Chambal Ki Ghati — Kota Gorge through the Hadoti Belt

Destinations with obscurity ,where roads ultimately wind up at corners where no one has ever revered always ignites a sense of being the “man on the moon“. Well i will not be amused to land up on moon but would always love to be on an excursion unraveling the hidden treasures of the natural habitat.

So far i had traversed to places having familiarity with the social mass but this time i thought of cherishing and exploring the obscurity of the Chambal Gorge, created by the mighty and the pristine Chambal River ,who oblivious of my encroachment is busy streaming and gushing.

December was the month back then two years ago ,when i thought of going down to the South Eastern frontier of Rajasthan surrounding Kota and Jhalawar, from Delhi. The region is situated on a tableland being a part of the Malwa Plateau which encapsulates the whole Northern Madhya Pradesh along with the Vindhyan Ranges and enscrapments.

The plateau is formed by erosion of sediments and by the deposition of magma(lava) which happened because of volcanic eruptions some hundred million years ago according to some geological timelines ….. Perhaps it would not be inappropriate to say that the rivers flowing may have cut these gorges and dissected the plateau in such a manner.Because of this reason the soil in this region is categorically black and brown in color with highest moisture retention capacity thus giving enough scope for irrigation and cultivation.
I gave a phone call to Sandeep, my friend who is living in Kota saying i will be coming the next day. Kota is located on the south east border of Rajasthan on the banks of river Chambal. This region of Rajasthan is known as the “Hadoti” belt mainly because the Hada Rajputs inhabitated and ruled this region.The Hada’s are a sub clan of the Chaouhan Rajput dynasty.

Kotal Thermal Power Plant while returning to Kota

Kota is the third largest city of Rajasthan marked by tremendous industrial presence mainly attributed to the mineral resources and generation of electricity and power. Reaching Kota i went to his room ,hurriedly chalking out an itinerary for my travel. He suggested few names ……… but only two places ignited an eager anguish in me which is enumerated below .

The first place is known as Gaipernath which is situated 23 km from Kota on the road towards Rawatbhatta. From Gaipernath it takes another 28 km to reach Rawatbhatta ,which gains importance for its Nuclear Power Staion. Ultimately decided to do a single backpack travel as sandeep was citing some very important work that day. I took a bus going towards Rawatbhatta and got down at a village known as “Ratkankra”. The bus stand was near a state run “Rajkiya Vidyalaya” school ,upon inquiry it was known that the Gaipernath temple and the mighty Chambal Valley is just a kilometer away.
I started walking towards the escarpments which is not at all visible from the village as the topography is characterized with a plateau formation wherein the land seems to be flat and widespread in its whole length and breath.It is only the places which are cut open by the rivers where gorges are formed, one knows that he is on an elevation ranging to some 800-1000 odd feet.

The first view of the Canyon ..... Obsidian rocks created by volcanic lava

Stairs leading down in the Gorge towards Gaipernath Ji

Gaipernath(a name of Lord Shiva in local parlance) is such a place situated into a deep gorge and can be reached through foot steps laid down below.

Chambal Canyon looks like a maze .....with stairways seen at the left

While getting down in the gorge the temple shrines of Lord Shiva is seen near a natural pond caused by a waterfall which runs down from the cliff only in the monsoon period cascading in three steps.

ust Midway on the Staircase ........ The shrine is situated on the right side of the ridges shown below. The valley is again descending sloping downwards from here to greater heights

Gaipernath Shrine on the left side within the stones in a cave ....... with the pond in the center

This temple is built somewhere around 15th century according to the inscriptions and account from a local priest.

Another view of the pond

River Chambal is seen hidden underneath seemingly playing hide and seek. The gorge gives spectacular views of Gaipernath temple shrines,distant natural vegetation carpeting green cover over the ravine.

Massive Rocks near the pond

The erect wall like enscrapments exhibiting perfect symmetry are naturally carved from molten lava, beaming with sunlight running parallel and juxtaposed to each other.The temple shrine once came into the news in the year 2008 when the staircase leading down towards the Shiv Temple caved in leaving two casualties and nearly hundred people stranded until the armed forces came for their rescue.
After getting down in the gorge near the shiv temple , i sat on a big rock near the pond ,staring at the clean green water …. kept on musing over the air filled with mythical and natural fragrance.

