Situated on the higher terrains of Uttarakhand – 71 kms before Yamunotri and 75 kms from Mussoorie – is a place called Lakhamandal. Known for an ancient Shiva temple, the place has a connection with the Mahabharata.
Locals believe it is where the Lakshagraha episode of the great epic took place.
The Lakshagraha chapter in the Mahabharata is has been widely documented in TV serials and retold in folk tales with slight variations.
The story is that the vile Duryodhana orders the construction of a palace of wax for his cousins, the Pandavas. His plan was to get the Pandavas and their mother Kunti killed in a way that no one would suspect foul play. Unbeknownst to him, the Pandavas were warned of the plot and they managed to escape when the palace was set on fire.
The locals at Lakhamandal believe that the palace was built somewhere near the town.
The Mahabharata tells us that when Lakshagraha was set on fire, the Pandavas escaped through a tunnel that opened at the mouth of a cave.
At Lakhamandal, there is an ancient cave the locals believe was taken by the Pandavas as their escape route.
Though there are other places associated with the Lakshagraha event, Lakhamandal is the only place with a typical geographic feature – the cave – described in the Mahabharata. Yet like most historical places in India, this cave, too, is very ill-maintained.