India is a land of traditions, myths, and great history. Though there are several stories from the past, the two great epics i.e. Mahabharata and Ramayana particularly lie in between myths and reality in this modern era. These beliefs are not truly wrong as many places cited in the stories still exist and there are true pieces of evidence.
30 ancient sites mentioned in Mahabharata
This place is located a few kilometers away from Kurukshetra. This was the place where Bhishma Pitamah had laid down on a bed of arrows. On being asked for water, Arjun shot down an arrow on the ground and a stream of water of Ganga came out and went straight to Bhishma Pitamah’s mouth.
This was the famous battlefield of the Mahabharata War. It is situated 40 km east of Ambala city. This land is also known as the land of the Altar for the sacrifice of Lord Bramha. A lake named Brahma Sarovar is very famous here. According to the Bhagwat, before the war of Mahabharata, Lord Krishna came here to take a dip in the Brahma kund.
Hastinapur is located in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. This was a grand city in the times of Mahabharata. This was also the capital of Kauravas and the Pandavas. This is the place where Draupadi lost her wealth and Yudhisthir lost his brothers in the game of gambling. After winning the war of Mahabharata, Pandavas made this city their capital.
Situated on the banks of the river Ganga, it is a city located near Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. It was here that Duryodhana built a Lakshgriha (wax house) to kill the Pandavas. To avoid the war of Mahabharata, Pandavas had asked for five villages from the Kauravas, Varnavat being one of these five cities.
Panchal Pradesh was located between the Himalayas and the river Chamba on both sides of the river Ganga. Once, when the King of Panchal got the news of an attack from the King of Ayodhya, he said that his five (panch) sons only were enough to fight the war. Since then, it was called “Panchal”. Draupadi was the daughter of King Drupadi and was named “Panchali” as she was the princess of Panchal.
Gandhar or Gandhara
This was an ancient city of Mahabharata and is currently situated to the west of river Sindhu in Sindh Pradesh, Rawalpindi. Dhritrashtra’s wife Gandhari was the daughter of the King of Gandhara. Gandhari’s brother Shakuni was a mastermind behind the war of Mahabharata.
This was the capital of Gandhar Desh. After the war of Mahabharata when the Pandavas left for the king Himalayas, Parikshit was made the king.
This was an ancient city near Kashipur, Nainital district. Guru Dronacharya taught archery to the Pandavas and Kauravas over here. There is a huge temple situated over here. Locals call it one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. This place is also called Bhimshankar.
Shivi Desh was located on the north border of India in South Punjab. The grandson of the generous King Ushinar was a Shaivya, who had got his daughter Devika married to Yudhishthir. During the war of Mahabharata, Shaivya played the role of an archer from the side of the Pandavas.
Indraprastha was a grand city situated to the south of present-day New Delhi. The Pandavas established this city after destroying Khandav Van (Forest). Vishwakarma, the architect of the Devtas had designed this city. This city was the capital of the Pandavas.
It is situated 10 kilometers away from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. This is a place of Lord Krishna ‘Bal-leelayen’. Even today Raas Leela is the main attraction of this place, Temple of Banke Bihari and Radhavallabh are very famous here. Janmashtami is popularly celebrated here.
Gokul is situated in Uttar Pradesh on the banks of the river Yamuna. Krishna and his elder brother Balram were brought up. Shri Krishna later became Arjun’s charioteer during the war and Balram taught the art of mace fight to Bhima and Duryodhan.
Barsana, Uttar Pradesh
This place is located 21 km from Govardhan mountain and has four hilltops that represent the four faces of Brahma, the Creator. Each hilltop is associated with some incident from Krishna’s life. On Mor Kutir’s top, he danced in the guise of a peacock to win the love of Radha. Radha’s parents lived in Barsana. The house of Radha’s father is atop Brahma Hill in Barsana.
Uttar Pradesh – Mathura was a famous place of pilgrimage during the Mahabharata period. It is located near the banks of Yamuna. Shri Krishna was born here. Shri Krishna killed the oppressor Kans, son of King Ugrasen, and got back Ugrasen his throne. After the fight in-between the Yaduvanshis, when the Yadavas were killed, Yudhishthir crowned Brijnath, the great-grandson of Krishna, the King of Mathura.
Kashi, Uttar Pradesh
The ancient city of the Mahabharata period, Kashi was famous as the chief education center of India. Bhishma Pitamah had won over Amba, Ambika, and Ambalika, the three daughters of the Kashi King. Dhritarashtra was Ambika’s son and Pandu was Ambalika’s son. Dhritarashtra’s sons were called Kauravas and Pandu’s sons were called Pandavas. The Mahabharata War was fought between the Kauravas and the Pandavas.
Ekachakranagari – Aarah, Bihar
During the period of Mahabharata, Aarah was known as Ekachakranagari. After being saved from the Lakshgriha, Pandavas lived in Ekachakranagari for a few days at a Brahmin’s house. It was here only that Bakasur’s son Bhishak had caught hold of the horse of Yudhishthir’s Ashvamedh Yagya and was later killed by Arjun.
Magadh, South Bihar
The ancient name of present-day South Bihar was Magadh. During the time of Mahabharata, Jarasandh ruled Magadh. Asti and Prapti, two daughters of Jarasandh, were married to Kans. After Krishna killed Kans, he became an enemy of Jarasandh. Jarasandh attacked Mathura many times. For the Rajsurya Yagya performed by Yudhishthira, Lord Krishna, Arjuna, and Bhima went to Magadh in the disguise of Brahmins and Bhima killed Jarasandh while wrestling.
Pundru Desh, Bihar
A part of Bihar was known as Pundru Desh during the time of the Mahabharata. King Pondrak of this region was a friend of Jarasandh and thought himself to be Krishna. He was present at the Swayamvar of Draupadi. Due to his ego, he challenged Krishna to discard his dress or else get ready for a fight. Krishna fought with him and killed him.
