He had been the perfect son and yet he chose to kill his mother. Wallowing in guilt, with the axe that had killed his mother still stuck in his hand, he travelled to myriad rivers and water bodies along the Himalayas in search of a place that would cleanse him of his grave sin. Today, men and women, of all ages, embark on a sojourn of a lifetime to take a dip in the sacred pond named after him. Sage Parshuram’s story is incredible and so is the Parshuram Kund with its shimmery aqua blue water.Our pilgrimage to Parshuram Kund began from Namsai. On our way, we stopped at the Teang Bridge to marvel at the stunning landscape of Chongkham. The route to Parshuram Kund was splendid and as green as green could be. Sun-soaked beetle nut trees swayed in the gentle air as we crossed large paddy fields and sprawling tea plantations. Witty BRO one-liners (like “A cat may have nine lives but you just have one”) were constant companions.
We passed the Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary’s main entrance gate, which leads to the famous Glow Lake Trek. A little ahead was Wakro, a tiny hilly hamlet dotted with bamboo houses and rice fields. At the Parshuram Kund Temple complex, a vibrant market selling religious items and artefacts and posters of Sage Parshuram welcomed us.
Parshuram Kund is your quintessential pilgrimage destination filled with religious and spiritual fervour. It requires one to descend almost five hundred steps to reach the pond but before that, one needs to seek blessings at the two imposing temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Sage Parshuram. We saw devotees donating cows as a sign of their devotion towards the latter.
Selfie-taking couples and mekhla chadar-clad women accompanied us on our way to the pond. Most of the devotees had come from Assam and Manipur. It was a Sunday afternoon and there was an unusual rush. At the kund, we met a local priest, who was kind enough to tell us its intriguing tale.
Encompassed by the magnificent Mishmi Hills and dense forests, Parashuram Kund is located on the Brahmaputra plateau in the southern reaches of the Lohit River. Legend suggests that once sage Parshuram’s mother Renuka had gone to fetch water from a river. At the river, she was mesmerised by a young and dashing prince who was enjoying a bath with beautiful women or apsaras as they were called. Renuka was smitten by his charm and forgot that her husband sage Jamadagni was waiting for her to continue his yagna. Sage Jamadagni was blessed with super powers and found out the reason why his wife had been late in reaching home. He was raging with anger and ordered his eldest son to kill Renuka.When none of his elder sons could kill their mother, Sage Parshuram agreed to do the needful and killed his mother with an axe. He also killed his brothers on the command of Jamadagni as they could not obey his orders. But, Parshuram had an intelligent plan. He knew that his father would be impressed with his action and would offer him a benediction. And the exact thing happened. Parshuram asked his father to bring his mother and brothers back to life. He also wished that none of his brothers and mother should have any memory of being killed by him. Jamadagni had to fulfil his wishes and everything went back to being normal.
But no story is interesting unless it has its share of conflict, right? Since Parshuram had committed a grave sin by killing his mother, the axe with which he had killed his mother got stuck in his hand. When he couldn’t get rid of it, Jamadagni advised him to travel to all rivers and water bodies in the Himalayas to atone for his sin. He told him that the water body that would cleanse him off his sin would also get him rid of the axe.
It was in what we call as Arunachal Pradesh’s Lohit that Parshuram was finally able to detach the axe from his hand and cleanse his sins. The event has also been narrated in the Kalika Purana, which says that it was in Parshuram Kund that the sage washed away his sin of matricide.
Since then, the place came to be known as Parshuram Kund. Today, it’s one of the most revered pilgrimage destinations in India and is flocked by devotees in the droves. It is believed that taking a dip in the sacred water would cleanse one of his sins, especially on the day of Makar Sankranti. A grand fair is also organised every year on Makar Sankranti which draws devotees from all corners of the country. It’s been a regular event since 1972 and a prime attraction of Arunachal Pradesh.