Kurukshetra, Part Five


BY: SUN STAFF - 21.12 2018

Silver drachm of King of Harshavardhana of Thanesvar (ancient Kurukshetra), c. 647 C.E.

From "A Tour in the Punjab", a report by Alexander Cunningham, published in Calcutta (1882) for the Archaeological Survey of India.

In the following list of the places of pilgrimage included within the Chakra, or holy circuit of Kurukshetra, I have inserted all the names that I have been able to pick up from various sources. Many of them have no connection with the heroes of the Mahabharata, such, for instance, as the numerous temples dedicated to Siva, and the numerous tanks dedicated to the Sun. But I was afraid to make any selection, lest in my ignorance I should omit some important place; and as the bare list of the names does not occupy much space, I have thought it best to give the whole of them.

I have arranged the list alphabetically according to the names of the places where the different shrines are situated, as I have found by experience that it is much more convenient to have all the names of the shrines belonging to one locality brought together under the name of the place, than to have them scattered about under the various initials of their own names.

[N. B. — In this list the letter T stands for Tiraths, or place of pilgrimage.]

Agad, or Agamdwat. — Three places of pilgrimage named Push-paka T, Dasaratha T, and Agama T, from the last of which the place derives its name. It is on the eastern boundary of the Chakra, 11 miles to the west of Karnal.

Ambhana. — Havya Tirath.

Amin, or Abhtmanyu-Khera, derives its name from Abhimanyu, the youthful son of Arjuna, who was killed by Jayadratha inside the Kaurava camp in front of Amin. The place is also called Chakra-bhyu, because the Kauravas here "formed in a circle" to surround Abhimanyu. Amin is a large and lofty mound, 5 miles to the south-south-east of Thanesar. It is about 2,ooo feet in length from north to south by 800 feet in breadth, with a height of from 25 to 30 feet. On the top there is a small village called Amin. The places of pilgrimage are a kund and temple dedicated to Aditi, and a kund and temple dedicated to Surya, or the sun. Here Aditi is said to have seated herself in ascetic abstraction to obtain a son, and here accordingly she obtained her wish and gave birth to Surya. All women who wish for male children pay their devotions at the temple of Aditi on Sunday (Adityawir), and afterwards bathe in the Suraj kund.

Asnipura, near Aujas Ghat, 1 mile to the west of Thanesar — Aujas Tirath, where Kartikeya gave the tilak to Prithi Raja.

Asthipura, or the "Place of Bones;" Vata Tirath, or the "Banian- tree pilgrimage." This tree is said to have stood on the spot where the bodies of all the slain in the 18 days of battle between the Kauravas and Pandavas were collected and burned. The site is to the west of Thanesar and to the south of Aujas Ghat. Bones of large size were still to be seen here in the time of Hwen Thsang. Whatever existed on this site was long ago swept away by the Muhammadans, who built a Madrasa or college on the ruins, which has also disappeared, but the mound is still known by the name of Madrasa Tila.

I made several excavations in this mound, which brought to light an extensive platform of unbaked bricks still 364 feet in length, besides many remains of walls and fragments of terra-cotta sculptures. The mound is 700 feet long by 500 feet broad. The unbaked bricks were 14 ¾ by 8 by 4 ½ inches. I found only one carved brick, but there were numerous fragments of stone, several carved, all of which looked as if they had been fractured by fire. The bricks were of several sizes, from 13 to 15 inches in length, by 9 and 10 inches in breadth, and from 2 to 3 ½ inches in thickness. Amongst the stone fragments there was a half life-size head of Siva as Trilochana, and a larger head and body of a female crouching. The terra-cottas also were broken, but I obtained one with two figures wrestling of which only the lower portion is missing. The figures are distinguished by long hair and curly hair, and the expression of pain on the curly-haired wrestler is well marked, although much exaggerated. [1] At some distance to the north-east there is a small mound called Dhira, 150, feet in diameter at base, and 80 feet at top with a height of 8 feet.

Bahlolpura. — Parasara Tirath, where Parasara performed asceticism.

Balavati — Vedavati Tirath,

Balu, 9 miles to the west of Karnal, and 17 miles to south of Thanesar, Kausiki Sangam T., at the junction of the Kausiki and Drishadwati Rivers.

