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Title: Lakshagraha  
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Subject: Mahabharata, Kunti
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The Pandavas emerge from the other end of the tunnel, while the house of lacquer goes up in flames.

Lakshagraha or Lakshagriha (Sanskrit: लाक्षागृहम्[1][2]) (The House of Lacquer) is a book or parva from the Mahabharata, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana.

This house was built under the orders of Duryodhana and his evil uncle and mentor Shakuni in a plot to kill the Pandavas along with their mother Kunti. The architect Purochana was employed in the building of Lakshagraha in the forest of Varnavrat. The house was meant to be a death trap, since lacquer is highly flammable. The plot itself was such that nobody would suspect foul play and the eventual death of the Pandavas would pass off as an accident. In the Mahabharata this incident is considered as a major turning point, since the Pandavas were considered dead by their cousins, the Kauravas which gave them ample opportunity to prepare themselves for an upcoming and unavoidable war.

However, an escape route was prepared for the Pandavas who had been warned of the plot.

The site at Varnavrat has since become a tourist location.


Before the Battle of Kurukshetra, Duryodhana's plan was the peaceful annihilation of his cousins the Pandava princes, by setting fire to the house he had ordered to be built for them. The architect Purochana, who was also one of his ministers, was ordered to build the house, and for it to be made using lacquer, which is highly flammable. This was duly built at Varanavat, and when finished the Kauravas invited their cousins to visit a fair held there and also to live in the house for some time. Before the start of the journey, Vidura tactfully in presence of the Kaurava's, warned the Pandavas about the imminent danger in Mleccha language. These advise warnings from Vidura to Yudhisthira are specifically described in the Mahabharata Adi Parva.114 in a form of well versed poems.

  • "A weapon not made of steel or any other material element can be more than sharp to kill an enemy, and he who knows this is never killed."
  • "Fire cannot extinguish the soul but can annihilate the material body. But one who protects the soul lives".
  • "The conflagration that devastates a forest cannot hurt a rat which shelters itself in a hole or a porcupine which burrows in the earth. The wise man knows his bearings by looking at the stars."

These messages were meant to indicate to Yudhishthira and to him alone, about Duryodhana's hideous plot and the means of escape from danger. Yudhishthira indirectly had also confirmed to Vidura that he had understood the meaning behind the message.

Pandavas enter Varnavrat

As per the Mahabharata(Mbh.1.147), the Pandavas reached Varanavat on the eighth day of the month of Phalguna when the star Rohini was in the ascendant. As per historians, Varanavat was a large town, (for a town in 3000 BCE time periods) containing more than 1000 (perhaps 5000) inhabitants. The use of vehicles by the inhabitants also indicated a level ground rather than a mountainous terrain. The passage also indicated that the palace for the Pandavas were not ready when the Pandavas reached the town and took ten more days for completion. The Pandavas stayed in a temporary house arranged by Purochana and entered the house once it was complete.

Escape from Lakshagraha

Vidura sent to Pandavas a miner who created for them a Subterranean Passage with its one mouth in the center of the palace-house and the other mouth close to river Ganges. As per the Mahabharata, the Pandavas lived for a full year in the house while the tunnel was being dug in secrecy and was completed in less than 6 months. The person who had come to build the tunnel, completed his job of building the tunnel, concealed the entrance, informed the same to Pandavas and left. From the day one Bhima and Purochana were conspiring to kill each other. Purochana was waiting to set the Palace of wax on fire after everybody slept. But since Bhima used to be awake all night, Purochana never got a chance to do so.

Seeing that Bhima never slept even a single day and stayed awake all the time, Purochana asked his wife, a Nishadas huntswoman and her five sons to the palace to help him complete his mission. Her objective was to poison the food given to the Pandava's. But Bhima sensing danger ate the entire food, without her knowledge. Since Bhima had already consumed the Kalakoota poison as a child, the poison mixed in the food did not have any effect on him. Later in the night Purochana not knowing that the Pandava's were simply sleeping assumed them to be dead. To celebrate this Purochana began drinking and within hours was drunk. Utilizing this opportunity the Pandava's set fire to the palace and escaped through the tunnel. Ironically in the ensuing fire, Purochana, his wife and her five sons themselves perished. Meanwhile on the other side,a boat-man sent by Vidura saw the Pandavas as they emerged from the tunnel close to the banks of river Ganges and ferried the Pandavas and their mother to safety. News about the fire reached Hastinapura and Duryodhana, who did not know that his plan had gone astray, assumed that the Pandava's were dead and secretly rejoiced. Only Vidura knew that the Pandava's were safe and he shared that information with Bheeshma alone.


Lakshgraha Varanavat, is located in modern day Handia in Allahabd district in Uttar Pradesh, India. .The Lakshagraha as on date is a huge mound which covers an area of 29 Bigha. It is located on the northern bank of River Ganges, and is about 4 km away from NH2 highway


To develop Lakshagraha as a tourist spot, a programme was organised in Handia on June 19, 2011.On the occasion, a 21 feet huge idol of lord Janardhan and 5 feet statue of Kunti Mata was also installed.

Getting There

By Road, Frequent bus service is available up to Handia from Allahabad & Varanasi as well. By Rail, Handia is about 5 km away from this site. Local transport is available from the Handia railway station[3][4]


  1. ^ "Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit". 
  2. ^ "Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit". 
  3. ^ Dutt, Romesh. "Maha-Bharata, The Epic of Ancient India". 
  4. ^ Dwaipayana, Vyasa. "The Mahabharata of Krishna". 

External Reading

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