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Kamyaka Forest (Hindi: काम्यक वन) was situated on the western boundary of the Kuru Kingdom (Kuru Proper + Kurujangala), on the banks of the Saraswati River. It lay to the west of the Kurukshetra plain. It contained within it a lake called the Kamyaka lake (2,51). Kamyaka forest is mentioned as being situated at the head of the Thar desert, near the lake Trinavindu (3,256). The Pandavas on their way to exile in the woods, left Pramanakoti on the banks of the Ganges and went towards Kurukshetra, travelling in a western direction, crossing the rivers Yamuna and Drishadvati. They finally reached the banks of the Saraswati River. There they saw the forest of Kamyaka, the favourite haunt of ascetics, situated on a level and wild plain on the banks of the Saraswati (3-5,36) abounding in birds and deer (3,5). There the Pandavas lived in an ascetic asylum (3,10). It took 3 days for Pandavas to reach the Kamyaka forest, setting out from Hastinapura, on their chariots (3,11).
The Pandavas' stay in the Kamyaka Forest
First time visit
During their first time stay at Kamyaka, Bhima slew Hidimba (1st king of kamyaka) and Krimira, the Rakshasas. Bhima was second king of kamyaka. Kamyaka forest was easily accessible for the citizens of Kurujangala. So the people of Kurujangala frequently visited their King Yudhishthira in this forest (3,23). (Their cousins viz. the Yadavas, the Chedis and the Kekayas also visited them here). In order to avoid such contacts they moved to the Dwaita Forest (3,24).
Second and Third time Stay
The Pandavas came back from the Dwaita woods to Kamyaka again for a 2nd time. This time they lived without Arjuna who had left for military training in the northern Himalayas (3,36). They lived thus for 5 years in Kamyaka (3,50). Ghatotkacha lived with them during this period (7,181). Sage Vyasa and Sage Lomasa visited them then. From there, they set out for a pilgrimage across India, guided by Lomasa (3,93). Completing a tour of the whole of India, they came back to the Kurukshetra region, but without entering the Kamyaka forest, went to the regions north of the Himalayas. They came back from there with Arjuna among them and entered the Kamyaka woods for a 3rd time (3,181). It was the rainy season then and the Saraswati River was full of water at that time (3,181). This time the Yadavas and Sage Markandeya visited them. Sage Markandeya was an inhabitant of the Markanda river, a tributary of the Saraswati River in the north of Kurukshetra district in Haryana
Before entering Kamyaka this time, they had also spent one year in the forests of Vishakhayupa to the north of Kamyaka, on the banks of the Yamuna, up on the mountains from where the river originated. It was in the midst of mountains abounding with water-falls (3,176). While dwelling there Bhima was afflicted by a snake.
Fourth time Stay
The Pandavas again shifted to the Dwaita forest (3,176) and came back to Kamyaka for the 4th time after 1 year and 8 months, seeing that the deer population near the Dwaita lake was declining due to their presence there (3,256). During this time Jayadratha, the king of the Sindhu Kingdom, on his way to the Salwa Kingdom passed through the Kamyaka forest (3,262). He tried to abduct Draupadi, but the Pandavas prevented that attempt. In the 12th year of their exile they left Kamyaka forest forever and went to the Dwaita woods (3,308).
Thus the Pandavas spent their 12 years of forest life by shuttling between the Kamyaka and the Dwaita forests. There were roads walked by travellers, fields furnished with excellent corn and clear water between Dwaita and Kamyaka (3,256).
Kings of kamayaka forests
- Hidimba, first king
- Bhima, second king
- Ghatotkacha, bhima's son third king
- Takshaka, fourth king
- Mayasura, fifth king