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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Jajhoti was ancient place mentioned by Xuanzang as Chi-chi-to in 641 AD. Alexander Cunningham[1] has identified it with Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh.



Visit of Jajhoti by Xuanzang

Alexander Cunningham[2] writes that Hwen Thsang places the kingdom of Chi-chi-to at 1000 li, or 167 miles, to the north-east of Ujain. As the first and second syllables of this name are represented by different Chinese characters,[3] it is certain that the pilgrim must have intended them to be the eqiiivalents of two distinct Indian characters. This requirement is fully met by identifying Chi-chi-to with the kingdom of Jajhoti, or Jajhaoti, mentioned by Abu Rihan, who calls the capital Kajurahah[4] and places it at 30 parasangs, or about 90 miles, to the south-east of Kanoj. The true direction, however, is almost due south, and the distance about twice 30 parasangs, or 180 miles. This capital was actually visited by Ibn Batuta in A.D. 1335, who calls it Kajura,[5] and describes it as possessing a lake about 1 mile in length, which was surrounded by idol temples. These are still standing at Khajuraho, and they form perhaps the most magnificent group of Hindu temples that is now to be found in northern India.

From these accounts of Abu Rihan and Ibn Batuta, it is evident that the province of Jajhoti corresponded with the modern district of Bundelkhand. The Chinese pilgrim estimates the circuit of Chichito at 4000 li, or 667 miles, which would form a square of about 167 miles to each side. Now, Bundelkhand in its widest extent is said to have comprised all

[p.482]: the country to the south of the Jumna and Ganges, from the Betwa river on the west to the temple of Vindhya-vasini-Devi on the east, including the districts of Chanderi, Sagar and Bilhari near the sources of the Narbada on the south. But these are also the limits of the ancient country of the Jajhotiya Brahmans, which, according to Buchanan's information,[6] extended from the Jumna on the north to the Narbada on the south, and from Urcha on the Betwa river in the west, to the Bundela Nala on the east. The last is said to be a small stream which falls into the Ganges near Banaras, and within two stages of Mirzapur. During the last twenty -five years I have traversed this tract of country repeatedly in all directions, and I have found the Jajhotiya Brahmans distributed over the whole province, but not a single family to the north of the Jumna or to the west of the Betwa. I have found them at Barwa Sagar near Urcha on the Betwa, at Mohda near Hamirpoor on the Jumna, at Rajnagar and Khajuraho near the Kane river, and at Udaipoor, Pathari and Eran, between Chanderi and Bhilsa. In Chanderi itself there are also Jajhotiya Baniyas, which alone is almost sufficient to show that the name is not a common family designation, but a descriptive term of more general acceptance. The Brahmans derive the name of Jajhotiya from Yajur-hota, an observance of the Yajur-ved; but as the name is applied to the Baniyas, or grain-dealers, as well as to the Brahmans, I think it almost certain that it must be a mere geographical designation derived from the name of their country, Jajhoti. This opinion is confirmed by other well-known names

[p.483]: of the Brahmanical tribes, as Kanojiya from Kanoj ; Gaur from Gaur ; Sarwanya or Sarjuparia from Sarju-par, the opposite bank of the Sarju river ; Bravira from Dravira in the Dakhan, Maithila from Mithila, etc. These examples are sufficient to show the prevalence of geographical names amongst the divisions of the Brahmanical tribes, and as each division is found most numerously in the province from which it derives its name, I conclude with some certainty that the country in which the Jajhotiya Brahmans preponderate must be the actual province of Jajhoti.

Khajuraho is a small village of 162 houses, containing rather less than 1000 inhabitants. Amongst these there are single houses of seven different divisions of the Jajhotiya Brahmans, and eleven houses of Chandel Rajputs, the chief of whom claim descent from Raja Paraml Deo, the antagonist of the famous Prithi Raj. The village is surrounded on all sides by temples and ruins ; but these are more thickly grouped in three separate spots on the west, north, and south-east. The western group, which consists entirely of Brahmanical temples, is situated on the banks of the Sib-sagar, a narrow sheet of water, about three-quarters of a mile in length from north to south in the rainy season, but not more than 600 feet square during the dry season. It is three-quarters of a mile from the village, and the same distance from the northern group of ruins, and a full mile from the south-eastern group of Jain temples. Altogether, the ruins cover about one square mile ; but as there are no remains of any kind between the western group and the Khajur Sagar, the boundary of the ancient city could not have extended beyond the west bank of the lake. On the other three sides of

[p.484]: the lake, the ruins are all continuous, extending over an oblong space 4500 feet in length from north to south, and 2500 feet in breadth from east to west, with a circuit of 14,000 feet, or nearly 3f miles. This corresponds almost exactly with the size of the capital as recorded by Hwen Thsang in A.D. 641, but at some later period the city of Khajuraho was extended to the east and south as far as the Kurar Nala, when it had a circuit of not less than 3½ miles. As Mahoba must have been about the same size as Khajuraho, it is doubtful which of the two was the capital at the time of Hwen Thsang' s visit. But as the very name of Mahoba, or Mahotsava-nagara, the " City of the great Jubilee," is specially connected with the rise of the Chandel dynasty, I think it most probable that Khajuraho must have been the capital of the earlier dynasty of Jajhotiya Brahmans ; and there-fore it must have been the capital of Jajhoti at the time of Hwen Thsang's visit. But as it is up- wards of 300 miles from Ujain, or just double the distance mentioned by the pilgrim, his 1000 li must be increased to 2000 li, or 333 miles, to make it accord with the actual measurement. It is a curious fact that Abu Rihan's distance from Kanoj is also in defect in the same proportion ; and this agreement suggests that the probable cause of both errors must be the same, namely, the excessive length of the kos of Bundelkhand, which is a little over 4 miles, or exactly double the ordinary kos of northern India.

Hwen Thsang estimates the circuit of the kingdom of Jajhoti at 4000 li, or 667 miles. To meet these large dimensions it must have comprised the whole tract of country lying between the Sindh and the Tons,

[p.485]: from the Ganges on the north to Nya Sarai and Bilhari on the south. This tract includes the famous fort of Kalinjar, which became the permanent capital of the Chandel Rajas after the occupation of Mahoba by the Muhammadans, and the strong fortress of Chanderi, which became the Muhammadan capital of eastern Malwa, after the desertion of the old city of Buri Chanderi.


  1. The Ancient Geography of India: I. The Buddhist Period, Including the Campaigns of Alexander, and the Travels of Hwen-Thsang. By Sir Alexander Cunningham, p.481
  2. The Ancient Geography of India/Champa, p.481
  3. Julien's 'Hiouen Thsang,' Index, iii. 530, 408. See Map No. I.
  4. Reinaud, 'Fragments Arabes,' etc., p. 106.
  5. Dr. Lee's translation, p. 162; where the name is read as Kajwara, hut the original Persian characters read Kaiura.
  6. 'Eastern India,' it. 452.