Mahendra mountains

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Location of Mahendragiri in Gajapati district

Mahendra Mountains (महेंद्र पर्वत) is a mountain range described in the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Variants of name


It is identified to be the part of the mountain ranges called Mahendragiri (महेंद्रगिरि) in the east coast of India (Eastern Ghats), that falls in Gajapati district of Orissa.

Mention by Panini

Mahendra (महेन्द्र) is mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [1]

Mahendragiri in Orissa

Mahendragiri, is a mountain peak at in the Paralakhemundi (or Parlakimidi) subdivision of the district of Gajapati, Orissa, India.[2] It is situated amongst the Eastern Ghats at an elevation of 1,501 metres.

The puranic mountain Mahendragiri is situated in Paralakhemundi, Gajapati district. Legend says that it is the place where Lord Parashurama stays and does tapasya. Temples built by Pandavas are seen. The main festival here is Shivaratri, the worship of Shiva, the guru or percepter of Lord Parashurama.

Mahendraparvata in Cambodia

Mahendraparvata (Hindi: महेन्द्रपर्वत, Khmer: មហេន្ទ្របវ៌ត) is an ancient city of the Khmer Empire era in Cambodia. The existence of the city has been known for decades, but much of it lay concealed by forest and earth. The city was uncovered by an archaeological expedition led by Jean-Baptiste Chevance and Damian Evans in 2012 with the aid of airborne laser scanning technology called LIDAR.

Etymology: The name Mahendraparvata means "Mountain of the Great Indra". It is derived from the Sanskrit words महेन्द्र (Great Indra, a title of the Hindu god Indra) and पर्वत (mountain) and is a reference to the sacred hill top site commonly known as "Phnom Kulen" today where Jayavarman II was consecrated as the first king of the Khmer Empire in 802. The name is attested in inscriptions on the Angkor-area Ak Yum temple.[3]

Location: Mahendraparvata is located 40 kilometres north of the Angkor Wat complex, 45 kilometres north of Siem Reap, on the slopes of Phnom Kulen mountain in Siem Reap Province.[4]

Expedition: The multi-year archaeological expedition to find Mahendraparvata was co-led by Damian Evans of University of Sydney and Jean-Baptiste Chevance of London's Archaeology and Development Foundation. The team announced their initial findings in June 2013. A key feature of the expedition was its use of helicopter-mounted Lidar technology to scan the Phnom Kulen area and then map the city layout. The scanning phase involved seven days of helicopter operations. The Lidar results confirmed ground-based research by previous archaeologists. But, according to Chevance, before this they "didn't know how all the dots fitted, exactly how it all came together".[5][6]

The ground phase of the expedition traversed goat tracks and watery bogs, the team having got to their starting point by motorbike. Hazards included landmines. They initially uncovered five new temples. Eventually, using the Lidar data, 30 previously unidentified temples were discovered. In addition to the temples, their research showed the existence of an elaborate grid-like network of roads, dykes and ponds forming the city. Dr. Evans also noted that expedition imagery shows that the area became deforested, and he theorises that the impact of this, and water management issues, led to the civilisation's decline.[7][8]

History: The expedition team have dated Mahendraparvata's origins to 802 AD. Thus the city predates Angkor Wat by about 350 years.[9]

The city's origins date to the reign of Jayavarman II, considered the founder of the Khmer Empire. His reign was consecrated on the sacred mountain of Mahendraparvata, known as Phnom Kulen in contemporary Cambodian.[10][11] The city he founded at Mahendraparvata was one of three capitals, or courts, of Jayavarman II's reign, the others being Amarendrapura and Hariharalaya.[12]

The 1936 expedition of French archaeologist and art historian Philippe Stern had also explored the Phnom Kulen highlands. He discovered some previously unknown temples and Vishnu statues and described the area as the first true temple mountain. But the area, while being the source of rivers flowing south to the Tonle Sap, was remote. Later in his reign, Jayavarman II moved to Hariharalaya where he died in 835 AD.[13]


It is the place where Bhargava Rama or Parashurama spending his days of life, as he is one of the chiranjeevi or having life up to pralaya. This place was visited by Arjuna as part of his pilgrimage.

