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Uttarakhand: Temples devoted to Duryodhana and Karna of Epic Mahabharata

The residents of both the villages are more than happy to be associated with the eldest of the Kauravas and the abandoned son of Kunti

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Gada Yuddha in Mahabharata. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • The temple in Jakholi was built by local inhabitants Saur, who worship the Kauravas as their ancestors
  • The picture is completely different in Netwar, the residents are honoured of their lineage associated to Karna
  • Other temples of the Kaurava prince can be seen at Osla, Gangar and Datmir

Ever heard of a temple dedicated to someone who is widely regarded as a villain? Well, even if you haven’t, the land of gods, Uttarakhand is full of such surprises. The state has a temple dedicated to chief antagonist Duryodhana and anti-hero Karna from the Hindu epic Mahabharata.

The temples are nestled in the remote corner of Uttarakhand and both have an inimitable story attached to their establishment.

It is almost intriguing, the way people of Netwar village in Tons valley of Uttarkashi take pride in the Karna temple located in their village.

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Jakholi is only a few kilometres from Netwar and the residents of both the villages are more than happy to be associated with the eldest of the Kauravas and the abandoned son of Kunti.

Duryodhana on battlefield Image Source: New Indian Express

The temple in Jakholi was built by local inhabitants Saur, who worship the Kauravas as their ancestors. Legends have it that the local people wept so much at the death of Duryodhana in the battle of Kurukshetra that their tears became a river named Tamas (meaning sorrow).

Tamas also known as Tons, is still not used for drinking purposes as the local belief goes that the tear still continues to flow.

Duryodhana Temple is located 13 km from Sankri. He is worshipped in the upper valleys of the rivers Tons, Yamuna, Bhagirathi, Balganga and Bhilangna.

To the disappointment of some, it is now converted into a Shiva temple, but it has still managed to retain a gold-plated axe, which is believed to have once belonged to the Kaurava prince.

While Janak Singh Rawat, head of the temple committee, rejected any association with the Kaurava and claimed, “Our deity has always been Lord Shiva.”

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A villager on speaking to Times of India confirmed that the temple once had strong roots attached to Duryodhana and revealed, “almost nine years ago, the villagers decided to distance themselves from Duryodhana as they believed that any association with this Mahabharata character was only giving them a bad name.”

Duryodhana temple in Uttarakhand Image Source: Speaking Tree
Duryodhana temple in Uttarakhand. Image Source: Speaking Tree

It is interesting to note that there are other temples in the country as well where the Kaurava prince is worshipped, which can be seen at Osla, Gangar and Datmir.

The picture is completely different in Netwar, the residents are honoured of their lineage with ‘daan veer’(sacrificing) Karna.

The village is regularly engaged in philanthropic and charitable activities that are carried out by the funds donated by each family.

Manmohan Prasad Nautiyal, the village pradhan, told, “Karna is our ideal and our deity. We try to follow his charitable and philanthropic ideals fully. The dowry system has been officially abolished by the village committee. He said animal sacrifice was also banned.”

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  • Aparna Gupta

    There is also a temple in Kerala which is dedicated to Shakuni of Mahabharata. Its amazing that we have temples dedicated to villains.

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Uttarakhand High Court Bans the Use of Red Chilli Powder to Drive Away Elephants

Sackfuls of chilli powder and chilly bombs were used by people living on the outskirts of the 11 Elephant corridors in the state to shoo away Elephants

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Elephants
Sackfuls of chilli powder and chilly bombs were used by people living on the outskirts of the 11 Elephant corridors in the state to shoo away Elephants and reduce man-animal conflict in the region. Pixabay

After the Uttarakhand High Court banned the practice of using red chillies and chilly bombs to drive away the elephants, the local people are at their wit’s end now.

Sackfuls of chilli powder and chilly bombs were used by people living on the outskirts of the 11 elephant corridors in the state to shoo away elephants and reduce man-animal conflict in the region. However, the High Court put a stop to this on Tuesday.

The elephants from Nepal, as well as the Terai region in Uttar Pradesh, travel to Ramnagar, Corbett and the Kosi river, crossing the patch of the National Highway 121 along which the three elephant corridors — Kota, Chilkiya – Kota, and South Patlidun – Chilkiya are located.

