Thursday October 19, 2017

Then and now! Cities from the tales of Epic Mahabharata

The beliefs among the people are not truly wrong as many places cited in the Epic still exists and there are true pieces of evidence

The epic battle of Mahabharata, Wikimedia commons

India is a land of myths and traditions. Though there are several stories from the past but the two epics i.e. Mahabharata and Ramayana particularly lie in between myths and reality. These beliefs are not truly wrong as many places cited in the stories still exist and there are true pieces of evidence.

Here is a list of some of those ancient cites-

  • Gandhar – 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 King of Gandahar. Gandhari’s brother Shakuni was one of the reasons of the war of Mahabharata.
  • Takshashila – 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.
  • Kekaya – Kekaya Pradesh was an ancient city of the Mahabharata times. During the period of Mahabharata, this place was famous for its warriors. Jaysen was the king of Kekaya. His son Vind supported the Kauravas in the epic battle of Mahabharata.
  • Madra Desh: This is located on the other side of the Himalayas. Since this was located to the North of the other side of the Himalayas, according to Aitrai Brahmin, it was also called Uttarkuru. In those days Shalya was the King of Madra Desh. His sister Madri was married to Pandu. Sahadev and Nakul were Madri’s sons.
  • Ujjanak – 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 as Bhimshankar.
  • Shivi Desh – 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.
  • Banganga : Kurukshetra – This place is located few kilometres 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.
  • Kurukshetra – This was the famous battlefield of Mahabharata. It is situated 40 km east of Ambala city. This land is also known as the land of 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 Brahmakund.
  • Hastinapur – Jastinapur in 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 here wealth and Yudhisthir lost his brothers in the game of gamble. After winning the war of Mahabharata, Pandavas made this city as their capital.
  • Varnavat – Situated on the banks of 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 – 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 the King Drupadi and was named “Panchali” as she was the princess of Panchal.
  • Indraprastha: Indraprastha was a grand city situated to the south of present-day New Delhi. The Pandavas had 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.
  • Vrindavan – 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,The temple of Bankebihari and Radhavallabh is very famous here. Janmastmi is popularly celebrated here.
  • Gokul – Gokul is situated in Uttar Pradesh on the banks of 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, has four hill-tops that represent the four faces of Brahma, the Creator. Each hilltop is associated with some incident from Krishna’s life. On Mor Kutir top, he danced guise as a peacock to win the love of Radha. Radha’s parents lived in Barsana. The house of Radha’s father is atop the Brahma Hill in Barsana.
  • Mathura: 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.
  • Angadesh (Malini Nagari): Gonda, Uttar Pradesh – Malini Nagari was the capital of an ancient region of the Gonda district in Uttar Pradesh. Karna was the King of this state. Duryodhan had received this state as a gift from Jarasandh. The capital Malini Nagari is a Shaktipeeth. According to the Puranas, Sati’s right hand – after being cut by the chakra of Vishnu – had fallen here.
  • Naimisharanya: Uttar Bharat – On the banks of the River Gomati, This is a place of pilgrimage named Naimisharanya. According to an ancient story, in search of a right place to perform a Gyansatra, Sant Shonak swirled the Chakra given by Lord Brahma. The circumference of the Chakra fell in a Tapovan on the banks of the river Gomati and became famous as a place of pilgrimage. Here only at the time of the Yagya of Shonak Rishi, Ugrashruva recited the story of the Mahabharata.
  • Kaushambi: Uttar Pradesh – Kaushambi was the capital of Vatsa Desh during the Mahabharata period and situated to the south of river Ganga, near the present-day city of Allahabad. The residents of Vatsa Desh had supported the Kauravas in the war of Mahabharata. Later, Kuruvanshis took over this state.
  • Kashi: Uttar Pradesh – The ancient city of Mahabharata period, Kashi was famous as the chief education centre of India. Bhisma Pitamah had won over Amba, Ambika and Ambalika, the three daughters of the Kashi King. Dhritrashtra was Ambika’s son and Pandu was Ambalika’s son. Dhritrashtra’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 had 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 Yudhishthir, 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.
  • Kamakhya: Assam- Kamakhya is a famous Shaktipeeth, located ten kilometres away from Guwahati in Assam. During the time of Mahabharata, Narkasur had 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 centre 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, Mohen-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 Dhritrashtra. Jaydrath was the chief reason of 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 the 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 Tirth: 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.

