I tried to write this post last night, but went kaput!
Last week, I drove, from Delhi to Kurukshetra, in the Northern India state of Haryana. Kurukshetra is famous in India, as this is where the final battle between the two sets of cousins – the Pandavas and Kauravas – took place. This was the final, defining battle in the epic, The Mahabharath.
The highway is actually pretty good, and Google Maps prediction of the time that it takes is pretty good. However, if you get caught in a traffic jam in Delhi, then you are screwed.
Once you leave Delhi, you pass by the towns of Sonepat, Panipat and Karnal before you reach Kurukshetra. That is where there is a left turn, at a village called Pipli, and you go down the road to Pehowa. This is what we did.
Just after Sonepat there is an area called Murthal, where we wanted to have lunch, and we whizzed past it. The thing is that, these days, the flyovers take you right past the towns, and you can miss these rather nice places!
So, we had egg sandwiches, and right after Karnal, we stopped for lunch, at 5 pm. Parathas were the order of the day, and we were on our way. We stopped at a dhaba called the Zhilmil Dhaba. Not bad, but not that great
Kurukshetra and Pehowa are dominated by Punjabis, with lots of Gurudwaras. We stayed at a small dharamshala just outside Pehowa. I had gone there to pray for my ancestors, and this is what Pehowa is known for. In the ages past, it was known as Pitrudat, after an old king who loved his dad very much. Normally, you go there to pray for your parents just after they die. It's a very Punjabi thing to do.
Now, as I discovered, there is no ancient battlefield any more. But, the whole Kurukshetra region is kind of devoted to the Mahabharath. Our first stop (after we took some shots at the paddy fields!) was at the very spot where the God, Krishn recited the Gita to Arjun. Note that i use the Indian spellings (Krishn, not Krishna) for the names. There is a set of feet set in concrete, said to bear the markings on the soles of his feet. These are, of course, religious markings.
Next stop was the Brahma Sarovar, which is a large man-made lake. People offer water to the souls of the ancestors after they pray at Pehowa, and there are lots and lots and lots of con-men all asking you to pay more and more and more!
Third stop – the Bhishma Kund. This is a pond, at the spot where Arjun shot arrows into the ground on the 10th day of the battle. The arrows released a stream of water, to appease the thirst of the dying warrior, Bhishma, who was lying on a bed of arrows.
Our final stop was at a Sufi Tomb, the tomb of Sheikh Chaheli. The tomb was built by Sher Shah Suri, and the Sufi mystic was a sort of guru of Dara Shikoh, the eldest brother of the last great Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. Dara was paraded naked in the town before being executed by his younger brother.
As we were driving back, we photographed, what appeared to be milestones along the way. I need to research them more!
We did finally stop at Murthal, and went into eat at the Pahelwan Dhaba. Great, great stuff, but you need the physique of a Pahelwan(wrestler) to digest it!
Good trip. Good highway!