With increasing human population, the corridors have shrunk over the years, bringing the elephants closer to human habitats.

The people living on the outskirts of these corridors, over the years, devised a method of warding off the wild Tuskers. They used to place bags of chilli powder on the outskirts of the settlement and the moment they saw a herd of pachyderms, they would fling the chilli powder into the air. The elephants were forced to retreat.

“The elephants do not come back for a week or so. For the past few years there has been an increase in the elephant population in the area and the animals not only destroy our crops but also attack people. We have no option but to use chili powder because the government is doing nothing,” said Ramesh Tiwari, a resident of Nandpur village.

He admitted that the use of chilli against the elephants was the ‘cheapest and safest option because it did not kill the animal.’ Most of the farmers in the region plant sugarcane which, in turn, attracts the elephants.

In the past one year, there have been over 20 incidents of elephants attacking people.

However, a Public Interest litigation (PIL) was recently filed by a Noida based non-government organisation called ‘Independent Medical Initiative Society’.

Elephants
The three major elephant corridors of Golapar, Fatehpur-Lamachaur and Lalkuan near Haldwani have seen mushrooming of human settlements, thus reducing the age-old path of the Elephants. Pixabay

The petition alleged that the forest department, instead of controlling the human activities on the road passing through these elephant corridors, is trying to control the elephants’ movement by allowing cruel means such as feeding chilli powder-filled flour balls to the wild elephants, putting chilli powder-filled bags on the edge of the road and by firing shots and burning firecrackers to keep them away from the road passing through the elephant corridor.

Dushyant Mainali, the counsel for the petitioner, said: “The division bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma has banned the use of chilli powder and any other such cruel means against the elephants. The court has also issued directives to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The Ministry has been directed to file the reply within two weeks.”

The petitioner told the court that the “disappointment and frustration due to difficulties in crossing the corridor, are changing the behaviour of elephants in the entire area. The chief reason of concern is the changing behaviour of the baby elephants, which are becoming aggressive day by day and have been found to be involved in most of the incidents of charging.”

According to reports, the corridors are also facing the threat from sand mining in nearby areas, and also a large number of resorts have come up which have increased the traffic flow through the river corridor, thereby disturbing the elephants.

The petition claimed that in the past one year there has been tremendous rise in the human-elephant conflict in the corridors passing on the edge of Corbett National Park and especially on the patch of the Mohaan-Ramnagar Road which is part of NH-121.

Wildlife expert S. R. Rahi said that an elephant requires about 225 litres of water per day and for this the herd of the wild elephants have to travel towards river Kosi and mostly in the night time when it is believed to be safe for them to cross the corridors, but now they are facing the wrath of fast-moving vehicles even during the night time.

The three major elephant corridors of Golapar, Fatehpur-Lamachaur and Lalkuan near Haldwani have seen mushrooming of human settlements, thus reducing the age-old path of the elephants.

The Surai-Kilpura elephant corridor near Khatima is also witnessing an increase of human settlement. Three of these corridors adjoining the Ramnagar-Mohaan border include 27 kms of highway.

Elephants
The Elephants from Nepal, as well as the Terai region in Uttar Pradesh, travel to Ramnagar, Corbett and the Kosi river, crossing the patch of the National Highway 121 along which the three elephant corridors — Kota, Chilkiya – Kota, and South Patlidun – Chilkiya are located. Pixabay

The elephant corridor in Dhikuli area has more than 150 commercial constructions due to which it is completely blocked. Construction in the Mohaan area and vehicular traffic during the night time is hampering the elephants from reaching the Kosi River.

Marriages, parties and the noise generated at commercial buildings and resorts at night is also causing disturbance to the wild animals.

Instead of preventing human interference in the forest areas, the forest department is allowing chili powder and crackers to prevent the pachyderm from coming onto the highway.

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“There are 11 functional corridors in Uttarakhand, but human activities are increasing around the age-old corridors. Elephants are distance migratory animal with sharp memory and if someone attacks them, they remember to return the attack,” said Rahi. (IANS)