Location : 22 Kms from Chandigarh, Haryana
Significance : Famous Hindu Pilgrimage
Main Attractions : Brahma Sarovar
Main Languages/Dialect: Hindi, Haryanvi, English
Kurukshetra the holy pilgrimage covers an area of 48 kosas, in which 360 places of pilgrimage related to the Mahabharata can be seen. The area covers Pehowa, Kalayat, Amin, Phalgu, Thanesar, Jyotisara and Kurukshetra town.
Kurukshetra has been the germinating ground of the essence of what we call Hinduism. The call to duty is the supreme religion. The dictate to action without the thought, the hope, the wish, or reward is a philosophy that has guided the Indian psyche for thousands of years. It is one of those holy towns that have borne the imprint of Lord Krishna’s footsteps.
But it is not for this reason alone that Kurukshetra is the land where Manu wrote ‘Manusmriti’, where learned ‘rishis’ or Indian sages and scholars compiled the holy Rig Veda and Sama Veda. It is here too that the righteous King Kuru performed the supreme sacrifice to bring prosperity to the land and his people.
This was the place where the great epic battle of Mahabharata taught man righteous action. The ‘Ban Ganga’ of Arjun and the now subterranean ‘Saraswati’ once followed on this land, bringing peace to both who lived here and to those who died in action, in pain, in sorrow and in remorse.
The very first legend of this land talks of a sage King, named Kuru. He was the son of Samvarna and Tapati, ancestors of Kauravas and Pandavas. He founded a domain where righteousness and goodwill would render all who lived here holy.
For this, the king laid down the eight-fold ethical conduct (astangamahadharma) of austerity (tapas), truth (satya), forgiveness (kshama), kindness (daya), purity (saucha), charity (dana), yoga and continence (bramacharya). He selected a site near Sarasvati. With the bull of Shiva and the buffalo of Yama tied to his plough, the king began to till the land. On seeing this, Indra- the king of ‘devatas’ came to enquire the purpose of this action. King Kuru replied that he was preparing the land to sow the seeds of austerity. On hearing this King Indra laughed and went away.
But Kuru continued with his labour. Lord Vishnu appeared there and asked Kuru to give him the seeds of austerity that he desired to sow on the land. At this, King Kuru chopped off his limbs and finally his head to be sown into the soil.
On seeing this supreme sacrifice, Lord Vishnu was pleased. He asked the King to ask for two boons. Kuru prayed that the land may be known by his name, and anyone who died here, irrespective of his sins and virtues, may be granted place in Heaven. And so the land continues to bear the name of this righteous king.
The Land Sanctified
With the passage of time, Kurukshetra came to be visited by Lord Sri Krishna whose very presence and then the discourse on Gita made it holy. King Prithu’s prayers, Lord Buddha’s visit, halt of Sikh gurus, Sheikh Chehli ka Maqbara and the Gardens of Harsha Vardhan have, through the ages, marked the importance and sanctity of this town.
Amongst the holiest of water tanks of this revered land is the Brahma Sarovar. It is a common belief that Lord Brahma, the Creator of the Universe conceived the Earth here. The water tank finds mention as “the tank resembles an ocean”, in the memoirs of Al-Beruni named ‘Kitab-ul-Hind’. This scholar was describing the country in the 11th century AD.
Sannihit Sarovar, a holy tank is believed to be the meeting point of seven sacred Sarasvatis. Prayers and ‘pind daan’ for the unnatural deaths is recommended here. By the side of this renovated kund, lie small temples of Dhruv Narayan, Lord Vishnu, Laxmi Narayan, Dhruv Bhagat, Lord Hanuman and Mother Goddess Durga.
Set up by the Kurukshetra Development Board, Sri Krishna Museum has on display varied phases of the Lord’s life. Patta Chitra, Kangra, Madhubani and Pichhawai paintings, bronze collection dating to the times of the Pallava, Chola and Nayaka period.
The Sikh Gurus, like all Hindu saints, showed due veneration to recognised tenets of the Hindu faith. They visited the Hindu places of pilgrimage on holy festivals like the solar eclipse fair and gave their blessings to thousands of seekers of peace and solace. The place where Guru Nanak stayed during his sojourn at Kurukshetra is well known as ‘Gurudwara Sidhbati’.
