The Hajj season in the year 60AH/679 AD has witnessed the departure of Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) from Mecca to Kufa. He (peace be upon him) left Mecca on the eighth day of Dhu al-Hijjah. During this divine journey, the caravan of Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) passed several stations up to its final one: Karbala.
“When Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) reached that place, he asked as to what was the name of that place. People replied that it was called the land of at-Taf, others replied al-Ghadheriyah, Neynawa, the Imam asked again: "Does it has another name?" He was told: "Its name is Karbala". Imam said,
“O Allah! I seek your refuge from Karb (Grief) and Bala (trials)”
Then he said,
“Grief and trial dwells herein, hence alight down, and this is our halting place. Here will our blood be shed and here shall we be buried. My Grandfather, the Prophet of Allah (Allah's prayers be upon him and upon his holy Household) has foretold me regarding it.”
Everyone complied with his order and dismounted.”
The arrival of Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) to Karbala, was on the second of the holy month of Muharram of the year 61 AH., and according to most narrations it was a Thursday. Imam al-Hussayn (peace be upon him) dismounted and his feet touched the land of Karbala, he then erected his tent and started preparing his weapon and sword, echoing the following verses:
“O life! How many friends you have in the morning,
That you leave in the evening.
Some are dead, some are alone, and no one is replaced.
Everything is up to God.
Only He remains forever.”
When Lady Zaynab (peace be upon her) heard these verses, she said: "O brother, these are the words of he who is certain of death!" He (peace be upon him) replied: "Yes, dear sister!" She then said: "All my beloved ones have died! Al-Hussayn is announcing me his own death."
The tents of the Hussayni caravan were erected in the holy place, which remains are still in Karbala in spot far from the water, surrounded by a series of hills. The tent of the Imam and his holy family (peace be upon him) were first erected then the tents of his tribe surrounding him then the tents of the rest of supporters.