Kurukshetra is situated in the north Indian state of Haryana. The name Kurukshetra was originally given to an area covered by 48 kosas (an Indian form of measuring land) where 860 places of pilgrimage related to the Mahabharata exist today. Extending between 29.97°N and 76.85°E, Kurukshetra is in the district of Karnal, about 150 km northwest of Delhi.
The region of Kurukshetra lies east of the Punjab where the Aryans first settled when they began migrating into the subcontinent some time between 2000 and 1500 bc. It is believed that the Rig Veda was composed between 1500 and 1000 bc in this place.
From a historical perspective, it was here that the theological and philosophical framework of Hinduism was forged between the 5th century bc and the 5th century ad. It was here that nascent Hinduism, as we know it today emerged.
Tradition holds that the great 18-day battle between the Pandavas and Kauravas in which Lord Krishna played his enigmatic part, as described in the pages of the epic Mahabharata, was fought on the plains of Kurukshetra.
The sacred sites of Kurukshetra today preserve the memory of the struggle at both levels. Very appropriately, Kurukshetra is also known as Dharmakshetra-the region of the Dharma. Today, Kurukshetra, more than any other place in India, is the reduced image of the religious universe of the Hindus.
Fairs & Festivals
Each year in November and December, the Brahma Sarovar attracts large crowds to observe Deep Daan and Aarti, the ceremonies especially held to celebrate Gita Jayanti. There are also theatre performances, music recitals and pageants that bring the atmosphere to life.
Best Time to Visit
Climatically, Kurukshetra has three major seasons. The summer season (April-June) raises the mercury to as high as 110°F. Rainy season is from July to September. The average annual rainfall is 58 cm. Winter months are from October to March, when the temperature dips to as low as 40°F. This is the best season to visit Kurukshetra.
How to Reach
BY AIR -The nearest airport to Kurkshetra is Chandigarh airport that is situated at a distance of around 93 km. The next nearest airport is Delhi airport, 170 km away. Both these airports are very well-connected to important destinations of India as well as world. Private taxis are available from outside the airports to reach Kurukshetra.
BY RAIL -Kurukshetra railway station, around 2 km from the main city, is a major rail head. It is well- connected to important cities of India such as Delhi, Patiala, Meerut, Panipat, Ambala and Ludhiana. Local buses can be availed from the railway station to reach the city.
BY ROAD -Kurukshetra is very well- connected with other major cities of the country including Delhi (163 km), Chandigarh (93 km), Amritsar (328 km) and Panipat (71 km). Local, private and state-owned buses connect these places. Hiring a private cab is also available.
Places Around Kurukshetra
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 Pandavas' ancestors meditated on the banks of the Yamuna and Parasurama killed many Kshatriyas 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 renowned Chinese traveler 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 of its temples and carried away as much gold as he could. Akbar brought peace, but Aurangzeb just messed things up for the Hindus because it was a sacred place for them. The tomb of Sheikh Chilhi Jalal is a fascinating monument, octagonal in shape, crowned with a dome of white marble and surrounded by a white marble courtyard. Tourists may also check out Chini Masjid and Pathar Masjid, two outstanding monuments built in the Mughal architectural style.
Twenty-seven kilometers 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 Mahendrapal's rule. Numerous ghats and temples have been built in memory of king Prithu.
The legend of the Ban Ganga goes back to the final days of the Mahabharata battle when the patriarch, Bhishma, lay mortally wounded on a bed of arrows. In his dying moments, he felt thirsty and, as the patriarch of both the Kauravas and Pandavas, sent for Arjun. It is said that Arjuna's arrow brought the waters of the holy Ganga to quench the thirst of Bhishma. Today the site is worshipped as Bhishma Kund and lies some 12 km from Kurukshetra.