Menal – A Symphony of Architecture with Nature

Sindhu Murthy

Going offbeat in the tourist circuit of Rajasthan is sure to expose you to some of the amazing locations and monuments which have remained grossly unnoticed amongst the much-hyped palaces and forts of the royal state. On digging deeper into the abundant information available online, one can find places of rendezvous with nature, architecture, rivers, and waterfalls in Rajasthan. While Bundi was one such destination which we visited in Rajasthan, going a little bit further on national highway 27 connecting Bundi and Chittorgarh, we discovered another hidden gem named Menal.

Menal with its magnificent water falls, deep gorges, dense forest, and ancient temples is a testimony to  a beautiful symphony of architecture with nature.

 

Menal which derives its name from  Maha nala ( meaning deep gorge) is a complex of temples which were built by the king Someshvar Chahamana and his queen Suhavadevi of the Shakambhari dynasty during 11th Century .  On entering the main gate, there is a huge lush green garden which is beautifully maintained. The main entrance to the temple complex area from the garden has 2 floors with many pillars and spires.

The temple complex consists of many  shrines which are divided into two groups by a gorge and a huge waterfall. The main temple in the complex is dedicated to lord Shiva( also called Mahanaleshwara) and is built in Bhumija style of architecture. The projectile balconies of the inner sanctum and the pyramidal array of the temple spire with beautiful carvings make this temple an architectural splendor. The exterior walls of the temple are embellished with stone carvings of guardian deities, animals, and many gods. The carvings of lord Shiva and Parvathi in different postures on the walls have earned the name mini Khajuraho to the temples.

The main temple is surrounded by many smaller shrines which are mostly in ruins now. A high raised platform with three pillars located close to the main temple stands majestically against the blue sky as if inviting the photographic souls to capture them through the lense.

While the main temple and its surrounding shrines from one part of the Menal temple complex, the other part of the complex is located across the stream. Since the main temple area is enclosed by walls on all sides with only two stone gateways, it is very much possible that the visitors will return from Menal without checking the other part of the complex. Make sure to check for the doorway behind the smaller shrines which will lead the visitors out of the main temple complex to a breathtaking view of a huge waterfall plunging into a gorge which is over 120 meters deep. The gushing stream, waterfall, dense woods and the sandstone temples in the background make for a picture perfect view.

waterfall at Menal with the Temple

When we visited Menal during mid-October, the water flow in the stream had subsided and hence we could cross it to reach the temples on the other side. However, it might be risky to do so during heavy rains because of increase in water flow. The second part of the temple complex also houses a Shiva temple with beautiful carvings , most of which are still intact. Just behind the Shiva temple is the Rutirani Palace which used to be the place of summer respite for the famous ruler Prithviraj Chouhan during the 12th Century.

Menal with its magnificent waterfalls, deep gorges, dense forest, and ancient temples is a testimony to  a beautiful symphony of architecture with nature. Make sure you add this location to your itinerary for a road trip across Rajasthan.

How to reach:

Minal is located slightly detour from NH 27 connecting Bundi and Chittorgarh.

Nearest Railway Stations: Bundi, Kota or Chittorgarh.

Nearest Airport: Udaipur or Jaipur.

Driving distance from major tourist attractions:

Jaipur: 270 km
Bundi: 106 km
Kota: 87 km
Chittorgarh: 60 km
Udaipur: 157 km

Tips:

  • The best time to visit Menal is post-monsoons when the streams are full with water and the surroundings look green.
  • Menal is a photographers paradise. Don’t forget to carry a good camera along with you during your visit.
  • Beware of monkeys in the garden outside the temple complex.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and footwear as there is a lot of walking involved.
  • Walking up to the ridge of the waterfall might offer a spectacular view of the deep gorge beneath. But, it is good to stay away from such adventures because there are no barricades installed near the waterfall for safety.
  • It takes around 1 hr to see the temple complexes. It might take even more if you wish to play in the stream. So, plan your itinerary accordingly.

Have you visited any offbeat destinations in Rajasthan? Which one is your favorite? We would love to hear your stories.

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