Known as the land of Bhagvad Gita and the Mahabharat, Kurukshetra is a popular pilgrimage in the state of Haryana about 170 km north of Delhi.
The city has great historical importance as it is associated with the Vedas. It is believed Lord Krishna preached the theories of Karma or duty to Arjun, giving birth to the holy text of Bhagvad Gita which encompasses the supreme principles of the Hindu religion.
The city has been known by several names like Dharamkshetra (Holy City), Brahmadevi, Uttaradevi, Brahmakshetra (Land of Brahma) over the ages.
Located on the banks of the Drishadvati River and the mythical Saraswati River; the city’s heritage dates back to 2800 BC. Lord Buddha, many Sikh Gurus and other religious teachers visited the region which emphasizes the fact that the city was considered a sacred place even during ancient times.
The city got its name from King Kuru of the Kuru clan. It is believed that King Kuru chose the region near Saraswati River to establish spirituality with qualities like truthfulness and kindness.
However, Kurukshetra is famous as the site of the epic battle between Pandavas and Kauravas. The battle of Kurukshetra pitted the good and the evil and from that day Kurukshetra is also known as Dharma Kshetra or the land of the righteous.
The founders of the Kuru clan laid the foundation for a lifestyle based on kindness but despite this, the descendants of the Kuru clan engaged in a battle against the Kauravs and the Pandavs for control of Hastinapur, which is now a town in Meerut. This epic battle was known as the Battle of Kurukshetra.
Excavations in many parts of Kurukshetra prove that the city existed even before the time of the Harappan civilization.
In ancient times, the Kurukshetra covered a huge area that was part of the existing state of Punjab and north western part of Jind district. It is believed that the Hindu doctrine and philosophies came in to being at Kurukshetra between 5 BC and 5 AD. The Rid Veda was also composed between 1500 BC and 1000 BC. in Kurukshetra.
Ancient records state that the city was the prime centre of Vedic Civilization and learning. Bharat Dynasty, King Ashok and Harsh had made Kurukshetra a part of their kingdoms during their reign over the region. The land of Kurukshetra came to be known as Uttaradevi when King Kuru came on this land.
The region has been ruled over by many empires over the years with the rule of King Harsha being the pinnacle of the region’s glory. Asoka made Kurukshetra a great place of learning. The sacred tanks in the city have been mentioned by Akbar’s court historian, Abul Fazl, in Akbarnama and have also been mentioned by Frenchtraveller, Francois Bernier during Shahjahan’s era.
Shopping in Kurukshetra is mainly for the pottery and handlooms. Utensils, vessels and toys are sold in the dusty lanes in the markets near the railways station. Embroidery and woven shawls, robes and lungis (sarong) are famous in the region. The best form of the woven cloth is the Phulkari Style of weaving with the use of vibrant colours and complicated designs.
WHERE TO STAY
There are many budget accommodation options in the city near the railway station. Kurukshetra being a temple town has as many as 12 dharamsalas mostly near Brahmasarovar. There are no luxury accommodations in Kurukshetra but the mid-range hotels near the Old Bus Stand and on Amin Road offer good facilities.
WHERE TO EAT
You get vegetarian as well as non vegetarian food in restaurants all over the city. The best non-vegetarian cuisine is served in restaurants located in Sector 7 and the best vegetarian restaurants are located in Sector 17. The civic authorities banned the sale and consumption of meat in 2012 but there are many restaurants on the outskirts of the city that serve non-vegetarian dishes.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Kurukshetra is between September and March.
WHAT TO SEE
Jyotisar: The place where the Bhagvad Gita was revelaed. ‘Jyoti’ means light and ‘Sar’ means the essence. It is also believed to be the place where Lord Krishna revealed his Virat Roop or universal form to Arjun.
Sannihit Sarovar: People travel from all over the country to take a dip in the water tank when their relatives die of unnatural causes. According to legend, sage Dadhichi gave up his earthly form near the tank.
Lakshmi Narayan Temple: The ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Narayan and Goddess Lakshmi. Built in the 18th century, the double storied temple is built in the shape of a square and has a conical roof.
Bhishma Kund: The large water reservoir is dedicated to Bhishma, the forefather of the Pandavs and Kauravs. According to legend, Arjun shot an arrow in to the ground as Bhishma lay on the bed of arrows.
Brahmasarovar: An ancient water tank of great religious and historical importance, it is one of the largest man-made bathing tanks in all of Asia. It was called a ‘mini sea made by man’ by Akbar’s historian, Abul Fazl. There are separate designated bathing spaces for men and women with curved enclosures. Devotees believe that a dip in this tank is similar to performing Ashwamedh Yagna and the tank is flocked by thousands of devotees during solar eclipse.
O P Jindal Park and Musical Fountain: Built in the memory of a former Power Minister of the state of Haryana, late O P Jindal, the park is spread across 14 acres with a jogging area, rose garden, meditation centre, picnic area, sports area, toddler’s zone and animal zone.
Rantuk Yaksha: One of the four Yakshas (statues of natural spirits that protect an earthly treasure) in the city, it is located on the bank of the Saraswati River. The site is believed to be the entrance to the region of Kurukshetra.
Kapil Muni Tirtha: Renowned for Saint Kapil, it is one of the most important pilgrimages in Kurukshetra.
NEAR TO KURUKSHETRA
Panipat: About 77 km south of the city, known for the epic battle of Panipat, the town is of great historical significance. It is also known as ‘City of Weavers’ due to presence of many factories and weaving units making handlooms like carpets and blankets. Earlier known as Panduprastha, it is believed that the city was one of five cities that were founded by the Pandavs of the Hindu epic, Mahabharata.
Chandigarh: About 98 km north of the city, Chandigarh is the first planned city of India. Designed by French architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, popular as Le Corbusier, it is the only city that serves as capital for two states – Punjab and Haryana.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Kurukshetra is as given below. The best time to visit Kurukshetra is also specified.