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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Journeying through ancient sites of Mahabharat

Bharat’s epics have been depicted as ‘mythologies’ whereas, in reality, they are part of our history. A story that can be backed by archaeological and physical evidence should come under the ambit of history.

Like proof of the pudding is in the eating we can identify ancient cities mentioned in Mahabharata in states across the country even today. Here we bring to you a few of the ancient places that have been in existence from the times of the great epic

Banganga: is the place where Pitamaha Bhishma was laid on a bed of arrows and Arjun shot an arrow, as requested by Pitamaha, such that the waters of Ganga directly quenched Pitamaha’s thirst.

Kurukshetra: This is the site of the epic battle located 40 kilometers east of Ambala city. Brahma Sarovar (lake) lies here in which Bhagwan Krishna is said to have bathed before the commencement of the war.

Brahma Sarovar, Kurukshetra | Images, History, Best Time To Visit
PC: Holidify

Hastinapur: The capital city of the Kuru dynasty lies in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. During ancient times this city had a grandeur of its own. It has stood witness to several pleasant and unpleasant events that led to the Mahabharata war.

Varnavat: Lying close to Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, this is the city where Pandavas along with their mother Kunti had been sent by Duryodhan and Shakuni on a pleasure trip. The actual aim of both Duryodhan and his uncle was to get rid of all six of them by burning them alive in the wax castle.

Panchal Pradesh: The kingdom of Panchal was located on both sides of River Chamba between the Himalayas and Ganga. The place gets its name from the legend where the Raja of Panchal said that his five sons (Panch) were enough to deal with the army of Ayodhya when the latter had attacked the former. Princess Draupadi was also known as Panchali because she belonged to Panchal.

Gandhar: is situated on the western bank of River Sindhu in present-day Sindh Pradesh, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Dhritarashtra’s wife and Duryodhan’s mother Gandhari hailed from this kingdom. The treachery and vengeance-seeking nature of her brother Shakuni, crown prince of Gandhar, was one of the reasons for the terrible war that almost led to the annihilation of the Kuru dynasty.

Takshashila: Renowned as a great center of learning in later times. Takshashila was the capital of Gandhar during the Mahabharata era.

Ujjanak: This was a city near Kashipur which is at present located in the Nainital district of Himachal Pradesh. The city has the distinction of being the place where both Kauravas and Pandavas had been taught archery by Guru Dronacharya.

Shivi Desh: Was a kingdom located on the northern border of Bharat in present-day South Punjab. The princess of this dynasty was married to Yudhistir and hence they fought on the side of the Pandavas.

Indraprastha: Designed by the celestial architect Vishwakarma, Indraprastha was built by Pandavas on what used to be a difficult terrain named Kandavprastha. The area south of present-day Delhi is identified with the ancient city Indraprastha.

Vrindavan: 10 kilometers from Mathura is the place where Bhagwan Krishna performed his ‘leelas’ as a child. The temples of Banke Bihari and Radha Vallabh located here draw hoards of pilgrims every year.

Gokul: The village where Bhagwan Krishna and his brother Bhagwan Balaram spent their childhood lies on the banks of Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh.

Barsana: This is the ancestral place of Radha. Barsana is 21 kilometers away from Govardhan Mountain. The four hilltops of the Govardhan Parbat represent the four faces of Bhagwan Brahma.

Mathura: This is the birthplace of Bhagwan Krishna. When Kans, uncle of Bhagwan Krishna, usurped the throne from his father King Ugrasen, he made his sister Devaki and brother-in-law Vasudev prisoners as well. It was in prison that Bhagwan Krishna was born as the eighth child of the couple.

Kashi: It is one of the most ancient living cities in the world and a very important center of pilgrimage for Hindus. It was a renowned center of learning and education. The princesses of Kashi, Ambika, and Ambalika, were the mothers of Dhritarashtra and Pandu respectively.

Ekchakranagari: This place served as a refuge to Pandavas and Kunti when they were in disguise after their escape from the Wax Palace at Varnavat. This place can be identified with Aarah in present-day Bihar.

Magadh: Present-day Southern Bihar was known as Magadh during earlier times. This kingdom was ruled by Jarasandh, father-in-law of Kans. When Bhagwan Krishna killed Kans, Jarasandh sought revenge for the same and kept attacking Mathura often. He was killed by Bhim in a duel.

Pundru Desh: Pundru Desh was a part of modern-day Bihar ruled by King Paundrak. His inflated ego led him to challenge Bhagwan Krishna to a fight in which he was killed.

Pragjyotishpur, Assam: Situated close to Guwahati, Pragjyotishpur was the capital of the kingdom ruled by Narkasur. Narkasur is said to have kept 16000 girls captive who was freed by Bhagwan Krishna after killing the former.

Manipur: The ancient city of Manipur was ruled by Chitravahan whose daughter Chitrangada was married to Arjun. Babruvahan, son of Chitrangada and Arjun, participated in the Rajasuya Yagna performed by the Pandavas.


