Places in Kuru kingdom

Places in Kuru kingdom

"This article describes the cities, towns and provinces that lay within the Kuru Kingdom as described in the epic Mahabharata."

Hastinapura was the biggest city in Kuru Kingdom and was the capital of Kauravas, while the Pandavas ruled at Indraprastha, which grew into the second largest city of the Kuru Kingdom. Apart from these two cities, the Kuru Kingdom contained many towns and provinces. Dwaita Forest and Kamyaka Forest lay to the western boundary of the Kuru kingdom and a vast plain studded with small bushes and lakes called Kurukshetra lay within its territories. It was in this plain, the Kurukshetra War was fought. The army camps of Pandavas and Kauravas were so big that they grew as large as two cities in their own right.

"All the references of this article points to the epic Mahabharata. For example, (5,3), to be understood as Mahabharata, volume 5 chapter 3."


Vardhamana was the northern gate of the Kuru capital Hastinapura. It was a small town in its own right. Pandavas on their exile to woods passed this town, and thus issued out of the city of Hastinapura. They are then mentioned as heading in a northerly direction to reach Pramana (Pramanakoti) at night (3,1).


Pramanakoti was a beautiful spot on the banks of Ganga, to the north of Hastinapura, the Kuru capital (1,128). Duryodhana built a palace here for disporting himself in the waters of Ganga. A huge banyan tree was the mark of that place (3,12). Here he poisoned the food of Bhima, bound him and threw him into Ganga. Bhima was rescued by the Naga tribes living in the vicinity (1,128) (8,83) (9,56). The Pandavas on their exile to woods, ascended their cars, and setting out from Vardhamana reached the site of the mighty banyan tree called Pramana (Pramanakoti) on the banks of the Ganges (3,1). From here the Pandavas set out for the forests of Kamyaka (3,3).

"This place could be in Muzaffarnagar district, where Ganga turns from an east to west direction to a north to south direction. A small village near this place called Nagal, upstream and on the other (east) side of the river could be the territory of the Nagas who rescued Bhima"

Kamyaka Forest

"Main article Kamyaka Forest."

Kamyaka forest situated in the western boundary of the Kuru Kingdom (Kuru Proper + Kurujangala), on the banks of Saraswati River. It lied to the west of the Kurukshetra plain. It contained within it a lake called Kamyaka lake (2,51). Pandavas spent their exile in Kamyaka and Dwaita forests.

Dwaita Forest

"Main article Dwaita Forest."

Dwaita forest situated to the south of Kamyaka. It contained within it a lake called Dwaita lake. Pandavas had spent a considerable part of their exile in this forest. Bala Rama during his pilgrimage along Saraswati River had visited the Dwaita lake (9,37).


This was the ancient capital of the Kuru kings and their forefathers. It lied on the foothills of Himalayas, like the capital of northern Panchala viz Ahichatra. This city could be a place called Shibpuri to the north-east of Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. It lied to the north of Hastinapura and Pramanakoti. Pandavas lived there for one year commanded by Dhritarashtra, which was like a banishment from Hastinapura (1-61,95). At that time a festival of Siva had commenced in the town of Varanavata (1,145). The concourse of people was great and the procession was the most delightful of all ever witnessed. Varanavata was described as a beautiful and populous town. Pandavas lived there in a house made of inflammable materials like lac. Duryodhana wanted to murder the Pandavas, by setting that mansion ablaze. Pandavas escaped through an undergroud passage from that mansion (1,150). The passage took them to the outskirts of the city. Emergin out of it they reached the northern banks of Ganga. They crossed the river and reached the opposite bank and proceeded in southern direction. Finally they reached a desne forest (1,152). They were then in the territory of Rakshasas. Here Bhima slew Rakshasa Hidimba (1,156) and begat Ghatotkacha upon Hidimba his sister. Bhima sported with Hidimba for one year in the regions of Guhyakas (southern Tibet) and ascetics, on the banks of Manasa-sarovara (a lake in southern Tibet) (1,157).

