Karnal district is one of the districts of the state of Haryana with its headquarters at Karnal town. It has a population of 8,85,000 covers an area of 1967 sq km. It is 123 km from Delhi on the National Highway NH1, (called the GT Road), and 126 km from Chandigarh. Other towns are Gharaunda, Nilokheri, Assandh, Indri and Taraori. Karnal is famous for Shoes, agriculture research institutions and Basmati Rice. Karnal is a market for cotton, salt, wheat, and metal. It is a cattle-breeding center and the site of the National Dairy Research Institute. There are manufactures in vegetable oil, perfume, and liquor. The British occupied the town in 1805.
Karnal District lies on the western Bank of river Yamuna which once flows about 11 Kilometer. to the east forming eastern boundary of the district. The river Yamuna separates Haryana from Utter Pardesh. The Karnal Distt. including Panipat lies between 29'09'50" and 29'50' North latitude and 76 31' 15" and 77 12'45" East longitude, its height from sea level is between 235 and 252 meters. The Karnal Distt. is surrounded by Kurukshetra District on its north-west, jind & Kaithal Distt. on its west, Panipat Distt. on its south and Utter Pradesh on east.
The city of Karnal, said to have been founded by Raja Karna, of the Mahabharta fame, spring into prominence in 1739 when Nadir Shah defeated Muhammad Shah at Karnal. Raja Gopal Singh of Jind seized Karnal in 1863, and the Marhattas established themselves at Karnal in 1785. Skirmishes however, followed between the Marhattas and the Sikhs. In 1795 the Marhattas finally wrested it from Raja Bhag Singh of Jind and made it over to the George Thomas, who took part in the fight. Meanwhile Raja Gurdit Singh of Ladwa obtained possession of Karnal. It was captured by the British in 1805 and made over to Muhamdi Khan (Mandal). Karnal, on being formed into a British cantonment, the fort which had been built by Raja Gajpat singh of Jind, was taken over by the British and converted into a residence for Dost Mohd. Khan Amir of Kabul. The fort was used as a jail,as quarters for native cavalry and as poor house. In 1862, it was made over to the Education Department, when the district school was moved into it from the city.
Kalander Shah's Tomb: Kalander Shah's tomb is situated just outside the town. The grave is made of marble and decorated with sculpture. The tomb was built by Ghias-ud-din, Emperor of Delhi, to the memory of Bo-Ali-Qualander Shah, a famous Muslim Savant and Sage, who influenced the thinking of his age and was very widely revered by all communities. Within the enclosure are mosque and a reservoir with fountains built by Emperor Alamgir and outside a Kettle Drum balcony.
Devi Temple: A temple dedicated to a goddess exists on the bank of a large tank. A Shiva temple believed to have been built by Mubark Khan also exists there. An old Indian gun, some 8 feet long made of bars of iron bound together by iron hoops, and with its namke of ganj shikan or fort breaker cast on it stood in the fort but was later on removed and destroyed.
Cantonment Church Tower: This is a big old massive tower and can be seen from a distance of several miles as it is 100 feet in height. The tower is surrounded by a large ornamental cross. The church itself named after St.James, was dismantled with the shifting of the Cantonment to Ambala in 1841 A.D.
Bhara Mal's Sarai: Constructed by Bhara Mal, it is presently occupied by the office of the Deputy Assistant Director General (Medical Store), Govt. of India.
Old Fort: Constructed by Raja Gajpat Singh of Jind in about 1764 A.D., it now provides accommodation for the office and residence of the Tehsildar.
Miran Sahib's Tomb: This tomb stands to the memory of a saint, Sayad Mohd. alias Miran Sahib who died in 899 A.D. He was responsible for rescuing a Brahmin girl from the clutches of a Raja in a pitched battle. The tomb is situated towards the extreme south of the town and alongside it stand a small mosque and a cemetery of many members of the Mandal family.
Gurdwara Manji Sahib: This Gurdwara commemorates Guru Nanak's meeting with Bo Ali Shah Qalandar. It was also visited by Guru Tegh Bahadur on his way to Delhi where he was beheaded.
Dargah Nuri: There is a Dargah Nuri at village Newal on Karnal- Kunjpura road. This Dargah was built in memory of Hazrat Sufi Shah Alama Nur Mohd. of.Delhi, and is managed by Managing Committee, village Newal.
