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Brahma Sarovar
Thanesar is located in Haryana
Location in Haryana, India
Country  India
State Haryana
District Kurukshetra
Elevation 232 m (761 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 154,962
 • Official Hindi, Punjabi
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)

Thanesar (sometimes called Thaneswar and, archaically, Sthanishvara) is a historic town and an important Hindu pilgrimage centre on the banks of the Saraswati Ghaggar river in the state of Haryana in northern India. It is located in Kurukshetra District, approximately 160 km northwest of Delhi,and Kurukshetra’s urban area now merges with Thanesar.[2][3]

Prabhakarvardhana was a ruler of Thanesar in the early seventh-century CE and was succeeded by his sons, Rajyavardhana and Harsha.[4]


  • Origin of name 1
  • History 2
    • Mythological importance 2.1
    • Religious and historical importance 2.2
    • Sack of Sthaneshwar by Mahmud of Gazni 2.3
    • Medieval era 2.4
    • Muslim mosque and tomb 2.5
    • Sikh Gurdwara 2.6
  • Modern Thanesar 3
  • Geography 4
  • Demographics 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8

Origin of name

The name Thanesar is derived from its name in Sanskrit, Sthanishvara which means Place/Abode of the Lord. (Sthana-Place/region, Ishvara-Lord)


Harsha Ka Tila mound west of Sheikh Chilli's Tomb complex, with ruins from the reign of 7th century ruler Harsha.

In the post-Gupta period, the ancient city of Sthanishvara was the capital of the Vardhana or the Pushyabhuti dynasty, which ruled over a major part of North India during the late-6th and early-7th centuries. Prabhakarvardhana had his capital at Thanesar. After his death in 606 CE, his eldest son, Rajyavardhana, ascended the throne. Not long after, Rajyavardhana was murdered by a rival, which led to Harsha ascending to the throne at age 16. In the following years, he conquered much of North India, extended till Kamarupa, and evenetually made Kannauj (in present Uttar Pradesh state) his capital, and ruled till 647 CE. His biography Harshacharita (“Deeds of Harsha”) written by Sanskrit poet Banabhatta, describes his association with Thanesar, besides mentioning the defence wall, a moat and the palace with a two-storied Dhavalagriha (white mansion).[3][5][6]

The town was sacked by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1011.[7]

The present town of Thanesar is located on an ancient mound. The mound 1 km long and 750 m wide known as "Harsh ka Tila" (Mound of Harsha), west of Sheikh Chilli's Tomb complex in Thanesar. It has ruins of structures built during the reign of Harsha, 7th century CE. Amongst the archaeological finds from the mound include Painted Grey Ware shreds in the pre-Kushana levels and Red Polished Ware from post Gupta period.[5][8]

During Mughal era, the Battle of Thanesar also known as Battle of the Ascetics took place in summer of 1567, between Mughal Emperor Akbar and Rajputs near Thanesar on the banks of the Sarsawati Ghaggar River.

It was part of the Cis-Sutlej states province from 1809 to 1862. Thanesar was an obscure village until the 1950s. After the partition of India, a large refugee camp was set up here, which became the nucleus of a bustling commercial city. It grew so much that in 23 January 1973, a new district named Kurukshetra district was created, of which Thanesar was the main town. Now Thanesar is a Municipal Council. Thanesar is a Legislative Assembly of Haryana constituency within the Kurukshetra (Lok Sabha constituency).[9] People now tend, erroneously, to refer to Thanesar town as "Kurukshetra".

Mythological importance

The new district was named Kurukshetra to capitalize on the purported mythological significance of the area. According to the epic Mahabharata, Krishna along with his family came from Dwaraka to participate in the fair of solar eclipse at Kurukshetra. It is believed that the Mughal Emperor Akbar, accompanied by his court historian Abul Fazl, visited Kurukshetra during the solar eclipse in 1567. Abul Fazl’s Akbarnama refers to the eclipse in Kurukshetra and the pilgrims bathing in the Brahma Sarovar. The French traveler François Bernier of the Mughal Emperor Shahjehan’s era also mentions the sacred baths at the Indus, Ganges and the sacred tanks of Thaneshwar (Kurukshetra) on the occasion of the solar eclipse.[10]

Historians are investigating this city's link with the Indus Civilisation. They are looking into the possibility that the Ghaggar river is the famous Saraswati river of the Vedas.

Religious and historical importance

Palace ruins at "Harsh ka tila" mound area spread over 1 km, 7th century CE.
Bhishma Kund at Narkatari.

