Kalinjar in the Basnda district
of Uttar Pradesh has an ancient fort which rises above agricultural
countryside. This mighty fort crowning a hill has been the scene of
historic battles, for 'Lord of Kalinjar' was a coveted title.
The origins of this stronghold are enmeshed in myths which link it to the legendary Kind Bharata, as well as Lord Shiva. Historically, the fort is associated with the Chandella rulers of Bundelkhand. A polished stone at the entrance of the Neelkanth Temple proclaims the Chandella lineage.
Kalinjar was a Chandella stronghold from the 9th to the 15th Centuries, and strategically important till the time of the Mughals. During these centuries the fort was attacked by Mohammad Ghaznavi in 1019 and 1022 and by Qutb ud din Aibak who in 1203 defeated the last Chandela ruler Parmadideva. The Mughal emperor Humayun attacked the fort, but it was Akbar who finally conquered it in 1569. He gifted it to Birbal, one of the "nine jewels" of his court. From Birbal it passed into the hands of Chhatrasal, the legendary Bundela leader and thence to Hardev Shah of Panna before falling into British hands in 1812.
The town of Kalinjar was also encircled by ramparts pierced by four gateways. Of these three remain - Kamta Dwar, Panna Dwar and Rewa Dwar. The entrance to the fort is at the foot of the hill. To the right of the path is the Rathore Mahal, built by Akbar in 1583. The steep and stony path to the fort is +marked by seven gates - the Alamgir Darwaza, Ganesh Dwar, Chauburji Darwaza, Budha Bhadra Darwaza, Hanuman Dwar, Lal Darwaza and Bara Darwaza. Fine sculpted figures lend their names to these portals.
The crest of the hill opens up to a mile long plateau where armies once assembled. In this area are the remains of the Raja and Rani Mahal, Chhatris, shrines and sati pillars. Raja Aman Singh's palace is marked by a courtyard bordered by two rows of peacock arches. The palace has been converted into a site museum by the Archaeological Survey of India. Stone relics from the site and other rare sculptures found in the fort area, including numerous Shiva images, Ganesh and other Vaishnavite deities are preserved inside the palace building.
Among places of interest within the fort are Sita Sej, a small cave with a stone bed and pillow once used by hermits; the Patal Ganga or underground Ganga which is a reservoir cut in the rock; the Pandu Kund, where water trickles from horizontal striations in the rocks; the Budha - Budhi taal, whose waters possess great healing powers believed to cure leprosy; the Gajantak Shiva image popularly known as Manduk Bhairon and Bhairvi carved on the rock face ; and the Koti Tirth a large water reservoir, are among important places of pilgrimage at Kalinjar.
Kalinjar's holiest shrine is the Neelkanth's Temple built by Parmardideva. The way to the shrine is marked by weathered inscriptions and marvellous carved images of shiva, Kala Bhairon, Ganesha and Hanuman.
Above the temple is the rock - cut Swarga Rohan Kund, In a niche by this stands a colossal 18-armed figure of Kal-Bhairav. Ornamented with a garland of skulls, this 24ft high image represents the fearsome aspect of Lord Shiva. The Vankhandeshwar Mahdev Temple at the source of the Shivasari Ganga is also of considerable importance.
Chitrakoot 86 kms.
Situated on the banks of the Mandakini, this religious centre is scenically beautiful, and closely associated with the Ramayana.
Ajaygarh 96 km.
Ajay garh was a forest hill fort, meant to withstand long sieges. It was once approachable by five massive gateways. Among important sites within the fort are Paramal Tal built by Parmardidev and Ajaypal's temple.
Mahoba 109 km.
The lesser known destination has several lakes created in medieval times, the famous Sun Temple at Rahilla and ruins of temples built in the same style as the ones at Khajuraho.
Khajuraho 172 kms.
Site of the now world-famous temples built between 950 AD and 1050 AD by the Chandellas. Yogini, Varaha, Lakshman and Kandaria Mahadeo temples.
Air: The nearest airport is at Khajuraho : 172 k.m.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Atarra : 38 km, on the Banda - Satna route, 57 km from Banda Station. Sone of the important trains are 1107/1108 Bundelkhand Express, 1449/1550 Mahakaushal Express, 5009, 5010 Chitrakoot Express.
Road: Kalinjar is linked by road to all important centres in the region with regular bus services, Some of the major road distances are : Jhansi 256 k.m., Lucknow 285 k.m. Banda 57 k.m. Allahabad 201 k.m. Varanasi 336 k.m., Nagod 58 k.m. Panna 105 k.m., Satna 84 k.m.
Nearest UP Tourism Accommodation
Tourist Bungalow, Chitrakoot. (86km.)
Kalinjar has very little tourist infrastructure. Tourist are adviced to carry food and drinking water alongwith. The market at Kalinjar provides only seasonal vegetables, tea and milk. Mineral water, cold drinks, etc are available enroute at Naraini.
Area : 5 sq. km.
Population : 4000 (1991 census)
Altitude : 381.25 mtrs. Above sea level
Season : September-February (Kalinjar is at its best in the monsoon i.e. August, but one should then be prepared for a hard trek.)
Clothing :- (summer) : Cottons
(winter) : Woollens
Language : Hindi, Bundeli
Transport is not available locally. Jeeps or cars have to be hired in route at Banda or Naraini. These can enter the fort through the newly constructed approach road.
STD Code : 0519-70.