Distance : 38km from
Lalitpur, 90km from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh
Population : 19,500
is not very far from Gwalior. It can be approached from two different
roads. The first passes through Datia, Dinara and Pichor before
reaching Chanderi while the other goes via Shivpuri and Daharda.
Situated on the flanks of the Vindhyachal, Chanderi was a lush green,
thickly forested but bustling city back in the 11th century.
Though most of these dense forests have been wrecked by now there is
still a tract of thick woods when you approach it from Shivpuri.
A story relates that the forests around Chanderi were so abundant
that it took Babur six months to locate the fortress.
¤ Chanderi History
As with almost every place in India, there are two versions about the
birth of Chanderi. One, a legend that connects it to some Hindu deity
and the second, a well-documented record of how it was actually
If one turns towards archaeology, one finds no proof of Chanderis
early origin. But legend associates Budhi Chanderi (9km from the
present day settlement) with Chandra Vasu, a friend of Indra (the king
of gods), and Shishupal, the legendary contemporary of Krishna (an
incarnation of Lord Vishnu).
A later descendant, Raja Kurmadeva, is believed to have founded the
modern town. The story goes that the king, who was a leper (remember
Suraj Sen who founded Gwalior?), was cured by water from a spring near
Chanderi. He built the Kurmeshwar Tal (the same as the present day
Parmeshwar Talab) in appreciation and moved his capital here.
History however demands more substantial proof than legend. As far as
evidence goes, Chanderi was definitely alive and kicking in the 11th
century. On the border of Malwa and Bundelkhand it served as a
stopover for passing traders and caravans as it lay along the trading
route to Gujarat, Mewar and the Deccan. Soon Chanderi came to be
prized for its trade and military importance.
¤ Rana Sanga of Chittor (Rajasthan) Establish Its Capital At
Chanderi was first settled and fortified in the 11th
century by the Pratihara king, Kirtipal. The Mamluks, the Khiljis and
the Tughlaks all ruled Chanderi in their heyday and used it as a base
for campaigns in the Deccan. Later in 1519, the powerful wazir (prime
minister) of Mandu, Medni Rai, rebelled against the weak Sultan with
the help of Rana Sanga of Chittor (Rajasthan). Having defeated the
Sultan of Mandu, he established his capital in Chanderi. But the
friendship with Rana Sanga eventually proved costly.
¤ City Came In The Hands of Mughals
Mughal Emperor Babur considered Rana Sanga his most powerful enemy.
The Mughal army fell upon the Rajputs at the battle of Khanua and
drove them to Chanderi, the location of Rana Sangas last stand.
Baburs army successfully breached the fort forcing hundreds of
Rajput women to commit jauhar.
Later the Mughals clashed with Sher Shah Suri near Chanderi and the
city passed into his hands. It slipped back into the Mughal fold
during the reign of Akbar when he took Malwa from Baz Bahadur.
Later Emperor Jahangir gave Chanderi away to Raja Ram Shah in 1606.
Raja Ram Shahs reign was a period of peace, restoration and
prosperity. His successors Sangram Shah and Bharat Shah carried on his
The good relations with the Mughals continued till after Aurangzebs
death and thats when the decline of Chanderi began too.
Raja Modh Praladh (1800-1811) turned out to be a dissolute
pleasure-seeking king who so disgusted his ministers that they sought
help from Daulat Rao Scindia of Gwalior.
As the rule of the British spread throughout India, Chanderi
gradually lost its strategic importance and today, apart from its
array of monuments, is a forgotten town.
¤ Fairs & Festivals
Fair of Jageshwari Devi
This fair held annually in Chanderi is believed to be more than a
thousand years old. The story goes that the ruler of Chanderi, a great
devotee of Jageshwari Devi, contracted leprosy. The Devi commanded him
to meet her at a particular spot after an interval of 15 days. The
impatient king ran to it on the third day itself. Though he was cured
of leprosy he could not see more than the goddess face. Since
that day a fair or mela dedicated to the goddess is held here.
¤ Arts & Crafts
Chanderi is renowned for its most exquisite product: the gossamer
thin Chanderi sari that has been woven here for centuries. The greater
part of the towns population is part of the weaver community and
work at producing the Chanderi fabric known for its traditional motifs
and fragile pastel colours.
Over the years Chanderi saris have undergone many changes. The
handspun yarn, which gave the fabric its gossamer quality, has been
replaced by imported silk in the warp and by mill-made cotton thread
or unboiled silk in the weft.
The latter makes for more sheen but reduces durability as the rough
silk cuts through the warp easily. This substitution has led to
deterioration in the quality.
Apart from weaving, traditional crafts include bamboo weaving, stone
cutting and pottery. Bamboo weaving and bidi (an indigenous version of
the cigarette made by rolling tobacco into a dry leaf and tying it
with a thread) making are the major occupations of Chanderi after
Chanderi is 38km west of Lalitpur, which is 90km south of Jhansi on
the main railway line between Delhi-Mumbai-Madras. The nearest
airports are at Gwalior (259km) and Bhopal (258km).
Direct bus service to Chanderi is available from Gwalior,
Bhopal,Indore, Shivpuri, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Sanchi and Vidisha.
Check out the Circuit House, Dak Bungalow and Rest House near the bus
Shri Digambar Jain Dharamshala
Shri Parshunath Dharamshala
Shri Yugal Kishore Dharamshala