Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh gained sudden prominence after news circulated that the area has a rich vein of gold. The Geological Survey of India (GSI), however, said that only 160 tonnes of gold can be brought out from the available 3,000 tonnes gold ore.
There is a saying in Sonbhadra -- "Sau man sona, kona kona", which means a total of 4,000 kg gold is hidden in the corners. The saying is directly linked to the Son Pahari and Agori Fort. Tribal king Bal Shah's "Agori Fort" still exists in a shabby condition in the forest near Chopan Development Block's Agori village.
A story can be heard from the tribals in this area that tribal king Bal Shah ruled here in 711 A.D. Once the Chandel ruler attacked his state and Bal Shah had to flee. Bal Shah and his forces left the fort and took shelter in the Panari forest which is around 7 kilometre from here. They were also carrying "sau man" gold. Having no other option, the king had to hide the gold in this hill.
Since then people call it Son Pahari and the saying -- Sau man sona, kona kona -- became famous.
Social worker Rameshwar Gond, who also belongs to the tribal community, told IANS: "When the Chandel ruler got to know that Bal Shah and his soldiers were hiding here with the gold he launched another attack on them. But by then Bal Shah had been killed and eaten by wild animals. Bal Shah's wife Jurahi was caught up the Chandel ruler who took her to Jugail village and killed her. 'Jurahi Devi Temple' named after Queen Jurahi still exists in the Jugail forest".
"At that time, a man from the Kharwar community found Bal Shah's sword and battle armour in a cave. He sold the sword but the armour is still present at the home of a man from the same community. People believe that Bal Shah's treasure is still hidden in Son Pahari," Gond said.
Environment activist Jagar Narayan Vishwakarma said that the Chandel king's descendant Raja Aabhushan Brahma Shah has possession of Agori Fort. He lives in Rajpur in Sonbhadra district.
He said: "The shepherds have destroyed the fort in their search for the gold as the archaeology department did not take the responsibility to conserve it".