The chaotic town of Vidisha, shabby and annoying, even, as you would find it while driving through the narrow and garbage ridden lanes of it, was a major trade centre nearly 2600 years ago. The merchants from this ancient town were famous and wealthy. It was a jewel of every ruler’s eye, right from Emperor Ashoka to the Scindias who ruled the lands of Madhya Pradesh until recently. Today, this small and ignored settlement holds proofs to its affluent past in form of a few monuments that you should not miss if you are passing from the proximity, or if you are a hardcore history enthusiast.
Right in the middle of a slum-like neighborhood is the temple of Bija Mandal, the temple of the Sun. Though mostly ignored by the general tourist, history lovers will surely be fascinated by this place. Lying in ruins, the view of the temple site can be saddening. Heaps of broken pieces of precious, ancient artifacts and the portions of the structure itself have been laid here under trees. Some of the better preserved sculptures are placed by walls do make a good viewing.
The central portion of the temple makes a good site even though in a dilapidated state. There is also an old well here with a stairway leading down up to it through sculpted gateways. It is believed that this temple was constructed around 11th century from the material of a Parmar Temple during the reign of Parmar Kings. Later, during his rule, Aurangzeb broke it up and built a mosque. The site displays some exquisite figures of Standing Ganesha with eight arms, Mahishasurmardini and dancing Saptamatrikas.
Udaigiri Caves fall on the smaller and more picturesque way to Sanchi Stupa that goes through lush green farms and charming villages. Spread over small stretch and in a small number, there are some surprisingly good carvings at Udaigiri. The very first of these surprises is the exquisite carving of Vishnu's Boar incarnation and the detailed depiction of the interesting story regarding it. The lingam bearing Shiva's face on it, carved in Cave No. 4, is a rare and probably a unique depiction amongst thousands of Shiva shrines in India. Some of the caves display old incarnations and beautiful patterns that are definitely worth a look.
There is also a District Museum and a decrepit Bramhanical Shrine from 2nd century BC in Vidisha which may catch your interest.
Finding a good, clean place for lunch or stay at Vidisha could be impossible, so it is suggested that you visit the places of interest here and further pass on your way to Sanchi. This visit will not be very pleasant when the sun is beating down upon you so the period of early morning or late afternoon is recommended.
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Vidisha is not a very attractive tourist destination but the Udaigiri caves and the Bija Mandal may catch your attention. The Bija Mandal is a temple dedicated to the Sun, while the Udaigiri caves depict Lord Vishnu’s incarnation story. The carvings in the caves are exceptional. There is a District Museum which may help you understand the historical importance of Vidisha and a temple built in the 2nd century BC may also intrigue you. Do not plan to stay in Vidisha as the lodging and eating facilities here are not good. Better visit Vidisha while going to Sanchi from Bhopal.