Every year the birth of Srimad Bhagwad Gita is celebrated as the Gita Jayanti. A visit to Kurukshetra during the festival is an exhilarating and spiritual experience. The environment of the town is imbued with sanctity.
Celebrating this philosophy of selfless Karma, the Gita Jayanti presents Bhagwad Gita recitals, ‘aarti’ and ‘deepdaan’ at Brahma Sarovar, ‘shloka’ recital and quiz, ‘shobha yatras’ and seminars on the importance of Gita in today’s world. Free medical camps, book exhibitions and ‘bhajan’ recitals in classical tradition are organized.
Towards the north of Thanesar and over looking the sarai built by Sher Shah Suri is the marble tomb of Sheikh Chehli, an Iranian Sufi saint. He was laid to rest in this tomb, which had originally been built for Hazrat Kutub, Jalaluddin under orders of Shahjahan, out of his great respect and regard for Hazrat Sahib.
With an air of an ancient presence, lies the Sthaneshvara Mahadev Temple at Thanesar. It was here that the Pandavas prayed to Lord Shiva and received His blessings for victory in the battle of Mahabharata. Legend has it that the waters of the tank adjoining the temple are holy.
One of the most revered of holy centres of Kurukshetra is Jyotisara. Renovated recently, it retains its divinity as the birthplace of the holy Bhagwad Gita. A ‘Vat’ (banyan) tree stands on a raised plinth.
Prayers and ‘pind daan’ for the unnatural deaths is recommended here. By the side of this renovated kund lie small temples of Dhruv Narayan, Lord Vishnu, Laxmi Narayan, Dhruv Bhagat, Lord Hanuman and Mother Goddess Durga. It is also known as the ‘Prithudaka Tirtha’.
Or, ‘Furl’ as locals name it, lies 53 kms from Kurukshetra. Legend has it, that on the request of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu himself appeared here. This tale finds mention in the Narad Puran. A dip in the waters of the tank here, say locals, bring upon one wealth and prosperity. The Ghats of the kund have been improved with red stone. Renovation work of the area is in progress.
70 km from Kurukshetra on the Kaithal-Narwana Road lies another holy centre named Kalayat. The town has been named after Kapil Muni, the 10th son of Kardam Rishi, son of Brahma. The writing of ‘Shankhya Shastra’ is attributed to him. Waters of the tank located here are considered to have healing powers.
On days of Kartika Purnima, a number of devotees assemble here. A temple near the holy water tank is dedicated to Katyayani Devi. People come in large numbers to worship here.
Lying about 3 miles from Kurukshetra, is the Bhishma Kund. 0n the last legs of this war, Bhishma lay wounded on a bed of arrows. And as the end came near, he felt thirsty. The Kauravas, who were guarding him zealously, were unable to help him quench his thirst. At this Bhishma, who was the family elder of both the Kauravas and the Pandavas called for Arjun. Arjun’s arrow is said to have brought the waters of holy Ganges.
5 km away from Kurukshetra-Kirmich Road lies yet another site famous as the Ban Ganga. A tank of approximately 78×110 feet in dimension, a Hanuman temple and images of the Mahabharata heroes are installed here. Legend has it that when Arjun learnt of the death of his son Abhimanyu, he vowed to kill Jaidrath by dusk, or kill himself if he did not succeed. Battle strategies were grim. And so the Kauravas hid Jaidrath hoping Arjun, upon non-fulfilment of his vow, would kill himself. Arjun in his search for Jaidrath had to fight rows and rows of enemies.
The horses of Arjun became wounded and tired. On the order of Lord Krishna his charioteer, Arjun struck an arrow in the earth and a spring erupted. He made an enclosure with his arrows where Lord Krishna bathed the horses, washed their wounds with his garment and helped them quench their thirst. A fair is held here on the day of Baisakhi.
How to get there
The Airports close to Kurukshetra are at Delhi and Chandigarh, which are well connected by road and rail. Taxi service is also available.
Kurukshetra is a railway junction, well connected with all important towns and cities of the country.
Buses of Haryana Roadways and other State Corporations ply through Kurukshetra and connect it to Delhi, Chandigarh and other important places.