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  • 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 Hidimb 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 had performed a 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.
  • Dwarka: Gujarat-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.
  • Prabhas – 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 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 with Krishna. During the war of Mahabharata, the residents of Chedi supported the Kauravas.

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  • Shonitpur: Itarsi, Madhya Pradesh – Shonitpur, a famous city during the Mahabharata time, was located near Suhagpur, a few kilometres away from Itarsi in Madhya Pradesh. This ancient city was the capital of Banasur. Banasur’s daughter Usha was married to Aniruddha, grandson of Lord Krishna. There is a temple of Lord Narsimha and is considered to be a place of pilgrimage.
  • Vidarbha: Vidarbha Pradesh – King Bhismak of Vidarbha, the capital of Vidarbha Pradesh, was a valorous person. At the time of the Surya Yagya organised 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.
  • Indrakil: One of the mountains of the Himalayan range, is also called Indrakil. After losing everything in a gamble, when Pandavas went to the Himalayas for penance, Arjun had performed deep penance on the Indrakil Mountain. It was on this Mountain that Lord Shiva, in the disguise of a hunter, fought with Arjun. On being pleased with the valour of Arjun in the fight, Lord Shiva presented him the Pashupat Astra.
  • 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.

-by Pritam, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @pritam_gogreen



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Pakistan Elected to UN Human Rights Council along with 14 other countries

The new members will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018

un human rights council
UN General Assembly elect 15 new members of Human Rights Council. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 17, 2017 : Fifteen countries, including Pakistan, have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly.

In a vote on Monday, Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine were elected, a Foreign Office statement said.

They will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018. (IANS)


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Seven Wonders of the World : Ancient and Modern

The Seven Wonders of the World are a set of monuments which show the artistic and architectural excellence of humanity from history to the present times. Read more to find out about the ancient and the modern seven wonders of the world

FILE - The silhouette of the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado hill stands out against the full moon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 19, 2016. VOA

The Seven Wonders of the World in the ancient times was a list made by the Greeks in order to honor the most magnificent piece of architecture in their known world. Sadly today other than the Pyramid of Giza, none of the other wonders have been able to survive the test of time. Since then a new list has been made in order to acknowledge the modern Seven Wonders of the World.

The Original Seven Wonders of the World as per the Greeks: 

  • The Great Pyramid of Giza – The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only wonder of the ancient wonder which has survived. This pyramid erected in the year 2560 BC, is known to be the tomb of the Pharaoh Khufu. It is the oldest of all ancient wonders.

The Pyramids of Giza – Pixabay

  • The Hanging Garden of Babylon – There is not much to say about this wonder because of the fact that there is very little historical documentation about these gardens. They were built by King Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife in 600 BC because she was missing her hometown in the hills.

A Painting of Hanging Garden of Babylon – Wikimedia Common

  • The Lighthouse of Alexandria – The Lighthouse of Alexandria was 400ft tall in length and had kept its record for being the tallest building in the world for centuries. This was built around 280 BC. This magnificent structure was destroyed by several earthquakes. In 1480, its ruins were used to construct the Citadel of Qaitbay, which till date stands on Pharos Island.
  • The Colossus of Rhodes – The Colossus of Rhodes is a nearly 100 feet tall statue of the Greek sun god Helios. Built in the city of Rhodes in 280 BC, it was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 BC.
  • The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus – The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was built as the tomb of Mausoleum around 350BC. The structure was demolished by a series of earthquakes which occurred between the 12th and 15th centuries.
  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia – The statue was made by the Greek sculptor Phidias, it represented Zeus seated on his golden throne. The statue itself is 40ft tall and is adorned with gold and ivory. The cause of the destruction of the statue is not clearly known but it was destroyed sometime in the  5th century.

A Painting of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia – Pixabay

  • The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus – The temple is located in Eastern Turkey. It has been rebuilt several times following its destruction every time. One memorable incident related to the temple is the fact it once burnt down the same night when Alexander the Great was born. The third temple was acknowledged by the Greeks as a wonder. It was finally destroyed for good by the Goths in 268AD.

The Temple of Artemis Ruins – Wikimedia Commons

The List of the Modern Seven Wonders of the World

On July 7, 1997, a new set of seven wonders was developed which was based on the online voting system from all around the world. The new Seven Wonders of the World are:-

  • Chichen Itza, Mexico – The Chichen Itza is the ruins of a complex in the form of a step pyramid from the Mayan civilization.

