Beharda: A Hidden Tale Of Prosperity

by | Feb 19, 2024

Often in history we have seen many of the princely states, cities and villages which were once at the peak of their prosperity turn into ruins. Today I will tell you the story of one such village which was once known for its prosperity but now only a few traces remain. The name of that village is Beharda. Under Tarun Bharat Sangh, we are working on rain water conservation in Karauli-Dholpur area. In the context of the same project, I was searching for new sites in nearby villages of our field area.

The Lost Village of Beharda

During this search, I came across Beharda. At the very first instance I found it different from the villages I had visited over the past three months. Although Beharda looked normal from outside but when I entered it, I found that the village secretly held abandoned mansions. These mansions were narrating their grandeur of the lost times and proclaimed their lost prosperity. While driving through the village I noticed that very few peoples resided there. This raised my curiosity to know more and dive deep into the village’s history.

Beharda is situated in the rugged and Dang region of Chambal at a distance of 25 km from Karauli district. When I asked the residents about it, they claimed that it was a historical village and called it ‘the village of wealthy people.’ Beharda, established in Vikram Samvat 1078, was about 1000 years old. Boharas (those who were related to trade) used to live in this village. Their main work was trading, and they used to trade in rice and ghee.

“Boharas had so much wealth from their business that they even gave loans to kings,” said the villagers proudly.

In Beharda there were currency reserves of four princely states of the area: Gwalior, Jaipur, Karauli, Dholpur. Hence it was also a bank for that region. I noticed a spark in the eyes of the villagers as they talked about their village. Beharda had lost its identity and turned into ruins over time. However, even then the stone mansions, carved doors and roads in this village narrated its rich history.

The Residents of Beharda

Beharda, once known for its prosperity, now had only a few people left. They would tell the stories of the glory of their ancestors. Locals also spoke about the business patterns of Boharas. They said that Boharas used to take ghee and rice from here to distant areas and sell them there at higher prices. Similarly they used to buy cheap things from there and sold them in the local areas, thereby earning good profits.

The Boharas had built their mansions with huge chambers to store ghee and rice. These were visible in the remaining mansions of the village. People say that villagers from nearby villages used to come to Beharda village to work as labourers. They would also take loans from Boharas whenever they needed. After speaking to the villagers, I began randomly walking around the village. The village was well planned. Its structure ensured that the rain water did not accumulate at one place and flowed into the drain. There were four wells in four directions of the village. I went around looking at their majestic remains. There were also four gates in the four directions of the village which were closed at night. These were proofs of the foresight of the early dwellers of the village.

An Architectural Wonder

Even in today’s modern times, there are many villages in which roads and health services are not available. However, Beharda village had built stone-paved roads leading directly to the mansions ages ago. There was also a health center in the village, which people called Vaidya Wadi. Its ruined building still stood there. In Vaidya Wadi, while the doctors treated patients, the hospital was developing medicines and sending them to the nearby princely states.

When I spotted big carved stones with holes I asked the villagers about them. They said that it was KOLHU. It was used to extract sugarcane juice. One of the individuals from the same village took me to the iron factory in the village. Surprisingly one could easily notice the tanks to store molten iron and iron traces with naked eyes. He told me that Boharas also used to trade in metal equipment and war instruments made of iron.

The Migration of the Boharas

After roaming for a while, I returned back to the chabutara where I had met the villagers earlier. However, this time my mind was full with questions: what happened to the village? Why was it abandoned? Where did the residents go? How did such a huge and prosperous village suddenly turn into ruins? And, what happened that the people of the village, which was known for its prosperity, had to leave the village and migrate?

When I asked the villagers, they said that the dacoits always kept an eye on the property of the village. Although the Boharas had made many arrangements for their security, there were some people in the village who met with those dacoits and gave them the secrets. After which they began to come regularly and loot. This led to the rise of fear of the dacoits.

The villagers also told me the story of the dacoits. They said that once upon a time there was a big robbery there and the dacoits took away all the loot with them loaded on a camel. The Boharas were fed up with the looting and began migrating with the remaining wealth and gold and settled in the cities. Gradually the entire village became vacant.

Though tthe Boharas left the village they had left behind their luxurious mansions and the golden history of Beharda village. Even today, the mansions standing in the village, the paved roads and the flowing river never get tired of talking about the prosperity of the village.

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