Hidden in the Himalayas History & Culture

Shrine for Duryodhana!

The wooden three-chambered temple at Osla  

In his quest for the Pandavas during their fourteen year period of exile, Duryodhana reached the Jaunsar- Bawal regions in the Garhwal Himalaya. The enthralling beauty of this region compelled him to stay here with his entourage. He appealed to Lord Mahasu, the reigning God of these climes to bless him with a piece of the valley, where he may reign and look after the affairs of the people. He was permitted to do so by divine will.

About 13 km from Sankri, on the steep mountainous trail to Har Ki Doon, the temple at Osla, dedicated to Duryodhana, was built by the inhabitants of Saur. Hill folk of the upper river valleys of the Tons, Yamuna, Bhagirathi, Balganga and Bhilganga also engage in the worship of this foremost Kaurava king, as also the residents of Jakhol, Osla, Gangar and Datmir.

When the Kauravas were defeated and Duryodhana was killed in the epic war of Kurukshethra, his followers wept profusely. Their tears became the river called Tamas, which means sorrow, known currently as the Tons River.

The Sayanas and the Bajgis of the Jaunsar-Bawar district of the Garhwal Himalaya along with the head pujari, reverentially carry the icon of their God and protector, the ‘notorious’ Duryodhana from Jakhol on the 21st of Ashada month. From here on the idol travels to the Fitari village in Mori district, then to Kotegaon, thereafter to Datmir and after 20 days the colourful doli procession culminates at Osla. On the 15th day of Pausha the idol is welcomed back at Jakhol where a euphoric celebration awaits him with pipes and drums playing devotional hill melodies.

Here is a religious cult that celebrates a festival in honour of the chief antagonist of the Mahabharatha, Suyodhana Dhritharashtra (the son of Dhrithrashtra) with solemnity and grandeur!

The wooden three-chambered temple at Osla is very appealing with its exquisitely carved pillars. The 5,000-year-old ritual of the drum being played thrice a day in honour of their beloved king Duryodhana continues even today. Dehradun gets its name from Duryodhan.

Dedicated to Siva

Today, with Mahabharath, the epic being picturised on the Television, this group of ardent followers of Duryodhan have understood that their ‘benefactor’ is more a villain than a hero, hence a portion of the populace have distanced themselves from Duryodhana and dedicated the temple at Osla to Siva. There are temples dedicated to Dhanveer Karna too in this area!

Poruvazhy Peruviruthy Malanada is the only temple in the South that is dedicated to the first of the dishonourable Kauravas, Duryodhana. This is in Kerala.

The writers are ace photographers known for their travelogues

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 2:36:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/a-temple-for-duryodhana-in-the-himalayas/article18425964.ece

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