Greater Kurukshetra or 48 kos Kurukshetra Bhumi lies between the two rivers i.e. Sarasvati and Drishadvati which is spread over the five revenue districts of Haryana viz. Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Karnal, Jind and Panipat.
In the text of Mahabharata, Kurukshetra has been identified as Samantpanchaka consisting a land spreading over twenty yojana and lying between river Sarasvati on the north and Drishadvati on the south bounded by four door keepers or Yakshas at four cardinal corners viz., Ratnuk Yaksha at Bid Pipli (Kurukshetra) on the north-east, Arantuk Yaksha at Behar Jakh (Kaithal) on the north-west, Kapil Yaksha at Pokhari Kheri (Jind) on the south-west and Machakruka Yaksha at Sinkh (Panipat) on the south-east. Popularly the holy circuit of greater Kurukshetra is called 48 kos Kurukshetra Bhumi.
In and around the region were located 360 pilgrimages. However, with the passage of time due to the onslaught of climatic conditions, negligence in up keeping and perpetual foreign invasions during medieval times some of the pilgrimages, temples and icons either have been lost in the oblivion or buried under the soil. Nevertheless, there still exist more than 134 important pilgrimages of great reverence and merit. These pilgrimages were documented by Kurukshetra Development Board in the recent past. The very aim and objective of forming of Kurukshetra Development Board by Bharat Ratna Shri Gulzarilal Nanda was the preservation, conservation and restoration of the pilgrimages of the greater Kurukshetra region. After the formation of Kurukshetra Development Board many pilgrimages have been developed. The pilgrimages of Kurukshetra region have different associations. Some out of these pilgrimages belonged to Vedic sages and seers like Jamadagni, Vashishtha, Vishwamitra, Gautam, Bhardwaj etc. Out of remaining pilgrimages, some belong to Pauranic times and some are associated with the episodes of the Mahabharata.
For the identification of the pilgrimages the revenue record of river Sarasvati and Drishadvati and shrines of four Yakshas have been taken into consideration. In this connection the classical texts the local oral traditions about 48 kos land of Kurukshetra has also been taken into consideration. The village folks of this region immerse the ashes and urns of the deceased either in the Sarasvati or its tributaries situated within 48 kos Kurukshetra Bhumi. While the people residing outside the holy circuit of Kurukshetra use to immerse the urns and ashes of the deceased at Hardwar into the river Ganga. It has been observed in the villages if someone who is not financially good enough for visiting Hardwar uses to touch the palanquin of dying person to Kurukshetra Bhumi before his death. Many of the pilgrimages of the region are known for performing shradha or offering oblations to one’s departed ancestors.
The development of Bhakti movement in the pre-common era had a tremendous impact on image worship concept. As a result, like other religious centers in Kurukshetra also art activities continued. Temples were constructed, icons were sculptured, and religious tanks got excavated with their bathing ghats at various pilgrimage centres of Kurukshetra.
The cultural and religious heritage of Kurukshetra is preserved in the form of sacred bathing tanks, historical monuments and sculptures. The archaeological artefacts i.e. pottery, stone sculptures and murals reported from various tirthas and archeological sites throw eloquent light on the rich cultural heritage of this region datable from earliest times to the modern period.