Kurukshetra Knowledge Guide


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 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. The land of Kurukshetra was situated between two rivers—the Sarasvati and the Drishadvati. 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. 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 Kurkushetra 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, Kurkushetra 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.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 either Mughal or Sikh forces until the British took over Delhi in 1803. In 1805, the British took Kurukshetra after defeating Sikh forces 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.