Our quest to draw a map of ancient India specifically the Mahabharat era leads us to Mirzapur village in the municipality of Thanesar in Kurukshetra district. The ancient town of Thanesar also known as Sthaneshwar, deriving its name from the presiding deity, Lord Shiva who is seated at Sthaneshwar Mahadev Temple is considered to be one of the holiest places in India for Hindus and Sikhs.
The Sthaneshwar Mahadev Temple is the sacred shrine where the Pandavas and Lord Krishna sought blessings of Lord Mahadev for victory at Kurukshetra. Lord Shiva, true to his word, manifested himself and assured the Pandavas of victory against the mighty Kauravas. Guru Tegh Bahadur, the revered ninth Guru of the Sikhs spent a great deal of time in meditation near the Sthaneshwar Teertha, where a gurudwara has been built adjacent to the temple.
Thanesar was also the capital city of the Vardhana dynasty during the reign of Raja Prabhakaravardhana and his successor, the literary genius, Maharaja Harshavardhana. Maharaja Harshavardhana extended his empire from Punjab to Central India and eventually shifted his capital to Kannauj.
Thanesar and surrounding villages in and around Kurukshetra are widely considered by historians and archaeologists to be of great antiquity. Archaeological excavations at Mirzapur village adjacent to the Kurukshetra University Campus has unearthed the fort of Daanveer Karna.
The journey of Daanveer Karna from his birthplace of Kutwara to Kurukshetra is spectacular to say the least and the recent discovery of his grand fort will put into perspective his life as mentioned in the Mahabharat. Archaeological records state that this mound was first surveyed and excavated between 1921 to 1923. Further excavations were conducted by Kurukshetra University and remains of three periods have been found.
The first period is stated to be from 400 BCE to 100 BCE. Painted Grey Ware of coarse fabric with beads of terracotta and semi-precious stones and other antiquities of terracotta and bone have been found. Two terracotta seals with distinctive auspicious markings of swastika, naga, nandi and crescent moon are the most important finds of this period.
The second period is said to be from 100 BCE to 300 CE. This period is characterized by houses of mud and baked bricks, Red Polished Ware, stamped pottery, terracotta objects and a few clay sealings with Brahmi legends.
The third period is of the late medieval times and the remains of this period were identified on the northern fringe of the mound. It included houses, ramparts and a well-preserved small house made of lakhauri bricks with lime plaster.
At another mound situated to the east of the main area, archaeological digs have unearthed a Protohistoric residence (3000 BCE to 600 BCE), that is believed to have its origin in the Harappan civilization. Two rooms with mud and brick walls with a fireplace, an oven, a refuge pit and a corn bin have been discovered.
An ancient well near the mound is said to have been built by Daanveer Karna. Locals believe that the inestimable wealth of Daanveer Karna lies either in the bottom of the ancient well or somewhere buried in the lands around the mound.
The discovery of grey painted pottery (Painted Grey Ware), red pottery (Red Polished Ware) and black pottery (Black Polished Ware) along with a stone cob and pestle, stone beads, animal statues, seals with Brahmi inscriptions and others from different periods is indeed exciting. As excavations are still in progress, new discoveries will throw more light on life in the ancient times.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)