Gwalior has been the 'nerve-center' of a flourishing civilization prospering on the banks of the river Chambal. The steep Chambal river itself offers a pretty natural panorama and making you feel as if history is flowing past you. Your imagination runs wild. You can feel the presence of fierce warriors, daring dacoits and hardened people. However, in spite of all its ruggedness, the Chambal valley has ever been inviting to mankind since time immemorial. While at one end the labyrinths of the valley have been providing shelter to the rebels, on the other hand the pure icy cold water of Chambal river has instilled zeal and vivacity in the natives of this regions. Bordering with the states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, the Chambal belt of Northern Madhya Pradesh is full of zigzagged ravines providing safe shelters to inter-state gangs of dacoits which mainly indulge in abductions for ransom. A journey through this valley reveals great secrets of this old civilization. The whole Chambal valley abounds in archeological legacies and only in Morena district there are no less than 60 archeologically significant sites. All these archeological sites lie in the range of 40 Kms. from Gwalior. The archaeological remains of Chambal lie in the range of 40 Km. from Gwalior, easily accessible by road. The drive from Gwalior to the Chambal river takes a little more than half an hour. However, since the entire Chambal area is notorious for dacoits and robbers' gangs, safety in traveling must be ensured beforehand.
According to the latest research, the most ancient place in Gwalior-Chambal region has been the Kutwar village of Morena. The place is associated with Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas. Some 3000 years ago the "Nag" kings had established their capitals in this place and potteries and coins of the "Nag" kings are found from this place. The dam of Kutwar was built by the Scindia and adds to the charm of this beauteous spot. Cunningham has hailed this place as the most ancient capital of Gwalior. In olden times, this place was known by numerous names. In the Age of Mahabharat, this was famous by the name of Kuntibhoj. King Kuntibhoj was the father of Kunti. According to Vincent Smith and other historians, the era between 2nd Century A.D. to the middle of 4th Century A.D. saw the rule of the "Nag" clan from Mathura to upper Narmada part. The "Nag" kings established their capitals in Mathura, Kantipuri (Kuntibhoj) and Padmavati. In the scriptures of the "Puranas" there are ample testimonies of the Nag clan and the areas ruled by them such as Padmavati, Mathura and Kantipuri. All these places were under Kutwar. Noted archaeologist Alexander Cunningham lived in Gwalior for 5 years and, later, he was appointed as the Chief Director of the Archaeology Dept. during 1860-1885. He had visited the villages of Kutwar and Sihonia and in his archaeological report of 1864-65 (Vol. 2) he wrote that people also called this place Kuntalpur. He found beautifully engraved stones and old architectural remains scattered far and near. He thus concluded that "this is a very old place and must be existing in the Mahabharata Age in some 5400 B.C."
Most important of the sites in Chambal are a series of ancient temples and monuments. Most of them have been reduced to ruins while still a number of them have withheld the bolt of time and stand erect with all their splendors. Some of these places were even 'centers of learning' in the past - now buried deep down in the grave of time. For example, the circular temple of Mitawali, built in the likeness of Indian parliament house - "Sansad Bhawan" - apparently seems to be a temple of 64 'Yogini', according to some scholars, this was the center of astrological studies. There are many other interesting places in Chambal - all explorable especially for those who have an interest in archeology.
Dubkund is a place worth seeing in the midst of the rivers Chambal and Kuno, situated in a dense forest. It is 76 miles south to Gwalior. In this same tribal region abounding in hills and jungles, the Kachhapghats established their kingdom in the end of the 10th Century. In some historic inscriptions, Dubkund is also mentioned as Dobh. One of the water reservoirs of this place is full of water all the year round and hence the name Dobhkund or Dubkund. An ancient Jain Temple and a temple of Har-Gauri are important spots worth seeing. The Jain temple built on a platform 3 feet high and with 81 feet diameter is quite big even though only the lower structure and pillars remain at present. According to the inscriptions, the Temple existed in the Vikrami Era of 1152. Dubkund abounds in the images of the "Teerthankars", "Vidyadhars" and other statues related with "Shaiv" and "Vaishnav" sects.
There is a beautiful temple built on the fortress of Padavali and it is even superior to the Temple of Khajuraho from an architectural point of view. The natives of Padavali call it "Garhi" or small fortress. The temple abounds in the depictions of Ram Leela, Krishna Leela, Mahabharat, the 10 incarnations of God Vishnu, Samudra Manthan, Marriage of Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva dancing in the cemetery in Preta form and hundreds of other Hindu gods and goddesses. They all look so novel as if they were built just recently. Like Khajuraho, this temple, too, remains intact in the passage of time. What is even more interesting is that there are some erotic images, too, in the temple which is an exceptional aspect of such an indigenous temple.
The Bateshwar valley is situated one and a half kilometer from Padavali. There are more than a hundred temples in the valley but most of them worn and torn. There are even two water ponds providing drinking and bathing water and the scenery around is quite fascinating. People say that these statues are not human made but rather they were created by Mother Nature herself.
Some 20 K.M. from Kutwar, in the village of Sehonia, there is the famous "Kanakmath" Temple. This temple of some 1000 years ago is built in a chariot shape and the marvel is that stones are pyramidized together - one upon the other - without applying any cement, clay or lime. Tourists are dumbfounded to see this 100 ft. high piece of marvel. Around the temple there are statues of Hindu gods and goddesses and the dancing Ganesh is prominent of them. Sehonia is also a scared place for the followers of the Jain religion.
The Temple of Saturn (Shaneechara) is situated 5 Km. from Rithorakalan. This 800 years old temple is perhaps the only temple in India dedicated to the horrifying deity, Saturn. Saturn is said to be the most powerful and influential planet of the universe - affecting everyone's life. It is believed that if someone offers at this temple black cloths, iron nails, oil, etc. especially on Saturday, it minimizes the wrath of Saturn and yields a favorable effect.
Some 15 Km. from Gwalior, we can visit the Nareshar Hills. On the hill there is a picturesque water pond and several temples built over a thousand years ago. Here we also find weapons and paintings of the Homo Sapiens (the pre-historic human race).
There are many other places in the Chambal valley which are always attracting to the tourists. There are more than a hundred temples in the valley though most of them worn and torn. The scenery is so beautiful as if one is roaming in the paradise. These are only some descriptions. As a matter of fact, the whole Chambal is a treasurer of ancient legacies only if you are anxious to explore.