The Mahendra mountain is associated with east direction which clearly says that it is non other than Eastern Ghats. It is associated with mythological stories from the Ramayana as Mahendra Parvata (mountain). It is a 'Kula Parvata' along with Malaya, Sahyadri, Parijatra, Shuktiman, Vindhya and Malyavan.[14] In the Puranas and Mahabharata [we read] that Parashurama practiced penance for a long time on the Mahendra mountain.[15]

In Ramayana

Kishkindha Kanda Sarga 42 - Sugreeva sends troops to west side to search for Sita under the leadership of Sushena, the father of lady Tara. Describing the various provinces like Surashtra, Balhika and Chandrachitra (Mathura), Western Ocean, River Sindhu and magnificent mountains that are situated at the northwest of India, cities like Murachi, Jatapura, Avanti and Angalepa and also the ocean down south to it, namely the present Arabian Sea and almost up to Persian provinces, he orders monkey troops to return within one month's time. Mahendra is mentioned in Ramayana (IV.42.35,36).[16]...."On which mountain the distinguished Mahendra, whose horses are green and who is the controller of demon Paka, is anointed by gods as their king, such a mountain is this named Mt. Megha, or Mt. Meghavanta, which you have to scour. (4.42.35)

"On going further from that best mountain ruled by Mahendra, namely Mt. Meghavanta, you shall go to the range of sixty thousand golden mountains. (4.42.36)

In Mahabharata

Mahendra Parvata (महेन्द्र) (Tirtha) is mentioned in Mahabharata (III.83.14),(III.85.16), (III.114.26),(VI.10.10),

Vana Parva, Mahabharata/Book III Chapter 83 mentions names of Pilgrims. Mahendra Parvata (महेन्द्र) (Tirtha) is mentioned in Mahabharata (III.83.14).[17]....Proceeding next to the mountain called Mahendra (महेन्द्र) (III.83.14), inhabited (of yore) by Jamadagnya , and bathing in Ramatirtha (राम तीर्थ) (III.83.14), a person acquireth the merit of the horse-sacrifice.

Vana Parva, Mahabharata/Book III Chapter 85 mentions the sacred asylums, tirthas, mountans and regions of eastern country: Mahendra Parvata (महेन्द्र) (Tirtha) is mentioned in Mahabharata (III.85.16).[18] ...the mountain called Mahendra (महेन्द्र) (III.85.16), sacred to the illustrious Rama of the Bhrigu race.

Vana Parva, Mahabharata/Book III Chapter 114 mentions Mahendra Parvata (महेन्द्र) (Tirtha) in verse Mahabharata (III.114.26).ततः कृतस्वस्त्ययनॊ महात्मा; युधिष्ठिरः सागरगाम अगच्छत, कृत्वा च तच्छासनम अस्य सर्वं; महेन्द्रम आसाद्य निशाम उवास (III.114.26) ...Then when the ceremony for averting evil had been completed in his behalf, the magnanimous Yudhishthira went into the sea, and having performed all that the saint had bid, repaired to the skirts of the Mahendra hill (महेन्द्र) (III.114.26), and spent the night at that spot.

Bhisma Parva, Mahabharata/Book VI Chapter 10 Describes geography and provinces of Bharatavarsha. Mahendra Parvata (महेन्द्र) (Tirtha) is mentioned in Mahabharata (VI.10.10).[19].... "Mahendra, Malaya, Sahya, Shuktimana, Rikshavan, Vindhya, and Pariyatra,--these seven are the Kulaparvatas (of Bharatvarsha)".

In Inscriptions

Mandasor Pillar Inscription of Yashodharman year 532 AD : This pillar was erected by Yashodharman commemorating his victory over the Hunas at Dashpura, (Modern Mandsaur). These are pieces of two Monolithic pillars. These bear inscription which also records the victory of Yashodharman. One of the pillar Capitals has lions seated back to back (C. 6th CAD).[20] We find mention of Mahendra mountains in L-5 of this Inscription.

  • (L. 5.) He before whose feet chieftains, having (their) arrogance removed by the strength of (his) arm, bow down, from the neighbourhood of the (river) Lauhitya up to (the mountain) Mahendra, the lands at the foot of which are impenetrable through the groves of palmyra-trees, (and) from (Himalaya) the mountain of snow, the tablelands of which are embraced by the (river) Ganga, up to the Western Ocean, by which (all) the divisions of the earth are made of various hues through the intermingling of the rays of the jewels in the locks of hair on the tops of (their) heads:

Archaeological remains

Mahendragiri has interesting archaeological remains.[21]

