Cradled in the lap of the snow- capped mountain peaks of the Himalayan ranges, in the proximity of the river Ravi, lies the mystic valley of Chamba with the sacred Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva.
Raja Maru Varman, who founded the state of Brahampur in what constitutes part of northwestern India, captured the valley in the 6th century AD. In the 10th century AD, Sahil Varman, his great-grandson, built a second capital and named it Chamba after his only daughter Champawati.
It was thus that the erstwhile state of Chamba came into existence where one family ruled unit as recently as 1956, in post-colonial India.
This book narrates the myriad tales of this mystic land, its people and their profound beliefs in myths, folkores, folkales and the concept of rebirth. These people, being staunch devotees of Lord Shiva, believe that the true abode of Lord Shiva lies at Mount Kailash in Chamba and not in Mansarovar in China. The land is famous for its ancient temples and sacred waterfall-cum-lake and continues to be called the Valley of Gods and Goddesses.
The author, Dr. Krishna Raj Vir Singh Yadav, MS, FRACS, FICS, and MNAMS, is currently a Senior Consultant in Pediatric surgery at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. She received her professional training in General cum Pediatric Surgery from Australia, being the first Asian female to receive an FRACS and gain membership of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and of the Association of Pediatrics of Australia. Upon her return to Indian, She served in the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh as a clinician, teacher and medical researcher.
She eventually went on to head the Department of Pediatric Surgery in the Institute. She has to her credit, several books on her own specialty and over a hundred scientific papers published in various national and international medical journal. She has also held the office of chief Editor of the Journal of Pediatric surgery in Developing Countries. She was also nominated by the vice President of India to the Senate of Punjab University for 1997-2001
Her interest in feudal India commenced during her first visit to a remote village in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which resulted in the Zamidar’s Bahu, the first non- scientific book of her career. This was followed by Janams centered the concept of re-birth.
Kailash-The mystic land of Shiva was conquered by Raja Maru Varman from its earlier rulers, the Ranas and Thakurs. Raja Maru Varman Called Himself a Survanshi (of the sun Dynasty) and a descendant of Lord Rama. He established his first capital Bharamaur in the 6th century AD. The Kingdom comprised of valleys on either side of the river Buddhal, a tributary of the river Ravi, that emanates from the highest peak of the land, Mount Kailash. The population at that time was scanty and three- quarters of its comprised the Gaddis, Gujjars and Rajputs. They worshipped Lord and Devi Durga. They were of the firm belief that the abode of Lord Shiva was at Mount Kailash and that their land was as sacred as Mathura, Varnasi or Haridwar. They termed their land ‘Shiv-Bhumi’ in their own language.
No one to date has ever climed up this holy mountain to see the abode of Lord Shiva except a Sippy boy, Trilochn, at tailor by profession, whom the Lord himself invited to sew his Chola (the Gaddi dress in the form of a long coat). The route that boy took with the Lord, went across hills and the holy lake situated at the foothills of Mount Kailash. This narrow trail became the pilgrimage route for devotees to visit Mani-Mahesh – Shiva in the Pahari language) twice a year. People who witnessed the unusual happenings that took place in this sacred land brought them to the notice of others through sayings, legends, folktales, folklores and myths. However, written documents are almost non-existent. The second capital was established by the grandson of Raja Maru Varman, known as Raja Sahil Varman in the 10th century AD. He named the new capital city and the state after his only daughter champawati. The state ‘Chamba’, Sheltered by its snow-clad mountain barriers had the rare good fortune of escaping the successive onslaughts of Muslim invasions. This was the reason that this hill state. Unlike the plains
Plain of the Punjab, has better-preserved old monuments, ancient remains and wealth. The Varman royal family ruled the state from the 6th Century AD till 1956, when the feudal royal states were abolished by the national government of independent India.
