Let me begin by saying that Kurukshetra in Haryana has not got its due yet and it deserves visitors for all good reasons. I did a maiden visit to the city last week and I have returned highly impressed with its off-the-beaten-track historical attractions. It is an ideal destination for those who have a keen interest in history and wish to explore the legacy associated with Mahabharata. To begin with, the city is the birthplace of Bhagavad Gita. It is home to one of the Shaktipeeths of India. It has the largest man-made pond, Brahma Sarovar. It is also serenaded by the vibes of beautiful temples, kunds, and sarovars. The legacy does not end here. Kurukshetra is also home to a prestigious college, a state-of-the-art planetarium, and several modern museums. Every year, the government of Haryana celebrates International Gita Mahotsav at Kurukshetra.
Kurukshetra gets its name from the most popular ‘The Kurukshetra War’ also called the ‘Mahabharata War’, where the Pandavas fought the Pandavas. It is said that the war could have been fought anywhere but Lord Krishna had selected this city as the focal point to teach by example, end the rising sins and establish religion and philosophy of karma. This 18-day epic battle was fought here some 500 years ago or more, but even today, one can relive some of the instances from the story of Mahabharata. Let us travel to Kurukshetra, the city of great historical and religious importance, through this post.
I checked in Divine Clarks Inn Suites
Kurukshetra is located at a distance of 160 km from Delhi, and it can be reached by the oldest national highway, NH1. This is an easy and smooth road trip but even the train journey can be fun. I boarded the train at 8:30 a.m. and reached Kurukshetra at 10:30 a.m. I had booked Divine Inn Suites which is located in the Divine city center, hardly fifteen minutes from the station and right opposite the bus stand. In not more than 40 minutes, I had checked into the hotel, settled myself, and taken a shower too. The plan was to eat and shove off to explore the city at the earliest. I knew this was going to be a long day, thus I decided to have an early lunch and then head out. I had already shared my desire of exploring the city and thus, the hotel admin had already arranged a guide for city sightseeing. Here is a tip, when you travel to a new city, always prefer to explore it with a guide or a local. One draws more fun of the whole experience.
The first impression of the hotel was good. The restaurant was brightly lit and looked inviting. There was a very neat and clean vibe about the whole hotel. My room size was fine and I must say I was very happy to be received by crisp and clean linens. The bed was comfy and the bathroom was apt for a corporate hotel. I was pleasantly surprised that it met all my expectations in its category.
Kurukshetra is a relatively very small city. One doesn’t need to start early as the monuments, points of interest, and hotels are close together. One need not worry about missing much. Also, the general notion about the place is that one day is good enough to make the most of it. I had also planned a one-night stay. But from my experience, I will suggest 2 day/night stay. I had to cover some of the places in a hurry, where I would have loved to stay and surrender to the vibes. Kurukshetra deserves to be celebrated. The attractions are not only historically significant but beautiful too.
Below are the 10 places that I covered in my one day itinerary.
- Bhadrakali Temple
- Sthaneshwar Temple
- Sheikh Chilli tomb
- Ban Ganga, Bhisma Pitamah Temple
- Kalpana Chawla Planetarium
- NIT Kurukshetra
- Brahma Sarovar
- Sky High multi-cuisine rooftop Restaurant at Divine InnSuites
1 Day Itinerary of Kurukshetra
Bhadrakali Temple was my first stop. My guide wanted me to begin the sightseeing of Kurukshetra after seeking the blessings of Goddess Bhadrakali. This is the temple which is one among the 52 Shakti peeths of India. It is a very charming temple with beautiful sculptures of Gods and Goddesses. The most significant thing about the temple is that it is believed to be a wish-granting one. A lot of devotees visit the temple to pray for the fulfillment of a wish. Also, when the wish gets granted, people are supposed to return to offer a pair of horses to the Goddess. I found this tradition very heartwarming and the abundance of horses around the Goddess suggested that several wishes had come true. If you have heard about Mahabharata’s Chakravyuh, you must look for the drawing here. The temple also has Shiva’s abode and a section dedicated to Mata Vaishno Dev for Pindi darshan. The legends say that Sati’s body was cut into 52 parts, and all the parts fell on earth at different locations. Sati’s right ankle was found in Kurukshetra and thus, this temple is considered to be Sati’s abode and is highly revered. I covered the temple in less than half and hour.
From here, my guide and driver drove me to Sthaneshwar Temple. It is an ancient Shiva temple, very strategically placed with a small water tank in front and Gurudwara on the left corner. Together, they make a very picturesque setup. It is believed that the Pandavas along with Lord Krishna had prayed to Lord Shiva and received his blessings before Mahabharata. I loved the peaceful and calming ambiance of the temple. The Shivling inside and the Lord Shiva’s statue are decorated beautifully every evening. On Shivratri, this is the most sought-after place. Next to this place of worship, there is a small Krishna temple which is assumed to be a temple which becomes a witness of your trip to Kurukshetra. (Sakshi of your yatra to Kurukshetra). My guide showed me the pictures of the busy days of the temple and it was unbelievable. Thankfully, we spent some 20 minutes here in the day.
