The holy city of Pehowa in Kurukshetra district is held in high esteem by historians, archaeologists and spiritualists. This city finds mention in Hindu scriptures (several Puranas) and is believed to be named after the legendary Chakravarti Prithu. Chakravarti Prithu is credited with saving the earth from famine in the ancient times.
This divine city is associated with many stories mentioned in the Puranas with the most famous being the yuddha (war) between Vasishhta Brahmarshi and Vishwamitra Brahmarshi and the curse of Saraswati River. There are innumerable teerthas and old temples found in this city that have immense spiritual potency.
Pehowa unfortunately has been a victim of successive Muslim invasions starting with Mahmud of Ghazni who has the dubious distinction of invading India 17 times (1000 CE to 1027 CE). This was followed by Shihabuddin Ghori also known as Muhummad Ghori or Muhammad of Ghor who invaded India 7 times. Muslim invaders from Persia, Afghanistan, Turkey and Mongolia followed suit and came to plunder the riches of India and massacre Hindus and spread Islam using unmentionable and unspeakable means.
As Pehowa was sacred to Hindus, Aurangzeb and his men plundered the city and desecrated many temples. Nadir Shah, who was invited to invade India by the Mughals destroyed this city in 1739 and raided all the temples of importance. Ahmad Shah Durrani also known as Ahmad Khan Abdali invaded India 9 times culminating with The Third Battle of Panipat fought on 14 January 1761 which resulted in a victory for Abdali’s forces but immortality and glory for the Marathas who were left to fend for themselves and protect the country from the evil machinations of the Afghan invader. The mighty Sadashiv rao Bhau and the courageous Vishwas rao Peshwa and their generals led a hungry and fatigued Maratha army to an almost incredible victory but, sadly fell short at the end as they were led down by their own countrymen. Bijay Singh, the king of Jodhpur and Madho Singh, king of Jaipur were the two conspirators along with Najib Khan and the Mughals who invited Abdali to invade India and put an end to the supremacy of the Marathas with the promise of inestimable wealth.
Sadashiv rao Bhau liberated Pehowa and other holy cities from the tyranny of the Mughals and their generals. Many temples were renovated by the Marathas and Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
One of the oldest temples located on the southern bank of the Saraswati River is the Prachin Shiva Temple. Archaeological excavations at the ancient site of this temple have unearthed rare sculptures of Gods and Goddesses and architectural and structural members of an ancient temple.
The discoveries combined with references in Pehowa inscriptions have led historians and archaeologists to surmise that the ancient site was in fact one of many temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple seen today is built somewhere between the 8th and 9th century.
Three stone doorframes of the old temple are fixed on different entrances of the temple. One of the richly embellished doorframes has stunning carvings of Navagraha, Saptamatrikas, Ganga and Yamuna on either side and Lord Vishnu on the Lalata Bimba, which generally indicates the presiding deity.
A few sculptures found here are now placed in the niches of the temples at Prachi Tirth. This temple is a protected monument of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)