Ahichatra (or Ahi-Kshetra) was the ancient capital of Northern Panchala, a northern Indian kingdom mentioned in Mahabharata. The remains of this city has been discovered near Ramnagar village in Aonla tehsil of Bareilly district in Uttar Pradesh state. The excavations have brought to life a brick fortification and continuity of occupation from a period before 600 BCE to 1100 CE. During the first excavations in 1940–44, the Painted Gray Ware pottery were found at the earliest level. Ruins of this city could be identified from the remote sensing imagery of IRS (Indian Remote Sensing) satellites. The ruins reveals that the city had a triangular shape. Recent excavations in Ahichhatra showed it was firtst inhabited by the middle of the second millenium BC with Ochre Coloured Pottery culture people, followed by Black and Red Ware culture. Around 1000 BC, it reached at least 40 hectares of area, making it one of the largest Painted Grey Ware culture sites. The city was alive up to end of Kurukshetra war. Near the ahichhatra 2 km west there is also a big pond at the time of mahabharta in the village of jagannathpur and today the peoples bath in that pond this pond is made by the pandavs at the time of banvas
The territory under Ahichatra was formerly under the Panchala king Drupada. Later it was taken over by Drona, after a war, in which Drupada was defeated by Drona's disciple Arjuna. Ashwatthama, the son of Drona, was given the responsibility of ruling the territory of Northern Panchala from Ahichatra. Ashwatthama probably ruled the kingdom being subordinate to the rulers of Hastinapura.
The word Ahi means snake or Naga in Sanskrit. Nagas were a group of ancient people who worshiped serpents. The word khsetra means region in Sanskrit. This implies that Ahi-kshetra was a region of Nagas. This could mean that the region was populated originally by Nagas, Nairs and Bunts of Kerala and Tulu Nadu who claim Kshatriya descent from the nagas as well as Namputhiri and Tuluva Brahmins(Hindu philosophers Adi Shankara and Madhvacharya belonging to these communities) trace their origins to this place.
About Ahichchhatra Parshvanath :
Shri Ahichchhatra Parshvanath Atishaya Kshetra Digamber Jain Mandir is a center of religious consciousness and it is present in peaceful area surrounded by natural beauty. About 2800 years ago Bhagwan Parshvanath attained ‘Keval Gyan’ here through deep ‘Tapashcharan’. It is this sacred land only where ‘Samvar Dev’, the opponent of Parshvanath tried to create hurdles in his meditation and when ‘Dharnendra’ saw that ‘Samvar Dev’ is distracting Bhagwan Parshvanath. Then in order to show his devotion towards him Dharnendra spreaded his hood above Parshvanath (Phan) and his consort Padmawati raised Parshvanath over her hood and thus the hurdle of Samvar Dev proved a failure (or became unsuccessful). At that very moment Parshwanath got enlighten by ‘Keval Gyan’ and ‘Gyan Kalyanka’ was celebrated devotionally by various gods and folk people. Later on the very first Samavsharan of Bhagwan Parshvanath was held here by Kuber on the order of Indra Dev and his ‘Divya Dhwani’ (Spiritual Precept) was delivered here.
History: In ancient time this place was famous as ‘Sankhyavati’ but later on after protection of Bhagwan Parshvanath from ‘Upsarg’ by serpent hoods of Dharnendra & Padmawati, this place became famous as ‘Ahichchhatra’. Ahichchhatra is one of the ancient cities of India. This city was the capital of ‘Panchal Janapada’. This Panchal Janapada is one of the 52 Janapadas established by Bhagwan Adinath. During next period there was partition of Panchal Janapada into Northern Panchal and Southern Panchal. The ‘Kampila’ remained capital of Southern Panchal and Ahichchhatra remained capital of Northern Panchal. During ‘Mahabharata’ period the Northern Panchal was ruled by King ‘Drona’ and Southern Panchal was ruled by King ‘Drupada’. According to one of the inscriptions discovered from the cave of Pabhosa Kshetra near Kaushambi the one name of this place was ‘Adhichakra’ also. From the 2nd century to 6th century this place remained famous as Ahichchhatra. We found name Ahichchhatra on ‘Yaksha Statue’ & ‘Clay Stamp of Gupt period’ discovered during excavations. The ancient Ahichchhatra was spread in large area and its ruins are still found around the city Ramnagar. According to the Chinese traveler ‘Hventsang’ this place was spread in the area of 3 miles and many Stupas were also constructed here.
