Ahichatra (or Ahi-Kshetra) was the ancient capital of Northern Panchala, a northern Indian kingdom mentioned in Mahabharata. The remains of this city has been discovered near Ramnagar village in Aonla tehsil of Bareilly district in Uttar Pradesh state. The excavations have brought to life a brick fortification and continuity of occupation from a period before 600 BCE to 1100 CE. During the first excavations in 1940–44, the painted gray ware pottery were found at the earliest level. Ruins of this city could be identified from the remote sensing imagery of IRS (Indian Remote Sensing) satellites. The ruins reveals that the city had a triangular shape. The city was alive up to end of Kurukshetra war.
The territory under Ahichatra was formerly under the Panchala king Drupada. Later it was taken over by Drona, after a war, in which Drupada was defeated by Drona's desciple Arjuna. Ashwatthama, the son of Drona, was given the responsibility of ruling the territory of Northern Panchala from Ahichatra. Ashwatthama probably ruled the kingdom being subordinate to the rulers of Hastinapura.
The word Ahi means snake or Naga in Sanskrit. Nagas were a group of ancient people who worshiped serpents. The word khsetra means region in Sanskrit. This implies that Ahi-kshetra was a region of Nagas. This could mean that the region was populated originally by Nagas, Nairs and Bunts of Kerala and Tulu Nadu who claim Kshatriya descent from the nagas as well as Namputhiri and Tuluva Brahmins(Hindu philosophers Adi Shankara and Madhvacharya belonging to these communities) trace their origins to this place.
- Lahiri, Bela (1972). Indigenous States of Northern India (Circa 200 B.C. to 320 A.D.), Calcutta: University of Calcutta, pp.170-88
- Maclean's Manual of the Administration of the Madras Presidency