Sindu Desh: Sindhu Desh, ruled by Dhritarashtra’s son-in-law Jaydrath, is identified with the Sindh region which is now a part of Pakistan.

Matsya Desh, North Rajasthan: The capital of this kingdom was Viraatnagari where the Pandavas and Draupadi spent the year of disguise (13th year) of their exile. Princess Uttara was married to Abhimanyu, Shri Krishna’s nephew and son of Arjun and Subhadra.

Muchhkand Tirtha, Dhoulpur, Rajasthan: The hills here had a reputation for being perilous. Muchhkand dwelled in the caves here and his look would reduce one to ashes. When Bhagwan Krishna was followed by Kaalyavan the former hid in the cave here. Kaalyavan mistook Muchhkand for Krishna and disturbed his sleep. As a result, Muchhkand burnt him to ashes.

Patan, Mehsana, Gujarat: Patan in the Mehsana district of Gujarat was a popular commercial city right from the Dwapar Yuga.

Vardayini Dham, Rupalnagar: This place lies near Kalol in Gujarat and was known as Rupavati during those times. Pandavas undertook a pooja here to please Devi before going incognito. Since they were blessed by Bhagwati, the Devi was called Vardayini (one who grants boons) and the place was named Vardayini Dham.

Avantika, Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh: Ujjain was known as Avantika earlier. It is counted among the seven holy cities of Hindus. The ashram of Rishi Sandipani, Guru of Bhagwans Krishna and Balaram, was located here.

Chedi, Madhya Pradesh: Chedi was ruled by Bhagwan Krishna’s cousin Shishupal during the times of Mahabharata. Chedi lies between the rivers Ganga and Narmada.

Vidarbha: was one of the powerful kingdoms of those times. King Bhishmak was defeated by Sahadev when the former abducted the horse of the Pandavas.

Revatak: is a mountain lying close to Dwarka. It is also known as Girnar and is located near Junagadh.

Yayaatipur: About 78 kilometers from Cuttack lies Jajpur which is identified with ancient Yayaatipur. Pandavas had offered oblations to their ancestors at Yayaatipur.

Kekaya Pradesh: On the northern border of Jammu and Kashmir was the kingdom of Kekaya. The dynasty was renowned for valorous warriors and fought on the side of Kauravas in Kurukshetra.

Madra Desh: It was ruled by Shalya who was Nakul and Sahadev’s uncle and Madri’s (second wife of Pandu) brother. The kingdom of Madra lay on the northern side of the Himalayas.

Anga Desh: The region which was gifted to Karna by Duryodhan lies in the Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh today. Its capital Malini Nagari is a Shakti Peeth where the right hand of Maa Sati fell after being dismembered by Bhagwan Vishnu.

Naimisharanya: This is an important place of pilgrimage located on the banks of River Gomati. It finds mention not just in the Mahabharata but in the Puranas also. It was here that the Mahabharata was recited by Rishi Ugrashravas to the gathering of Rishis.

Kaushambi: What is Allahabad (Prayagraj) today was the capital of Vatsa Desh earlier. They had sided with the Kauravas.

Kamakhya: is a renowned Shakti Peeth that is 10 kilometers away from Guwahati in Assam.

Dwarka: This place in coastal Gujarat was constructed by the celestial architect Vishwakarma on the instructions of Bhagwan Krishna. To avoid unnecessary war Bhagwan Krishna moved with His entire clan to Dwarka. He had to take this step because Jarasandh kept attacking Mathura repeatedly after Kans was killed. Dwarka is an important pilgrimage center today.

Dwarka - Wikipedia
PC: Wikipedia

Prabhas: The region on Bharat’s west coast in Gujarat is identified as Prabhas Kshetra. Bet Dwarka lies within this region. This place saw the end of Yaduvanshis after they fought and killed each other. When Bhagwan Krishna left for his heavenly abode the entire region was swallowed by the sea.

Shonitpur: is an important pilgrimage site housing a Bhagwan Narsimha temple. It is a few kilometers away from the modern city of Itarsi in Madhya Pradesh.

Indrakil: is identified as one of the mountains in the Himalayan range. It is significant because during their exile Arjun performed penance here to obtain the Pashupatastra from Bhagwan Shiva.

The country’s rich history needs to be celebrated by letting people know of these ancient cities that continue to stand witness to some of the greatest events in human history. Much can be taught and learned about our Puranas, Shastras, and Itihasas if we form a Mahabharata and Ramayana circuit and encourage people to visit these sites so as to relive history.

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A opinionated girl-next-door with an attitude. I'm certainly not afraid to call myself 'a proud Hindu' and am positively politically incorrect. A Bharatiya at heart who loves reading, music, sports and nature. Travelling and writing are my passions.


  1. भारत के अमूल्य ग्रंथों की ऐतिहातिक्ता सिद्ध करने के सन्दर्भ उत्तम जानकारी। धन्यवाद।
    क्या हम भारत के रुपयों के द्वारा भी अनुदान का ऑनलाइन भुगतान कर सकते हैं। यदि हाँ तो कृपया उसकी पूरी जानकारी दें?


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