Chichen Itza – Pixabay

  • Christ, the Redeemer, Brazil – This is a 98 ft statue of Jesus Christ located in Rio de Janeiro. This statue was built by French sculptor, Paul Landowski.

Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil – Pixabay

  • The Great Wall of China – The Great Wall of China is a wall that was built along the northern border of China in order to protect the Chinese empire from the nomadic attacks from the Eurasian tribes.

The Great Wall of China – Wikimedia Commons

  • Machu Picchu, Peru – Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel which is located high up on the Andes Mountains. It is famous for its age-old stone block walls. The exact nature of use of this citadel is not exactly known.

Machu Picchu – Pixabay

  • Petra, Jordan – Petra was an ancient desert in Jordan which consists of numerous temples and tombs carved in pink sandstone thus earning its nickname as the “Rose City”.

Petra – Jordan, Wikimedia Commons


  • The Roman Colosseum, Rome – The Colosseum as it is famously known, is a huge amphitheater located in the center of the city of Rome in Italy. It is the largest amphitheater ever built. It was used for gladiator fights, animal matches, and re-enactment of various dramas prevalent in those times.

Colosseum in Rome – Wikimedia Commons

  • The Taj Mahal, Agra – The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum which is built in pure white marble on the orders of Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is situated on the south bank of the Yamuna River and was commissioned to be built in 1632.

The Taj Mahal, India – Wikimedia Commons

The Seven Natural Wonders of the World

CNN announced a list of wonders which were not manmade but were formed naturally over a period of thousand years. This list was given in 1992.

  • Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon – Wikimedia Commons

  • The Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef – Pixabay

  • The Harbor at Rio de Janeiro
  • Mt Everest

Mount Everest – Pixabay

  • Northern Lights

Northern Lights -Pixabay

  • Paricutin Volcano

    The Crater of Paricutin Volcano – Pixabay
  • Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls Africa – Pixabay

No list of Seven Wonders is definite. These lists tell us how much the humanity has progressed and nature has evolved over the years.  These wonders are nothing but the remainder of the accomplishments of mankind from history to the present.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha (@siatipton)

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5 Events Of November Which Are Ideal For Family Vacations

Events in November which will give you a vacation mood.
Events in November which will give you a vacation mood. Wikimedia.

As we approach the year’s end, Indians not just bid adieu to their summer outfits but also welcome the festival seasons. October and November are two months in India which are full of cultural events and festivals, which make these months, the ideal time for going on family vacations.

Below are the events of November 2017 which you will regret missing. They are worth the try for family vacations:

1.  Dev Deepavali, Varanasi

family vacations
Representational Image. The ghat of holy city Varanasi. 

Varanasi, the holiest city of India, celebrated Dev Deepavali on Kartik Poornima every year. The festival is celebrated with joy. The ghats of Varanasi are lit with beautiful diyas (earthen lamps). God is believed to have descended to the banks of Ganges, to take a holy dip. The festival will take place on November 3, 2017.

 2. Dharamsala International Film Festival

Filmmaker, cinema buffs or all those people interested in the art of films come together of Dharamsala International Film Festival (DIFF). This film festival will witness filmmakers coming from different regions to show films on various issues- socially relevant, contemporary etc. DIFF will take place from November 2 to November 5. If you are a movie buff, then you should immediately pack your bags and seal a date for attending the festival.

3. Pushkar Camel Fair, Rajasthan

Family vacations
Representational Image. Camel Fair is celebrated in Pushkar. Pixabay

Pushkar Camel fair, a cattle fair, in Pushkar which truly defines the real meaning of culture. The Pushkar Camel Fair has been in tradition for a very long time. The fair attracts a huge crowd every year. One of the most ideal and happy places for family vacations. It will take place between 23rd October to 4th November.

Also Read: 7 Beautiful Places To Visit In North East India

4. NH7 Weekender

The five seasons old Indian multi-city music festival has indeed garnered a lot of attention and love from the musically inclined youngsters across the country. It is a combination of national and international studies coming together. In Meghalaya, the event will take place from October 27 to October 28.

5. Guru Purab

family vacations
Sikhs celebrating Guru Purab. Wikimedia.

Guru Purab, one of the most important festivals for Sikhs. The golden temple celebrates it with a lot of joy. The celebration which Amritsar witnesses at this time are unbelievable. It will take place on November 2017. Golden temple is indeed one of the best places for family vacations.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.  She can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.