The state is a land of temples. The numerous ancient temples can be divided in to two types, Namely the hill and the plain temples. The ancient hill temples of Bharamaur are built of wood, mud and stone with ornate woodcarvings. They are still well preserved from white ants that infest the region. They are smaller in size than those at chamba. (the number eighty-four in the Gaddi language); this place was named so when eighty-four siddha Yogis came from Kurukshetra durng the regain of Raja Sahil Varman. They stayed on and performed penance to seek Moksha (salvation). However, shree charpat nathji, the leader of these siddha Yogis left for an unknown place to perform severe penance after granting a boon toa the Raja, who was not destinedto have an offspring. Raja sahil varman, with the yogis’s blessings hadten sons and one daughter. Bharamaur was a rich city, known for its natural; wealth, law and order. It was destroyed by the massive earthquake that struck on April4, 1905, but these temples at chaurasi showed very little impact of the quake. The temples at chamba were built of stones and decorated with stone and wood carvings set by local artists. Thoughtthe shikhara temples originated in the plains during the late 8th century AD, All the temples in the complex of Lakshmi Narayan are of the Shikhara type . they are tall, have an umbrella shaped covering of wood or zinc placed over an around the amalaka stone, which forms the top of the shikhara spire to protect the building from heavy snow. Each temple has cella in which the image is placed but no anteroom or mandapa. Going through the history of the state, it I obvious to the reader that Shiva, Devi Durga, naga and the worship of other gods and goddesses represent the original cult of the hills, where Vishnuism was introduced in the late 9th and 10th centuries by Raja Sahil
Varman. During the inception of chamba, the raja met shree charpat nathji again. He requested him to become too. At chaurasi, raja sahil varman built small temples with shiv lingam for each siddha Yogi who sought Moksha. However, he could build only eighty-three such lingams because by then, the Siddha leader Shree charpat Nathji had left Chaurasi to perform penance for the holy power he had lost, and to seek rebirth. Before his departure he told his disciples that he would return to the same place after rebirth to seek moksha. This was the reason that the people of this land knew that Chaurasi would not be complete till reincarnation of Guru Charpat Nathij. It was in year 1917 that Gurditta Mal Mahajan, my late grandfather who was then Chief Engineer of the state witnessed the first miracle performed by a very young Naga Sadhu (whose age could not be guessed) at a place called Churah. He followed him but the sadhu disappeared from there. After some year the roadside labourers uncovered him from under the cover of thick snow chanting the mantra “Om Namo Shivai” up in the Dhanccho Range during the month of December. He settled down at Chaurasi some year later, after staying in natural caves, in the valley, around the sacred lake mani Mahesh and even in the open in dense forests. He prayed and performed many miracles uplifting the Gaddi Tribe by opening a school, getting motorable roads made from Chmba to Bharamaur and getting the Gaddis Declared as a backward tribe to get more government help for their young member to enter the main stream of the Indian administration. He died at an age that no one could guess but the common belief was that he was over a hundred year or more. His death resulted in the building of a shrine on the only vasant site at Chaurasi where Shree Charpat Nathji used to sit. This made the saying come true and with his death Chaurasi was completed on October 16, 1963.
The people of this state are innocent and staunch belivers of age-old customs, religion, Lord Shiva and Devi Durga but also of lesser gods and spirits. They are very superstitious and practice their own indigenous medicines. They are fond of dance and music and compos their own songs. They believe in reincarnation and I even saw some real examples of rebirth. Gaddis are known for their prediction of the birds and animals, besides astrology, and excel in business and trade.
They are fond of attending novalas, yatras, and fairs and celebrate every occasion in the name of Lord Shiva and Devi Durga. Novala is a sacred ritual very commonly Practiced by Gaddi and people night the celebration is carried out at Chakras in front of the temple of Mani Mahesh or even at home in Chamba. The women and men put on their best attire and dance in full swing in the bhang in milk to the Lord. At night there is a bonfire and the chela (priest) of Shiva goes into a trance. He makes predictions and only then the food is served with bhang, rice and meat as the ‘prashad’ of the Lord with his blessings. This is again followed by dancing and the chanting of devotional songs in praise of the Lord till midnight. It is visual feast to watch the dancing steps and body movements of these men and women. Every village in this sacred land has its own yatra which is held in honour of its local gods and goddesses. The people wear new clothes and gather in large numbers and the local God is brought out. The deity is dressed in fine clothes, placed on palanquin, which is carried by two men on their shoulders to the main temple.This is follows by attendants blowing trumpets and beating drums, and behind them the men and women walk singing devotional songs. The deity is then placed on a special outside the temple especially made for it. The men and women now sing and dance around the deity and offering of fruit, money and sweets are placed in front of it. The offering is complete only after a goat is sacrificed. The meat is cooked and offered as ‘prashad’. They celebrate whole night after eating and return home with the deity the next day. The fairs are many but Minjar fair and Sui are mainly celebrated at Chamba being the only annual celebrations at Chamba where the royal family participates and money is spent by the government. Sui is the only fair, exclusively attended by women, so much so, that even the hawkers are women and men are not allowed. This celebrated for the rani of sahil Varman who sacrificed her life to get water for the city of Chamba near the village the village Sui and it was named sui Mela.
Thought I was born and spent my growing years in this land, my interests in the mysticism of my birthplace and its people, their beliefs, folk tales fork fores and sayings grew as I started visiting the interiors of the state. Then I met my family Guru, shree 108 Jai Krishan Giriji Maharaj. I witnessed many miracles l and became his staunch devotee. Even now, the mysticism of this land casts its spell on those who visit it. The travelling though easier today may not be very comfortable on narrow hilly trails. The local people are outspoken and bold but that feeling of mysticism almost surrounds you as you try to get inside the valley known as the Vally of the God and Goddesses. Believe it or not but the ancient monuments, shrines and temples are there to vouch for what I have written in this book. Most of it is taken from local lore and a little from written documents, recorded during the British Raj.
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