Mention by Alexander Cunningham

Alexander Cunningham[22] writes that ....The Calingae are mentioned by Pliny,[23] as occupying the eastern coast of India below the Mandei and Malli, and the famous Mount Maleus. This mountain may perhaps be identified with the high range at the head of the Rishikulya river, in Ganjam, which is still called Mahendra Male, or the " Mahendra mountain." To the south, the territory of the Calingae extended as far as the promontory of Calingon and the town of Dandaguda, or Dandagula,[24] which is said to be 625 Roman miles, or 574 British miles, from the mouth of the Ganges. Both the distance and the name point to the great port-town of Coringa, as the promontory of Coringon, which is situated on a projecting point of land, at the mouth of the Godavari river. The town of Dandaguda, or Dandagula, I take to be the Dantapura of the Buddhist chronicles, which, as the capital of Kalinga, may with much probability be identified with Raja Mahendri, which is only 30 miles to the north-east of Coringa. From the great similarity of the Greek Γ and Π, I think it not improbable that the Greek name may have been Dandapula, which is almost the same as Dantapura. But in this case, the Danta, or "tooth relic," of Buddha must have been enshrined in Kalinga as early as the time of Pliny,

[p.518]: which is confirmed by the statement of the Buddist chronicles, that the "left canine tooth" of Buddha was brought to Kalinga immediately after his death, where it was enshrined by the reigning sovereign, Brahmadatta.[25] Dantapura, also, is said to have been situated on the northern bank of a great river, which can only be the Godavari, as the Kistna was not in Kalinga. This fact alone would be sufficient to fix the position of Dantapura at the old capital of Rajamahendri, which is situated on the north-eastern bank of the Godavari. The name of Mahendri is perhaps preserved in the Pitundra Metropolis of Ptolemy, which he places close to the Maisolos, or Godavari, that is, to the river of Masuli-patam.

महेंद्र पर्वत

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[26] ने लेख किया है ... 1. महेंद्र पर्वत (AS, p.728) = महेंद्रगिरि: भारत के प्राचीन कुलपर्वतों में इसकी गणना है. इसका अभिज्ञान सामान्य रूप से पूर्वी घाट की पर्वतमाला के उत्तरी भाग से किया गया है. महानदी इसी पहाड़ से निकलती है. इस पर्वत का अभिज्ञान विशेष रूप से मद्रास-कोलकाता रेल-पथ पर मंडासा रोड स्टेशन से 20 मील पश्चिमोत्तर में स्थित महेंद्रगिरि से किया जाता है. यह पर्वत समुद्र तल से 5000 फुट ऊंचा है. यहां पांडवों और कुंती के नाम से प्रसिद्ध एक मंदिर स्थित है.

रघुवंश 4,39 में कालिदास में रघु की दिग्विजय यात्रा के प्रसंग में इसका उल्लेख किया है--'स प्रतापं महेन्द्रस्य मूर्ध्नि तीक्ष्णं न्यवेशयथ्, अङ्कुशं द्विरदस्येव यन्ता गम्भीरवेदिनः'. रघुवंश 6,54 में भी कलिंग नरेश के संबंध में इसका वर्णन है--'असौ महेन्द्राद्रिसमानसारः पतिर्महेन्द्रस्य महोदधेश्च, यस्य क्षरत्सैन्यगजच्छलेन यात्रासु यातीव [p.729]: पुरो महेन्द्रः'. इन दोनों ही उल्लेखों में इस पर्वत के संबंध में हाथियों का वर्णन है. कलिंग के हाथी प्राचीन काल में प्रसिद्ध थे. श्रीमद्भागवत 5,19,16 में भी इस पर्वत का नाम उल्लेख है-- 'श्रीशैलो वेङ्कटो महेन्द्रो वारिधारो विन्ध्य: '. विष्णु पुराण 4,24,65 में इसका उल्लेख कलिंग आदि देशों के साथ है-- 'कलिंग माहिष महेंद्र भौमान् गुहा भोक्ष्यंति'

2. महेंद्र पर्वत (AS, p.729) = महागिरि: वाल्मीकि रामायण किष्किंधा 67,39 में वर्णित एक पर्वत जिस पर हनुमान लंका के लिए प्रस्थान करते समय आरूढ हुए थे-- 'आरुरोह नग श्रेष्ठम् मह्न्द्रम् अरिंअर्दमः' इसको वाल्मीकि ने महागिरि (किष्किंधा. 67,46) कहा है--'शैल शृन्ग शिला उत्पातः तदा अभूत् स महागिरिः'. यह महेंद्र पर्वत केरल में फैले हुए प्राचीन मलय पर्वत की श्रंखला का ही कोई शिखर जान पड़ता है. अध्यात्म रामायण किष्किंधा 9,28 में भी इस प्रसंग में महेंद्र का उल्लेख है--'महेंद्रादिशिरोगत्वा वभूवाद्भुतदर्शन:'

