After the Haryana government’s decision to rename Gurgaon as Gurugram, social fronts pushing for the name change now want the state to develop a tourism circuit connecting temples and places associated with Guru Dronacharya, after whom the district has been renamed.
The organisations want the tourism circuit to connect historical places in Gurgaon Gaon, an area in Old Gurgaon, which has inspired the new name.
Gurgaon Gaon was originally called Gurugram (teacher’s village). According to the Hindu mythology, the place got its name after Mahabharata era princes Pandavas and Kauravas donated the land to Dronacharya, their archery teacher as ‘gurudakshina’ (teaching fee).
The area has a temple dedicated to Dronacharya and a pond where he is believed to have taught his disciples, a temple of Lord Shiva (believed to have been set up by Pandavas), a temple dedicated to Eklavya (another character from Mahabharata) and the famous temple dedicated to Goddess Sheetla (believed to be the wife of Dronacharya).
“The area has a rich historical value but no attention has been paid to it. We will submit a letter to the government demanding that a tourism circuit be developed here to connect all these areas. Gurugram should have something else to offer apart from malls and Cyber Hub” said Rishi Agarwal, president of Gurugram Gaurav Sanstha, a front pushing for renaming of the area .
Agarwal, who is an engineer with an MNC in Gurgaon, said once developed, these areas could be connected through hop-on, hop-off bus service for tourists.
Another member of the front, Arun Kataria, said the previous governments did not pay attention to these sites and so they are in ruins.
According to the belief, the 10-acre pond was developed by Dronacharya. But it is now encroached upon. The pond is located in Bhim Nagar, named after prince Bhima. The temple dedicated to Dronacharya is near the pond.
Locals claim that the city has the only temple in India dedicated to Eklavya in Khanda village. Eklavya is believed to have severed his thumb and offered it to Dronacharya as ‘gurudakshina’.
It is believed that Eklavya wanted to learn archery from Dronacharya, but the guru refused to teach him. He then learnt the art by watching the lessons imparted by Dronacharya to Pandavas and Kauravas.
The ancient Shiva temple is believed to have been constructed by Pandavas. The area was earlier known as ‘Pandwala’ but is now called Prakashpuri Ashram.
Experts, however, have expressed doubts over the idea of tourism circuit.
“There is nothing in Gurgaon that can be of interest to tourists. As far as Mahabharata era is concerned, there is nothing to see on ground here,” said Atul Dev, convener, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Gurgaon chapter.
Dev said it is doubtful that people will now come to see these places because the district has been renamed.
Historian professor Kripal Chand Yadav said there are stories associated with the area but “they are just stories without verifiable facts”.
For tourism, the place should have a historical value, which can be established only with facts, he said.
The locals claim the city has lone temple of Eklavya at Khanda village. Eklavya got famous after he severed his thumb and offered it as gurudakshina (teacher’s fee) to Dronacharya. Eklavya, a great archer, was denied archery lessons by Dronacharya after which he learnt the art by watching lessons imparted by the Guru to his royal students – Pandavas and Kauravas.
There is an ancient Shiv temple believed to have been constructed by Pandavas. The area was known as Pandwala and is now Prakashpuri Ashram.
Those dealing with cultural heritage and history are, however, suspicious of the idea.
“There is nothing in Gurgaon which can be of interest to tourists. As far as Mahabharata is concerned, there is nothing to see on ground here,” said Atul Dev, convener INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), Gurgaon Chapter.
Dev said it is doubtful that people would come to see these because it is renamed.
Historian Prof Kripal Chand Yadav is doubtful of the historical value of the place. Yadav said there are stories associated with the area but “they are just stories without verifiable facts”. For tourism to develop there has to be historic value which comes with facts, he said.