Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mt Abu gives no clues for Gurjara

Mt Abu, the highest point in the Aravalli Range of Rajasthan is traditionally included in the territory of Gurjara, but is much older than that province. In the Vedic texts it is called Arbuda, described as the mountain close to the sea, and in Puranic texts as Arbudanchal, the son of the Himalayas and the abode of saints and Gods. The ancient caves, lofty heights, and thick forests of Mt. Abu attracted sadhus, pilgrims, tribes, and warriors alike.

With its strategic location, at the tripoint of three distinct regions: Mewar, Gujarat, and Marwar, have made Mt. Abu a desired possession of successive rulers. The oldest inscription nearby pertains to the Chavada Rajputs in the 7th century. The Pratihara Rajputs are more associated with Mandor in Maru Desh, while Bhinmal in Gurjara Bhoomi is only associated with the Imperial Pratiharas by reason of conquest. Mt Abu itself contains no ancient memory of the Pratihara Rajputs.

The oldest settlement in Mt. Abu is the 2000 year old city of Chandravati, which became a flourishing capital of the Paramara Rajputs in the 10th century. Located at the foot of this great hill, Chandravati reportedly contained 999 temples in white marble and was a flourishing centre of trade. The city was repeatedly attacked by the foreign invaders and finally even its marble was carried off by the Sultan of Gujarat. But still much remained till the 20th century when it was used by the British in laying down a railway track.

There are several temples of great antiquity in Mt. Abu but none provide any clues; having been destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries in warfare between the Rajputs and Muslims, and before them between the proto-Rajputs and Sakas. The Rishikesh temple is believed to be 8000 years old, while the Karnikeshwar Mahadev temple is of Puranic times, the cave temple of Vasthanji on the northern slopes of Abu is dedicated to Shiva. The 2,000-year-old city of Vardhmanpur, has the oldest sun temple in the world in white marble, while a kilometer away is the Krishna Vat Vriksh temple of similar antiquity.

The fort of Hamirpur, now called Mirpur, contained a Jain idol housed in a blue marble temple. While the citadel was destroyed and the idol broken by Sultan Allaudin Khilji, the temple was restored by the Rajput rulers of Mewar and the carved pillars are still from the ancient period. In fact the majority of undamaged constructions in Mt Abu belong to the late period of the powerful Maharanas of Mewar.

Thus Mt. Abu has several ancient sites but gives no clues to when or how Gurjara became the name of the neighboring region of Bhinmal and Jalor.