In a country where its cities are drenched in a paradoxical blend of part-history and part-mythology,one will often find thorough records in the form of novels,coffee-table books,graphic novels and poetry,among others. However,about five years ago,when Vijai Vardhan and Atul Sharmas fascination for Kurukshetra led them to research on the city,they found no contemporary records. The duo then relied upon the primary sources such as the epics,Vedas and the Puranas,among others,leading them to re-imagine the city through photographs and text in a coffee-table book,Kurukshetra: Timeless Sanctity (Wisdom Tree Publishers).
I have been living in Haryana for about two decades and when I started,I wanted to get a feel of this place. Although there are no prominent monuments,Kurukshetra is an experiential city. The challenge for me was to understand the spirit and ethos of it, says Vardhan,Principal Secretary of tourism,cultural affairs,archives,archeology and museum departments for the Government of Haryana,at the launch of the coffee-table book at the Oxford Bookstore in Delhi. He first visited the city in 1987,as a young officer.
While Vardhan wrote the text,his photographer friend Sharma captured the images. Going in a chronological manner according to the ancient texts,the 132 page-book explores the various facets of the city the glorious river Saraswati and the people that inhabit its ghats,a statue of Krishna steering the rath that emerges amid a cloud of fog on the mythical battlefield of Kauravas and Pandavas and legend of the yakshas (guardians) symbolised through vandalised statues of Ratna,Arantuka,Kapila and Machakruka,among others.