Kurukshetra and Murthal—A triple sundae on a Sunday!

Newspapers and travel magazines these days are filled with information about weekend getaways. But sometimes, these weekend trips end up burning hole in the pockets. So if you want to escape from Delhi for a day or two, but without spending much, a trip to Kurukshetra via Murthal on National Highway 1 (NH1) is worth considering.

Kurukshetra and Murthal are located in the North Eastern part of Haryana and are about 160 Kilometers and 50 km from North of Delhi Jahangir Puri by pass respectively, on the NH1, popularly called the Grand Trunk Road.

This trip can indeed be a triple sundae ice cream for you. The first component of your triple sundae is the unique and fun filled experience of eating food at Murthal-the dhaba junction on NH1. The second component is a tete-a-tete in Kurukshetra with Hindu mythology, a cradle of philosophy of Hindus, where one can experience spirituality sitting in its temples or at the bank of Baan Ganga. Thirdly and most importantly, its affordability.

While going to Kurukshetra through Murthal, one can see endless row of colorful dhabas and it looks all the more beautiful in late evenings, when there are colorful light bulbs that we generally get to see around Christmas and Diwali only; a place where one can find Mercedes owners sitting next to truckers of Highways and enjoying the similar meal.

As soon as one enter in any of these Dhabas, the titillating aroma of paranthas (stuffed chapatis) served with homemade white butter and tadka dal (lentils cooked in lots of ghee) or tandoori chicken, and chotu (waiter) carrying hot crisp tandoori rotis (chapattis prepared in clay oven) will make you salivate and increase your hunger pangs. Hunger pangs that you will automatically have after traveling for two hours. These dhabas certainly are not an epicurist’s delight and also not a place of tourist attraction. But they are a respite after the long road journeys; creating a unique experience. Here I have cited some reasons why you should visit Dhabas in Murthal on your way to Kurukshetra:

• You don’t want to burn a hole in your pocket, splurging on a restaurant. The prices are nominal; a splendid meal for four will not cost more than Rs. 300.

• You want to have a feel of authentic Punjabi food.

• If you have forgotten the taste of fresh vegetables, because these Dhabas ,while serving vegetarian dishes, use fresh green vegetables directly brought from the nearby fields and cooked in pure homemade Ghee, unlike in our city restaurants where they are stored for weeks together.

• You want to feel welcomed, whatever might be the time. Be it 3 am in the morning or late in the evening the food is always hot and fresh.

• The atmosphere is pretty relaxing and makes you feel sleepy after that glass of Lassi (butter milk).

• The food is served in a perfect ambience, where truckers and other travelers lying on the manjis (cots), with Punjabi music playing in the background, adding to the whole experience. There are many good dhabas but my personal favorites are Ahuja Da Dhaba and Gulshan Dhaba.

By the time you will have food at these dhabas, you would have experienced the fun element of this trip. Those who have already tasted the food, fun and hospitality of these dhabas in Murthal know what I am talking about, but those who have not, I’m sure that this will help them. A fusion where one can revive connections to religion and have fun on these dhabas, while on the way.

Now the second element is Kurukshetra, a place of historical and mythological importance, where the famous battle of Mahabharata between the cousins Kauravas and Pandavas was fought. The famous battle ground of Mahabharata is still intact here and its soil is red in color, even after thousands of years. It is believed that this red color of the soil is because of the blood of warriors who sacrificed their lives in this battle between the cousins. This is the place where Lord Krishna, on the battle ground, enlightened Arjuna with the message from the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, which is a holy book of Hindus. It’s been said that most of the Vedic literature was written here, so this is the birth place of Hindu philosophy of life.

Not only this, it was also visited by Sikh Gurus. The place where Guru Nanak stayed during his halt at Kurukshetra is famously known as the Gurdwara Sidhbati, on a heap across the Kurukshetra Tank. Gurudwaras dedicated to various Sikh gurus stand here and represent beautiful ancient architecture.

The ideal time to go there is from the month of October till February. There are various stay facilities available in Government guests house and motels, centre Parakit Motel Pipli, Neelkanthi Yatri Niwas etc where deluxe type rooms are available ranging from Rs.250/- per day to 1000/- per day. There are a number of Dharamshalas which provide comfortable accommodation at very nominal prices or at times in free. And if you plan to save that money, you can plan a day round trip from Delhi, starting very early in the morning.

The closest airports near Kurukshetra are in Delhi and Chandigarh. Kurukshetra is a railway junction as well, well connected to all important towns and cities of the country. The Shatabadi Express halts here. But still, I recommend a trip via NH1 to have food at these dhabas on your trip, while going and coming back from Kurukshetra.

There are close to 300 places of historical and mythological importance, but for a small trip and weekend getaway, some must visits are-Ban ganga, Bhishma Kund, which is a place related to Bhishma pitamah, the uncle of the Kauravas and Pandavas .Brahma Sarovar, Gurudwara at Kurukshetra , Sri Krishna Museum, which has arts and artifacts that are said to belong to Lord Shri Krishna. Aujas Ghat in Ashtipura of Kurukshetra is a cremation ground of martyrs of Mahabharata Sheikh Chehli Mausoleum, Sthaneshvara Mahadev Temple and many more.

Locally, taxis are available for travelling within the city. A trip to Kurukshetra can be a good escape if you wish to experience peaceof mind. Over here, one can learn a lot about Hindu and Sikh mythology. However, like any other Indian suburb, this is also urbanizing now, considering its close proximity to Delhi and with the famous Kurukshetra University, where students from all parts of India come to study. Most of the people living here are Jats and Punjabis, with a good Baniya population as well. So the culture and cuisine is more or less similar to Delhi. Therefore, for a Delhiite coming here, the people will be similar and food is not a problem, as North Indian food is easily available with lots of Dhabas and restaurants which serve good food at affordable prices.

Hope you enjoy this triple sundae!

Khushboo Luthra

[Image source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/paras212/278555525/]