important handicrafts, and specializes in bamboo basket weaving. The tribal area lies in the heart of the city, with a lot of history and culture behind it. The city is famous for its “haat” or the tribal market. The town is ideal for exploring the villages surrounding the town particularly the Rathwa communities. The tourist would take all this as the travel kitty.
Chota Udepur - Joie de vivre in the city
Chota Udepur, the “haat” city is a place of temples and tribal villages. The extravagant architecture and the sprawling areas of palaces and gardens is an ideal situation for the tourist. A tourist coming to this city would find the atmosphere electric, and the ambience enthralling. The sheer ambience and the richness of the surroundings ensure that the tourist gets his worth here. A person coming here can see the following things:
Kusum Vilas Palace : This famous construction was constructed in the first half of 1920. The primary idea was to construct a palace as a fusion of harmonious architectural style. The idea was to replicate the Champaner style of construction. There is a huge patio with a façade and an arch. There are 5 storeys with a portion in the centre with a receding volume. There are capped domes, which add glamour to the surroundings. The interior construction has a combination of the east and the west. There are pilasters that are carved, and gold plated friezes decorated. Champaner has duplicates of this type of architecture.
There are elegantly carved latticed windows called “jails”. This gives the ethereal effect of light. A magnificent room has huge doorways and a carved ceiling with a lot of furniture from France, mirrors from Belgium, beautiful statues made of marble from Italy. There are paintings by a painter from India, showing the beautiful settings around.
Prem Bhawan : This erstwhile palace is now a heritage hotel.
Kali temple : The presiding deity here is Goddess Kali. The Royal clan worships this deity.
Temple of Jain Derasar : This is an example of buildings decorated in Gujarat. Wooden carvings and plaster figurines, with a touch of British art of the Victorian era , sprawling arcades, with figures and decorated pillars, with instruments of music with bright headgear and hairstyles are found in this temple.
Ratanmahal Sanctuary : This is the place for sloth bears, panthers, and many kinds of bird specials. It is situated 80 kms away. It is a thrilling experience to have a glimpse of the sloth bear, which is supposed to be more dangerous than the leopard. One can also find the Loten’s sunbird, large green barbet, yellow checked tit, crested serpent eagle, grey jungle fowl and a pit viper. There is a triangular landmass, which has forest reserves.
Jambu Ghoda Wildlife Sanctuary : This has antelopes with four horns and is a treat for the bird watcher. It is situated around 48 kms away from Chota Udepur. With its teak and mahuda trees with bamboo and other luscious surroundings, this sanctuary is home to the wild boar, nilgai, and jackal, hyena, barking deer and the chausingha or the four horned antelope. Many tribals live here and the place is ideal for camping.
Sardar Sarovar Dam : This is amongst the largest Indian dams and has a lake where boating takes place, a lock gate and a trekking site. There is a temple Surpaneshwar Shiva. The Government built this temple after the dam submerged the original temple. It is situated near Rajpipla around 110 kms from Chota Udepur. It is at a height of 128 m and is the provider for water in the state of Gujarat
Sankheda Furniture :
This place near Chota Udepur is worth visiting for its lacquer works. The work done with country wood gives a dark shade to the furniture. This handicraft furniture is famous all over and is made out of teak wood. This is exported around the world. This furniture comes in distinctive colors and designs that are ornamental. These handicrafts of Sankheda are elegant and classic. Their décor is amazingly enthralling.
The Rathawa tribes and the Bhils with their “haats” , the Kalika Mata Temple, Pavagadh, Patai Rawal Place, Dabhoi, are some of the other attractions.
Thus with its erstwhile monuments and palaces and mesmerizing history, Chota Udepur, the latticed palace city is a place to visit for every tourist coming to Gujarat. The traveler would go back with a nostalgia that is difficult to forget.
As the traveler leaves the city, he thinks “Old is gold.”