Jaunsar-Bawar is a hilly region, in Chakrata tehsil, in Dehradun District; it represents the geographical region inhabited by the Jaunsaris and bawaris, which traces its origin from the Pandavas of Mahabharat & Rajputs of Rajasthan.
Ethnically, Jaunsar-Bawar comprises two regions, inhabited by the two predominant groups: Jaunsar, the lower half, while the snow-clad upper region is called Bawar. Geographically adjacent, they are not very different from each other. The Bawar lies in the upper regions of the area. They are a unique community because they have remained cut off from the external world for centuries, leading to the retention of their unique culture and traditions, which have attracted historians, anthropologist and studies in ethnopharmacology to this region for over a century. There is a significant cultural shift from other people of Garhwal, living close by. It is defined in the east, by the river Yamuna and by river Tons, in the west, the northern part comprises Uttarkashi district, and some parts of Himachal Pradesh, the Dehradun tehsil forms its southern periphery.
Jaunsaris trace their ethnic origin from Pandavas of the mythological tale ‘Mahabharata’ who married ‘Draupadi’ also known as ‘Panchali’ as she was the only wife of the five Pandava brothers. Since then the practice of polygamy and polyandry was prevailing in Jaunsar-Bawar. Jaunsaris claim to be descendants of the Pandavas while the Bawaris are from the Kauravas or Duryodhana’s clan.
Starting the trip from Dehradun in a cold morning the first part of the day and trip was to reach Lakhamandal.
Lakhamandal is an ancient Hindu temple complex, dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is popular among the Shakti Cult, who believes that a visit to this temple shrine will end their misfortunes. Lakhamandal gets its name from the two words: lakha (Lakh) meaning “many” and mandals meaning “temples” or “lingam”. Plenty of artistic works were found in the excavations by the Archeological Survey of India. The history of temple dates back to circa 5th to 8th century AD.
A kilometer before Lakhamnadal temple also lies a cave where pandavas stayed during their exile.
Drive along the Yamuna river and valley is pretty and gets scenic. The mountains ranges, terraced farms, tall trees, dense forest. Driving past Purola and reaching Mori. The valley changes from Garhwal to Jaunsar. And the Tons River becomes the companion along the road. Few kilometers of Mori lays the small settlement of Hanol where lies the famous temple of Mahasu Devta temple.
Hanol is a tiny settlement lies on the bank of Tons river. This place is pretty scenic surrounded by mountains and forest. Even as per the hindu mythology, Yudishtar, the eldest of the Pandavas brother, when happened to be here was so much fascinated by the beauty of this place that he himself stayed at this place before going further in the Himalayas.
A temple dedicated to Mahasu Devta is located at the village. Lord Mahasu is the chief deity of this area and is worshiped in Mahasu Devta Temple by the people of Hanol and nearby villages. It is the ancient temple of Mahasu Devta built in the 9th century. The temple was constructed in Huna architectural style initially but, over the ages, acquired a mixed style. It is included in the Archaeological Survey of India list of ancient temple. The significance of this temple can very well be understood once reaching here. Large number of Devotees from far corner of the Uttarakhand and adjoining Himachal comes here to visit the temple every year.
The peaceful night among the devotees and local villagers was the most memorable part of the trip. The temple committee provides bonfire and dinner for the devotees. And the local villagers take active participation here in the daily work from cooking to providing fuel wood. Every night men, women and children sit around with devotes talking and signing folklores under the stars.
The winters in these parts of the region are quite chilly and cold. The narrow roads become dangerous with the frost and had to be driven carefully.
Tiuni is another major settlement of this region a lies few kilometers ahead to Hanol. This place lies to the closest proximity of Himachal. The drive from Tuini to Chakrata is another beautiful part. Gaining altitude from Tiuni to Chakrata, along the narrow and scenic route is an adventure in itself on the road. This road is much more prone to frost action during the winter months and had to be driven very, very carefully as there are some patches of the roads which are in really bad shape. But the captive surrounding keeps the drive interesting. The road is uphill till Lokhandi, which also happens to be highest point of the entire journey. The roads then are downhill leading to Chakarata via the beautiful forest of Deoban.
Chakrata is a cantonment with scenic backdrops. There are many nearby destinations which are quiet, peaceful, less touristy and scenic. The roads from hereon are wider and smoother. The drive within no time takes down to Kalsi and then to Vikasnagar, ending this road trip at Dehradun.
This road was one of those trips which had culture, traditions, adventure, religion and places. It was an opportunity to visit the corner of the regions which lying in the vicinity of capital city Dehradun, shares a completely different world of its own. A culture and tradition well kept even in today’s modern world.