The Giant Chess Board
by Anurag Sharma
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 the orders to
march to Imphal next morning. As usual, the transit camp was at an isolated
place. The food was excellent. The soldiers had made strange but beautiful
structures just by empty liquer bottles all around the mess. After dinner, the
commander stepped out to show me the surroundings. The natural beauty of the
place was mesmerising. A few yards away from us, I saw some pillar like
structures. Some were broken. The pieces were scattered everywhere in a large
"Looks like some giant chessboard", I said.
exactly what it is", the commander replied, "The locals believe that this is the
place where Bheema and his son Ghatotkacha used to practice chess".
This was unexpected. Whenever there is any reference of Mahabharata, people
think of Gandhar (Afghanistan), Kurukshetra (Haryana), Indraprastha (Delhi),
Hastinapur (Meerut, UP), Mathura (UP) or Dwarka (Gujrat). Even in my wildest
dream, I cannot think of an association of Nagaland with Mahabharata. The
commander explained that the local Kachhar dynasty is actually the Kiraat
dynasty described in Mahabharata. In fact, the name Dimapur itself is the
distortion of Hidimbapur. Remember that Hidimba was Bheem's wife and
Ghatotkach's mother. Hidimb was the king of famous Kirat Asura empire of
Mahabharat. The third Pandava Bheem married Hidimb's sister Hidimba who later
gave birth to extra strong and famous war hero Ghototkacha.
good numbers of ruins of Kachhari kingdom with permanent structures, tanks,
temples, royal house in the surrounding areas of the Dimapur town, which lies
within the State of Nagaland bordering Assam. Hidimba kunda is the place where
the marriage of Bheem and Hidimba took place after Bheem killed Hidimba's
I wish to visit that historical place again with a lot
of free time in my hand to see these places at a slower pace.
© Anurag Sharma