|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)|
Kulpahar is on National Highway No. 76, 135 km from Jhansi and 278 km from Allahabad at an altitude of 795 feet (242 m) at Latitude 25° 19' N, Longitude 79° 39' E. Before 11 Feb 1995 Kulpahar was a Tehsil of Hamirpur District. On 11 Feb 1995 Mahoba District was carved out of Hamirpur, and Kulpahar is now a part of the Mahoba District. Kulpahar is known for its closeness to Khajuraho and other historic places like Mahoba, Charkhari, Kalinjar Rath, Orchha, and Jhansi. This town holds relics of temples and man-made water bodies of the Chandela Dynasty.
Historians have different theories about the origin of its name, primarily there are two opinions about the name.
- Two village theory - According to the Imperial gazetteer of United Province of Agra and Oudh -1909 there were two different villages Kulhua and paharia which later jointly became the town of Kulpahar; even the folklore says the same. It doesn't have any supporting evidence for the theory; it seems that the British writer of the gazetteer went by the folklore.
- Gossain cult theory is based on some historical facts dating back early 17th century. There was a cult gossain in the central India and one of the descendant of the followers of this cult Himmat Bahadur Gossain who actively took part in Indian freedom struggle was born in Kulpahar and Kulpahar had connection with this cult since the origin of the cult. Gossain cult is believed to be originated/started from Kulpahar. Historians who relate Kulpahar with the gossain cult gave the theory that Kulpahar word is composed of two words Kula and pahar means Clan mountain. Some relates it with a tantrik rite Kaula Tantra. Kulpahar was a site to perform secret tantrik rituals of gossain cult on a hill near Gahra lake; hence the town got its name Kaula pahar which as the time passed became Kulpahar.
Kulpahar was the capital of a princely state of the same name in British India. Kulpahar was founded in 1700 by Raja Jagat Raj of Jaitpur son of Maharaja Chhatrasal, and was reorganized by Senapati, a Bundela Rajput who was the son of Raja Jagat Raj of Jaitpur grandson of Maharaja Chhatrasal. Kulpahar was captured by the British in 1804, and became a princely state in the Bundelkhand Agency of the Central India Agency. The chief resided at the town of Nowgong in Madhya Pradesh. The fort of Kulpahar, situated on a steep hill, towers more than 800 ft above the sea level, and contains the ruins of elaborately carved sculptures.
Brief history of Kulpahar is covered under the section of origin. Not much information is available about the medieval and ancient history of Kulpahar but the remains of structures dating back 9th and 10th century confirms the existence and importance of Kulpahar in the ancient and medieval India.
After the Mughals' fall and the rise of Chhatrasal Bundela, Kulpahar 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 near Kulpahar. 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. Kulpahar was made the headquarters of a Tehsil under the sub-division of Mahoba in the district of Hamirpur.
There are quite a few Archaeological sites in and near Kulpahar of period 10th century.
- Senapati Mahal - This beautiful small palace was built by Raja Jagatraj of Jaitpur in early 18th century AD for his son Senapati. It is a triple storied tall beautiful building situated on Kulpahar-Nowgong road near KM 1 milestone just opposite to collectorate. Archaeological Survey of India has started renovation work, it has been declared a monument of national importance in 1996 AD.
- Chandela period Yajna Mandap near village Akona - It is a large Hindu yajna mandap situated on Jaitpur-Srinagar road. This mandap dates back 10th century AD. It is 20x20x20 cubic feet area. On the southern side of this mandap is a granite Shivalingam. This area was built by chandela rulers to carryout most auspicious Hindu rituals.
- Senapati fortress - This is a small fortification around Senapati palace built by Senapati in mid 18th century when he was managing the security of Kulpahar area during his father Raja Jagatraj's reign.
- Raja Ka Tal lake - It is a large lake built by Jagatraj in the early 18th century AD. Total area of this covers over 2 square km. It was the main source of irrigation and drinking water supply during his reign.
- Belasagar lake - It is situated alongside the Kulpahar-Nowgong road 10 km from Kulpahar bus station. It is one of the largest lakes of the area. It was built by Raja Parikshit of Jaitpur in the loving memory of his wife Bela during last decade of 19th century. It covers an area of over 8 square km. This lake is bounded by Kulpahar-Nowgong road on one side and Jaitur-Srinagar road on other side. It is the major source for irrigation and drinking water for Kulpahar area. On the embankment of this lake ruins of forts of Raja Jagatraj and Raja Parikshit exists on a hillock.
- Chandela period temples near village Rawatpura, Salat and Akona - These temples resembles the famous architecture of Khajuraho temples. These were built during 9th–10th century AD by chandela rulers who built the famous Kamasutra temples of Khajuraho.
- Four Chandela temples and small masonry tank - These temples and tank dates back 9th century AD.
- Ruins of granite temple in charnwa - This temple was built even before the chandela period.
- Small mound locally known as Bhainsa sur with a ruined temple on the summit and old statue inside it
- Ruins of a palace on a hill - This massive palace is situated on NH-76. Archaeological Survey of India is carrying out renovation work in the area. This palace has been declared a monument of national importance. It dates back 16th century AD.
विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर ने लेख किया है ... कुलपहाड़ (AS, p.208) महोबा ज़िला, उत्तर प्रदेश का एक शहर और ऐतिहासिक स्थान है। यह स्थान ऐतिहासिक दृष्टि से बड़ा ही महत्त्वपूर्ण है। यहाँ से चंदेल नरेशों के समय की इमारतों के अनेक अवशेष प्राप्त हुए हैं। यह स्थान बुन्देलखण्ड क्षेत्र का एक भाग है। कुलपहाड़ को बुन्देलखण्ड के ऐतिहासिक स्थानों में गिना जाता है। 11 फ़रवरी, सन 1995 से पूर्व तक यह स्थान हमीरपुर ज़िले का एक भाग था। अब यह उत्तर प्रदेश राज्य का विशाल उप-जनपद है। अन्य इतिहास प्रसिद्ध नगरों, जैसे- महोबा, झाँसी, कालिंजर, ओरछा और अजयगढ़ से निकटता के कारण भी कुलपहाड़ जाना जाता है। यहाँ पर चंदेल शासकों के काल में निर्मित कई मंदिर, भवन एवं जलाशय आदि हैं।