3. महेंद्र पर्वत (AS, p.729) = फनोम कुलेन: प्राचीन कंबुज (कंबोडिया) का बड़ा पहाड़ी नगर जहाँ 9 वीं शती में हिंदू राजा जयवर्मन् द्वितीय की राजधानी कुछ समय पर्यंत रही थी. इसका अभिज्ञान अंगकोरथोम के उत्तर पश्चिम की ओर स्थित फनोम कुलेन नामक स्थान से किया गया है.


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[27] ने लेख किया है ... आर्यकुल्या नदी (AS, p.70) विष्णु पुराण 2,3,13 में वर्णित एक नदी जो महेंद्रपर्वत (उड़ीसा) से उद्भूत मानी गई है।--'त्रिसामा चार्यकुल्याद्यामहेंद्रप्रभवा: स्मृता:' आर्यकुल्या नदी पास ही बहने वाली दूसरी नदी ऋषिकुल्या से भिन्न है क्योंकि ऋषिकुल्या का उल्लेख विष्णु पुराण 2, 3, 14 में पृथक् रूप से है।


  1. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.357
  2. Mahendragiri: the pride of Eastern Ghats. Orissa Environmental Society. 1993. p.1
  3. Higham, Charles (2001). The Civilization of Angkor. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-52023-442-0. p. 54-59.
  4. Murdoch, Lindsay (15 June 2013). "Lost horizons: mediaeval city uncovered". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  5. Murdoch, Lindsay (15 June 2013). "Lost horizons: mediaeval city uncovered". Sydney Morning Herald.
  6. Varma, Subodh (15 June 2013). "Lost city of Mahendraparvata discovered in Cambodian jungles". The Times of India. Delhi.
  7. Murdoch, Lindsay (15 June 2013). "Lost horizons: mediaeval city uncovered". Sydney Morning Herald.
  8. Varma, Subodh (15 June 2013). "Lost city of Mahendraparvata discovered in Cambodian jungles". The Times of India. Delhi.
  9. Murdoch, Lindsay (15 June 2013). "Lost horizons: mediaeval city uncovered". Sydney Morning Herald.
  10. Coedès, George (1968). Walter F. Vella, ed. The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. trans.Susan Brown Cowing. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-0368-1.,p:99–101
  11. Higham 2001, p. 151.
  12. Higham 2001, p. 84.
  13. Higham 2001, p. 58-59.
  14. Mahendragiri: the pride of Eastern Ghats 1993, p. 75
  15. Mahendragiri: the pride of Eastern Ghats 1993, p. 77
  16. यस्मिन् हरि हयः श्रीमान् महेन्द्रः पाकशासनः । अभिषिक्तः सुरै राजा मेघो नाम स पर्वतः ॥४-४२-३५॥ :तम् अतिक्रम्य शैलेन्द्रम् महेन्द्र परिपालितम् । षष्टिम् गिरि सहस्राणि कांचनानि गमिष्यथ ॥४-४२-३६॥
  17. ततॊ महेन्द्रम आसाद्य जामदग्न्य निषेवितम, राम तीर्थे नरः सनात्वा वाजिमेधफलं लभेत (III.83.14)
  18. अत्यन्यान पर्वतान राजन पुण्यॊ गिरिवरः शिवः, महेन्द्रॊ नाम कौरव्य भार्गवस्य महात्मनः (III.85.16)
  19. महेन्द्रो मलयः सह्यः शुक्तिमान ऋक्षवान अपि, विन्ध्यश च पारियात्रश च सप्तैते कुलपर्वताः (VI.10.10)
  20. Archaeological Survey of India Bhopal
  21. Mahendragiri: the pride of Eastern Ghats 1993, p. 101
  22. The Ancient Geography of India/Southern India: By Sir Alexander Cunningham, p.517-518
  23. Hist. Nat. vi. 21. "Gentea: Calingae proximo mari, supra Mandei, Malli, quorum mons Mallus, finisque ejus tractus est Ganges."
  24. Hist. vi. 23. Philemon Holland's translation has Dandagula.
  25. Turnour, Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, 1837, p. 860, quoting the Dantha-dhatu-wanso, or " History of the Tooth-relic.
  26. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.728
  27. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.70

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