Thanesar derives its name from the words "Sthaneshwar" which means "Place of God." The Sthaneshwar Mahadev Temple, whose presiding deity is Lord Shiva, is believed to be place where the Pandavas with Krishna prayed to Lord Shiva and received his blessings for victory in the battle of Mahabharata.[11] 1.5 km from Thanesar on Kurukshetra-Pehowa road lies Narkatari, the water tank named Bhishma Kund is believed to be the spot when Bhishma lay of the bed of arrows during the Mahabharata war.[12][13]

Sannihit Sarovar, Thanesar

Kaleshwar Mahadev Temple and Dukha Bhanjan Mahadev Temples are the oldest temples of Thanesar. Other religious sites include the Brahma Sarovar,[14] Jyotisar, the Sannihit Sarovar, Gurdwara 6th Patashahi and the Devi Bhadrakali temple, which is counted among the 51 Shakti Peethas. The bathing-fair held here on the occurrence of a solar eclipse is said to be attended by half a million pilgrims.

Sack of Sthaneshwar by Mahmud of Gazni

Thanesar was sacked and many of its temples were destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni.

Firishta records[16] that

, the most sacred Hindu place, in the kingdom of Hindoostan. It had reached the ears of the King that Thanesur was held in the same veneration by idolaters, as Mecca by the faithful; that they had there set up a number of idols, the principal of which they called Jugsoma, pretending that it had existed ever since the creation. Mahmood having reached Punjab, required, according to the subsisting treaty with the Hindu Shahi king Anandpal, that his army should not be molested on its march through his country. An embassy was accordingly sent to inform the Raja of his intentions, and desiring him to send safe-guards into his towns and villages, which he would take care should be protected from the followers of his camp. Anandpal the Shahi king, agreeing to this proposal, prepared an entertainment for the reception of the King, at the same time issuing orders for all his subjects to supply the camp with every necessary of life.

The Raja's brother, with 2,000 horses was also sent to meet the army and to deliver the following message:

"My brother is the subject and tributary of the King of Gazni, but he begs permission to acquaint his Majesty, that Thanesur is the principal place of worship of the inhabitants of the country: that if it is required by the religion of Mahmood to subvert the religion of others, he has already acquitted himself of that duty, in the destruction of the temple of Nagrakote. But if he should be pleased to alter his resolution regarding Thanesur, Anandpal Tuar promises that the amount of the revenues of that country shall be annually paid to Mahmood, that a sum shall also be paid to reimburse him for the expense of his expedition, besides which, on his own part, he will present him with fifty elephants, and jewels to a considerable amount."

Mahmood replied, "The religion of the faithful inculcates the following tenet: ‘That in proportion as the tenets of the Prophet are diffused, and his followers exert themselves in the subversion of idolatry, so shall be their reward in heaven;’ that, therefore, it behooved him, with the assistance of God, to root out the "worship of idols" from the face of all India. “How then should he spare Tahnesur?"

This answer was communicated to Raja Anandpal Tuar of Delhi, who, resolving to oppose Sultan Mahmood, sent messengers throughout Hindoostan to acquaint the other rajas that Mahmood, without provocation, was marching with a vast army to destroy Thanesur, now under his immediate protection. He observed, that if a barrier was not expeditiously raised against this roaring torrent, the country of Hindoostan would be soon overwhelmed, and that it behooved them to unite their forces at Thanesur, to avert the impending calamity.

Mahmood, having reached Tahnesur before the Hindus, had time to take measures for its defence; the city was plundered, the idols broken, and the idol Jugsoma was sent to Ghazni to be trodden underfoot. According to Hajy Mahommed Kandahary, a ruby was found in one of the temples weighing 450 miskals. It was allowed by everyone who saw it to be a wonder that had never been heard of.

Mahmood, after the capture of Thanesur, was desirous of proceeding to Delhi. But his nobles told him that it would be impossible to keep possession of it, till he had rendered Multan a province of his own government and secured himself from all apprehension of Anundpal, the Hindushahi Raja of Lahore. The king resolved, therefore, for the present, to proceed no further, till he had accomplished these objects. Anundpal Shahi, however, conducted himself with so much policy and hospitality towards Mahmood, that he returned peaceably to Ghazni. On this occasion, the Mahmood's army brought to Ghazni 200,000 captives, and much wealth, so that the capital appeared like an Indian city, no soldier of the camp being without wealth, or without many slaves.

