History & Culture

Left bank of Tawi River

River Tawi divides the Jammu city into two sections with its left bank witnessing the growth of a modern Jammu. It has well planned localities and malls and other amenities which are characteristic of modernization. Inspite of its modern façade, this part of Jammu also bears testimony to its antiquity in form of structures like Bahu fort, shakti shrines of Mahakali and Mahamaya and anecdotes connected with folk heroes. We find mention of Dhara Nagri, an ancient kingdom in the area surrounding Mahamaya and Bahu.
Within Mahamaya hillock is situated the shrine of Goddess Mahamaya. She resides here in a form of a Pindi. It is probably the oldest Shakti shrine which remained in oblivion for sometime till it was revived and temple was constructed by Maharaja Ranbir Singh. The legend associated with it informs that once Mahraja Ranbir Singh fell seriously ill and could not be cured despite best efforts of the vaids and the pandits. It so happened that during his illness, while in his slumber, the presiding deity of Mahamaya visited him and asked him to renovate her shrine which is next to the temple of their Kul deity, Mahakali. The very next day Ranbir Singh gave the orders for the renovation of the same and he is said to have been cured of his illness. Another Legend ascribes its construction to Dogra Queen who died facing the invaders probably 1400 years ago.

Bahu Fort complex, the most imposing monument of Jammu city, its original construction is ascribed to Raja Bahulochan. It was finally reconstructed by Maharaja Gulab Singh in the early 19th century followed by its renovation during times of Maharaja Ranbir Singh. The famous Bawe wali Mata (Goddess Kali) shrine, the main presiding deity of the region housed within the complex is said to have been built by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1822 CE. She is considered as Kula Devi by the Jammu royal house. It is believed that the image of the Kali was installed long time ago but the temple encasing the shrine was built by Maharaja Gulab Singh.
It is also stated that there was a Thakurdwara (dedicated to Shiva) prior to the construction of the temple but in course of time Devi temple assumed significance. During Dogra rule, the royalty used to worship their Kula deity on Tuesdays when commonfolk was not allowed to enter the fort. However during Navratras, along with royalty and courtiers, the temple was thrown open to ordinary people as well. So Navratras were the times of great festivities when commonfolk would cross Tawi on boat or wade through Tawi waters or use temporary bridge to reach the shrine. Vendors would set up shops, selling niceties. Tradition of special prayers on Tuesdays and Navratras still continues but without any restrictions of class or caste. The Bahu fort Mela held on Ashtami Navratra is still very auspicious day for the Jammuities who pay their obeisance to the deity who has been protecting them since times immemorial.
The area between the two hillocks of Mahamaya and Bahu Fort is associated with another legend connected with Birpanath yogi
There is a legend connected with Birpanath. It is said that a local raja got a deep well dug on the left bank of the Tawi between the Bahu and Mahamaya hills at a level higher than that of the river. As no water was struck so it was advised that the well demanded human sacrifice. Therefore soldiers were sent out to fetch a suitable youth, free from any physical imperfection. They found one named Biru who made a living as Sheppard by taking village cattle for grazing to a place which came to be known as Birpur after him. The boy was not sacrificed. It is said that he instead, cut his figure and dropped few drops of his blood into the well and the water started seeping up in the well. This boy is said to have later joined the order of Guru Gorakhanath and became famous as Baba Birpanath………to be continued.

….History Beyond Classroom

 

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