History of Bundelkhand
Evidence of early man living in Bundelkhand is found in the
form of rock paintings at many places in the Patha region of Chitrakoot
district, and in Sagar, Chhatarpur, Panna and Datia districts.
We do not know exactly when the people who created rock
paintings came in contact with mainstream Hindu culture.
But the story of sage Agastya crossing the Vindhyan hill
range can be read as an account of migration of Hindu religious priestly figures
into jungle areas of central India inhabited by tribal populations.
We have in the Ramayan many descriptions of the jungles of
Chitrakoot, where Ram, Lakshman and Sita are believed to have spent twelve years
of their exile.
Valmiki is believed to have had an ashram in Chitrakoot
district and Vyas is believed to have composed the Mahabharat in Kalpi, in
Moving from the time to the Ramayan to the Mahabharat, we get
the first reference to Bundelkhand as a distinctive political entity. The Chedi
kingdom or janpada is mentioned as one of the ten great janpadas of the time.
In ancient Sanskrit literature, the Chedi kingdom is
described as lying south of the Yamuna and between the Chambal and Ken - an area
that corresponds partly to current understanding of the boundaries of
Bundelkhand. We have however little concrete information about the Chedi
The era of the Mauryas, in the centuries before the birth of
Christ, provides hard evidence regarding kings and their policies. A rock edict
of Ashoka is located in a village called Gujarra, 15 km from Datia.
Urban settlements with a strong money economy emerged between
the 3rd century BC and 3rd century AD, as evinced from a large number of coins
from this period, unearthed at Eran, around 60 km north-west of Sagar town.
Eran, which is referred to as Erikana in coins of this
period, appears to have been a major settlement for many centuries, up to the
period of the imperial Guptas, who ruled from 4th century AD onwards.
What is called classical Hinduism or Brahmanism flourished in
the time of the Guptas. Temples with curvilinear shikaras and profuse sculpture
based on stories and characters from the epics and the Puranas were built on a
large scale in this period.
One of the most well known and most representative temples of
Gupta temples is found in Deogarh, around 30 km from Lalitpur, close to the
banks of the Betwa.
The Gupta empire started to disintegrate around the end of
the 5th century AD, when they were challenged by Hunas from north-west India,
who overran a great part of western India, up to Eran.
Subsequently, for around 200 years, the Bundelkhand region
appears to have been ruled by local kings who were only nominally vassals of the
Parts of Jhansi and Lalitpur district appear to have come
under the rule of Gond tribals, who had by then developed the concept of
kingship and ruling clans.
Another set of rulers who were also probably of tribal
origin, the Gaharwars, built a number of tanks in Hamirpur district.
Jainism appears to have become a popular religion among the
mercantile classes. There are around 30 Jain temples of varying sizes and shapes
- the earliest dated to the middle of the 9th century AD - within the walls of a
hill fort at Deogarh.
From paucity of Buddhist archaeological remains in
Bundelkhand, it appears that Buddhism never had a major presence in the region.
Courtesy : bundelkhandinfo.org