Pragjyotishpur, Guwahati, Assam
The capital of ancient Assam state, Pragjyotishpur, was located near present-day Guwahati. During the Mahabharata times, Narkasur was the king of this state. He had made 16000 girls captive. He even fought a battle with Lord Krishna. Shri Krishna killed Narkasur and took all 16,000 girls to Dwarka and married them. Here, near the Neelkanth Mountain, is located the famous temple of Kamakhya Devi built by Narkasur.
Assam- Kamakhya is a famous Shaktipeeth, located ten kilometers away from Guwahati in Assam. During the time of Mahabharata, Narkasur built a temple of Kamakhya Devi here. According to Bhagwat Purana, when Lord Shiva was roaming around like a man in despair with the dead body of Sati, then Lord Vishnu – with the help of his Sudarshan Chakra cut Sati’s dead body into pieces and dropped them one by one so that Shiva gets released of this weight and returns to being normal.
There were 51 pieces of the dead body of Sati cut by Lord Vishnu and the places on the earth where they fell are known as Shaktipeeth. Each Shaktipeeth is connected with one of the body parts of Sati. Kamakhya in Assam is where the Yoni (vagina) of Sati fell and is considered a very powerful center of Shakti (female) worship.
Manipur, East India
Manipur was an ancient city dating back to Mahabharata times. Manipur’s King Chitravahan had a daughter named Chitraganda. She was married to Arjun and had a son named Babhruvahan. Babhruvahan had taken part in the Rajsurya Yagya performed by the Pandavas.
Sindhu Desh – Sindh-Punjab, Mohsen-jo-Daro
The ancient Sindhu Desh of Mahabharata time was famous for art literature. King Jaydrath of Sindhu Desh was married to Dushaala, daughter of Dhritarashtra. Jaydrath was the chief reason for the death of Arjun’s son Abhimanyu who was caught up in the Chakravyuh. To take revenge for Abhimanyu’s death, Arjun killed Jaydrath.
Matsya Desh – North Rajasthan
Matsya Desh, located north of present-day Rajasthan, was one of the chief states of the Mahabharata times. Its capital was Viraatnagari. Pandavas had lived here at King Viraat’s palace in disguise for one year as they were to live incognito after the exile. Arjun’s son Abhimanyu was married to King Viraat’s daughter Uttara. There is a mention of Matsya Desh even in the Vedic times.
Muchhkand Tirtha, Dhoulpur, Rajasthan
In the times of Mahabharata, this was a dangerous mountain range in Dhoulpur, Rajasthan. After winning over Mathura, when Kaalyavan followed Krishna, Krishna hid in a cave in this mountain range and covered Muchhkand, who was sleeping there with his Pitambar (yellow cloth). Kaalyavan woke up Muchhkand, and the moment Muchhkand set his eyes on Kaalyavan, he was reduced to ashes.
Patan, Mehsana, Gujarat
Patan, situated near Mehsana, Gujarat, was a famous commercial city during the Mahabharata period. It is said that in the Dwapar Age, there was Hidimbvan around this city. During the period of their exile, the Pandavas had come here and it was here only that Bhima killed a demon named Hidimba and married his sister Hidimba.
Vardayini Dham: Rupalnagar, near Kalol, Gujarat
Rupalnagar was known as Rupavati during the time of Mahabharata. While going to Viraatnagari, the Pandavas performed pooja of Bhagwati Arya over here. As this place was blessed by the Pandavas, the Devi was named Vardayini and the place was named Vardayini Dham.
This is situated on the west coast of Gujarat and is an ancient city of the Mahabharata period. To protect the Yadavas from on-and-off attacks of Jarasandh, Lord Krishna shifted his capital from Mathura to Dwarka. Marine Archeologists have found the sunken remains of Dwarka off the coast of Gujarat. It is estimated to be a couple of thousand years old.
This is the famous place of pilgrimage located on the west seacoast of Gujarat. Dwarka is also located within this region. During the Mahabharata period, when Krishna shifted his capital from Mathura to Dwarka, he resided in the Prabhas region. It was in Prabhas that Lord Krishna was injured with the arrow of a hunter and left for his heavenly abode (Golok).
Avantika, Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
The present-day city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh was famous by the name of Avantika during the Mahabharata period. Rishi Sandipani’s ashram was located in Avantika. Lord Krishna and Balram had taken their education from Sandipani. Avantika is considered one of the seven holy cities of India.
Chedi, Madhya Pradesh
Located between the river Ganga and the Narmada in Madhya Pradesh, Chedi was a grand city of Mahabharata times. Shishupal, the King of Chedi, wanted to marry Rukmini but Krishna abducted her and got married to her. Because of this, Shishupal always remained angry at Krishna. During the war of Mahabharata, the residents of Chedi supported the Kauravas.
Vidarbha, Vidarbha Pradesh
King Bhismak of Vidarbha, the capital of Vidarbha Pradesh, was a valorous person. At the time of the Surya Yagya organized by the Pandavas, he had captured the horse of the Yagya. Due to this, there was a fight between him and Sahadev and he was defeated.
Revatak, Near Junagadh, Gujarat
Revatak Mountain near Junagadh in Gujarat is also known as Girnar. This mountain is near Dwarka. Arjun had abducted Subhadra from near this mountain and later, with Krishna’s approval, married her.
Yayaatipur – Cuttack, Orissa
Orissa’s present-day region Jajpur was known as Yayaatipur in the times of Mahabharata. The river Vaitarni flows from near this region. Pandavas, along with Maharshi Lomesh, had offered pind-dan to their ancestors over here.