There is a never-ending list of what one would want to experience on a visit to a country like India, Its people, nature and surroundings, food, its landscape but the most important of all the culture and its history. Kurukshetra is also known as Dharamkshetra and has a history that dates way back over 5000 years.
Situated in Northern India in the state of Haryana, Kurukshetra is currently home to over 9.60 lakh people and despite its deep-rooted history and architecture still holds space for modern architecture.
The Cultural and Political Sides of Kurukshetra
Kurukshetra showcases the rich culture and diversity of the Indian Land. It is extremely bound by Hindu rituals and Customs which go back over 5000 years. The culture is highly influenced by Haryanvi and Punjabi culture. The influence of Hindu culture in the region comes from the historical incident of Mahabharata where Lord Shri Krishna delivered Shrimat Bhagwatgita to Arjuna during the war between Pandavas and Kauravas. Temples around Brahma Sarovar, Jyotisar, and the tomb at Sheikh Chehli mausoleum reflect the cultural influences.
India gained independence from British rule in 1947 and has since been a democratic and republican country. This also led to a shift in the political situation of the country and has helped new architectural styles to emerge in this region. The architectural style in the region has developed into conventional and modern that emphasizes merging historical elements from different times to create and deliver new and original designs while sticking to the local colour palette and aesthetics.
Demographics and their Effect on Architecture
Apart from being one of the cities with the most historic importance, Kurukshetra is home to people of multiple religions, cultures and ethnicities. Kurukshetra has a diverse and a mix of various cultural groups – Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains and Sikhs as well as small communities of people originating from Delhi, Noida and Chandigarh living in the city.
The Presence of various communities and varying demographics plays a vital role in the architecture of the city as well as in the existing buildings along with the religious structures built in Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain and contemporary architectural styles. Historic and old buildings of the city and the downtown area of the city date back to times during Mahabharata and are estimated to be there before the historical event. The structures include the temples. One such iconic temple is the Sarveshwar Mahadev Temple commonly known as Brahma Sarovar Temple.
Sarveshwar Mahadev Temple has mythological importance as it is believed Lord Brahma worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple. It’s also believed that this temple used to be destroyed every day during the daytime and reconstructed in the night during the battle of Mahabharata.
The various temples across the city capture and showcase the other side of Kurukshetra.
Modernization of Architecture in Kurukshetra
The election of the Congress government in 1952 heralded a period of economic and social liberation that helped in changing and influencing the history of the city Kurukshetra. The ideas of modernism began to influence the region and introduce new materials. This is when the new construction of contemporary houses was initiated and gradually increased.
Places that are must-visit in Kurukshetra
It is regarded as one of the most sacred tirthas present in the country of India. It is believed that Jyotisar is the birthplace of Shrimad Bhagwat Gita, It is in this place where the battle of Mahabharata was commenced as the great warrior Arjuna received the word of god in form of Gita from Lord Krishna.
2. Brahma Sarovar
Brahma Sarovar is a temple dedicated to Lord Brahma. It has a manmade lake where devotees take bath in the holy waters. People travel across states to bathe in the holy waters especially during a solar eclipse.
3. Kos Minars
The Mughals ruled India for almost 180 years and have an influence on their culture that can still be felt and seen in modern India. They have constructed many monuments; one such collection of buildings are the Kos Minars. There are 49 currently located in different locations across Kurukshetra. They were used for communication within the Mughal empire.
4. Sheikh Chilli’s Tomb
Sheikh’s Chilli’s Tomb is the resting place of a Mugual scholar – Sheikh Chilli. The monument consists of two tombs of – Sheikh chilli and his wife, a museum that displays possessions and artefacts of sheikh chilli and lush green fields around.
The city of Kurukshetra tends to be overlooked to a great extent. It is sought to be just like any other city with a strong historic background. It is, however, a city with a complex blend of diverse amalgamation of several cultures and people with their rituals and beautiful history.
Citations for websites:
Prasad, P., 2021. 5 Culturally Rich Places to Visit in Kurukshetra [Land of the Bhagavad Gita]. [online] Guide: Best Places to Visit. Available at: https://www.oyorooms.com/travel-guide/places-to-visit-in-kurukshetra-2/
[Accessed 10 October 2021].
The Asian Age. 2021. The Kurukshetra trail!. [online] Available at: https://www.asianage.com/travel/101219/the-kurukshetra-trail.html
[Accessed 10 October 2021].