*This is Sixth BlogPost in the Har Gaon Ki Kahani (HGKK) series. This time we travel to a forlorn Rukmani Kund in the Bilaspur district*
Rukmani Kund is a reservoir surrounded by Rocky Mountains in the middle of a thick Shivalik Forest. In the foreground a lone motor boat can be seen ferrying people from the mainland Bilaspur to Rishikesh (not that Rishikesh). Rishikesh Village is almost in the middle of the Gobind Sagar (like Kuthera in Pong Dam), still waiting for a bridge to connect it to the mainland Bilaspur. Rukmani Kund, 28 KM from Bilspur, was selected in HGKK Programme for the year 2012-2013.
Human Sacrifice was a part of our history. Sometimes for the wrong reasons and sometimes for reasons unfathomable to the modern times minds. This is one such case. Rukmani was name of the daughter-in-law of the King. She sacrificed her life to bring an end to a drought problem prevailing in the region since times immemorial.
“And Rukmani sacrificed her life. She offered herself to be buried alive for the greater cause.”
The entire Auhar region was in trouble because of dearth of water despite their repeated efforts to dig a well. Once the King had a dream that in case his son or daughter in law is offered as a sacrifice, water could come out. The daughter-in-law, Rukmani offered herself in presence of her husband. She sacrificed her life and the present Rukmani Kund is a result of her courageous act. It is said that she was buried alive at the place where we have this Kund today. Now burying alive a person doesn’t sound good even if it means saving an entire village.
But then being a King was not an easy job either.
As Chanakya puts it, the Rajdharm must be taken care of. At any cost, even if it demands sacrifice of life.
Even today grass (baggad) hanging from the walls of the Kund is considered her hair, growing because of the magical power of the reservoir waters. And people tie ribbons, bangles to the grass to offer tribute to Rukmani. It is also believed that the waters of this reservoir can cure skin ailments.
However, I fail to understand how ribbons and bangles help because ultimately it all goes into the reservoir polluting the entire water supply. I am sure Rukamni wouldn’t have approved of this.
It is said that never again the region suffered from water crisis. Even the Irrigation Department started a water-lift scheme at the reservoir and they too never faced a problem of this reservoir going dry till date. Bilaspur is a hot-humid region where even the Mother Sutlej retreats during summers, this reservoir never goes dry. Also, the bluish water of this reservoir breeds a special kind of fish.
Rukmani belonged to Auhar (erstwhile Taredh Village) and even today people from Rukmani’s village don’t drink or bathe in the Kund’s waters. Such is the pride they take in their daughter’s sacrifice. I wonder if they drink water supplied by the Irrigation Department.
Unforgettable Himachal & State Government’s Apathy
The Rukmani Kund is not given even half as much attention as to other victim villages of the Har Gaon Ki Kahani scam programme. While in other cases, they did construct a road, painted the walls colorful, and put on the Welcome Boards; Rukmani Kund wasn’t that lucky. The road leading to the Kund is as good as the terrible stretch between Batal and Chatrru in Lahaul Valley. And if it is the rainy season, you will have to carry your own boat. The road turns into a muddy canal.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the department did spend handsome amount to conceptualize this scam programme. However, they probably forgot about the Rukmani Kund. Stones Boulders are sprinkled across the road to make sure nobody reaches at the Kund.
The road leading to the Rukmani Kund bifurcates from Bhaged Village, on the Shimla-Dharamshala Highway near Gumarwin. A kuchha road of almost 2 KM takes you to the Rukmani Kund. You’ll have to ask around because in this case the Tourism Department even forgot to put on the welcome boards.
Being my birth place, I always had a special bond with Bilaspur. The mighty Gobind Sagar makes it even more special to me. Mother Sutlej flows through this town giving life and livelihood to thousands lakhs of living beings. Sadly, Bilaspur couldn’t flourish much as a tourist town. Even the boating and water sports facilities cut no ice.
Himachal Pradesh is a debt ridden state and a major part of its earnings comes as loan/grant from the Central Government. Tourism and Hydro Power were identified as two major (and perhaps only two) revenue streams in the state. The Hydro Power sector was severely abused and everyone; industrialists, politicians and locals alike, thoroughly enjoyed this brutal rape of Mother Nature. And by the time Environmental Ministry stepped in, our rivers had bled beyond repair and the mountains were already numb.
I have this firm belief that Tourism Industry alone (if properly planned and managed) can make our beautiful state financially independent. But then Cricket and IPL is more important than developing Tourism Circuits.
Priorities of a developing nation and a debt ridden state, you see.
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