Mythical Musings

As a part of my habit i usually collect small rocks from the places wherever i visit. I did the same by picking up small rocks and few sand gravel and put them in my backpack.Interacted with a local priest, who upon inquiry revealed that this place is used by Lord Shiva and his family for dwelling purpose. Also this place is visited my many pilgrims who patronize Lord Shiva at the time of Maha Shivratri.
After an hour long penance cherishing antiquity and spirituality i decided to move above walking through the stairs… Again moved towards Ratkankra from where i got down intitally about a kilometer away.There was a chai(tea) shop near the bus stop where i decided to wait for the bus going towards Kota. I started to speak in Marwari with the locals inside that tea shop or a dhaba !!!! whatever ……. They were very amused when they knew i was on a single backpacking trip. One of them a person barely a middle aged man proclaimed that he has moved deep into the ravines and could take anyone from there to Kota saying “hum aapko jungle ke raaste Kota Barrage aur city tak le ja sakte hain
Tik Tak tik listening to my wrist watch , wind blowing in my ears,hearing cattle herds, people mostly lanky carrying potlis over their heads ………such a great country landscape and the social fabric woven in such simpler fashion.It was noon as i kept waiting but no bus was sighted on that remote destination.Finally i got into a jeep with two Sardarji’s who were going towards Kota. They were very happy to help and looked very amicable in extending a helping land ,as opposed to what we see in metro-politan cities.They were talking about some Land dispute in their family and asking for my opinion…. he he he he I was enjoying the whole journey towards Kota.

After many discussions of their family fued and court cases the younger sardar acknowledged that he is carrying a tourist with him. He asked “what places have you visited in Kota” I replied I have decided not to visit the city considering it worthless but to explore the outskirts at large. He asked me “aap Garadia Mahadev gaye kya ??? bahut hi ramniya jagah hai” ….. exact same words he said as I recorded in my travel diary. He defined me the landscape and the way to move towards Garadia Mahadev which will be next in the offing.
They dropped me at Ghoda Chowk in Kota ….. from there I went towards the Bus Stand in Nayapura to enquire about transport towards Garadia Mahadev. To my surprise no one knew about Garadia Mahadev but even after receiving such a tepid response I was undeterred.
A cab driver agreed to go to Garadia Mahdev for Rs.600 to and fro. He said it is a very remote place and people usually don’t prefer going alone there.
Garadia Mahadev is located near the NH-76 leading to Dabi and Chittorgarh.NH-76 acts as a link between Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh to Pindwara in Sirohi District of Rajasthan. The National Highway is a four lane road perfectly cemented with concrete and is almost isolated.It was 25 kms south west of Kota on the NH-76,there comes a left hand diversion towards Garadia Mahadev and Jawahar Sagar Dam.From that diversion Garadia Mahadev is almost 3 km and Jawahar Sagar Dam is some 12 km in distance.
It is a very isolated place without any habitation…. one cannot even sight an electric pole on the way.It was 3.30 pm already and I was on my way overlooking the barren lands covered with little stones mostly obsidian in nature mainly created due to solidification of molten lava.The road(kuccha rasta) was so rugged that the car was losing traction at some points.The land was covered with thorny shrubs and bushes testifying its arid topography. I was exasperated and little bit scared mainly due to an account that my friend sandeep shared with me over the phone about a young man being mobbed here in the woods by the locals.

Garadia Mahadev and the beautiful Canyon down below

Finally I arrive at Garadia Mahadev.One can see a great canyon stretching to long distance like a maze of saw toothed ridges dissecting the whole plateau… I can recount this experience as breathtaking and one which I can never forget to cherish for my whole lifetime.

I'm Living on the Edge

I reached near the gorge at an altitude of some 500-800 feet msl.It looks like a magnificent canyon between two huge cliff almost symmetrical in nature with river Chambal flowing in the gorge.The river is serene,motionless as seen from above and it seems as if molten glass is laid down in the mould below beaming with ultimate glaze. The width between the two cliffs is enormous with winds blowing like harmonic hyms reaching a crescendo of solitude. There was a temple shrine of Lord Shiva nearby on the surface of the cliff which can be reached by moving downwards with the help of some 15-20 steps.

