Mahoba

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Mahoba-district-map

Mahoba (महोबा) is a city and District of Uttar Pradesh, in the Bundelkhand region. It is also known as Mahoutsav-Nagar, means city of festival. Mahoba is known for its closeness to Khajuraho, Laundi and other historic places like Kulpahar, Charkhari, Kalinjar, Orchha, and Jhansi.

Associated Jat Gotras

History

Mahoba was the capital of the Chandels, who ruled Bundelkhand from the 10th to the 16th centuries. The Chandel king Vijaypal (1035–1045) built the Vijay-sagar reservoir, one of several artificial lakes in Mahoba created by the Chandel rulers. During the reign of king Paramardi (c. 1165-?), the Chauhan king Prithviraj III of Delhi and Ajmer captured Mahoba c. 1182, despite the resistance of his generals Alha & Udal. The Chandelas recaptured Mahoba a few years later, but the city was captured by the Muslim general Qutb-ud-din Aybak, later Sultan of Delhi, in 1203.

The Chandel ruler Keerat Pal Singh recaptured Mahoba in the 14th century. Emperor Sher Shah Suri campaigned against the Chandelas, and captured Mahoba before dying while besieging Kalinjar in 1545. The Mughal emperor Akbar captured Mahoba a few decades later.

The Bundela leader Maharaja Chhatrasal captured Mahoba in 1680, during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Upon his death in 1732, Chhatra Sal bequeathed Mahoba and the surrounding area to the Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao I in return for Baji Rao's assistance against the Mughals. The Marathas ruled Mahoba until 1803, when it was ceded to British India by the Treaty of Bassein. Mahoba was made a subdivision of Hamirpur District.

James Tod[1] writes that The warriors assembled under Visaladeva Chauhan against the Islam invader included the Chandels, who contended with Pirthi Raj, who deprived them of Mahoba and Kalinjar, and all modern Bundelkhand.


Ancient history

The name Mahoba is derived from 'Mahotsav Nagar', the city of great festivals, which were celebrated here by Chandra-Verman or Nannuka, The traditional founder of the Chandella Dynasty.

The Bardic tradition preserves three other names of the City: Kekaipur, Patanpur and Ratanpur. These names are said to have been current in the Treta and Dwapar Yugas. The existence of the sacred 'Ram-Kund' and 'Seeta-Rasoi' cave at the Gokhar hill here are said to be monumental to the visit of Rama who widely treated this hilly region while in 14-year exile at Chitrakoot.

Before the rise of Chandels, Mahoba was held by the Gahadvala and Pratihara clans. The Chandela ruler Chandra-Verman, who hailed from Maniagarh, his birth place near Panna, took it over from Pratihar rulers and adopted it as his Capital. Later, Vakpati, Jejja, Vijai Shakti and Rahila-deva succeeded him.

Among the later Chandel rulers whose names are particularly associated with the local monuments are Vijai-pal (1035–1045 AD) who built the Vijai-sagar lake, Keerti-Verman (1060-1100 AD) built Keerat sagar tank and Madan-Verman (1128-1164 AD) who built Madan Sagar. The last prominent Chandel ruler was Parmardi-deva or Parmal whose name is still popular due to the heroic deeds of his two Generals Alha and Udala who own many battles. The court poet Jagnik Rao has made their names immortal through his popular ballad (Veer-Kavya) 'Alha-Khand'. It is recited throughout the Hindi speaking masses in the country. In 1860 AD an English Officer of the East India Company, Mr. William Waterfield was so impressed with the ballad that he translated it into English under the title name of 'Lay of Alha' which was published by the Oxford University Press of England. Another prominent scripture which has an account of Mahoba's grandeur is the Jain text 'Prabhandh-kosh' which refers to its magnificence which could only be realized and not described.

