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Kurukshetra

Kurukshetra is a district in the state of Haryana.

Kurukshetra district is one of the districts of the state of Haryana with its headquarters at Kurukshetra town. The total area of Kurukshetra district is 1,682 sq kms and its population is 6,41,000. The Kurukshetra district lies between latitude 29o-52' to 30o- 12' and longitude 76o-26' to 77o-04' in the North Eastern part of Haryana State. The district has a total of 419 villages. Ghaggar, Markanda and Saraswati are the important rivers of the district. Kurukshetra town is situated 160 km north of Delhi on the national highway NH1. Other towns of the district are Pehowa, Ladwa, Ismailabad and Shahabad. Kurukshetra Railway Station, also called the Kurukshetra Junction, is located on main Delhi-Ambala Railway line.

Kurukshetra is a place of great historical and religious importance, revered all over the country for its sacred associations. It was here that the battle of Mahabharta was fought and Lord Krishna preached his Philosophy of "KARMA" as enshrined in the Holy Geeta to Arjuna at Jyotisar. In the very first verse of Bhagwat Gita, Kurukshetra is described as DHARAMKSHETRA i.e. field of righteousness. Mythologically, the name Kurukshetra applied to a circuit of about 48 KOS or about 80 miles (128 Kms) which includes a large number of holy places, temples and tanks connected with the ancient Indian traditions and the Mahabharata War and Kururu, the pious ancestor of Kaurvas and Pandavas.

HISTORY

The name Kurukshetra is associated in the Puranas and the Great Epic with the legendary king Kuru although it appears to be more logical to trace it to the tribe of Kurus which was born as a result of merger of the various classes of the Great Bharatas who are described in the Rigveda as kindling sacrificial fires on the banks of the sacred Sarasvati and Drishadvati. The Sarasvati is described in the Rigveda as a perennial river par excellence, flowing from the Himalayas to the ocean most probably it refers to the Ghaggar. The Drishadvati was the river in whose bed the Hansi-Hisar branch of the Western Yamuna Canal now flows. The Kurus also were known to the Rigveda as the mention of a King named Kurushravana indicates.

Many geographical names and personalities connected with Kurukshetra occur in the earliest Sanskrit literature and around this region were enacted the opening scenes of the drama of Indian history. Most of the Vedic literature was composed here and most of the social, religious and political traditions of this country arose in this region. It is therefore regarded as the cradle of Indian civilisation and culture. Kurukshetra shot into prominence as the battle field of Mahabharta and as the birth place of the holy Gita. The great 18-day battle of Mahabharta was fought here in the ancient past between Kauravas and Pandavas for upholding the cause of dharma. It was a war between good and evil, in which the Pandavas were victorious. Bhagvad Gita, the Song Celestial, is the divine message which lord Krishna delivered to Arjuna on the eve of the Great War when he saw the latter wavering from his duty. It epitomises all that is the best and noblest in the Hindu philosophy of life.

Jyotisar, near Thanesar, is supposed to mark the site where it was delivered. Kurukshetra is mentioned a great deal in ancient literature. A flourishing country of the Kurus, it was the most sacred region of the Dvapara age according to the Matsya Purana and one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas of Jambudvipa. It was the region of lakes and lotus beds which can be seen even now. Manu indirectly praises the prowess of the people of Kurukshetra. Bana describes it as the land of the brave in the eyes of the warriors. The place was visited by Buddha and appears to have been favoured by his masterly discourses. Kurukshetra also finds mention in Panini's Ashtadhyayi. It was also visited by nine out of the ten Sikh Gurus, Guru Angad Dev the Second Guru, being the only exception. The place where Guru Nanak stayed during his sojourn at Kurukshetra is well known as Gurdwara Sidhbati on a mound near the pumping station across the Kurukshetra Tank. The gurdwara dedicated to Guru Hargobind, the sixth guru, stands near Sannihit tank. Another gurdwara near the Sthaneshwar tank marks the spot sanctified by the visit of the ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur. And on the main bank of the Kurukshetra tank, stands the Gurdwara Rajghat built in the memory of the visit of the tenth Guru Gobind Singh; who also visited Jyotisar.

PLACES OF INTEREST

Brahma Sarovar: Dedicated to Brahma, the god who created our planet. Small temples and ghats surround the lake which is a very holy one. It is said that a dip in its waters during a lunar eclipse purifies the body and soul, and going by the turnout, Hindus do believe in that.

Narkatari Temple: It was here that Bhishma Pitamah (grandfather of Pandavas and Kauravas) lay down on a bed of arrows. Donít expect to see the bed, although a temple now stands here. Close by is the Banganga (or Bhishma Kund), a water tank. Legend says that when Bhishma Pitamah was dying on his bed of arrows and was thirsty, Arjuna shot an arrow into the ground and out spouted water.

Nabhi Kamal: Another tank, but here Brahma was born from the `navel of a lotusí. Thereís also a Prachin (ancient) Shiva mandir (temple), Birla mandir, Sanmith Sarovar (tank), Bhim kund, Saraswati kund, Panch Mukhi Hanuman (a statue of Lord Hanuman featuring him with five faces) and Raja ka Tila (a mound with a little fortress).

Gurudwaras & Rajghat: The gurudwara, dedicated to the sixth Sikh guru Hargobind, stands near the Sinnihit tank. The eight Sikh guru Harkishan performed a miracle of making a deaf and dumb boy recite verses from the Gita. The ninth guru, Teg Bahadur, set camp near Sthaneshwar tirtha where a gurudwara now stands. The Gurudwara Rajghat, the big daddy of all the Kurukshetra gurudwaras, is located near the main bank of the Klurukshetra tank. This was built in the memory of the Guru Gobin Singh who came here with his mother in tow.

Thanesar- Sacred Town of Hindus: Near Kurukshetra, Thanesar is a sacred town for Hindus because the Shiva in the form of linga (organ) was first worshipped here. Kuru, the Kauravas and Pandavasí ancestor, meditated on the banks of the Yamuna and Parshhuram killed many Kshtriyas here. King Harsha was born here, ascended the throne at the age of 16 and ruled for 41 years, sharing his seat of power with his widowed sister whom he had rescued from Sati (self immolation). During his rule, the reknowned Chinese traveller Huen Tsang lived in Thanesar for a number of years and Bana Bhatt, the celebrated Sanskrit scholar, met Harsha here. Sultan Muhammad plundered the city in AD 1014, destroyed most if its temples and carried away as much gold as he could. Akbar brought peace, but Aurangzed just messed things up for the Hindus because it was a sacred place for them.

Masjids: Tomb of Sheikh Chilhi Jalal A fascinating monument, octagonal in shape, crowned with a dome of white marble and surrounded by a white marble courtyard. Also check out Chini Masjid and Pathar Masjid, two oustanding monuments if you love the mughal architectural style.

Pehowa Temple: 27kms from Thanesar, Pehowa was built sometime in AD 882 although an inscription on a temple claims that it was actually built in AD 895 during King Mahendrapalís rule. From excavations we know that the town could also have been a part of the Mahabharata lore.





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