|Named for||Kurukshetra War|
|• Total||48 km2 (19 sq mi)|
|• Official||Hindi, Haryanvi|
|• Additional official||English, Punjabi|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|ISO 3166 code||IN-HR|
Kurukshetra (Hindi pronunciation: [kʊrʊkʃeːtɾə], pronunciation (help·info)) is a city and administrative headquarter of Kurukshetra district in the Indian state of Haryana. It is also known as Dharmakshetra ("Realm of duty ") and as the "Land of the Bhagavad Gita".
See also: Kurukshetra War
According to the Puranas, Kurukshetra is a region named after King Kuru, the ancestor of Kauravas and Pandavas in the Kuru kingdom, as depicted in epic Mahabharata. The Kurukshetra War of the Mahabharata is believed to have taken place here. Thaneswar whose urban area is merged with Kurukshetra is a pilgrimage site with many locations attributed to Mahabharata.
In the Vedas Kurukshetra is described not as a city but as a region ("kshetra" means "region" in Sanskrit). The boundaries of Kurukshetra correspond roughly to the central and western parts of the state of Haryana and southern Punjab. According to the Taittiriya Aranyaka 5.1.1., the Kurukshetra region is south of Turghna (Srughna/Sugh in Sirhind, Punjab), north of Khandava (Delhi and Mewat region), east of Maru (desert), and west of Parin.
According to the Vamana Purana, King Kuru chose land at the banks of the Sarasvati River for embedding spirituality with eight virtues: austerity (Tapas), truth (Satya), forgiveness (Kshama), kindness (Daya), purity (Shuddha), charity (Daana), devotion (Yajna), and conduct (Brahmacharya). Lord Vishnu was impressed with the acts of King Kuru and blessed him with two boons—first, that this land forever will be known as a Holy Land after his name as Kurukshetra (the land of Kuru); second that anyone dying on this land will go to heaven.
The land of Kurukshetra was situated between two rivers—the Sarasvati and the Drishadvati.
Kuru Kingdom, founded by King Puru - the ancestors of Kauravas and Pandavas Vedic Indo-Aryan tribal union in northern Iron Age (c. 1200 – c. 900 BCE), developed into the first recorded state-level society (janapada) in the Indian subcontinent. This kingdom documented their ritual hymns into collections called the Vedas, and developed new rituals which gained their position in Indian civilization as the Srauta rituals, which contributed to the "classical synthesis" or "Hindu synthesis" (roots of Hinduism). It was the dominant political and cultural center of the middle Vedic Period during the reigns of Parikshit and Janamejaya, but declined in importance during the late Vedic period (c. 900 – c. 500 BCE) and had become "something of a backwater" by the Mahajanapada period in the 5th century BCE. Traditions and legends about the Kurus continued into the post-Vedic period, providing the basis for the Mahabharata epic. The time-frame and geographical extent of the Kuru kingdom (as determined by philological study of the Vedic literature) corresponds with the archaeological Painted Grey Ware culture.
Kurukshetra was conquered by the Mauryan empire in the late 4th century BCE and subsequently became a center of Buddhism and Hinduism. The history of Kurukshetra is little-known in between the collapse of the Mauryans and the rise of the Kushans who conquered the region. After the decline of Kushan power in the region, Kurukshetra became independent only to become conquered by the Gupta empire in the early 4th century CE. Under Gupta rule, Kurukshetra experienced a cultural and religious revival and became a center for Hinduism. After the fall of the Gupta, the Pushyabhuti dynasty ruled over Kurukshetra.
Kurukshetra reached the zenith of its progress during the reign of King Harsha (c. 590–647 CE) during which Chinese scholar Xuanzang visited Thanesar. Civil war broke out when Harsha (of the Pushyabhuti dynasty) died without a successor in 647. A Kashmiri army briefly conquered Kurukshetra in 733 but were unable to establish dominion in the area. In 736, the Tomara dynasty was founded and they took over the region. Around the early 9th century, Kurukshetra lost its independence to Bengal. Mahmud of Ghazni sacked Kurukshetra in 1014 and Muslim raiders sacked it in 1034. Kurukshetra was incorporated into the Delhi Sultanate in 1206. Other than a short moment of independence from the result of a rebellion within the Sultanate in 1240, Kurukshetra was under the control of Delhi until 1388.
Kurukshetra became independent once again after the steep decline of the Delhi Sultanate and the raids of Tamerlane near the region. The Sayyid dynasty incorporated Kurukshetra into their territory though the city likely enjoyed some autonomy. The area was much more firmly controlled under the subsequent Lodi dynasty. Some damages to Kurukshetra and its structures occurred during this period. Kurukshetra became part of the Mughal Empire after Babur quashed a local rebellion in 1526. Under Akbar, Kurukshetra once again became a spiritual center not only for Hindus but also for Sikhs and Muslims.
Between the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Kurukshetra was controlled by the forces of the Maratha Empire until the British took over Delhi in 1803. In 1805, the British took Kurukshetra after defeating the Maratha forces in the Second Anglo-Maratha War, who were controlling the city. Since 1947, Kurukshetra has become a popular spiritual center and has seen much infrastructure, development, and restoration of old structures.
Kurukshetra city is surrounded by Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar to the northwest, Ambala, Chandigarh, Shimla to the north, Yamuna Nagar, Jagadhri, Dehradun to the northeast, Pehowa, Cheeka, Mansa to the west, Ladwa, Saharanpur, Roorkee to the east, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar to the southwest, Karnal, Panipat, Sonipat, New Delhi to the south, and Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut to the southeast.
The climate of the district varies as the temperature in summer reaches as high as 47 °C, and as low 1 °C in winter, with rains in July and August.
In 2017, the government declared Kurukshetra a holy city and the sale, possession, and consumption of meat are banned within the limits of the Municipal Corporation due to its religious significance.
Kurukshetra Junction railway station is a junction station at the junction of Delhi–Kalka line and Kurukshetra–Jind branch line. It is located in the Indian state of Haryana. It serves Kurukshetra and Thanesar city.
Kurukshetra is an important Hindu pilgrimage destination, and there are several pilgrimage sites surrounding the city. The Hindi phrase 48 kos parikrama refers to a roughly 90-km traditional circle (Parikrama) around the holy city (1 kos equals about 3.00 km or 1.91 miles), and a complete parikrama refers to a pilgrimage to all these sites on foot. The International Gita Mahotsav, held every year in Kururukshetra on the Shukla Ekadashi - the 11th day of the waxing moon of the Margashirsha (Agrahayan) month of the Hindu calendar, celebrates the day Bhagavad Gita was revealed to Arjuna by Krishna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar' wrote an epic poem titled Kurukshetra, a narrative poem based on the Santi Parva of the Mahabharata. He wrote the poem when memories of the Second World War were fresh in his mind.
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