The reign of Parmardi-deva or Parmal, the Fifteen ruler of the dynasty, witnessed the fall of Mahoba. In 1182 A.D.differences arose between Parmala and Delhi king Prithviraj who gave an ultimatum lying certain conditions to be fulfilled by Parmala or to surrender. He made seize of Mahoba and his General Chaumund Rai even made a surprise attack on the Kajli procession of queen Malhna who hadgone to Keerat Sagar tank to offer Kajli Pooja on the Raksha-Bandhan day. A grim fight ensued in which Mahoba warriors:Udala, Brahma, Ranjeet, and Abhai (son of Mahila) repulsed the attack and Chaumund-Rai had to flee to his base camp at Pachpahara. The Kajli-Pooja was consequently celebrated the next day and that tradition continues to be followed even to this date. The third day is observed as a Victory Day and a thanks-giving Pooja is performed to Lord Shiva, Gajantak Shiva idol on Gokhar hill.

Later, the Chauhan King Prithvi Raj captured Mahoba despite the brave fight put up by the Banafer brothers, Alha and Udal. Other warriors of Mahoba, viz. Udal, Brahma, Malkhan, Sulkhan, Dheba and Tala Saiyyad, etc., laid down their lives in the battle. Parmala had to retreat to Kalinjar leaving Mahoba in the hands of the conqueror. Prithvi Raj appointed his Thanapati Pajjun Rai as his administrator. A few years later, he was driven out by Samarjeet, son of Parmala. This, however, could not stop the beginning of the end of Chandella rule. Two decades later, Qutubuddin Aibek vanquised Mahoba and Kalinjar in 1203 A.D. Aibk took away immense booty with thousands of artisans as prisoners. He deported most of them to Ghazni as slaves, who constructed beautiful buildings there. Later, Trailokya Verman, another son of Parmala, recovered Mahoba and Kalinjar but the Chandellas lost their eminence. Mahoba lost its independence and became part of the Delhi Sultanate.

After about two centuries of obscurity a notable Chandel ruler Keerat Pal Singh rose to power and re-established his domain over Kalinjar and Mahoba. His illustrious daughter Durgavati was married to Gond ruler Dalpat-shah of Garh Mandla(near Jabalpur) in 1543 A.D. Later, Keerat Pal Singh battled bravely with Sher Shah Suri, while defending Kalinjar fort in 1545. Sher Shah, however, captured the fort after a prolonged fight but was killed in an explosion while directing final assault on the fort.

Rani Durgavati's deeds

The account of Rani Durgavati's deeds is most glorious. She administered her territory admirably well after the death of Raja Dalpat Shah and in 1564 A.D. gallantly resisted the unprovoked aggression of Mughal emperor Akbar, whose general Asif Khan attracted Garh Mandla to annex Rani's territory. The Rani gave a brave fight but lost her life in the battle-field.

In the post Chandella period the history of Mahoba gets obscure. It was under the reign of Delhi Sultans. Local traditions ascribe and associate Bhars, Gonds and Khangar clans who held its administration from time to time. However, during the reign of Akbar, it was constituted into a 'Mahal' in the Sarkar of Kalinjar within the Suba of Allahabad. According to 'Aine-Akbari, it had an area of 82000 Bighas yielding a revenue of over 40,42000 Dams in addition to 12000 Pans (Betel-leaves) to the Moghal Darbar. Mahoba has been famous for its betal-leaves cultivation ever since the first Chandella ruler Chandra-Verman who adopted it as his capital. During the Moghal period the revenue assessment of Mahoba suggests a high degree of prosperity in comparison to the neighbouring 'Mahals'.