Banpura. — Sri Kunj Tirath.

Barah. — Varah T., or the Boar Incarnation of Vishnu.

Baras , 2 miles to east of Basthali ; Konti T., in honour of Kunti, the mother of Five Pandavas, also Surya-Kund, Chandra-Kupa, and Tilottama T.

Barasola. — Bansamula Tirath.

Barat. — Bindu Tirath.

Basthali, or Vydsasthala, 16 miles to west of Karnal and 17 miles to south-south-west of Thanesar. Here, according to the Brahma Purana, the Rishi Vyasa was visited by the nine sages, Kasyapa, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja, Gautama, Vasishta, Jaimini, Dhaumia, Mir- kandeya, and Valmiki. [2] Here also is the Kindat Kupa Tirath.

Sannihit Sarovar, Kurukshetra

Ber, on the Sarsuti, 36 miles to the west of Thanesar, and 22 miles to the west of Pehoa. This is the north-west corner of the holy Chakra, and here accordingly there is a Yakshakund, where dwelt the Guardian Yaksha of the north-west corner. The name is frequently written Behr, but as the place is said to be situated in the midst of a forest of jujube trees, Badari, or Ber, the proper spelling would appear to be Ber.

Bhor or Bhore, 8 miles to the west of Thanesar; Surya Kund, and Bhurisrava Tank, or Bhurisaras. On the bank of the latter the young Kaurava warrior Bhurisravas was treacherously slain by Arjuna Pandava. Bhor or Bhore is a large village on a mound just half-way between Thanesar and Pehoa. The houses are all built of large old bricks, 12 ¾ by 9 ½ by 2 inches.

I have already given the story of the death of Bhurisravas from the Mahabharata. The following is the account which I received on the spot: "Bhurisrava, the son of Soma- ditya, Raja of Benares, died here. The village is named Bhor after him ; Arjun struck off both his arms with an arrow. It is said that an eagle (gidh, or vulture) flew away with one of the arms to the west where Shujah Badshah afterwards reigned. On this arm was an armlet with the Koh-i-nur diamond, which was afterwards taken by Ranjit Singh, and is now with Queen Victoria.

When Bhurisrava first came to Kurukshetra he intended to have joined the Kauravas. He was met by Krishna, who asked him, "Why have you come here with only three arrows?" He replied that three arrows were sufficient to annihilate a whole army, and that with one arrow he could pierce every single leaf of a tree. Krishna pointed out a tree to be shot at, and at the same time concealed one of the leaves of the tree under his foot. The arrow was shot, and all the leaves of the tree were found to have been pierced, as well as the leaf under Krishna's foot, although the foot itself was not hurt. Krishna thought that it would be very unlucky for the Pandavas to have so powerful an archer against them. So he assumed the form of a Brahman and asked Bhurisrava to give him his head. The archer consented, but with the condition that his head should be placed on the pinnacle of Krishna's chariot, so that he might behold the fight which he had come purposely to see. His head was cut off at once and placed on the pinnacle of the chariot, and the Pandavas were at once victorious."

Surya Kund, Kurukshetra

Bramahdat. — Brahmavarta Tirath.

Burasyam, 7 miles to the south of Thanesar. The holy places are Surya Kund, Vishunpada, Jyeshtisrama, and Konti Tirath. At the last spot the Rishis recited the git to Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas.

Chandaldna, on the Aughvati River bed, 13 miles to the south- west of Thanesar-Amrita-sthan and Amrita Kupa.

Dachor, on the Chotang River, 24 miles to the south-south-west of Thanesar, Dakshasrama Tirath.

Dhodha. — Trivishtap Tirath and Kotaka Tirath.

Dhundhi. — Ekahansa Tirath.

Dorkheri. — Dhanya-janam Tirath.

Dosar. — the "two lakes," named Jyoti-hrada and Surya Kund Tirath.

Dusen. — 6 miles to south-west of Nagdu, Sindan Tirath, Bari and Chhoti Andhiala Tirath, Anna Tirath, Gangiyam Tirath, and Dasaratha Tirath.

(To be continued…)



[1] See Plate XXVII for the drawing of this group

[2] Vans Kennedy's Researches in Hindu Mythology, p. 135, note