Sunday, 1 April 2018

B for Bairat




The present city of Bairat is situated in the north Jaipur district of Rajasthan and lies about 50 kilometres north of Jaipur and 66 km west of Alwar. Built on a mound of ruins, modern-day Bairat appears a small place, but it has a history fascinating enough to woo a traveller to fancy a detour to visit the place. The mound of ruins on which Bairat lies today is more than three times the expanse of the present city and thus can be gauged the extent and prosperity of this city in its past.

The history of Bairat, traces back to the days of the Mahabharata, when it was called Viratnagar the capital of the Matsyadesa, and was founded by King Virat in whose kingdom the Pandavas had taken refuge in disguise during their thirteenth and final year of exile. The Mahabharata describes Viratnagar and the kingdom to be a prosperous place and a magnificent city, befitting the powerful ruler King Virat and his royal family.

In the later Vedic period, the Chedis ruled over Viratnagar and then the Mauryans. Inscriptions and relics of stupas and a rock-edict by Ashoka discovered among the ruins during excavation bear testimony that during the time of the Mauryan Empire, Viratnagar came under influence of Buddhism. The city also finds a mention in the travel accounts of Chinese pilgrim and Buddhist monk Hieuen Tsang who visited in 634 AD and had written a description of the place, citing that it was mostly dominated by the Hindu Brahmin priests and their people while there were still evidences of eight Buddhist monasteries, though they were already in ruins at that time.

The next historical mention of Bairat is noticed during the time of Mahmud of Ghazni’s attacks on India. Mahmud first attacked Bairat in 1009 when the Raja of the city submitted without any resistance. Mahmud sacked the city and looted its treasures, returning again in 1014 to continue his loot. However, this time the Hindus fought back but were defeated in a bloody battle and the city surrendered. As per historian Ferishta, there is however an ambiguity on the date and purpose of Mahmud’s second attack on Bairat. Ferishta places the date at 1022, and says that the Sultan hearing that the people of Kairat and Nardin (Bairat and nearby town of Narayan) were still practising idol worship contrary to the faiths and beliefs of Islam, which Mahmud was known to have imposed on the kingdoms he conquered, resolved to forcibly compel them to the Mohammedan faith. Accordingly his general Amir Ali plundered the cities of Narayan and Bairat, indiscriminately killing the Hindus and desecrating their shrines and looting the temples.

Some historians, based on later research, state that Mahmud’s armies found some rock edicts in the Buddhist ruins near Narayan which suggested that the temple of Narayan had been built forty thousand years ago and that they may have mistaken the lion symbol of Ashoka as an image of idol worship, thus deciding to attack and kill the populace of the towns en masse.

The ancient city of Viratnagar was thus deserted for some centuries after the attacks of Mahmud and saw re-population once again during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Those were prosperous times and as Abul Fazal mentions in his Ain-i-Akbari, “the region of Bairat presented very profitable copper mines”. The ancient city and the name of Viratnagar had disappeared by then, to be replaced by the more common lore of Bairat.

Modern-day Bairat stands at 50 kms away from Jaipur on the way to Delhi, and is mostly populated by the Gaur Brahmins and Agarwal baniyas. The fate of the once majestic capital of Viratnagar is now one reduced to insignificance.


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Connect with me on Twitter: @Sayan74
I am participating in the #BlogchatterA2Z challenge and today’s letter is ‘B’.


26 comments:

  1. This place looks exciting! Your blog does the magic with it

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    1. Hi Saba.. thank you for your interest and appreciative comments for my blog. I am happy that you liked the article :)

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  2. Oh wow - this is fascinating. I had no idea about this place. Visiting from the A to Z Challenge. Kalpanaa from http://www.kalpanaawrites.com

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    1. Thank you Kalpana for reading my blog and I am happy that you liked the article on Bairat and it could offer you a new piece of information. We are enjoying the A2Z Challenge and I shall visit your blog as well and read..

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  3. I never knew this though i have been to jaipur no one told me about bairat!! Thanks a lot for letting me know do read mine om b https://blogsikka.com/blog/beautiful-beaches-india-travelwithkids-blogchattera2z/

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    1. Hi Sneha.. thanks for reading my blog and I am happy that I could introduce a new place to you! I shall surely read your blog and comment..

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  4. Awesome work Sayan. I had no clue about it. Very informative and interesting. I'm sure by the end of this I would have known my country a little more. Waiting for tomorrow's post.

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    1. Thank you Sonia.. I am happy that you found something new and liked the read. I hope that I am able to come up with more 'new' old places like these in the A2Z!

      btw.. read your post for today and enjoyed it!

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  5. Good article on bairat and also having a copper mines was not known to me. Being a daughter of a mining engineer, that interested me

    http://mytinythot.blogspot.in/2018/04/birthday-celebrations-a2z-challenge.html?m=1

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    1. Thank you Sushma for your interest and comments. I am glad that you liked reading it. Please come back for stories on more cities in my theme in the A2Z !

      Thanks for sharing your link, I will read and leave my comments.

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  6. This is a very informative post. I am sure getting enriched by so much of information.

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    1. Thank you Sudha for reading my blog and for your comments. Stay tuned here for more such cities coming up in the rest of the A2Z challenge!

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  7. Novemberschild2 April 2018 at 11:03

    I am aware of this city. The town was once a thriving Buddhist center of learning and civilization as evidenced by the Buddhist stupa sites found on the hills close by. The Remains of a very flourishing Buddhist Stupa reminding of the areas's Buddhist past as well. In 634, the Chinese explorer Xuanzang visited Bairat. Being a history student, I have studied about many rate places in India, this is one of them.

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    1. Thank you Romila for reading my blog post on Bairat and for your comments. I would request you to come back and read my future posts too, as and when your time permits.

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  8. I spent 3 weeks in Rajasthan about 7 years ago, but I was further north. It is such a beautiful area!

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    1. Yes indeed.. thanks for reading my blog Heather.

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  9. This is just fantastic, Sayan. You've done a lot of painstaking research and it shows. Thank you for educating me about our own country and its heritage.

    B is for Boss

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    1. Thank you Varad for reading and appreciating my work. Happy that you liked it.

      I have read your flash fiction posts B and C and left my comments there.

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  10. Very interesting history. It has me realizing how places we may consider insignificant today were at one time quite important.

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    1. Thank you for your interest and comment. What you have said is the exact thought which drove me to work on the subject to know the history of these places.

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  11. Yet to visit Jaipur. Will bookmark to remember during our visit. Have a nice day Satan. b is for Beautiful.

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  12. Hi Sayan. It was another great post. I know one more interesting thing. In Matsya Kingdom where Pandava spent 1 year of agyatwas, Yudhisthir disguises as Kanka a dice playing advisor, Bhima as Vallabh the cook, Arjun as Brihannala the dance teacher, Nakul as Damagranthi the horse groomsman and Sahadev as Tantripal the cowherd and Draupadi as Sairandhri the hairdresser.When Exile was over, Matsya king married his daughter Uttara to Abhimanyu. Please check my 'B' post here (Theme-Indian Spices): http://www.vibhuandme.com/2018/04/b-for-black-salt-digestive-stimulant.html

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    1. Hi Shipra.. yes, I have heard about this story too.. Uttara was the princess of the Matsya kingdom and was married to Arjuna's son Abhimanyu.

      I read your B and C posts and have left my comments on them.

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  13. So you bring us the history of another flourishing city of ancient India. Kudos!

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  14. Thanks Jai for reading and liking my post!

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  15. Felt wonderful reading about Bairat - Viratnagar.

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