Later, with the rise of Chhatrasal Bundela, Mahoba passed under his sway but failed to acquire and kind of pre-eminence. In the 17th century Chhatrasal declared independence and put a stiff resistance against Aurangzeb. He established a Bundella Principality and Bahadur Shah Moghal had to confirm all his acquisitions in the area called 'Bundelkhand'. There was a revival of hostilities during the region of reign of Farrukhsiyar when his general Mohammed Khan Bangash invaded Bundelkhand in the year 1729 AD. and the aged ruler Chatrasal had to seek aid from Peshwa Baji rao. His 'Maratha' army of 70,000 men dashed from Indore (Malwa) and encamped at Mahoba. They surrounded forces of nawab Banghash who had captured Jaitpur, Belatal, Mudhari and Kulpahar etc. The Peshwa inflicted a crushing defeat over the Nawab by annihilating his forces in the dense forests of Jaitpur, Mudhari and Salat etc. In return for this help, Chhatrasal bequeathed one third of his dominion to the Maratha Chieftain. That part included Mahoba, Shri Nagar, Jaitpur, Kulpahar etc. Later, under the treaty Bessien in 1803 AD the marathas ceded Bundelkhand area to British rulers. Its administration was, however, carried over by the subedar of Jalaun until 1858 AD when it was finally annexed by the East India Company. Mahoba was made the head-quarter of a sub-division in the district of Hamirpur. Its later history is un-eventful except for the local revolt in the first freedom struggle of 1857 AD when the British Sub-divisional Magistrate, Mr Carne, had to flee and seek refuge in the nearby Charkhari estate which was being ruled by Raja Ratan Singh. The Rani of Jhansi, got annoyed over this betrayal of Raja and deputed her general Tantia Tope to attack Charkhari and capture Mr. Carne.Raja Ratan Singh surrendered and entered into a treaty with Tantya Tope. Mahoba was then under the rule of rebels whom the British General Whitloack defeated and restored British rule. He arrested a large number of local rebels and hanged some of the prominent men on the trees in the vicinity called Haveli Darwaza. A "Shaheed Mela" is now annually held there to commemorate the memory of those rebels.

In Puranas

According to Bhavishya Puran (भविष्य पुराण), Mahoba was earlier known as 'Mahavati Nagar' (महावती नगर). Mahavati nagar was established by Mahamaya (महामाया), Devi jee. During the rule of Agni dynasty rulers in Kaliyug (कलियुग ), the people have high moral values and follow the religion. In Kaliyug, morality of people should have been reduced because of Kaliyug, but Kaliyug's effect was neutralized by Agni dynasry rulers. Therefore, Kaliyug along with some Mlekshas (म्लेक्ष) went to Nilachal hills (नीलाचल पर्वत) and worshipped the God Krishna for 12 years. Then Krishna appeared and blessed him that he will be incarnated as Ahla (Ahlad) and Udal (Udai Singh) and will weaken the Agni dynasty rulers by fighting with them and will do something so that Mlekshas (म्लेक्ष) could conquer India and Kaliyug could have full effect among people of India. In Bhavishya Puran, Mahavati Nagar has been referred at least two times.

Mention by Xuanzang

Alexander Cunningham[2] writes that The ancient city of Mahoba is situated at the foot of a low granite hill, 54 miles to the south of Hamirpur, at the junction of the Betwa and Jumna, 34 miles to the north of Khajuraho. Its name is a contraction of Mahotsava-nagara, or the " City of the great festival," which was celebrated there by Chandra Varmma, the founder of the Chandel dynasty. It is said to have been 6 yojanas long and 2 broad, which is only the usual exaggeration of silly story-tellers for a large city. At its greatest extent, according to my observation, it could never have exceeded 1½ mile in length, from the small castle of Rai-kot on the west, to the Kalyan Sagar on the east. It is about 1 mile in breadth, which would give a circuit of 5 miles, but an area of only 1 square mile, as the south-west quarter is occupied by the Madan Sagar. Its population, therefore, at the most flourishing period, must have been under 100,000 persons, even allowing as high an average as one person to every 300 square feet. In 1843, when I resided at Mahoba for about six weeks, there were only 756 inhabited houses, with a population less than 4000 persons ; since then the place has somewhat increased, and is now said to possess 900 houses, and about 5000 inhabitants.


[p.486]: Mahoba is divided into three distinct portions :— 1st, Mahoba, or the city proper, to the north of the hill ; 2nd, Bihtari-kila, or the inner fort, on the top of the hill ; and 3rd, Dariba, or the city to the south of the hill.

