In Gurugram’s Subhash Nagar exists the only temple dedicated to Dronacharya
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In Gurugram’s Subhash Nagar exists the only temple dedicated to Dronacharya

The two-room temple only known temple dedicated to Guru Dronacharya, the teacher of the Pandavas and the Kauravas in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.

gurgaon Updated: Jun 04, 2018 07:35 IST
Sadia Akhtar
Sadia Akhtar
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Gurugram,Dronacharya,Dronacharya temple
The statue of Guru Dronacharya at a temple at Gurugram's Subhash Nagar. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

In a narrow street in Subhash Nagar, near the city’s main bus stand, is an innocuous-looking two-room temple, painted pink, one of perhaps thousands such, maybe more, that dot India.

Most people pass by it without a second glance. Yet, this temple is special.

It is the only known temple dedicated to Guru Dronacharya, the teacher of the Pandavas and the Kauravas in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata.

Two years ago, Gurgaon was renamed Gurugram in honour of Dronacharya, but that hasn’t meant anything to the temple, which is boxed between houses in Subhash Nagar.

Historians are divided on whether there was any connection between Gurugram and Dronocharya, but the temple itself is close to 150 years old. It is different from the temple at Bhim Nagar that is dedicated to Ekalayva, the tribal warrior who, when refused instruction from Dronacharya, practised before a statue of the guru and became proficient in archery (before sacrificing his thumb at the insistence of the guru).

Locals in Subhash Nagar say the temple was established in 1872 by Singha Bhagat, a resident who donated acres of land in honour of Dronacharaya.

“Singha Bhagat was a disciple of Sheetla Mata, wife of Dronacharaya. It was during his time that the temple was first made,” said Kali Ram Sharma. The 73-year-old Sharma belongs to one of the five families which are looking after the upkeep of the temple.

Sheetla Mata, of course, is a popular deity in Haryana, and Gurugram has a popular temple dedicated to her that was built in the 18th century by a Rajasthan royal.

The Dronacharya temple is in the corner of a narrow street, shaded from public view by the leaves of a banana tree that stands adjacent to it. The two-room temple houses idols of several gods and goddesses which coexist with a massive statue of Dronacharya placed bang in the centre of the hall. The wall behind the towering white statue pictorially depicts the story of Dronacharya teaching his students.

“My ancestors have been looking after the temple for generations. Nine generations of our family have stayed here and devoted our time to honour the legacy of the guru. Over the years, the temple had worn out but we got repairs done. Last year, the residents crowdfunded Rs 1.3 lakh for glass enclosures that were required for the safety of the idols in the temple. We treat the temple like a shared cultural heritage and have been supporting it as such,” said Sharma.

Sharma’s son Vijay and his family run the temple from 5 in the morning till 10:30 at night.

“We have a lot of faith in the temple. It’s a legacy that I have inherited from my father and one that I plan to honour,” said 43-year-old Vijay.

“While the Sheetla Mata temple is popular, not many people know about the Guru’s temple. People have a lot of faith in Sheetla Mata and when they get to know that her husband has a temple here, they come and pay their respects. A few days back, a family came all the way from Mumbai to visit the temple,” said Vijay.

Sharma rues the fact the temple has received little attention from the government.

“Gurgaon was renamed to Gurugram because of the guru but unfortunately, not many know about the presence of his temple. People should be familiarised with the legacy of the guru. We have plans of submitting a proposal to get the area close to the temple renamed to Guru Dronacharya Nagar. This would increase people’s awareness about the temple and make it more popular,” said Sharma.

Experts see little merit in changing the name of the area based on oral history.

“There is no historical evidence to prove Dronacharya’s connection with the place. Sometimes these are just anecdotes that get passed on from one generation to another,” said historian KC Yadav.

Still, if Gurgaon can become Gurugram in honour of Dronacharya, Subhash Nagar can surely become Guru Dronacharya Nagar.

First Published: Jun 04, 2018 07:34 IST