I wish I had wings ......... Garadia Oh My Mahadev

There is a priest inside the temple who lives in the nearby village near that diversion on the NH-76. He is available for religious ceremonies and rituals only till 5.30 pm as staying there is not at all safe at night.

Garadia temple

(Eternal Bliss)Temple Area ........... Garadia Mahadev

I paid my homage to Lord Shiva in reverence and moved near the cliff on a rock looking down with glaring eyes ,mesmerizing the serenity of Chambal.One can attain instant solitude with winds whispering in your ears …… driving your attention towards the panoramic landscape which evidently looks like a natural canvas with colours flirting with the serene ambiance.

A different Take .. Garadia after walking half a kilometer from the temple

The cliffs showing great perseverance ,standing erect and stellar as stalwarts for centuries acting as a witness to so much long gone in the pages of history.I was looking down in the water for some gharials or crocodile sightings, for which chambal is famous.., but could find none.

Garadia ......... Another Take

Chambal ,the largest tributary of Yamuna river originates in Mhow(Indore District) of Madhya Pradesh at an altitude of some 800 meters msl. From there onwards it travels nearly 900 km northwards for a confluence with itsalma mater – River Yamuna in Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh. The Chambal Ki ghati or the ‘beehads’ start from here covering areas like Karauli,Dholpur,Gwalior,Bhind,Morena,Datia etc infested by dacoits and bandits.
I was remembering and humming the song “What a Wonderful World” once crooned by legendary Louis Armstrong in the 1960’s although my music player was playing Pearl Jam‘s hit single “I’m Alive” ……..My music player was stuck in the Alternative/Grunge Rock playlist…. and I was trying to find some soothing song matching to the spirit of the ambiance and finally got Eagles “Hotel California” as a respite.
It was already 5.00 pm and thought of moving from there before getting dark. Finally reached Kota at my friends place in Talwandi… shared by experiences with him.
The story doesn’t end here ….. The Hadoti belt of Rajasthan has one more destination in the offing which will be coming up in the subsequent posts.

Acknowledgement/Special Thanks
1.)My Travel Diary
2.)Locals of Kota
4.)Sandeep for his help


  • ?????? ?? , ???? ?????? ????? ?? ??????? , ?? ?? ???? ??? ?? ?? ???? ???????? ?? ?? ???? ????? ??? ?? ???? ??? ??????? ???? ???? ???? ???? ??? ??? ??? ? ?? ?? ??? ??? ?? ????? ??? ?? ???? ?? ?? ?? ???? ??? ???? ?????? ?? ?? ?? ? ??????? ???? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ?? ????

    • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

      Dhanyavad Manu …………. Rajasthan ko hamesh maru bhoomi ki roop mein hi dekha jaata hai …… lekin rajasthan mein bahut prakritik sundarta hai …… is post se mein isi cheez ko ujagar karna chahta tha…..

      Aur aap ke protsahan ka mein aabhari hun

  • Very good post Giriraj. Pictures of both the places are equally good. One good friend of mine is from Kota only and used to tell me about both the places with invitation to visit. After reading your post I think I should visit someday.

    • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

      Thank you very much Solanky ji for your gracious remarks ….. These places are very green during the monsoon season ……… That is the appropriate time to visit ……… But during rainy season the river may not show its true colors because of sand and silt

      Again many thanks for your appreciation

  • SilentSoul says:

    tks for this virtual tour of this fore lone and (perhaps) dangerous place. I dont think this place is worth a visit with the family… good for lone travellors that too with a risk of being mobbed, looted or kidnapped. Is it true ?

    Good that I saw this place through you, becoz in my life, perhaps I would never be able to visit there

    • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

      Hi Silent Sahab

      Thank you very much for your generous remarks ………. The first place i.e.., Gaipernath is a popular picnic spot of Kota albeit the other one i.e.., Garadia Mahadev is quite obscure and remote ……… so higher amount of vigilance is commanded while visiting Garadia …….

      Perhaps this post is intended to shatter the image of Rajasthan which is always a synonym to the great desert……… so i call this post a “Myth Breaker” for the one’s living in a closet feeding on what popular culture and media is providing them

      Again many many thanks for your gesture.