Archaeology: A huge and magnificent temple was constructed in order to make memories related with Samavsharan of Bhagwan Parshvanath long lasting after their departure. According to petrographs, it is clear that this temple remained up to the ‘Gupt period’. During that period many Jain idols & Stupas were constructed here. Many such idols & remains of Stupas and many other artistic things were discovered after excavating one ancient fort. All these idols belong to Digambar Jain tradition. The large numbers of coins got during excavations belong to ‘Mitravanshi Kings’ and many Mitravanshi Kings were followers of Jainism.
(1) The attempt of distracting Bhagwan Parshvanath by Kamath, proving this attempt as failure by Dharnendra - Padmawati and attainment of ‘Keval Gyan’ by Bhagwan Parshvanath and these are lot of evidences available in Jain literature and stories that number of miracles have happened here from time to time makes this place as Atishaya Kshetra. The Kathanak (Life Story) of Acharya ‘Paatra Kesari’ is main among these evidences. Paatra Kesari is great Jain Acharya born during 6th – 7th century. He was Brahmin and used to reside in Ahichchhatra. The Avanipal was King of Ahichchhatra at that time. In his roil court 500 Brahmins scholars got discussion on philosophical matters and Paatra Kesari was main scholar in them. Once all the scholars organized literary & philosophical discussion at Parshvanath Mandir of Ahichchhatra. At the time when these scholars reached at Parshvanath Mandir, the ‘Muni Charitra Bhushan’ who were seated there were reciting ‘Devagam Stotra’ of ‘Acharya Swami Samantbhadra’ and ‘Paatra Kesari’ was devotionally listening to the recitation of Devagam Stotra and was getting cleared about the doubts of his mind. When recitation was finished the Paatra Kesari requested the Muniraj to recite the Devagam Stotra once again and than he returned to his house. At home Paatra Kesari started thinking deeply about the elements of Devagam Stotra. After thinking deeply about it he realized that Jain Darshan is more truthful (True to life). Paatra Kesari had doubt related to ‘Anuman Praman’ (Guess Evidence) and he was not getting cleared about this doubt. He was feeling quite restless. At that time Devi Padmawati appeared in front of him and told him that he will be able to get answer of his question from the idol of Bhagwan Parshvanath. Next day Paatra Kesari reached to temple and he was quite surprised to see that one stanza (Shloka) written in Sanskrit language was present on the idol of Bhagwan Parshvanath and after reading that stanza he got his doubt cleared. Afterwards he became follower of Jainism and became Jain Muni. Because of his excellent talent he is regarded as one of the prominent scholar among other main Acharyas of Jain Philosophy.
(2) Once Vasupal was the King of Ahichchhatra. He got constructed an attractive ‘Sahastrakut Chaityalaya’ and established the idol of Bhagwan Parshvanath in it. On the order of king, a painter (Lepkar) was called for coating (Lep) the idol but as the painter was non-vegetarian so whatever coat he used to put on idol, used to get fall during night. When king came to know about this fact, discontinued that painter and on his place another painter was appointed. Surprisingly the devotional feelings were arouse in the mind of that painter and he accepted some rules from Muni and after worshipping the Bhagwan Parshvanath with full devotion he started applying coating on the idol and this coating became as strong as ‘Vajra’.
