Rajinder Chand Anthal
Haridwar is a bowl shaped valley in the Western slopy end of Sudhmahadev. Legends describe it as gateway to abode of Lord Shiva. From time immemorial, this place has remained a famous destination for religious pilgrimage. Haridwar finds mention in Hindu Religious books as a Holy Place for performing last rituals of the departed souls for their salvation. The enchanting atmosphere of this place amid evergreen fields and long chain of ‘Champ’ trees all around, makes this place ideal for meditation also. It is believed that the ill effects of Ghosts, Praets, and Pischas get vanished after a bath in Holy Devika near the idols of Hanuman and Bharo Nath at Haridwar.
This place is one of the major ‘Tirtha’ for performing ‘Panjtirthi’ ritual from the centuries. In fact Haridwar is meant for atonement to remove the harmful effect of murder and for immersing the ashes of the dead and Pind-Daan. As per description in Religious books this area was regularly visited by great saints and kings of the past like Guru Ved Vyas, Kashyap Rishi, Bhagat Praladh, Gopi Chand Bhrathari, Pandavas and Raja Karan etc., for pilgrimage and Holy bath from time to time.
At Haridwar, the Holy Devika rivulet meets with another Holy rivulet ‘Charanavanti’ coming down from Gouri-Kund. The sangam of these two Holy rivulets makes Haridwar pious for Holy Bath.
Haridwar can be reached from two sides. From Sudhmahadev, it is at a distance of two kilometres and from Chenani at a distance of about six kilometres on old Chenani-Sudhmahadev trade and travel route. Recently Haridwar has been connected by road link from village Baishty on Chenani-Sudhmahadev road. It is said that there was no temple at this place in the ancient times. The stone carved Idols of Hanuman, and Bharo Nath are said to be existing from olden times. The Shiv Temple at Haridwar is infact, a temple built on a Samadhi of a member of Chenani Raj Parivar. It may be unique example of construction of Shiv Temple over a Samadhi in J&K.
The story goes that Raja Tegh Chand of Chenani (1800-1830) had no male issue. As a result of conspiracy of greedy courtiers of Chenani Darbar, Raja Tegh Chand declared that after his death, his daughter will occupy the throne of Chenani state. He appointed Basava Chand, son of third brother of Raja to assist his daughter in administrative affairs of Chenani. Pertinent to mention that as per family tradition Dayal Chand, son of second brother of Tegh Chand was next in order of succession after the King’s death.
After the death of Raja Tegh Chand in 1830 AD, Dayal Chand came to Chenani from his Sudhmahadev ‘Jagir’ and participated in last rituals of late king. After the ritual of ‘Karma’ on 13th day, Dayal Chand presented his genuine claim on throne of Chenani state in the open court. His claim was forcefully rejected by Basava Chand, in-laws of king’s daughter, and also by some clever courtiers of Chenani state. Dayal Chand left Chenani with a sense of insult and humiliation at the hands of unjustified claimants of throne of Chenani. He gathered the support of some locals of Chenani. He strengthened his position and arranged large quantity of arms and ammunition in the underground chambers of his Haweli at Sudhmahadev adjoining Shiv Temple. He raised well equipped and motivated army of local youth. When Basava Chand came to know about the activities of Dayal Chand, he became alert. He got assistance from the in-laws of late king’s daughter. The situation became critical between two parties.
The fateful day arrived. Basava Chand left Chenani with his strong army and encamped at Gali-Karlah, a hill top near Gouri-Kund for an early morning attack on Dayal Chand’s camp at Sudhmahadev. Dayal Chand had prior information about movement of Chenani troops, so he decided to strike first with element of surprise. At mid-night when the army of Basava Chand was sleeping in the camps, Dayal Chand encircled the army of Basava Chand from all sides by crawling up the hill in dead of night. Getting signal from Dayal Chand, his army launched surprise attack on sleeping men of Basava Chand with full force. Before Basava Chand could understand something, half of his men got killed in confusion. The fearsome tales of this conflict are fresh in the minds of locals, who say that the nearby Talab got filled with the blood of soldiers. With his remaining men, Basava Chand ran towards Patnitop. The army of Dayal Chand followed him. In the jungle fight which continued for some days, the army of Basava Chand suffered heavy loss and he was left with only few bodyguards.
On one clear day, he was seen in the lower area of Nathatop in Mandlote village. He was asked to surrender. Seeing his end near, Basava Chand threw his arms and sat in the open ground and started worshipping Lord Shiva loudly. Before Dayal Chand could decide anything, one of his bodyguards suddenly came forward and beheaded Basava Chand. Dayal Chand came to Chenani and had Raj Tilak.
After some days, the soul of Basava Chand started harming Raja Dayal Chand in many ways through ill effects of murder. The king was greatly disturbed as every kind of eatables got spoiled in the utensils and even the glass of water turned bloody. The king consulted many persons and tantriks for removal of ill effects of murder of Basava Chand. Finally it was decided that the king should perform Pind-Daan of Basava Chand at Haridwar and construct a Samadhi of Basava Chand there and on this Samadhi a Shiv Temple should be constructed to calm down and pacify the disturbed soul of Basava Chand forever. Accordingly Pind-daan of Basava Chand was held at Haridwar and a Samadhi was constructed there. Soon after the construction of Shiv Temple over the Samadhi, the harmful effects of murder was removed and everything became normal for the King.
This stone made temple is more than 180 years old, without any repair and renovation. Raja Dayal Chand had donated full area of Haridwar for the maintenance of this temple. A local Goswami family looks after the affairs of this temple. Sh. Subhash Gir is the present Mahant of this temple. A large ‘SARAI’ was also constructed at this place by Chenani kings with free langer facilities. In the front wall of temple, stone carved idols of God Ganesha and other prominent Gods have been installed and a ‘Nandi’ in the compound. Inside Shiv Temple there is Shiv Rudra established and there is no other idol.
Once Raja Kedar Chand grandson of Raja Dayal Chand of Chenani halted at Haridwar for some time during his field visit. He was so impressed with scenic beauty and calmness at Haridwar that he constructed a beautiful Haveli there. He also constructed a BOWLI near the temple which is known as Raja Ki Bowli till date. Mahant Inder Gir of Haridwar became his close friend. Raja declared Haridwar as his Summer Camp office. This was golden period for the development of Haridwar. Raja-Ki-Haveli is unique architectural construction with well designed arches and stylish ventilators decorated with multi-coloured glass pieces of different size. The windows are well designed with wooden mesh at regular intervals for exchange of fresh air with ‘Baradari’ like looks. The wooden ceiling was decorated by fixing small wooden pieces of different geometrical formations. The Haveli was divided into different compartments. After the death of Raja Kedar Chand, the Haveli was handed over to the Mahant family by Raja Ram Chand. Thereafter no repair has been done on this important building. The windows have been broken, coloured glasses taken away and roof ceiling and wooden structure damped badly. Due to lack of publicity, this important tirtha of Duggar Pradesh was completely sidelined and limited to local visitors only. The front portion of the temple has developed cracks in the walls and the compound is sliding down. Urgent repair of this temple is required for its safety.
Blessed are the people of Duggar land to have such great tirthas in their motherland. So the people of Duggar need not go anywhere for attaining salvation as the Supreme God of the Universe Lord Shiva has blessed this land with Holy rivulets and ancient temples of Great religious reverence. These great Tirthas of Sudhmahadev-Mantalai qualify to be grouped into a separate Religious Pilgrimage Development Authority for highlighting their glories at National level. Tourism Department and PDA Kud should formulate action plan for all these developments.
(The author is former Zonal Education Officer, Chenani)
Rajinder Chand Anthal