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The Giant Chess Board    by Anurag Sharma

The ancient giant Chess pieces said to be used by Bheema and Ghatotkacha
It was the summer of 1979. While travelling from Delhi to Imphal (Manipur), we had to stop for a night's stay at this Nagaland city. Dimapur was such a beautiful place that I wished to live there forever. But we had to leave for Imphal early morning next day. The transit was at a paramilitary camp located in an isolated place. The food was excellent. The place was abundant with natural beauty and artistic creations by humans. Soldiers had made strange but beautiful structures just by empty liquor bottles all around geometrically laid temporary construction of tents and pre-fabricated huts. After dinner, the commander accompanied me to show the surroundings. The natural beauty of the place was mesmerizing. A few yards away from us, I saw some pillar like stone structures. Some of these were broken and some fell to the ground. The pieces were scattered everywhere in a large area.

"Looks like some giant chessboard", I said.

"That is exactly what it is", the commander replied, "The locals believe that this is the place where Bhīma and his son Ghatotkacha used to practice chess."
The ancient giant Chess pieces said to be used by Bheema and Ghatotkacha
This was unexpected. Whenever there is any reference of Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, people think of Gandhar (Kandahar, Afghanistan), Kurukshetra (Haryana), Indraprastha (Delhi), Hastinapur (Meerut, UP), Mathura (UP) or Dwarka (Gujarat). I could have thought of some other places in and around central and north regions of India. Even in my wildest dream, I cannot think of an association of Nagaland with Mahabharata. The commander explained that the local Kachhar dynasty actually the descendents of Kirat dynasty described in Mahabharata. In fact, the name Dimapur itself is the distortion of Hidimba Pur. Remember that Hidimba was Bhima's wife and Ghatotkach's mother. Hidimb was the king of famous Kirat Asura empire of Mahabharata. The third Pandava Bhima married Hidimb's sister Hidimba who later gave birth to extra strong and famous war hero Ghototkacha.

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There are good numbers of ruins of Kachhar kingdom with permanent structures, tanks, temples, and royal palace in the outscirts of Dimapur town, which lies within the State of Nagaland bordering Assam. Hidimba kunda is the place where the marriage of Bhima and Hidimba took place after Bhima killed Hidimba's brother Asur Hidimb.

I wish to visit that historical place again to see these places at a slower pace.

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© Anurag Sharma