Medieval era

Muslim mosque and tomb

Sheikh Chilli's Tomb

Sheikh Chilli's Tomb is located in Thanesar. This is tomb of Sufi Abd-ur-Rahim Abdul-Karim Abd-ur-Razak, popularly known by the name of Sheikh Chilli. He was Sufi master of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh. The architectural plan shows considerable Persian influence. This beautiful tomb and attached Madarsa are associated with the Sufi Saint Abd-ur-Rahim.

An archaeological museum run by Archaeological Survey of India, is in the complex. It consists of archaeological finds, like seals and sealings, terracotta figurines, plaques, ornaments, and swords from sites in nearby regions of Kurukshetra and Bhagwanpura. These objects are notably from Kushana (1st-3rd century CE), Gupta period (4th-6th CE), and from post Gupta period on Vardhana dynasty period (6th-7th CE).[17][18]

Sikh Gurdwara

Sikh Gurdwara is equally significant for the Sikhs. It was visited by Guru Amar Das, Guru hargobing ji, Guru Har Rai ji, Guru Har Krishan ji, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji and Guru Gobind Singh ji. Four Gurdwaras are there in their memory: Gurdwara Dasvin Patshahi (Kurukshetra), Gurdwara Tisari and Satvin Patshahi (Kurukshetra) and Gurdwara Navin Patshahi (Kurukshetra). When Guru Amar Das Ji went on the 'long journey to Hardwar to see his old friends and acquaintances; and, as he went,scattered the blessings of Nam. On his way he halted at Thaneshwar, where the people asked why he composed hymns in the unknown Punjabi dilect and why not in Sanskrit-the only language in which great truths can be expressed. The Guru said, "Sanskrit, now that is no longer the people's tongue, is like well water-sufficient for the irrigation of a small tract of land; whereas Punjabi, being the living language of the people, even if it be nothing but a dialect, is as the rain, which falls in showers all over the country."

Modern Thanesar

The modern city of Thanesar is an important educational center; it is home to Kurukshetra University, the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra (Formerly Regional Engineering College), University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET), Kurukshetra University and the Shri Krishna Government Ayurvedic College.Girls school namely Gita Niketan, opposite Old Rudra talkies, on salarpur road.

The University Institute of Engineering and Technology [2] (U.I.E.T.) is situated in lush green campus of Kurukshetra University with about 1000 students on its roll. It has grown into a big institute with excellent placement record right from its inception. The Kurukshetra Institute of Technology & Management (KITM) is located 10 km from Kurukshetra University on Pehowa road, near Bhor Saidan village.


Thanesar is located at .[19] It has an average elevation of 232 metres (761 feet).


As of 2011 census of India,[20] Thanesar had a population of 154,962.[1] Males constitute 55% of the population and females 45% (83,655 - 71,307). Thanesar has an average literacy rate of 85.73%, higher than the national average of 74.04: male literacy is 89.89%, and female literacy is 80.85%.[1] In Thanesar, 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.

See also

Ror community


  1. ^ a b c "Cities having population 1 lakh and above, Census 2011" (PDF). Census of India, 2011. p. 1. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  2. ^ James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 694–.  
  3. ^ a b "Sthanvishvara (historical region, India)". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  4. ^ Balaji Sadasivan (2011). The Dancing Girl: A History of Early India. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 110–.  
  5. ^ a b "Sheikh Chilli’s Tomb, Thanesar". Archaeological Survey of India. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  6. ^ "Harsha (Indian emperor)". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  7. ^ "Kurukshetra (India)". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  8. ^ "Harsh Ka Tila". Kurukshetra district website. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  9. ^ "Parliamentary/Assembly Constituency wise Electors in Final Roll 2009" (PDF). Chief Electoral Officer, Haryana. 
  10. ^ "Solar Eclipse at Kurukshetra"
  11. ^ Dev Prasad (2010). Krishna: A Journey through the Lands & Legends of Krishna. Jaico Publishing House. pp. 216–.  
  12. ^ M.R. Biju (1 January 2006). Sustainable Dimensions Of Tourism Management. Mittal Publications. pp. 28–.  
  13. ^ Narkatari Kurukshetra district website.
  14. ^ "Religious Places in Kurukshetra - Brahma Sarovar". Kurukshetra district website. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  15. ^ Abu Rihan Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Biruni al-Khwarizmi, Tarikhu'l-Hind
  16. ^ Farishta Vo1. Page 29 Translation by John Briggs.
  17. ^ "Archaeological Museum, Thanesar". Archaeological Survey of India. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  18. ^ "Thanesar Archaeological Site Museum". Haryana Tourism Corporation Limited. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  19. ^ Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Thanesar
  20. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 


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