Hastinapur is a town near Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. It is an ordinary place now, but it is believed that at one time it was the capital of one of the greatest kingdoms of ancient India.
It is among the most important places mentioned in the Mahabharata, the story of the Kauravas and the Pandavas, two sets of cousins who were rivals. It was the capital of the Kauravas initially. After the Pandavas defeated the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war, they made Hastinapur the capital of their new kingdom too.
According to mythology, Shantanu, who married Goddess Ganga, was the first king of Hastinapur. After him came Vichitravirya. He was the father of Dhritarashtra and Pandu, who were the fathers of the Kauravas and the Pandavas respectively. Many important events in the story told in the Mahabharata took place at Hastinapur. All the Kaurava princes, the 100 sons of Dhritarashtra, were born here.
It was in this city that Duryodhana, the leader of the Kauravas, invited Yudhishtir, the eldest of the Pandavas, to a game of dice. During the series of games, Yudhishtir gambled away his wealth, his kingdom, his brothers and even Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. The city has many associations with the Mahabharata even today. There is a Karna temple, a Pandeshwar temple, a Draupadi Ghat and a Karna Ghat, to name a few.
Hastinapur is also believed to be the birthplace of three saints of Jainism, and there are many important Jain temples here.
Excavations carried out by the Archealogical Survey of India have unearthed ancient iron tools, arrow heads, utensils, gold and silver ornaments and dice used to play a game called Chauper, from this region.
It is an important pilgrimage centre, and historically very interesting too.