Friday, June 18, 2010

Garh Bairat - Pandava's Abode in Exile

Garh Bairat - once Agyatwas shelter of Pandavas in urgent need of Revival from Ruins

Whole of Jaunsar Bawar is replete with tails of the bravery of the Pandavas. Different places have unique accounts about their life in the area. Geo-physical evidences cited by locals, provide details about their journey and the times spent here. Lakha Mandal, Gora Ghati, Shiddi Village, Dungyara, Charata, Kalsi, etc have been differently linked to the Pandavas.
However, amidst all this one place distinctly stand out, as it has not only a number stories associated with it, but there is a heap of architectural evidence which are lying in ruins. Known as Garh Bairat, the ruins of a mountain top Fort have fallen walls and grounded structures spread out seeking attention of the world. Now a deserted place, the old glory must be dazzled watching cattle use it as a care-free fodder hunting ground.
The critical significance of this Garh Bairat fort is demonstrated in the fact that the Pandava's used this place to secretly spend their one year's hiding in exile, called “Agyatwas”. This one year was very crucial for the Pandavas . As the story goes, had anyone found them out during this period, the 13th year of their exile, the Pandavas would have been required to again go through an exile of 12 years plus one year of Agyatwas.
No wonder the Pandavas chose king Bairat’s kingdom near modern day town of Nagthat to fulfill their part of commitment. The kingdom was highly difficult to access with its deep and trecheriuos drenches in the mountainous terrains of Jaunsar Bawar. To the southern and eastern side of this area lies the Yamuna and to the west river Amlawa. The altitude of about 2500 metres above sea-level, made it perhaps an ideal place for the Pandavas. Not so far from Kalsi, the gateway to the area, the Garh Bairat provided an opportunity to the Pandavas to keep an eye on the movements and efforts of Kauravas to locate and find them. It is said that the Place was a Fort - cum - Palace of Raja Bairat after whom the place drew its name. Located at hill-top called “Garh Bairat Ka Teema’, the fallen Palace walls and court-yards show that the Fort-cum-palace must have been a grand structure even by today’s standards. The large-scale use of cut-stones in square shaped complex shows as to how developed was the architecture of those days. These stones are strewn all around upto a distance of about 100 feet on the mountain slope.
Security Bay
Further down hill there is a discernible trace of a security bay/drench about 20 feet wide and even today has a depth of about five feet. It must have had a much higher depth in those days. This bay is dug all around the Palace at a distance of about 100 mteres from main palace wall. With time, significant part of the drench have been filled up by land slides/debris. It was perhaps strategically dug with a view to make this spot more secured as any visitor was first required to go down and then climb out of the bay if he wanted to approach the palace. The Bay was guarded by Security Posts on all Four corners of the Palace. Each Post was separated by distance of approximately 200 feet in such a way that one Post could communicate with two posts on iether side.

10 Feet wide path-way to connect Four-Corners
There are traces of about 10 feet wide path-way on the pattern of the Great Wall of China interlinking the security posts. This perhaps facilitated smooth troop movements in case of need.

The Great Well
A very significant feature of the Garh Bairat fort is its Great Well. This has been built with bricks akin to ones described in Indus valley sites. The Well is said to have been dug down to the level of river Yamuna, a depth of about 2000 metres! Sadly, the well is now left with a depth of only about five feet. Over centuries of isolation and neglect, the Well seems to have been covered to a great extent by erosion coupled a delibrate effort of local inhabitants, basically agrarian society, to safeguard their cattle roaming about from falling into the great depth of the Well.

The Lord Mashasu destroys Samu Sah, a wicked Ruler
A folklore song of Pahadi Diwali tells the story of a cruel king of this place, named Samu Sah. His appetite for human-milk made kids of the region die of hunger. On prayers of local populace God Mahasu caused the end of evil king Samu Sah. In reverence to the Lord a second Temple of the God Mahasu, after the First one at Hanol, was set up at the nearby village of Thaina.
The ruins very much clamour for more studies, research and of course better upkeep and above all its revival.

Here is a video clip of a recent visit to the historical site :

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