Rajinder Chand Anthal
The erstwhile princely state of Chenani is very rich in its cultural, historical and religious heritage. The Chandervanshi kings of this state took great interest in the development of religious pilgrimage in their area. The vast area of Chenani-Sudhmahadev, popularly known as Land of Lord Shiva, is home to many ancient places of great religious importance for the Hindus, but due to political instability before the arrival of Chandel Rulers, no effort was made by the earlier rulers to develop these places. After Chandel Dynasty Ruler Gambhir Chand from Bundelkhand (MP) established his strong kingdom in the area in 9th century, these religious places fast developed due to the efforts of the Royal House of Chenani. Forts, Temples and Palaces were constructed at various places. The trade and local routes were upgraded and temples received large grants in the shape of land for their maintenance.
In the chain of temples on the famous Chenani-Sudhmahadev trade route, we find beautiful old temple of Lord Shiva on the left bank of River Tawi.
This temple is called Mandir Dushalla, located at a distance of about 5 kms from Chenani. At this place, we find that the sacred Tawi river, takes a small turn towards north and after some distance it again changes its flow towards south as usual. As per Hindu legends and faith, when a sacred river takes a turn towards north (uttar), that place becomes a place of great religious importance for the Hindus and is called ‘Uttervehni’. It is believed that a bath at Uttervehni site removes all the sins from human soul. This is because of this reason, Mandir Dushalla got wide recognition even in the ancient times and the kings in consultation with pandits, constructed a small temple of Lord Shiva at this place and named it Mandir Dashalya which later changed to Mandir Dushalla.
This Lord Shiva temple is facing south with a Nandigan in the front. The temple has been built on a raised platform. The temple in its present form has been renovated and upgraded by Raja Bhag Chand of Chenani state. Raja Bhag Chand was 18th ruler of state of Chenani who is believed to have ruled in the 14th century. Raja Bhag Chand is also said to have changed his capital from Mantalai to Bain. The remains of buildings are still visible there at a place called Garhbarkot.
The special feature of this temple is that here eleven Rudras have been installed which imparts it great religious importance, as Eleven Rudra Shiva temples are very rare in this state.
This temple has been constructed on one side of a long and level fertile piece of land, hundreds of kanals of which has been donated to this temple by kings of Chenani.
In the old times, there was a large sarai for the comfortable stay of visitors and general public with day and night free ‘langer’ facility at the expense of Chenani Royal family. Near the temple, there is an ancient bowli and nearby this bowli is a small ‘samadhi’ of an unknown queen of Chenani. At the same place, there is a stone statue of a dog. There are some restrictions on the entry to this sacred place. From the earlier times, the queen is worshipped like a deity and is held in very high esteem by locals and members of the royal family. The Samadhi is kept covered with white piece of cloth and is worshipped daily during pooja of Lord Shiva. It is pertinent to mention here that only Brahamchari Sadhus can be the priest of this temple.
Mandir Dushalla temple was the first temple to be visited during the traditional Sudhmahadev Tirth Yatra covering many other famous temples and shrines of Lord Shiva on the way. A fair weather road exists now a days from Chenani to Mandir Dushalla. Apart from the religious importance of this place, the natural beauty and tourist potential of this place needs to be explored. The valley of Mandir Dushalla with hundreds of kanals of evergreen plain fields on the bank of Tawi River surrounded by medium range mountains on both the sides presents a pleasing scenery at the time of Sun rise.
This temple is usually visited by pilgrims throughout the year. Government should highlight religious and tourism potential of this place and the road should be made pacca with further extension upto Sudhmahadev. Department of Tourism and PDA Kud should formulate a special plan to develop and highlight all such places on tourist map of state.
(The author is Retired Zonal Education Officer, Chenani)