Folklore has it that this tiny village, about 35km from Meerut, was the place where the Kauravas had tried to set ablaze the Lakshagrah (house of lac), where the Pandavas were staying during the Mahabharata days.
The villagers of Dhanora Tikri, numbering around 500 and mostly farmers, have nurtured this belief for centuries that it was here that the Pandavas gave the Kauravas — and their sinister conspiracy — the slip. A tunnel hidden by dense foliage not too far from the village, they say, was the escape route of the Pandavas.
No wonder, they have a special liking for Mahabharata’s main character, Arjuna and his craft — archery. The youth in the village — including a handful of girls — want to emulate the legendary archer’s exploits. And, they are leaving no stone unturned to polish their skills.
For them, their ‘Dronacharya’ is a boy from their own village, Kuldeep Vedwan, an archer of repute currently in the core group for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. It was Kuldeep, who came up with the idea of an archery academy at the village in August 2008, and, within a year’s time, the strength has risen to 75, including five girls.
“Undoubtedly, Arjuna is a great ideal for the archers. And this sport, now being taught in a professional manner, has changed the lifestyle of our youth, who were earlier wasting time in useless activities,” says the former gram pradhan, Yashpal Singh.
The Vedwan Archery Academy was started in a small field in the Jawahar Krishak Inter College at Dhanora, and now involves people from all the 60-65 families here.
This year, they conducted the State Archery Championship, and soon after, one of the trainees, Ankur Vedwan, clinched three gold in the sub-junior nationals, winning in the 20-metre, 30-metre and individual category. Another boy, Subham Vedwan won a bronze at the State Championship.
“I used to be very accurate with the gulel (catapult) in my childhood days, and when I started training at the academy, hitting targets came naturally,” says Ankur, a class XI student of Adarsh Vedic Inter College.
Subham, Gautam, Akhil, Kunal, Sachin, Ashu, Rohit and Shivam are the other trainees, who came up with commendable showing at the Vijaywada nationals.
The passion of the villagers can be gauged from the fact they have hired a coach, Barju Singh from Tata Academy in Jharkhand, and pay him a monthly remuneration of Rs 10,000 through a collection scheme.
For Kuldeep Vedwan, this is just the beginning. “It’s difficult to spend all the time in the village as I have to be in the national camp for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, in Pune. But I have grand plans for the youngsters here,” he says.
Besides the handmade bamboo bows and arrows, the trainees here now have four compound and two recurve bows. “We have imported them from the US at a cost of several lakhs. A few parents have even mortgaged their land and houses for this,” says Singh.
Seeing the enthusiasm of the villagers, district magistrate of Baghpat, Mayur Maheshwari, has recently earmarked a huge land for the construction of a stadium under the special scheme of the district youth welfare department.
“With the district notorious for its anti-social activities, the best way to wean youngsters away from crime was to divert their minds. And nothing better than sports,” Maheshwari told HT .
“The archery ground at Dhanora and a multi-purpose gymnasium in the district collectorate are a step in that direction,” added Maheshwari.