Mela Ramkund Mendhar

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Mela Ramkund Mendhar

K.D Maini, Mela Ramkund Mendhar "Daily Excelsior" 27/1/2016

The Ramkund Shrine Mendhar

Every year Ramkund Mela is organized at Ramkund Mendhar on 14th of ‘Chaitra (March) and is known as ‘Mela Chetar Chodas’. Devotees from all parts of Poonch and Rajouri districts participate in it. After Ramayan Path, Kirtan, Bajan and Parvachans the devotees are take a dip in the holy Kunds of Ramkund, Sita Kund and Lakshman Kund. Since the temple is located in the village Narol where except Pujari no Hindu population resides even then the Mela is organized with the support of the natives of the area. Therefore it has becomes a symbol of communal harmony and composite cultural heritage of the people of this border district. The religious programme continues for one full day.

Ramkund is also a symbol of our ancient culture, art and traditions. This is the oldest temple in Poonch region. As per the archaeological report, this beautiful temple was built by Raja Lalita ditya (i.e. between 724 AD and 761 AD). Its style, architecture and the age of the temple is the same as of those temples built by Raja Lalitaditya in Kashmir. This temple having very attractive look and history is embedded in the past from the religious point of view, but remained out of sight due to locational disadvantages. Now this old shrine is regaining its erstwhile status.

Ramkund temple is located in a sleepy village Narol of Mendhar tehsil 62 kilometers from Poonch township. This important religious place is located in a deep gorge at the foothill of Shah Star Range of mountains from all sides. At present, there are three sacred ponds apart from the ancient temple. They are known as Ram Kund, Lachman Kund and Sita Kund. Ramkund is the bigger in size (25’ X 25’), than Lachman Kund and Sita Kund and a bit elevated from the other two. A spring water emerges exactly on the northern side of Ramkund. The water of this spring pours into Ramkund which overflows to Lakshman Kund and at last Sita Kund. The later is the smallest in size. These kunds have been excavated in such a way that the water of spring after filling all the kunds flows out in Nallah. On the eastern side of Ramkund, there is a historical temple of 8th century. Stone structure stair case begins from the eastern side of Ramkund upto the entrance of the temple. At present, there is an idol of Hanuman which was installed in the temple in the recent past. On the northern side, a small structure houses the residence of Pujari and a cowshed. A ‘Kutiya’ has also been constructed near the temple for ‘Sadhus’ and pilgrims. The western side of this Holy place is surrounded by banana trees and small garden of plums which gives this place look of an ‘Ashraam’.

As per Rajtarangi of Kalhan a there is very interesting story behind the construction of this temple. Kalhan narrates that Raja Lalitaditya who was a great warrior and had converted Poonch town into Chawani (cantonment) of his forces named this place as Purn-Utsva (with the passage of time, this name became Poonch from Purn-Utsva). Kalhan writes that once Raja Lalitaditya left for hunting in the jungle and reached this place, in the evening. At this very solitary place, he saw in the nearby a girl singing a devotional song while a beautiful girl was dancing in this uninhabited place. When the devotional song was over, both the girl bowed their heads at this place and left. The next day also the same course was repeated by the same girls. Then Raja Lalitaditya came before these girls and enquired from them why they were dancing and singing their devotional song at a lonely place in the jungle. The girls replied that they were Dev dasis and doing so on the direction of their mothers and grand mothers. “This is our traditional job but we do not know the reason of our dancing at this place”. Raja thought that there may be some sacred place in the past at that spot. Next day he ordered for the excavation of that particular place where the Devdasis were offering prayer in the evening. After some excavation, two old temples came out on the surface from the earth whose doors were shut. When Raja opened the door, he saw that two idols of Keshav were installed there. On the back of these idols, it was engraved that these idols were installed by Ramchander Ji during his visit to Kashmir. Raja Lalitaditya took out these idols to Kashmir along with him and he installed the idol of Ram Chander Ji in the temple of Vishnu Parihas in Parbaarspur, while the second idol was taken by the Queen and she installed it in Chakrshveri temple.

It appears that while taking the original idols from Ramkund temple, Raja Lalita Ditya got renovated or reconstructed the original excavated monument with some additions and converted this place into the important religious shrine. No doubt that Raja Lalita Ditya had built Poonch city but at present, there is no such building existing on the ground of Lalita Ditya’s time except Ramkund temple Mendhar. This is the only temple in this region which indicates the construction of Lalita Ditya in Poonch district.

Mr. Stein translated Rajtringani of Kalhan. Stein visited Poonch in 1892 AD and identified number of places like Loharkote (Loran). Attalika (Atoli). Saramber (Chamber Kanari) Sawvernik (Surankote) mentioned in the Rajtringani. But he could not identified Ram Kund Temple of Raja Lalitaditaya’s time because this temple was located in a unknown place which was far away from the main route leading towards Kashmir in those days. All the habitants of this area were non-Hindus. Even most of the Hindus knew very little about this shrine in the past. Therefore, they could not talk about this temple to Stein indicated that this temple can be located in the Southern side of Kashmir.

The other proof is that the Devdasis reported to Raja Lalitaditya that they belonged to a nearby village known as Sover Dehmana at that time. This village still exists near Narol (where temple exists) and known as Dharana instead of Dehmana. Therefore, on the facts given above, it is clear that Ramkund is the same temple which was excavated and reconstructed by Raja Lalitaditya in 8th Century.

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