On the way to Ban Ganga, we also made a quick stop at the tomb that belongs to a famous Sufi Abd-ur-Rahim Abdul-Karim Abd-ur-Razak, popularly known by the name of Sheikh Chilli. This is an interesting one and if you would like to know about him, a visit in the inside is a must-do. Inside the brown facade, there are two tombs, one of the Sheikh and next to him is his wife. The gardens in the inside and the paintings on the walls are worth the time and attention. The monument does compare to some of the Mughal architectural deligthts. It is under the care of Archaeological Survey of India. Once can cover this place in 30-40 minutes.
Bhisma Pitamah temple, a huge Hanuman statue, and where Arjuna quenched the thirst of Bhisma Pitamah makes the experience of Baan Ganga. Towards the end of Mahabharata when Bhisma Pitamah was grounded and lay wounded on the rows of arrows, he called for water one day and requested Arjuna to quench his thirst. Arjun shot an arrow in the Mother Earth and then his Mother Ganga emerged to satiate his thirst. This point is converted into a pond and in the present times is revered as Bhishma Kund. The temple is also very interesting where one can see a statue of Bhisma Pitamah on the arrows.
Now, was the time to head to the most popular banyan tree of Kurukshetra, rather a set of 5 banyan trees which have been scientifically acknowledged they are very ancient and have been there since the Mahabharata age. One of the banyan trees is fenced and it is believed that under this one Bhagavad Gita was created. Another water body is around this area and the whole ambiance looks lovely. I sat down, prayed, and enjoyed some time under the shade of the tree. The place had a very positive vibe about itself. It was good to see a new museum and sculptures were already under construction there. Jyotisar is a very significant place and it is believed that the battle of Mahabharata began at Jyotisar. Also, I was informed that a light and sound show used to run here every evening. As the lockdown rules were being relaxed, it would resume soon.
It was already 4 p.m. and I was looking forward to covering a few more places. My guide drove me to Kalpana Chawla Memorial Planetarium, the planetarium that pays homage to Dr. Kalpana Chawla, the lady astronaut who inspired the whole country to dream big and considered astronomy as a career to pursue. She had lost her life on the return journey of the space shuttle, Columbia. There is a hall which talks about her life, about planets, science, astronomy and more. An outdoor garden has been developed to inspire a love for science and technology.
There is a good news for ISKCON followers, a huge temple is in the making in Kurukshetra. Due to scarcity of time, I did not stay there for long but you can definitely spend some time and enjoy the prasadam.
And before heading towards the breathtaking Brahma Sarovar, my guide also drove me around the campus of NIT Kurukshetra (National Institute of Technology), at my request. As an engineer myself, I love these campuses. It gives a moment to relive the college days. I immediately sent some of the pictures to my friends who had graduated from Kurukshetra and they were really happy about it.
And then there is this incredible Brahma Sarovar which is a must-must do in Kurukshetra. The man-made pond, one of the largest in Asia draws attention for many reasons. A lot of devotees come to take a holy dip in the waters here. It is considered auspicious and holy. The overall circumambulation of the Sarovar covers 4.5 kilometers and also gives you enough time to soak in the vibes of the place. I did the whole walk around and thoroughly inhaled the positive energy of the place. The sight of the crystal clear waters, migratory waters, a devotional song in the background was greatly relaxing and refreshing. There was sweet silence, space, and serenity in the atmosphere and this has to be my favorite place in Kurukshetra. And don’t forget to look for the huge sculpture of the popular chariot from the Mahabharata here.
Also, I would like to share here that the government of Haryana celebrates International Gita Mahotsav at Kurukshetra. Brahma Sarovar – Brahma Sarovar on the occasion of “Somavati Amavasya” (Sacred No-Moon Day that happens on a Monday)
By the time , I completed the parikrama (circumabulation of the BrahmaSarovar, visited all the temples in the premises and witnessed a gorgeous sunset, it was close to 7 P.M. and I was hungry too. I had to start for Nahan the next day and thus, I preferred to return. Had my trip not been planned already, I would have loved to extend my stay by one more day. Kurukshetra needs atleast 2 days. I had still not seen it all. Let me name of the places that I will do whenever I am there next time.
- Shri Venkateswara Swamy Tirupati Balaji Temple
- Gurudwara Mastgarh
- Shri Krishna Museum
- Dharohar Museum
- Kurukshetra Panorama and Science Centre
- Thanesar Archaeological Site Museum
- Pandava’s haveli or museum
- Panaroma science museum
The General manager of the hotel told me that I should have stayed there for the beautiful aarti as well. I was tired but I want my readers to be informed. Please do check the timings before leaving the premises of the temple.
In six hours, I had seen good enough places in Kurukshetra and I was thrilled about it. There was a feeling of satisfaction and learning after spending a fruitful day. But I still had the last and tenth place to go. This was a trendy and contemporary dining space on the rooftop, next to the swimming pool. And I didn’t have to go too far, just use the lift to go to the 5th floor from my room on the 3rd floor. Skyview is one of the restaurants in Divine Inn Clarks Suites. It is an open-air dining place where one can sit and enjoy dinner time with friends and family. The seating arrangement was nice, especially the gazebos which had been given a personal touch and looked beautiful under the sky. Overall, this is a go-to place for dinner if you are in Kurukshetra.
I do not like compromising on the cleanliness aspect during my travels. And I must say that Divine Clarks Inn is trying to provide the best services in their capacity. Such places which are not on tourist radar deserve hotels with all amenities so that travelers can go and stay there without worrying about anything. I would recommend Clarks in Kurukshetra, any day. On the second morning, I checked out of the hotel after a nice breakfast. They had a good spread.