Agnigarh – love site of Northeast
A saying by Richard Bach goes, “True love stories never have endings”. However, a further addition to this thought can be said that true love stories never have endings, but what they have is memories. One such memory remains in our grand Northeast. And this love when it’s united with the love, valor and myth of ancient times, creates in itself a kaleidoscope of beautiful reminiscences, which are forever timeless and immortal. Such is the saga of a place in Tezpur town in the Sonitpur distrcict of Assam, where the legendary tale of the heroic battle between the Preserver, Lord Vishnu and the Destructor, Lord Shiva had once taken place.
Tezpur, the city of blood as it is famously called, has its edges curved on the north banks of the mighty Brahmaputra. An important commercial ground for trade and commerce, Tezpur was once used as a river port during the British regime for the surrounding tea gardens alongside other ventures in the vicinity It is also a city impregnated with the cultural and mythological opulence of tradition and folklore, and offers to its onlooker a panoramic view of the sylvan beauty amidst the cool breeze of the Brahmaputra and a taste of history.
The city of blood bears in its cloak a cluster if heroic tales, to which each and every monument seem to bear a testimony. One such spot of such mythological influence can be located in Agnigarh, a place situated in the hummock of this city. Agnigarh or the fortress of fire (Agni-fire, garh-fortress or wall) stands as a witness to the epic love chronicle of Usha and Anirudha. As per the legend, the fortress of Agnigarh was built by Banasura, the Asura king of ancient Tezpur to keep his daughter Usha secluded from the eyes of others. However, the beautiful Usha saw an attractive prince in her dreams with whom she fell in love. The lovesick Usha narrated her dream to her friend Chitralekha, an artist endowed with magical powers. Chitralekha painted the portrait of Usha’s knight but immediately recognized him to be Aniruddha, the grandson of Lord Krishna and ruler of Dwarka. In order to sooth the lovelorn princess, Chitralekha sprited Aniruddha away and later on the two couples married each other according to the Gandharva rituals without the knowledge of King Banasura. But the King soon found about the covert love affair of his daughter with Aniruddha , which led to the immediate incarceration of the prince. When lord Krishna heard of the plight of his grandson, he came to his rescue and hence followed the fierce battle between him and lord Shiva whom the King had summoned for help. Words failed to appease the situation and the battle took a repulsive turn which saw the entire city bathe in blood.
Agnigarh, the fortress of fire now seems to have cooled down and the ruins now seem to tell the legendary tale of love and horror. Situated 1 km east of the mighty Brahmaputra, the lush green ambience, alongside the gentle breeze of the river captivates the onlooker’s attention at the very first instant. The place has now been developed into a park by the district administration with a number of other picturesque adjustments such as an open air stage, giant mushrooms and a huge waterfall. However, the place creates a sense of juxtaposition between the ancient religious myth and the verdant modernity. The elevated area of Agnigarh lends a bird’s eye view to the distant horizons of the city as well as the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. Away from the busy humdrum of city life, one can find his soul at peace sitting among the creepers and entangling vines and listening to the chirping of the birds while at the same time watching the serenity of the Brahmaputra overtake the senses to a world of bliss. Such is the magic of the place which gives way to the mind’s eye to feast at the nature’s bounty and splendor along side embracing the richness of ancient myths, folklores and cultures, and Agnigarh proudly represents all these exquisite features in its best possible manner. January 2009
(Photo of Author)The author is a budding journalist presently pursuing her Masters in Art in Journalism and
Mass Communication from Tezpur University, Assam.