*Varnavata (Varana) was mentioned as a province of Kuru Kingdom where the Kuru army for Kurukshetra War camped (5,19).
*Varanavata was one of the provinces asked by Pandavas, if Duryodhana is unwilling to give half the kingdom:- Give us even Kusasthala, Vrikasthala, Makandi, Varanavata, and for the fifth any other that Duryodhana liked (5,31).
*Words of Yudhisthira:- I prayed for only five villages, viz, Avishthala, Vrikasthala, Makandi, Varanavata, with any other as the fifth;--Grant us, we said, five villages or towns where we five may dwell in union (5,72) (5,82).
*Yuyutsu, is mentioned as battling in Varanavata with many kings together, for six months unvanquished. He in another battle at Varanasi overthrew with a broad-headed arrow the prince of Kasi, desirous of seizing at a Swayamvara (self-chice ceremony) a maiden for wife (7,10). "Thus it is clear that Varanavata and Varanasi (capital of Kasi, Banaras) were two different towns, though sounds similar."
*Vyasa is mentioned to have met Pandavas at Varanavata (2,76).
*Hanuman mistook Varanavata to be the capital of Kurus (3,150).


This province and town were situated in the southern part of Kuru Kingdom (Kuru Proper + Kurujangala). After setting out from Upaplavya a city in the Matsya Kingdom, Vasudeva Krishna, on his journey to Hastinapura, passed through many villages abounding in bees, and many cities and minor provinces. He then reached a village called Salibhavana (Salaheri, on the Rajasthan-Hariyana boarder), which was filled with every kind of crops, a spot that was delicious and sacred. It was the southern-most populated village in the Kuru Kingdom. It was protected by Bharatas (soldiers of Bharatas ?). The citisons of Upaplavya followed Krishna up to Salibhavana. Bidding farewell to them Krishna reached the town of Vrikasthala (in Gurgaon district of Hariyana) by the evening of the day. Krishna camped there for the night (5,84). Duryodhana erected many pavilions full of precious gems, on the road extending from Vrikasthala to Hasthinapura, to welcome Krishna (5,85). Next day Krishna took leave of the Bharatas who protected Vrikasthala and proceeded to Hastinapura. Citizens of Vrikasthala bid farewell to him. Finally he was welcomed by the Kurus at Hastinapura (5,89).


Makandi was a province running along the banks of Ganga, to the south of Hastinapura. It was a central province. The province extended to southern Panchala Kingdom, also with the same name. Kampilya the capital city of Panchala was situated in the Makandi province within the southern Panchala kingdom (1,140).


Kuru Kingdom was sometimes spoken of composed of three geographical regions viz Kuru-region (populated region), Kurujangala (sparingly populated with many forests) and Kurukshetra (a vast plain with minor bushlands).

Kurukshetra was a plain-land that lied to the south of the Saraswati River and the north of the river Drishadwati (3,83). Many battles during the epic-age was fought there. The encounter of Gandharva king and Kuru king Chitrangada (1,101), the encounter between Bhishma and Bhargava Rama (5,181), and the Kurukshetra War; all these wars occurred there. It was also known as Brahmakshetra, due to its religious significance (3,83).

That which lies between Tarantuka and Arantuka and the lakes of Rama and Machakruka is Kurukshetra. It is also called Samantapanchaka and is said to be the northern sacrificial altar of the Grandsire (3,83). The space between the Tarantuka and the Arantuka and the lakes of Rama and Shamachakra, is known as Kurukshetra (9,53).

Himalaya, the Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati with Kurukshetra and the Sindhu with its five tributary rivers where the region mentioned as the seat of Vedic religion (8,44).

