The only thing constant about life is change. Humans have evolved and changed from apes to their current form. Every day on opening the newspaper we read about changes in the world of science, sports and of course, technology. The catalysts behind all these are undeniably human actions. One such change has occurred in the Morena district of Madhya Pradesh, India, through which the Chambal river flows. I headed over to this town in the heart of India to inspect and my findings are as delightful as they are eye-opening.
Morena has been known for fallacious things like the monopolistic control of dacoits, armed with guns and bombs spreading their terror. The fear of these negative elements in the area has landed it in a very unfavorable condition, preventing any development or tourism that could promote the area. However, things are slowly looking up for this picturesque town over the past decade. With dacoits surrendering control, peace has been somewhat restored.
The Breathtaking Beauty of Chambal
The ‘Samajik Samrasta Manch’ co-founded by Rakesh Singh, in order to highlight this radical change that has occurred in Morena, organized an event ‘Chambal Gaurav – Come Recognise Chambal’ on November 25, 2015 which was a huge success. Aimed at putting forward the natural beauty of the glorious Chambal River, the ever-present Deccan Plateau with its rises and falls and the historical importance and relevance of the district, the campaign completely switched the existing detrimental image of Chambal to a hopeful, positive one with the promise of huge gains in the future.
The Chambal River is luckily adorned with the presence of alligators, crocodiles and it is one of the very few water bodies in India inhabited by dolphins. Chambal Gaurav, which primarily involved a tour of the area in and around Morena also took us to the banks of the river Chambal. Bidding farewell to the setting sun, seated beside the flowing river in the cool evening breeze, it was absolutely delightful to see the animals in their natural element.
Art To The Rescue
The proceedings of Chambal Gaurav – Come Recognize Chambal started on November 23 and continued till November 25, which was the day of the main event. Mr. Singh, along with the other organizers had invited artists from all across the country like Sushil Nimbark, a laureate of the prestigious All India AIFACS award; right here on the banks of the Chambal River. These artists were provided with canvases, paints, brushes and the complete liberty to represent the stunning river in its hues. These impressive paintings were then put up in exhibition on November 25 for public viewing.
Here are a few of the splendid canvases, made bright by the paints of these talented artists!
A Hike To Remember
25th November was a busy day which began early in the morning, when I joined various reporters, artists and guests from across the country in becoming tourists for the day–donning overcoats and sun-hats, umbrellas in hand.
The first stop of the eventful day was in Mitawali. Situated at the peak of one of the rises in the plateau region, the climb to the top was very tiring but the picturesque view took our breaths away. Built possibly in the 9th or 10th century, its structure is said to have inspired the Parliament House present in New Delhi, India.
After leaving Mitawali, we waded through the dense trees and the rocky region, breathing in the natural air and enjoying the unique view. A member of the organising committee said:
One important aim of Chambal Gaurav is to bring public awareness about this serene and peaceful area. We want to preserve the environment and trees, growing here uninterruptedly and prevent any commercial exploitation.
This journey took us to the temples of Bateswar. Buried under the Earth, this is a group of temples which was built sometime in the 7th century. Excavation revealed 200 temples built out of sandstone, each with an exquisite top called the ‘Shikhar’. The pristine beauty of these temples under the noon sun was absolutely spectacular.
Post Bateswar, we had a sumptuous lunch consisting of the native delicacies of district Morena. Served on leaf platter, the ‘bajra’ roti, lentil soup and the mouth-watering chilli pickle left us all licking our fingers and wanting for more.
The evening was a delight for the eyes, when we saw the impressionable paintings of the artists depicting Chambal in all its beauty. A word with Rakesh Singh revealed that the area promised great returns only if the mistaken image of Morena in the minds of the people could be corrected.
Chambal Gaurav was an enlightening experience and I was lucky to have been a part of it. It just shows how much beauty is hidden within us and our magnificent country, wrongly mistaken because of pre-existing notions. Just a change in perspective and mindset will unearth this beauty and we should fill ourselves with pride over it!