      Cheers and happy ghumakkari

  • Naveena Israni says:

    Hi Giriraj,

    Really enlightening post… something very different and new. The pics of Chambal Canyon and massive rocks were mind-blowing! Looking forward to your next post.

    Warm regards,

    • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

      Hi Naveena ……….

      Thank you for your generosity in considering it new and interesting . i hope you and Satyen will be packing up for Kota some day …….

      I really appreciate your patient reading

      Happy ghummakari

  • Wow . Gririraj . superb post………………….

    Beautiful pictures with description.Majaa aa gayaa……………..

    Mahadev ke darshan karne the ?????

    Keep Travelling and Posting……………..

    • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

      Hi Vishal ,

      I think your spiritual sense had enjoyed this post greatly . It is true mahadev is such a strong source of character,power and dignity and his might is manifested everywhere

      Thank you so much for crunching my post with utmost joy.

      Cheers and propagate spiritual ghummakarri

  • Vibha says:

    Lovely post Giriraj. En route to Bhopal, we cross the Chambal Ghati and I invariably end up with my nose pressed against the window of the train coach to take a peek at the beautiful, mysterious labyrinthian passages, River Chambal has carved over the centuries. I suspect they lie beyond the cliffs that you have so beautifully captured in your pictures.

    And also, your decision to head out alone to visit an area as risky as the Chambal ki Ghati testifies your passion. Thanks for sharing the story with us.

    • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

      Hi Vibha ….. hamari sardar (in chambal parlance)

      Thanks for liking the post … and truly when i was a kid (around mid 90’s) …, whenever i used to travel through Morena and Gwalior and my father saying Chambal aa gaya …. was the time when i used to get thrilled . Two or three police men were sighted acting as guards in each train coach …… since then i always wonder one day im going to discover this river in its full length and breadth … We used to cross Dholpur near Mathura on the Chambal Brige ….. with the khatar khutaar of the train traversing over the viaduct , i used to get thrilled and excited seeing the enormity of its gigantic river bed. But Kota gorge was such a wonderful experience that even the heavenly abode will fail to create such enigma

      Thanks for liking it so much ……… i wish the ghumakkar team lands up over there some day along with the sardar.

      Propagating and promoting safe ghumakkari
      Bye ……..

  • injamaven says:

    Lovely photos. I’d really like to go there

  • ?? ?? ?? ?? ??? ?? ????? ??? ?? ?? ??? ?? ???? ?? ???? ?? ???? ?????, ?? ???? ???? ??????? ?????? ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ??? ??? ?? ???? ?? ???? ???? ?? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ?? ?? ???? ?? ???

    • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

      Thank you very much Jatdevta Ji,

      aap monsoon ke time mein yahan zaroor jayein …………… bahut hi anupam chata dikhayi degi aapko …. haan lekin monsoon mein chambal ki shanti nahi dikhayi degi
      October – November is the best time to visit

      Happy ghumakkari

  • ashok sharma says:


  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Very well written post & equally supported by the awesome pictures. I use to travel almost every month to Kota for my official work but that time I was not aware that these places are close to Kota.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

    • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

      Mahesh Ji,

      Thank you for appreciating the post and i am happy next time whenever you visit Kota you would definitely pay a visit to the destinations for sure

  • Nandan says:

    The tile is a little misleading (or should I say, it is a link-bait title :-)) for an ignorant like me. Because of the huge Glamor of ‘Chambal’, I missed reading ‘Kota’. Lol.

    I think this is a ‘FOG’ so big thanks for introducing us to these places. I wonder that whether there would be value in exploring ways to have a guided trek/walk in these ravines. I have driven through Morena on the way to Gwalior few times and the highway (NH3) goes over the river. Last time, I saw something like ‘Chambal Rafting Camp’ as well. I think the area is beginning to see more visitors. May be a guided trek from Kota with a educational/geo twist would be worthwhile thing to discuss. Very interesting place.

    One small trivia regarding the small rocks which you collect. In Uttrakhand, we were told that if we pick a small stone from the river bed then we should remember to put back one into the river as well. At times, we would pick a finely chiseled rock , we have a fancy for, and then replace it with another one from the bank.

    Finally, I guess the story would benefit from spell-check and proof reading. I am sharing this because I believe, it is very important for you.

    I look fwd to next part Giriraj.