(3) There is one temple with high spire at this place. One altar of ‘Tikhal Wale Baba’ is also present in this temple. The green colored emerald stone idol of Bhagwan Parshvanath and his foot images are also present inside this altar. It is said that the wall on which ‘Tikhal’ is constructed was built by invisible hands. In fact construction of this wall was nothing but miracle because till night there was no such wall but in morning everybody was astonished to see this newly built wall. The hands who built this wall are still present here and they fulfill the desires of devotees of Bhagwan Parshvanath – the Tikhal Wale Baba.
(4) The one ancient well is also here and during 1857 in first freedom fight the caretaker of temple (Mali) took the idol of temple and remained hidden inside this well along with idol for many days. Due to the presence of idol inside the well the water of well got heeling property and lot diseases can be cured by just drinking water of this sacred well. The test and color of water present in four corners of this well is different. The water of well is testy and sweet. One pond is also here and it is said that by taking bath in this pond one can get rid of skin diseases.
(5) It is also said that a pair of snakes visits in main temple and after giving ‘Pradakshina’ to the altar of ‘Tikhal Wale Baba’, this pair goes back and does not harm anybody present in that temple. Not only this, many times sounds of bells and other instruments is also heard during night.
Main Temple & Idol :
Shri Ahichchhatra Parshvanath Atishaya Kshetra Digambar Jain Mandir is thousands years ancient and its reconstruction was done in the year 1975 and its ‘Panch Kalyanaka Mahotsava’ was organized under the holy presence and guidance of Acharya Vimal Sagarji, Acharya Kunthu Sagarji and Acharya Shanti Sagarji in the year 1978. The 7 altars with 7 spires are there inside the courtyard of the temple. The description about these altars is as follows: - (i) The altar of ‘Tikhal Wale Baba’ is the first altar, which was built by Gods of heaven. Attractive Green colored emerald statue of principal deity Bhagwan Parshvanath is also established in this altar. Devotees believe that all desires are fulfilled and many difficulties are averted when we offer prayers devotionally to ‘Tikhal Wale Baba’. The rock inscriptions is present inside this altar on which it is written that – “It is that sacred land where Bhagwan Parshvanath did deep meditation and his opponent ‘Kamath’ tried to distract him by making storm, rain of hailstones happen at the place where Bhagwan Parshvanath was doing meditation. At this miraculous place only Dharnendra & Padmawati showed their devotion by spreading serpent hood over Shri Parshvanath at that time. Thus they tried to protect Bhagwan Parshvanath from the distraction of ‘Samvar Dev’. At this place only Tikhal Wale Baba is worshipped. At this place desires of thousands of devotees are fulfilled. Many sinners have started following the right path after doing repentance here. This altar is established on those walls only about which it is said that they were built by Gods of heaven themselves. The peace, which we get after viewing the idol, is indefinable & unforgettable.” (ii) On the left side of the sanctum of the temple the 6 feet high quite beautiful Padmasanastha idol of Bhagwan Mahaveer Swami is established on the first altar. The idol is endowed with calm and pleasing effect. (iii) The 5 feet high Padmasanastha idol of Bhagwan Parshvanath surmounted by 11 serpent hoods is established in the third altar of this temple and it looks quite attractive. (iv) The one beautiful ‘Samavsharan Mandir’ is also built here which was reverenced under the guidance of Acharya 108 Shri Ajit Sagarji in the year 1990. The four exquisite idols of Bhagwan Parshvanath facing four sides are established in the center of the temple. The memories related to the first Samavsharan of Bhagwan Parshvanath and his first enlightening percept becomes alive when we take a view of this Samavsharan Mandir. (v) The 7 feet high Padmasanastha idol of Bhagwan Parshvanath surmounted with 11 serpent hoods is established in the next altar. This idol can be said as an example of excellence of art. (vi) There are three prominent idols present in this temple and these idols are carved on a stone slab. All the three idols are light brown in color. The idol of ‘Panch Balyati’ is one among these and ‘Khadagasana’ idol of Bhagwan Parshvanath surmounted by serpent hoods is installed in the center of the idol of ‘Panch Balyati’. The 3.5 feet high idol of Bhagwan Adinath is carved on a stone slab of this altar. The ‘Yaksha’ & ‘Yakshini’ are also being carved on both sides of idol of Bhagwan Adinath. The idol is quite artistic. The idols present in this altar are about one thousand years ancient. (vii) The black colored and with 7 serpent hoods endowed idol of Bhagwan Parshvanath is installed in last but artistic altar. The 2 artistic idols, discovered while excavating earth, are also installed in this altar. One idol among these is idol of ‘Panch Balyati’ of ‘Ashtadhatu’ (Alloy of eight metals). The second idol is combined idol of Bhagwan Shantinath, Bhagwan Kunthunath & Bhagwan Arahanath and it is brown in color.
