Sunday, 27 January 2013

The palace of lac

In the Mahabharata, one of the most engaging stories that we come across is that of the palace of wax.  This is the palace that Duryodhana and his friends-rather brothers-construct for the Pandavas. Their intention was to burn own the palace while the Pandavas are asleep and claim that it was an accident.
The Mahabharata calls the palace Lakshgarh or Lakshgraha. However, there are two places in India which lay claim to being the infamous Lakshgarh.
While one place is near Delhi ands it is situated in the State of Uttar Pradesh, the other is far way from Delhi and it is located at the foothills of the Himalayas. This village called Lakhmandal - yes this city too is called by the same name-is in the hilly state of Uttaranchal.
If the Lakshgarh in Uttar Pradesh is situated near Hindon river, the Uttranachal city is located  near Yamuna. Both have ruins which they claim belong to the palace of wax. Both have hidden tunnels that lead to riversides from which the Pandavas are supposed to have escaped from the burning palace.
Well, let me talk about the palace at Uttar Pradesh first.
The Lakshgarh in Uttar Pradesh is on the Meeru-Baraut road and it is on the banks on Hindon river. This small village in Barnava or Varnava is believed to be more than 6,000 years old.
According to Puranas and the Mahabharata, this was one of the five villages that the Pandavas asked from the Kauravas.
It is about 10 kilometers from Baghpat. There is a huge mound or hillock which is supposed to be the exact place where the palace of wax was situated. Actually, it was a palace of  lac and not wax and lac is a plastic like material which is very inflammable.
The mound is known as Lakha Mantap. You can even see the remains of a tunnel dug by the Pandavas to escape from the palace. The hillock is almost 100 feet in height and it is spread over 30 acres.
This village passed into oblivion after the Mahabharata until an Ahir Emperor Ahirvaran Tomar developed it in the ninth century.
Barnava is just  36 kilometres from Meerut and 28 kms from Baraut. There are plenty of private buses and common hire four wheelers to take you to the village.
Atop the hillock are two dargas. The base or foundation of the structures have inscriptions in Sanskrit and this could indicate that they were temples.   
The remains of a tunnel can also be seen here. It is through this tunnel that the Pandavas escaped from the palace.
The second location of the palace of wax or lac is in the village of Lakhmandal in Uttranchal.
Lakhmandal is on the banks of Yamuna and it is 35 kms from  Chakrata  and 75 kms from the State capital of Dehra Dun and 120 kms from Mussorie. It is on the Musoorie-Yamunotri Road and come just after the beautiful Kempty Falls.
The village has temples dedicated to the Pandavas, There us also a cave atop a hillock which is said to be the beginning of the tunnel dug by the Pandavas to escape from the palace.  
The cave is deep and the walk to the hillock from the village will take you ten minutes. The tunnel from the cave leads to the Yamuna river bed nearby.
Excavations are still going on here and work so far has revealed  a half excavated linga. The linga has a peculiar character. It you pour water on it, it instantly becomes polished and you can see you image on it.
The Shiva temple here is believed to be a place of Shakti. Near the village is the town of Chakrata, the Tiger water falls is worth a visit. It has a Cantonment which was established in 1869 and access to foreigners is restricted.  

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