A town that dates back to the days of Mahabharata, was part of the rich Mauryan empire and still houses ruins of a Buddhist temple. This was the place where parleys were conducted between Kauravas and Pandavas to avoid the war of Mahabharat. In close proximity to important towns like Jaipur, Alwar and Sariska, this quaint little town is a true delight for those interested in a walk down the history lane…
Situated roughly 50 kilometres away from the city of Jaipur, is the forgotten little town of Bairat. This ancient Indian town boasts of a glorious past and a rich cultural history. Many legends are associated with this place and its monumental structures speak volumes about its historical significance.
Bairat’s history goes back to the times of the Mahabharata when it was called Viratnagar. It was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Matsya or Matsyadesa and was founded by King Virat. It is in this town that the Pandavas spent the thirteenth year of their exile in disguise. In the fifth century, Viratnagar came under the rule of the Chedi kingdom and later became a part of the Mauryan Empire.
Viratnagar still has the periodical remnants of the Mauryan, Mughal and Rajput structural designs. It is also known for the ruins of a circular Buddhist temple as the earliest structural temple in India. The land has an attractive Mughal garden. Here, Mughal emperor Jahangir constructed a significant monument with painted Chattris (umbrella). This place indeed has a lot to offer, much of which has been lost in the tides of time.
This town is also known for the great cow lover – Mahatma Ramchandra Veer’s birth place. He was the only Hindu saint who did anshan (fasting) to stop the killing of animals in the temples of India. His famous literary works include Ram Katha Amrit, Vijay Pataka, Vinash ke Marg and Humare Hutatma.
WHAT TO SEE
Bhim ki Dungari or Pandu’s hill: During the thirteenth year of their exile, this large cave was the abode of Bhim, one among the five Pandavs; and several other small rooms were occupied by his brothers. The Dungari is a popular tourist attraction in the town.
Beejak ki Pahari, is a wonderful site which has remnants of a Buddhist Monastery dating back to the 1st and 3rd century AD. Excavations carried out on different terraces of this hill, have yielded remains of a Mauryan circular stupa-shrine made of lime-plastered panels of brickwork alternating with twenty-six octagonal pillars of wood, preceded by monastic remains with a double row of cells arranged around an open square courtyard.
Viratnagar Museum: The museum houses artefacts from Bairat’s long history, including sculptures, coins, pottery, seals and metal objects. It houses about 170 articles of great archaeological importance.
The Mughal structures including a Chhatri with some of the earliest surviving murals in Rajasthan and a lodge where the Mughal emperor Akbar used to stay during his yearly pilgrimage to Ajmer are among other attractions.
Astronomical Site: A little ahead of Beejak ki Dungari on Beejak hills, is this beejak – an astronomical site which has 27 sections cut in the inner circle possibly representing the 27 nakshatras. It was constructed in the 3rd century during the reign of Ashoka. The shadows were used to calculate ghadi-pal and other calculations of solar and lunar activities. Famous Chinese traveller Feiyaan also described this place in his book.
Dilli walon ki Gaushala: Amidst such rich heritage lies a quiet, serene gaushala that houses approximately 140 cows lending an unmatched peaceful silence to the environs of this place. While on your way to explore the history of Viratnagar, take out some time and stop at this gaushala to ‘experience’ the peace, the old age charm and spend some quality time with the cows. Our ancients say that just being in the presence of cows offers therapeutic results to mind, body and soul. While you’re at it, might as well give this a shot. Do let us know your experience.
HOW TO GET THERE
The town of Viratnagar is not directly connected to an airport or railway station. The closest airport is Jaipur from where taxis and buses are available to get here. Bairat or Viratnagar is located at a distance of 52 kilometres from the city of Jaipur and 66 kilometres from Alwar.