To the west of the city lies the great lake of Kirat Sagar, about 1½ mile in circumference, which was constructed by Kirtti Varmma, who reigned from A.D. 1065 to 1085. To the south is the Madan Sugar, about 3 miles in circuit, which was constructed by Madana Varmma, who reigned from A.D. 1130 to 1165. To the east is the small lake of Kalyan Sagar, and beyond it lies the large deep lake of Vijay Sagar, which was constructed by Vijaya Pala, who ruled from A.D. 1045 to 1065. The last is the largest of the Mahoba lakes, being not less than 4 miles in circuit; but the most picturesque of all sheets of wator in the beautiful lake district of Bundelkhand is the Madan Sagar. On the west it is bounded by the singularly rugged granite hill of Gokar, on the north by ranges of ghats and temples at the foot of the old fort, and on the south-east by three rocky promontories that jut boldly out into the middle of the lake. Near the north side there is a rocky island, now covered with ruined buildings ; and towards the north-west corner there are two old granite temples of the Chandel princes, one altogether ruined, but the other still standing lofty and erect in the midst of the waters after the lapse of 700 years.

The traditional story of the foundation of Mahoba was originally given by the bard Chand, and has been copied by the local annalists.[3] According to the


[p.487]: legend, the Chandels are sprung from Hemavati, daughter of Hem-raj, the Brahman Purohit of Indrajit, Gahirwar Raja of Banaras. Hemavati was very beautiful, and one day when she went to bathe in the Rati Talab, she was seen and embraced by Chandrama, the god of the moon, as he was preparing to return to the skies. Hemavati cursed him. "Why do you curse me?" said Chandrama, "your son will be Lord of the Earth, and from him will spring a thousand branches." Hemavati inquired, " How shall my dishonour be effaced, when I am without a husband ? " " Fear not," replied Chandrama,, " your son will be born on the bank of the Karnavati river : then take him to Khajuraya, and offer him as a gift, and perform a sacrifice. In Mahoba he will reign, and will become a great king. He will possess the philosopher's stone, and will turn iron into gold. On the hill of Kalinjar he will build a fort ; when your son is 16 years of age, you must perform a Bhanda Jag to wipe away your disgrace, and then leave Banaras to live at Kalinjar."

According to this prophecy, Hemavati's child, like another Chandrama, was born on Monday the 11th of the waxing moon of Vaisakh on the bank of the Karnavati, the modern Kayan, or Kane river of the maps.[4] Then Chandrama, attended by all the gods, performed a " great festival" {Mahotsava), when Vrihaspati wrote his horoscope, and the child was named Chandra Varmma. At 16 years of age he killed a tiger, when Chandrama appeared to him and


[p.487]: pre-sented him with the philosopher's stone, and taught him polity {rajnit). Then he built the fort of Kalinjar, after which he went to Kharjurpur, where he performed a sacrifice {Jag or Yajnya) to do away with his mo tiler's shame, and built 85 temples. Then Chandravati Rani and all the other queens sat at the feet of Hemavati, and her disgrace was wiped away. Lastly he went to Mahotsava, or Mahoba, the place of Chandrama's " great festival," which he made his capital.

The date of this event is variously stated by the different authorities ; but according to the genealogies furnished by the inscriptions, the most probable period for the establishment of the Chandel dynasty, and the foundation of Mahoba, is about A.D. 800.

References

  1. James Tod: Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Volume II,Annals of Haravati,p.414-416
  2. The Ancient Geography of India/Champa, p.485-487
  3. The portion of Chand's poem which treats of the war with the Chandel Raja Parmal (or Paramarddi Deva), and of the origin of the Chandela, is named Mahoha-Khand .
  4. In some of the manuscripts the name of the river is written Kiyan, and Kiranavati. The former is no doubt the original of Arrian's Kainas, which has perhaps been altered from Kianas.

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