Thursday, January 17, 2008

Behold the legend!

The most enticing stories that I have heard, read and seen as a child come from The Mahabharata (one of the two great Indian epics).

One such story is about the Pandavas (read about them here) and their escape from the Lakshagrah (Lac Palace). And it only got better when I got to visit a place that bears testimony to the story of Lakshagrah.

A small town called Sardhana (near Meerut) is home to Mahadev temple, where the Pandavas are believed to have stayed and prayed enroute Lakshagrah.

The story goes like this (This version I tell you, from what I can recollect having read, written and seen):
Mahabharata ensued (sort of), when among the two heirs to the throne of Hastinapur, Dhritrashtra and Pandu, Pandu was installed to the throne; Dhritrashtra being blind. Later, after the death of Pandu, Dhritrashtra succeeded the throne.

Mahabharata was the war fought between the two sets of Chandravanshi (decendants of the Lunar Dynasty) brothers: The Pandavas (Five sons of Pandu) and Kauravas (100 sons of Dhritrashtra). The war, to install Yudhishthir (the eldest Pandav) on the throne of Hastinapur.
The story of Lakshagrah is of an abortive bid by the Kauravas to kill their Pandava brothers. And it goes thus:
Duryodhana (the eldest Kaurava prince) invited the Pandavas to Varnavrata (now called Barnawa) to join some festivities. Duryodhana alongwith his scheming maternal uncle Shakuni got built, a Lac Palace or Lakshagrah, for the Pandavas. This Palace was built of Shellac (highly combustible) and other combustible materials like wax, jute, fat etc.

Great meals were laid and other arrangements par-excellence were made to make the stay of the Pandavas luxurious and memorable.

The ghastly plan was to set the Lac Palace afire while the Pandavas were asleep.Kunti (mother of the first three sons of Pandu) was accompanying the Pandavas to the Lac Palace. They stopped at Sardhana enroute Varnavrata for a night's stay. There, Kunti had a dream that Duryondhana plotted to kill them at the palace they were headed to and that they should be weary of fire. In the dream, Kunti was told to establish a Shivlinga at Sardhana and pray there, so that the tragedy-to-be is averted.

The Pandavas accordingly prayed and established the Shivling at Sardhana before proceeding to Varnavrata. This Shivling can be seen at the Mahadeva temple. There exist great believers of the mystical powers of this Shivling. Efforts have been made in the past to lift this Shivling up, but everytime such an attempt was made, this Shivling slid beaneath the ground. Finally it was decided to let the Shivling be.

Below is the picture of the same Shivling. I chanced to visit the temple, thanks to my benevolent and charming hosts Deepa (who forced me to visit Meerut and then Sardhana), Shuchi Bhabi (who in turn forced Deepa to bring me there) and her family.I got to witness the place that bears testimony to the one of the most captivating stories from ancient India. Thank You soooo much!Story continued: When the Pandavas reached the Lakshagrah, they could see that the palace was made of combustible materials. While pretending to enjoy their stay at the Lakshagrah, the Pandavas secretly dug a tunnel which could lead them out of the Lakshagrah. They also figured out (with the help of Vidura, an uncle) that Purochana (a servant of the Kauravas) had been assigned the task of setting the palace afire.
One night, when the Pandavas were done digging the tunnel, they fled the Palace using it. Bhima, who was the last to come out of the tunnel, set the palace afire and Purochana was burnt alive while he was asleep. The Pandavas then travelled in disguise for some time, till they reached Hastinapur. But then, THAT is another story.
The remains of the Lac Palace can still be seen at Barnawa and I wish to visit the place sometime soon.
Deepa, are you listening?

Whoa, this is the longest post I've ever written, but, it could not be any shorter.

36 comments:

vinay said...

Thanks for an interactive, nicely written, enjoyous read. Usually history turns readers off, as most of people write it in text book format. Thanks for going beyond the text book style.

I was looking for some more pics, if you have!!

Reeta Skeeter said...

Vinay: You here???!!!
Thanks for such nice and encouraging words. I am sooo glad you liked it.
And coming from you these words mean a lot :) Thanks!
Pictures, I have..Will show you :)

Chan said...

Hi Skeeter! How goes? Nice post but can't resist pointing out that it is Indraprastha and not Hastinapur which is now called Dehi. Also, in the Amar Chitra Katha version (i know my Mahabharata almost exclusively from Ack), Yudhishtir come to know of Purochana's scheme from Vidura. And to add a nice little detail, another set of one woman and five sons (wandering beggar types) were fed and bedded in the lac palace, rather conveniently. Coz their corpses delayed discovery of the Pandavas escape. Long comment!

Yoga Gal said...

I once saw a play of this legend that went on for three days! Love the story. Do you know a real good English translation? I'll like to read it again. Love the part of the Queen who went around blind folded because her husband was blind and she want to share the world he lived in.

Reeta Skeeter said...

Chan: Hey Chan! Nice to see that you keep coming back here :D
Thanks for pointing out about Indraprastha, but as I said, this is a version I have heard from people. And there are yet so many other versions that may confuse people like me :|
Ok, I am changing it there...
Of Vidura, YES, you are correct and I have deliberately not included that little detail, as I thought the post was getting damn long...but since people like you know about it, I shall add that too...
Skeeter *bows* with her hat off to Chandrachud!
And yes, I am aware of the story of the five beggars and a woman who were rested there...Not including that though :)
Long reply :D Was needed.
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yoga gal: You do? How nice! I shall find out for you and let you know :) Happy Blogging!
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durjoy datta said...

hey!
knew the story....
but not about the puruchana.......!!!
why did the poor guy have to die????
durjoy,by the way,was one of the hundred bros of duryodhana!!!
not something to be proud of!!!
:(

Peenuts said...

