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|Named for||Kurukshetra War|
|• Total||1,530 km2 (590 sq mi)|
|• Additional official||English, Punjabi|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|ISO 3166 code||IN-HR|
Kurukshetra (pronunciation (help·info)) is a city in the Indian state of Haryana. It is also known as Dharmakshetra ("Holy Place") and as the "Land of the Bhagavad Gita". The Kurukshetra War of the Mahabharata is said to have taken place there.
In most ancient Hindu texts, Kurukshetra is not described as a city but 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.
- 1 History
- 2 International Gita Mahotsav
- 3 Vegetarian status
- 4 Geography
- 5 Climate
- 6 Places of interest
- 7 Educational institutes
- 8 District administration
- 9 In popular art
- 10 Notable persons
- 11 Gallery
- 12 References
- 13 External links
According to the Puranas, ancient Hindu texts, the region is named after King Kuru of the Bharata dynasty, who is also the ancestor of Pandavas and Kauravas. These texts also tell that the battle of Mahabharata was fought on this land.
As the Vamana Purana describes, King Kuru chose a land at the banks of Sarasvati River (dried up before 1900 BCE) 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.
This land has also been known as Uttarvedi, Brahmavedi, and Dharamkshetra at different periods. When King Kuru came on this land it was called Uttarvedi. Kurukshetra reached the zenith of its progress during the reign of King Harsha, during which Chinese scholar Xuanzang visited Thanesar.
International Gita Mahotsav
Gita Jayanti has been celebrated in Kurukshetra for decades. For a long time, it was known as Kurukshetra Utsav. According to the Hindu calendar, the holiday comes on Mokshda Ekadashi in the month of Margshirsh.
In 2016, the government of Haryana decided to give the Gita Jayanti a global flavour and organised an International Gita Mahotsav at Kurukshetra from 1 to 11 December. The Gita Jayanti was celebrated on 10 December as dictated by the traditional calendar. Over 2 million people visited the event that year. Later, in 2017, Gita Jayanti was celebrated on 30 November as per the traditional calendar, and over 2.5 million people visited. The idea of celebrating International Gita Mahotsav came from Swami Gyananand (Founder of GIEO Gita).
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.
The climate of the district is as high as 47 °C in summer, and as low 1 °C in winter, with rains in July and August.
Places of interest
Hindu religious sites
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 90km circle 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.
- Brahma Sarovar: Every year lakhs (hundreds of thousands) of people come to take a holy bath at Brahma Sarovar on the occasion of "Somavati Amavasya" (Sacred No-Moon Day that happens on a Monday) and on solar eclipses. They believe that a bath in the holy Sarovar frees all sins and cycle of birth-death. The Sarovar is one of the Asia's largest man-made ponds. Hindu genealogy registers are kept here.
- Sannihit Sarovar: The pond is believed to be the meeting point of seven sacred Saraswatis. The Sarovar, according to popular belief, contains sacred water. Bathing in the waters of the tank on the day of Amavasya (night of complete darkness) or on the day of an eclipse bestows blessings equivalent to performing the Ashvamedh Yajna.
- Jyotisar: The famous site where Bhagavad Gita was delivered to Arjuna under the tree. The tree of that time is witness to Gita.
- Kurukshetra Panorama and Science Centre: A mural depiction of the Mahabharata war.
- Dharohar Museum: A museum about the tradition and cultural depiction of Haryana located in Kurukshetra University.
- Sthaneshwar Mahadev
Other religious or historical sites
- Sheikh Chilli's Tomb: This monument is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. It was built during the Mughal era in remembrance of Sufi Saint Sheikh Chehli, believed to be the spiritual teacher of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh. The Prince's main 'Murshid' or 'Sheikh' (Spiritual Guide), however, is historically known to have been Hazrat Sheikh Mian Mir Sahib, of Lahore, although Sheikh Chehli might have been an additional teacher. Another theory is that the site of the so-called maqbara or tomb was one of the meditative 'Chillas' (places) of Hazrat Mian Mir Sahib, who may have visited the area during his wanderings. It is also possible that a later caretaker, some disciple of the Hazrat Sheikh, lies buried here at the place sanctified by his 'Chilla'.
General tourist sites
- Kurukshetra University: Established in 1956.
- University Institute of Engineering and Technology, Kurukshetra University
- National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra: Established in 1963 as the Regional Engineering College, Kurukshetra. It holds official Institute of National Importance status.
- National Institute of Design, Kurukshetra: An autonomous body under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. The Institute offers courses on industrial design, visual communication, and textiles.
- Shri Krishna AYUSH University, Kurukshetra. This is the first university related to the Indian system of medicine in the state, as well as the first university of its kind in India or elsewhere.
- The Deputy Commissioner, an officer belonging to the Indian Administrative Service, is in charge of the General Administration in the district. He is assisted by a number of officers belonging to Haryana Civil Service and other Haryana state services.
- The Superintendent of Police, an officer belonging to the Indian Police Service, is responsible for maintaining Law & Order and related issues in the district. He is assisted by the officers of the Haryana Police Service and other Haryana Police officials.
- The Deputy Conservator of Forests, an officer belonging to the Indian Forest Service, is responsible for the management of the Forests, Environment and Wild-Life in the district. He is assisted by the officers of the Haryana Forest Service and other Haryana Forest officials and Haryana Wildlife officials.
- Sectoral development is looked after by the district head/officer of each development department such as PWD, Health, Education, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Statistics, etc. These officers are from various Haryana state services.
- Shahbad, Ladwa, Pehowa, Babain, Ismailabad and Jhansa are other towns in the district with significant populations.
In popular art
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.
Map depicting all the 48 kos parikrama sites displayed at Ban Ganga/Bhishma Kund
- "Report of the Commissioner for linguistic minorities: 52nd report (July 2014 to June 2015)" (PDF). National Commission of Linguistic Minorities, India. Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. pp. 85–86. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
- IANS (28 January 2010). "Haryana grants second language status to Punjabi". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
- Agarwal, Vishal: Is There Vedic Evidence for the Indo-Aryan Immigration to India? Archived 28 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine (PDF)
- The Lost River, by Michel Danino. Penguin India 2010
- "Haryana bans meat in holy towns of Kurukshetra, Pehowa". The Indian Express. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- Aggarwal, Chandni. "Brahma Sarovar". Times of India Travel. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
- Lahore Gazetteer, 1887, p.203
- Dr. A. Rasul Jilani, Suifiya I Hind, 1969, pp. 112-119
- Das, Sisir Kumar (1995). A History of Indian literature. Sahitya Akademi. p. 908. ISBN 978-81-7201-798-9.
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