Other Temple : The “Tees Chaubeesee Mandir” having 11 spires was reverenced in the year 2002. There are total 720 (24 X 3 X 10) idols of 24 Teerthankaras of all past, present & future, are installed in this temple, which belong to 5 ‘Bharat’ & 5 ‘Airavat’ Kshetra. The one idol among these idols is 13.5 feet high and it is idol of Bhagwan Parshvanath. This temple is magnificent and superb in beauty. The huge beautiful and pleasant column of dignity of white colored stone is also constructed in this Kshetra and on the four sides of its spire the four beautiful idols of Bhagwan Parshvanath are installed. A little distance further from the Atishaya Kshetra Mandir there is one ancient Jain temple with high spire constructed in the village. The 4 feet high, black colored, Padmasanastha miraculous idol of Bhagwan Parshvanath is installed in this temple. The one stanza (Shloka) is inscribed on the serpent hood of the idol. It is because of this stanza the doubt of ‘Acharya Paatra Kesari’ was cleared. The one spire (umbrella) is present near the miraculous well. The foot images of Acharya Paatra Kesari are present on the altar built under this spire (umbrella). It was Paatra Kesari who followed Jainism along with his 500 scholars.
Natural Scenerio : This Kshetra is situated near Ramnagar Village and is surrounded by beautiful & peaceful natural environment.
Annual Gatherings: Annual Fair – From Chaitra Krishna 8 to 12, Nirvan Festival of Bhagwan Parshvanath – Shravan Shukla 7 Birth Anniversary of Bhagwan Parshvanath – Paush Krishna 11 This Kshetra is visited by many devotees especially on Sunday & Holiday. Facilities : Atishaya Kshetra Dharmashala 100 normal rooms, 150 semi-deluxe rooms and 20 deluxe rooms. Mess facility is available, Items like utensiles, bed, tent etc. are available. Gyan Teerth Dharmashala 50 rooms. Other – Shwetambar Dharmashala 20 rooms.
Reservation Facility: Residence Reservation is available on all days except during Annual Fair & Festivals.
Means of approach : From the Revati Bahoda Khera Station on Chandosi – Bareilly Line, vehicle of Kshetra and other vehicles are available. Road: - Buses are available from Delhi, Meerut, Aligarh, Lucknow, Kasganj & Badaun. Train: - Trains are available from Delhi, Bareilly, Agra, Muradabad, Aligarh to Revati Bahoda Khera Station and vehicles are all time available for Ramnagar from Revati Bahoda Khera Station. Airport: - Delhi 250 km
Nearby Places : Nenital – 180 km Hastinapur Atishaya Kshetra – 200 km Kampilji Atishaya Kshetra – 180 km Manglayatan (Aligarh) – 180 km
- Lahiri, Bela (1972). Indigenous States of Northern India (Circa 200 B.C. to 320 A.D.), Calcutta: University of Calcutta, pp.170-88
- http://www.educationtimes.com/article/290/20130917201309171524062507304cdb3/What-Lies-Beneath.html What lies Beneath, B. R. Mani 2013
- Maclean's Manual of the Administration of the Madras Presidency