I was desperate to reach this village.
I followed the kids who were pushing their handmade cycle and finally I was there. Brimming under the golden rays of the setting Sun, Osla village was hanging firmly from the cliff, right above the ferocious Supin River. The Matriarchal rule prevailing in this remote village, took me by a surprise. Most of the women were returning home, carrying a huge sack of the woods on their back, they had chopped during the daytime, A small girl was chopping the huge log into small segments to make is usable for lighting a fire. Even smaller girls were looking after their younger siblings. Where did the men go? They were basking under the last rays of the day, chatting. Some of them were weaving the cloth.
This was already getting interesting, I was lost in my world of observing the things that my eyes perceived, trying to reason out the lifestyle of Osla village when a gush of wind swept past my face and the temple bells reverberated the whole valley.
And with this, I was jolted back to the task I had to perform at village Osla.
It was last day of my Har Ki Dun trek, and I had just couple of hours with me to get all the information about the highly controversial ‘Duryodhana Temple’ at village Osla. I was really enthusiastic and excited, partly because it was part of my work and partly because I had put a lot at stake and I needed to know everything to produce the valuable content.
I had quite my 5 years of IT job and took the plunge into travelling. Har Ki Dun was my first trek as a ‘Content Writer’ with Bikatadventures. My job was to go on the treks, shoot videos, take photographs and bring back the valuable content about the folklore and the information on trail, flora, fauna, challenges and write articles on it.
Before heading on to Har Ki Dun trek, I thoroughly did my research on internet and found that it is flooded with the articles on mythological believes on how this valley is linked with voyage of Pandavas, who are believed to attempt their exit from Earth to Heaven via Swargrohini peak but only one of them, the Yudhishtar could make it to heaven. What really fascinated me was the mention of Duryodhana temple at village Osla.
Hence when I reached Osla, I thought of verifying the story by myself.
Mahabharat, which revolves around the war between Pandvas and kaurvas, holds an important place in the mythology of Hindu religion.
The short summary of the legend would be, that good prevailed over the bad and Pandavas won the war that took place between the two clans. Clearly the Pandavas were stated as the ‘good’ ones and the whole universe rejoiced over their victory except one sole village, the Osla village.
Osla village, situated at the foothills of Garhwal mountain range, were the true followers of Kaurava King, Duryodhan.
Many stories state that the temple at Osla village is dedicated to Duryodhan but as it attracted many raised eyebrows from the outside world, the villagers removed to idol.
When I asked the same question from the villagers, no one wanted to explain the ordeal in detail but my guide was kind enough to lighten me up with the fact and I got a different and quite shocking answer.
Many years ago, before Mahabharat, a sculptor from a tribal village of Garhwal region told all the villagers that he would carve an idol of a deity which all the 22 villages of that area would worship as a common God. All the villagers readily agreed to it.
He worked day and night and carved a beautiful sculpture, but he found the eyes to be too big on the carved face. He told the villagers that he can carve even more beautiful idol and with that, he threw the idol in the water and carved another one. The second one was even more beautiful but the Sculptor thought he can carve even more beautiful and hence threw the second one also in the water and carved the third one. The third one was intricately carved and was beautiful of all the three but the Sculptor was still not satisfied. He thought of dejecting this one as well. It is said that, the third sculpture was idolized and had powers and before the sculptor could threw it in the water, he lost his eyesight. Being unable to see, he couldn’t carve any more idols hence the third one was accepted to be worshiped as their clan god.
Since he was the one who came up with this idea and had carved the idol, the villagers asked him to tell them the name of the Idol. The Sculptor thought that this god took away my eyesight so I won’t let villagers worship him by his true name and hence he told the villagers that the idol is of Lord Duryodhan. For many years, the villagers worshiped the Idol in the name of Duryodhan until one day when few scholars arrived in the village to check the hearsay about the temple. They studied the Idol and found that the Idol had a crescent shaped moon attached to the head and long hair locks. The Idol bore lot of resemblance with the Hindu god Shiva hence it was established that the Idol belong to the lord Shiva and not to the Duryodhan. Since that day, the Idol was renamed to Someshwar which prevails until today. The deity Someshwar is believed to have supernatural powers and look after all the 22 villages of the area.
This version was very different from what was given all over the internet. Satisfied with the answers I got, I expressed my desire to see the Idol. An old woman was kind enough to open the door of the temple on the promise that I won’t click any photos. I didn’t see any Idol inside to which my guide told me that since there is just one Deity or ‘Devta’ who looks after the 22 villages, he frequently travels from one village to another and no Idol or any other sculpture can take his place.
According to my guide, if they would have worshiped Kaurva’s King, Duryodhan why would they celebrate a festival called ‘Pandav Dance’, which is still held every year!
I had two versions of the story revolving in my head. One, the version that was created by so many articles that I read on the internet and second which I myself heard from the local people.
In the end, both of these were the word of mouth and don’t know which one holds true.
The only thing I know that I would love to go back to Osla village, sometime during winters, when people do nothing but relax in the winter afternoon warmth, drink the local alcohol, eat the dried mutton and dance their way out of the extreme winter evening.