Angrabari is the temple complex in a scenic village near Khunti, the headquarter of Khunti district in the state of Jharkhand, at a distance of around 40 km from Ranchi. The most striking feature of the temple is the shivling, which is believed to have originated on its own under a mango tree. The temple site also houses several other Hindu deities including Ganesh, Ram, Sita, and Hanuman. Shankaracharya Swami Swarupanand Saraswati, having been captivated by serene, placid and celestial beauty of Angrabadi rechristened it as Amreshwar Dham. We visited this temple a several times. This Shiva temple is said to be hundreds of years old. The temple has been renovated recently. I have last visited this temple in December 2019 with my wife and son.

Today is the day of Maha Shivaratri. I was recollecting my visits to this temple. This temple attracts a large crowd of Shiva devotees during the month of Shravana and on the day of Maha Shivaratri. I heard of this temple after I reached Ranchi on my transfer from New Delhi in 1997.

The Ranchi-Chaibasa is a nice highway through hills and forests. We used to for long drive on this highway up to Khunti on weekends and especially on cloudy and rainy days. Khunti is synonymous with rebellion and struggle since it was historically a center of activity during the famed Birsa movement in 1875. Khunti is also known as the lac producer of the Jharkhand region. A large share of India’s total lac is produced in this place. Lac is a natural polymer (resin) that is produced by a tiny insect called Kerria lacca (Kerr).

Legends

According to Munda legends, King of Chhotangapur Maharaja Madra Munda’s son Setea had eight sons. Of these eight great-grandsons of Madra Munda, the eldest went southwards of Ranchi. He established a Khuntkatti village which he named Khunti. When Mundas first went to Khunti and its neighborhood, they found that part of the country in the occupation of the Asuras and the Tirkis. When the Mundas with their stalwart physique appeared in the country, the Asuras and Tirkis got terribly frightened. It is asserted that Munda women of those times used to wear glittering jewelry weighing as much as ten seers (a traditional unit to measure mass equivalent to around 933 gm) each and the men could carry weights as much as many maunds (an Indian unit of weight equivalent to about 37 kg). The Mundas to this day recite a couplet which describes how the Tirkis fled in troops when they saw the Mundas approach with their many ornaments sparkling in the sun. The Asuras went westwards to Basia, Pargana and Nagra.

In another story, it is said that the place derived its name from the mythological character Kunti in the Mahabharata. Kunti and her sons, the Pandavas, had spent some time in this place, during their fourteen years of anonymity. This ancient theory has brought fame and glory to Khunti. (Source)

History of Jharkhand is closely linked with 6th and 7th Century BCE at the era of Mahabharata the Kikata Pradesh mentioned in the Rig Veda, was located in the Parasnath Hills in Giridih district, Jharkhand. Like the Magadhas in the Atharvaveda, the Rigveda speaks of the Kikatas as a hostile tribe, living on the borders of Brahmanical India, who did not perform Vedic rituals.

It is believed that the Shivling enshrined here protects the devotees as armor. It is said about this ancient Shiva temple that no funeral or wedding doli has passed from the front of the temple till date. The villagers believe that a doli or a bier passing through the front of the temple will cause great calamity to the people concerned. The locals say that no elephant has passed through this Shiva temple till date and they attribute the death of many elephants behind this.

There is another story around this village of only Adivasi houses. It was told that many people of other castes, except tribal, tried to build a house here, but for some reason their house could not be completed. Here the entire system of Shiva temple is handled by the Adivasis; the priests for worship of Lord Shiva are among the Adivasis. There are many temples in Jharkhand were the priests are from the Adivasis and in some temples, they worship along with the Hindu Brahmin priests.

May the glory of the divine Shiva, remind us of our capabilities and help us attain success. Jai Shiva Shankar!

Om Namah Shivay! Har Har Mahadev!

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