The town dominated the trade routes of Central India on the borders of Malwa and Bundelkhand and became an important military outpost. Today it is a well-preserved medieval town famed for the craft of sari weaving, with beautiful structures executed in the Bundelkhandi style. It is said that Chanderi's former prosperity depended on its strategic position as a sort of base camp for armies moving south from the time of the Sultans of Delhi. However, the documented history of Chanderi goes back to the early 11th century, which is a kaleidoscope of movement and activity prompted, by its strategic location. On the borders of Malwa and Bundelkhand, the town dominated the trade routes of Central India, proximate to the arterial route to the ancient ports of Gujarat as well as to Malwa, Mewar, Central India and the Deccan. Consequently, Chanderi became an important military outpost, prized by rulers with power and repeatedly experienced the might of men who moulded the destiny of Hindustan. Chanderi also came up as pilgrimage center with the coming up of Jain temples in the 9th and 10th century.
CLOTHING: Chanderi is primarily a weavers town. It produces fine shimmering cottons with pale delicate zari borders and motifs of the utmost delicacy. The characteristic feature of the Chanderi sari is the quality of the gold thread that is used. Kanjivaram is synonymous with hand woven silk saris and known for its dark, heavy silks, usually with flat stripes of gold decorating the borders. These conservative designs are considered to be more restrained and dignified than the occasionally flamboyant Chanderi saris . Kanjivaram silk also has a reputation for durability. A very distinctive feature of these saris, as opposed to those from other parts of India, is the contrasting color of the border and the pallav, as compared to the body of the sari.
View of Chanderi town - Chanderi
Attractions and Places to Visit in Chanderi
The Fort: Dominating the skyline of this lovely old town is a vast Mughal fort. Its main gate is known as the "Khooni Darwaza".
Koshak Mahal: The Koshak Mahal is a ruined Muslim palace, still being maintained. Today the town is chiefly known for its gold brocades and saris. According to historical records, Koshak Mahal was ordered to be built by Mahmud Khilji of Malwa when he passed through Chanderi in 1445 AD. The original plan of the Khilji ruler was to construct a seven-storey palace though only two could be completed during his lifetime. The Mahal is divided into four equal parts and has architecture similar to Mandu.
Badal Mahal Gate: A gate without a Mahal, constructed to commemorate some important victory.
Jama Masjid: With imposing domes and long arcades, this is possibly the biggest mosque of the erstwhile Madhya Bharat.
Shahzadi Ka Rouza: This monument is attributed to some unknown princess, which is decorated on the exterior with ornamental arches and a band of geometrical designs.
Parameshwar Tal: Built by Bundela Rajput Kings, the picturesque Parameshwar tank is situated half a mile to the northwest of Chanderi town. It has a well-carved temple and cenotaphs of three Rajput Kings.
Battisi Bavdi: Built by Sultan Ghiyasuddin Shah in 1485, the Battisi Bavdi derives its name from a flight of thirty-two steps.
Buddhi (Old) Chanderi: A number of 9th and 10th century Jain temples dot this place attracting thousands of Jain pilgrims from all over the country.
Thruvanji: 26 km South-West of Chanderi is the old village of Thruvanji, with a number of Jain temples of the early medieval period. Finally, if you have read the ancient love story of Nal and Damyanti, refresh your memories in Narwar, 122 kilometers from Gwalior, another picturesque place with regal fortresses and palaces of Rajput style.
How to Reach Chanderi
To reach Chanderi one has to alight at the north end of Vangani station and reach the intersection with the Badlapur-Karjat road (see the section on Nakhind). The problem here is that between this point and Chanderi there are several ridges and valleys, so taking a straight line from Vangani to Chanderi is not a good idea. It is better to walk north on this road towards Badlapur for some 4 km, until one finds on the right a place called "Chanderi Hotel". Exactly opposite, on the left, there is a road, perpendicular to the main road. It leads to a big temple or ashram. Leave the temple on your left. This road is not very straight, but at least it is good and broad. It goes through one or two villages, and there are some bifurcations, but Chanderi is probably visible in the horizon, so it should be clear which one to take. One can also confirm the direction from the villages en route. This road leads one to a valley that runs in a north-south direction, on the north side of Chanderi. On this valley there are two villages. Now, one has to go south towards Chanderi. The first village is on the right side of the valley. The second is a little ahead, and is on the left side. But one does not have to go to the second village. Right at the back of the first village there is a path, climbing to the right side of the valley and entering in the forest. This path goes in a very straight south-southwest direction and is very well defined. It continues in this direction until it gets to the nala that climbs to the col between Mhasmal and Chanderi. At the intersetion of the nala and the path there are some arrows painted on the rocks. While coming back one has to be careful not to miss the beginning of the path. Once one is in the nala it is easy to get to the col. One should be careful not to go too much to the left, because the nala has a bifurcation some distance up, and if one takes the left (that points directly towards Chanderi), one will get to a point were one cannot go any further. If this happens, then just move towards the right. From the col, the path to the cave of Chanderi is to the left and easy to find.