Places named after Yaksha, Mankanaka and Vishnu were mentioned here. Other places include Pariplava, Prithivi, Shalukini, Sarpadevi (Naga-Tirtha), Tarantuka the gatekeeper, Panchananda, Koti, Aswina, Varaha, Sama (Jayanti), Ekahansa, Kritasaucha, Munjavata, Yakshini (the gate of Kurukshetra, created by Bhargava Rama), Rama-hrada (5 lakes called Samantapanchaka), Vansamulaka, Kayasodhana, Lokoddara, Kapila, Surya, Gobhavana, Shankhini, Devi-tirtha, Tarantuka (on Saraswati), Brahmavarta, Sutirtha (on river Amvumati), Kasiswara, Matri tirtha, Shitavana, Shwavillomapaha, Dasaswamedhika and Manusha. To the east of Manusha is the river Apaga. Beyond it is places like Brahmodumvara, Kedara (Kapila), Saraka, Rudrakoti, Ilaspada, Kindana, Kinjapya, Kalasi, Anajanma of Narada (east of Saraka), Pundarika, Tripishtapa, Vaitarani river, Phalakivana, Dhrishadwati, Sarvadeva, Panikhata, Misraka, Vyasavana, Manojava, Madhuvati (Devi Tirtha), the confluence of the Kausiki and the Drishadwati, Vyasasthali, Kindatta, Vedi, Ahas, Sudina, Mrigadhuma, Devi tirtha, Vamanaka, Kulampuna, Pavana-hrada, Amara-hrada, Sali surya, Sreekunja (on Saraswati), Naimishakunja (on Saraswati), Kanya, Brahma, Soma, Saptasaraswata, Ausanasa, Kapalamochana, Agni, Viswamitra, Brahmayoni, Prithudaka, Madhusrava, confluence of Saraswati and Aruna, Ardhakila, Satasahasraka, Sahasraka, Renuka, Vimochana, Panchavati, Taijasa (Varuna Tirta. Here Guha (Kartikeya) became the generalissimo of DEva army), Kuru-Tirta, Svargadwara, Anaraka, Swastipura, Pavana, Ganga-hrada, Kupa, Sthanuvata, Vadaripachana (Vasistha), Indramarga, Ekaratra, Aditya, Soma, Dadhicha, Kanyasrama, Sannihati (on Saraswati) and Koti-tirtha (of Yaksha Machakruka) (3,83).

King Pandu made Kurujangala, Kurukshetra, and the Kuru-region to grew in prosperity (1,109). Kurukshetra was the place where king Kuru, the founder of the Kuru dynasty, lived as an ascetic (1,94) Kuru is mentioned to use this land for agriculture also (9,53). Nagas also lived there (1,3). Similarly Asuras viz Sunda and Upasunda also lived there (1,213). The generallisimo of Deva army viz Guha (Kartikeya) also is linked with this place. (This could be one among the many places where the Devas formerly vanquished the Asuras). Janamejaya is mentioned to have performing a long sacrifice at Kurukshetra (1,3). Dhritarashtra spent his last days in the forests close to Kurukshetra (15,19). (See Also Kekeya Kingdom)

The portion of Saraswati River, flowing through Kurukshetra was known as Oghavati. Oghavati is mentioned to be same as Saraswati at (9,38). Bhishma lied in Kurukshetra War during his last days on the banks of Oghavati (12,50). Oghavat was a king (grandfather of Nriga), whose daughter was named Oghavati who dwelt in Kurukshetra, with his fire-worshiping husband Sudarsana (13,2). Another king Oghavat is mentioned as an ally of Salwa king who took part in Kurukshetra War and slain by Bhima (8,5). On the last day of the war Pandavas came to the banks of this river, leaving their camp on the banks of Hiranwati river (9,62).

Army camps of Kauravas for Kurukshetra War

Duryodhana had a force which numbered eleven Akshauhinis bristling with banners of various forms. There was no space in the city of Hastinapura even for the principal leaders of Duryodhana’s army. For this reason the land of the five rivers (Punjab), and the whole of the region called Kurujangala (Delhi and eastern Hariyana), and the forest of Rohitaka (Rohtak district in Hariyana) which was uniformly wild, and Ahichatra and Kalakuta (both in Northern Panchala (ie "Uttara-Panchala" viz Uttarakhand), and the banks of the Ganga, and Varana, and Vatadhana, and the hill tracts on the border of the Yamuna—the whole of this extensive tract—full of abundant corn and wealth, was entirely overspread with the army of the Kauravas, to battle in the Kurukshetra War. (5,19).

Army camps of Pandavas for Kurukshetra War

King Yudhishthira caused his troops to encamp on a part of the field that was level, cool, and abounding with grass and fuel. Avoiding cemeteries, temples and compounds consecrated to the deities, asylums of sages, shrines, and other sacred plots. Dhristadyumna and Satyaki measured the ground for encampment. The camp was constructed on the banks of Hiranwati which flows through Kurukshetra, whose bed was divested of pointed pebbles and mire (5,153).

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