Niceeeeeeeeeeeee

florentyna said...

nice post, very informative i'm sure, most of it went over my head :D since i'm not so well informed about indian mythology/history...but i did want to see pics of the lac palace, put em up if you have any. Also i must say skeey, you have really broadened your horizons, you're becoming a new different person, a great person, love you!

Ankur said...

i did not know tnat such place existed,,more pics wanted...

~ ॐ ~ said...

Sardhana ! that place also has a huge church, and surprisingly enough is just about 30 minutes away from Daurala, where I keep going regularly...

Thanks for this post... I need to go here as soon as possible...

Shubhodeep said...

hello, how r u? lakshagriha is pretty near my hometown; however, i've never been there myself. hope you have a great blogging year ahead. happy new year to you and your family.

Reeta Skeeter said...

durjoy: Because he was the one who made things tough for the Pandavas, while at their stay at the Lac Palace. Aha! Durjoy..hmm...I was reading the 100 names the other day...Their parents must've ahd a tough time :D heeeeeee
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peenuts: Thankssss!
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florentyna: Hehe! How nice to see you here :D Angrejannnn!!! Love You too!
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ankur: I have more pics of the same Shivling...and some of Sardhana and the church over there...next post will be about that place :) Keep watching this space ;)
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~ ॐ ~ : Haanji bilkul.. hum church bhi gaye the...It is North India's biggest church...agla post uspe hi hai...just waiting to club it with the Chandni Chowk connection(Yes you read that right)...I am sure you are not surprised :) Yeah the place is not far from Daurala.
Enjoy!

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shubhodeep: Hey! And where be your hometown? Thx! Happy New Year to you and your family as well!
Happy Blogging!
Keep posting!

I am said...

Hmm.. interesting to know that the evidence of history so many thousand years old, still exists..thanks for sharing it.

gunj said...

hey dat brought bak memories of my childhood!:)

Reeta Skeeter said...

i am: My pleasure :)
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gunj: :D nice to know that!
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~ Deeps ~ said...

good information........though i am not much of believer of these epics and spl not what they showed in TV serials........

the place where the lakh palace was made supposedly is a place called lakhamandal.....its in yamuna valley near to chaktra....purola (har ki doon trek point) is also quite near by....and its a beautiful place

though the place u have mentioned barnawa has come in question cuz of a 30km long tunnel discovered in 2006....

not sure which of them is true but lakhamandal is more famous and known........

Kevin Blight said...

I remember hearing this story as a kid but never knew the existence of the Shivling. Hope I get to c the Lakshgriha someday :)

backpakker said...

Great post..and I just love Indian mythology and stories ...I wish I could go there .

I would like to invite you to read my latest post..there is something that would be of interest to you in the last para :)

Preethi said...

Wow! i got so engrossed that i wanted the story to cont. You have gr8 narrative skills.
The remains of Lac Palace are still there? I didn't know about that. Well, i dunno why the historians keep calling the great epics ...a myth.

Preethi said...

Just read Chan's comment. OMG what a horrible thing to do. Placing the innocent beggars there!

well, took sometime and read all other comments here, so many here seem to know so much about the epics. Wow. that's good to know...

freesherry said...

hey!
that was one interesting lesson in Indian mythology :)

dRoZzY!!! said...

mythological skeeter.....
woahhhhh

good goin... one helluva (long) post!

crazy gyan...
keep it up!!!

Reeta Skeeter said...

~ Deeps ~: Thanks!
Yeah, I have also heard of lakhmandal...donno which place is the actual one...The tunnel that you speak of is rumoured to have been made by the locals...
Ok then I will visit lakhmandal and barnawa one both :D
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kevin blight: hmm..May you seeit soon :)
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backpakker: hmm...thx! Yeah reading right away!
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preethi: Thanks for such a sweet comment :D Yeah if that story is true (I believe it is not), it is indeed horrible!
Yeah...all these people here sure do know a lot :) Feels great to know :)
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freesherry: :)

Reeta Skeeter said...

drozzy: :P *grin*
Yeah indeed a long one!
Thanks :)

shooting star said...

the mahabharata lac palace is actually still standing??? hard to believe...

c e e d y said...

Wow!!!!!

Thank you for sharing this....will be glad to see the pics of the Lac Palace...if you do visit it....

came to your blog from Preethi....

Keshi said...

Interesting!

Keshi.

Vikas ( Vicky) said...

thanks for this histrocial religious story... would talk to my grandpa abt this tonite n will show that how much i know abt mahabharta.. hopw that he will be glad.

Superchef said...

thats is a nice blog!!!! nice post...can't imagine..i never visited before!!

Reeta Skeeter said...

shooting star: Yes! :)
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ceedy: Welcome here! Yeah if I do visit then will put the pics up...it won't be anytime soon though :) Happy Blogging!
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keshi: :)
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vikas: hehe! nice.Happy Blogging!
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superchef: Hey Thanks! And welcome here!

mazak said...

what a riveting post ...so nice to refresh memory concerning the great epic ,and u hv got some well read and inteligent readers(including me,of course)....even i visited bhubneswar few weeks back and wanted to write abt it ,ur post has shown me the direction ...way to go miss skeeter ...

Reeta Skeeter said...

Ji thank you!
Intelligent to you are...dhoop batti kab se shuru kar di? :P
Would love to read about Bhubaneswar :) Jaldi likh!

LostWeasley said...

oh...yeah, its such a long-lost kinda story i'd almost forgotten...

so the remains of the palace are still there? hmmmmmm.....

Reeta Skeeter said...

LostWeasley: Yeah well said... long lost eet ees!
Yes the remains exist :)

Fighter Jet said...

That was nice...liked reading it..


not sure if that Lackshagreeh still exist...after 1000 or 10000 or god knows how many years of being burnt :)

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