    You can check-out any time but you can never leave.

    • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

      Dear Nandan
      I want to drive your attention towards a spelling mistake committed by you in your comment my dear ………. you wanted to say “title” and you end up writing “tile” in the first line ……….

      Speed Kills ………………

      Happy ghumakkari

      • Nandan says:

        Oh, yes. Thanks a ton. It is less to do with the typo , more for the speed reminder. We need to slow down, I would remember to not rush through. Thanks again. :-)

  • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

    Yah Nandan ……..

    Thanks dost for liking it and proclaiming it as a “FOG”. I’m obliged to feature a story in this section and by seeing the overwhelming response garnered by it.
    Thank You for pointing at the proof reading requirement.
    I was typing at a high speed and was multi tasking at the same time while writing this post resulting in some small spelling mistakes ,which i think has not changed the very essence of this narrative .I presume even you think the same !!!!!!!! ……… So,will definitely take care of this in the near future.

    and yes ‘you can check out any time of the year …., but you can never leave “Hotel Chambal” ‘ ….

  • Manish Kumar says:

    Nice to know about this unknown place.

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Wow, Giriraj, awesome post.

    Chambal has a special place in my heart and many great movies from Jis Desh mein Ganga behti hai, Mujhe Jeene Do, Mera Gaon Mera Desh to the recent Pan Singh Tomar were shot there.

    Adventure, excitement, temples, canyons, geology (obsidian rocks?), ponds, rivers…..this post of yours had it all. The only thing missing was a gang of dacoits on horseback firing .303 rifles in the air :-)

    Thanks a million.

    • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

      Narayan Ji …..

      You are right sir ………. So, now i think its my turn to make a bollywood potboiler here in the ravines of this beehad ………

      Thank you sir

  • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

    @Manish Kumar

    Thank you Manish Ji ………………..

  • gaurav tiwari says:

    its a very nice place.i want 2 see thi s beautiful place

  • Taher Kagalwala says:

    I came to your story through the monthly authors’ newsletter. First of all, congratulations on being featured there. Second, I think apart from being passionate, one would also need to be courageous to go backpacking in an area such as the one you describe in this journal. I commend you for this. Your photographs are quite basic, really, but they are excellent records of the uniqueness of the location. I am sure the sardarjis acted on your advice and are through with their property dispute! I was looking to see any sightings of wild animals, vultures, other birds, etc. but perhaps nature is not your thing.

    Thanks for the nice entry!

    – Dr. Taher (fellow-ghumakkar)

    • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

      Dr.Taher ….. Thank you very much for your kind appreciation …. When ghumakkari is on mind ‘courage’ comes backpacking behind ……. he he he he

      Cheers ….. have fun and thanks for your regards …. It matters a lot

  • Congrats Giriraj ,

    you very well deserved it. ……………………Nice choice Ghumakkar jury……………………….

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Hearty congratulations, Giriraj, on your post being selected as the “featured story of the month.” Looking forward to more such exciting stories from you. Who knows, maybe even a Bollywood potboiler, :-)

  • ?????? ?? , ???? ???? , ?? ???? ???? ????? ?? ?? ???? ?? ?????? ???? ??

  • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

    @D.L ——- Will love to make a potboiler here with cast from the ghumakkar family …… may be a ‘ramgarh ke sholay’ … Thank you for your earnest appreciation

    @Vishal ——- Thank you so much …… you never fail to appreciate smaller things

    @Manu ——- Aapki tippaniyon ke bina to har lekh adhura hi lagta hai ……. aap bahut acha protsahan badhate hain ………. dhanyavad aur — kya kehte hai aap hamesha “sadhuvaad”

  • Nandan Jha says:

    This is ‘Featured Story of the Month – March 2012’. Writing this for posterity. Congrats Giriraj :-)

  • my dear !
    chambal river is more than 900 kms long.

  • Dr. Surabhi Srivastava says:

    Wonderful description about the places. Though I belong to Kota I felt good that people are liking my city. This city is worth travelling in monsoon season but I feel you fail to discover the other beautiful heritage sites of 11th centuary to visit.
    Next time whenever you plan explore more on heritage forts and falls.

  • Rajat Kumar says:

    I have been at both the places i.e. Gapernath and Garadia and must say, these are beautiful places.

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