The Karna Tank: The Karna Tank, named after Raja Karna,son of Surya, ace archer, unrivalled warrior, terror of the Pandwas, an ardent supporter of the king Duryodhana in the Mahabharta war, donor par excellence and the founder of the city of Karnal, is now being renovated and converted into a tourist spot by Karnal municipality. It is said that Raja Karna, who was very philanthropic used to givegold in alms to the needy at the spot.
Other Antiques: Minars, which mark the course of the old trunk road are still standing at intervals of about 2 miles. And the ruins of the hostelries (Serais) at Taroari, Gharaunda and Samalkha are still in existence, that at Gharaunda being a very fine and striking specimen of early Mugal architecture. It was built by Khan Firoz in the reign of Shah Jahan about 1632 A.D.
Sita Mai Temple: Situated at a distance of 19 kilometers from Nilokheri, is a small village known as Sitamai. There is an old shrine of Sita Mai built in the ordinary form of a Hindu temple. It is made of bricks, but the feature is the elaborate ornamentation which covers the whole shrine, the pattern of which is formed by deep lines in the individual bricks which seems to have been made before the bricks were burnt, so that the forms they were to take must have been separately fixed for each brick. A large part of the shrine was pulled down and thrown into the tank by some Muslim Emperor but the bricks have been put together without any regard to the original pattern. The shrine is said to mark the spot where the earth swallowed Sita in answer to her appeal in proof of her purity.
Kunjpura: Kunjpura, situated at a distance of six miles north east of Karnal was founded by a Pathan named Nijabat Khan, who had migrated from Kandhar and served as Risaldar under Wazir Khawaja Nasiruddin of Radaur, with headquarters at Taraori. He got the biswedari of Kunjpura from a Zamindar of Bidauli, in reward for his military assistance. After a clash with Rajputs, he settled at Kunjpura and built a fort in 1729 A.D. The fort was first called Nijabatnagar. On the incursion of Nadir Shah, Nijabat Khan supplied him with provisions and tendered his obeissance. The Marthatta Bhao plundered Kunjpura and killed Nijabat khan in 1758 A.D. Ahmed Shah repulsed the Marhattas and entrusted Kunjpura to Daler Khan, Nijabat Khan's eldest son. The family in due course expanded their territorial jurisdiction to a major portion of Indri pargana. The palace of the Nawab now houses the Sainik School, Kunjpura. Kunjpura village now has a population of 5;811, a grain market and a High School. It has a Notified Area Committee.
Naraina: The invading army of Mohd. Bin Sam was defeated at village Naraina, seven miles from Karnal and three from Taraori, in 1191 A.D. by united Hindu armies under Prithvi Raj, the Chauhan king of Delhi. Although in the following year, this defeat was reversed and turned into a victory for the Muslim invaders and the ruin of Rajput Supremacy for ever.
Taraori: The village of historic interest is eleven miles north of Karnal. Prince Azam of Aurangzeb was born here and the place was renamed as Azamabad. Aurangzeb constructed a wall around the town, a mosque and a tank which exist to this day. The village being on the main highway of the Moghul times, also has a serai. The old royal serai appears to have been used by the Sikhs as a fort, now lying in a dilapidated condition. Because of the railway station nearby, the place has developed as an important assembling market chiefly for paddy grown in the surrounding area, and has some rice husking mills. Basmati rice grown here is the finest in the country and is exported to foreign countries.
Basthali: It was at the village of Basthali 27 kilometers from Karnal that the sage vias lived who wrote the Vedas. The village bears his name; and legend has it that the sacred Ganges flowed underground into his well to save him the trouble of going to the river to bathe bringing with it his lota and loin cloth which he had left in the river to convince him that the water was really Ganges water.
Gondar (Gautam Rishi): At Gondar 26 kilometers from Karnal Gautam Rishi is said to have caused the spots in the moon and give Indra his 1000 eyes.
Bahlolpur:(Prashir tank): It was in the Parasir tank at Bahlolpur that the warrior Duryodhana hide till Krishna's jeers brought him out to fight, and this is still the most celebrated of tirathas of this part.
Anjanthali: There is a temple dedicated to Anjana, mother of Hanuman.
Shamgarh: One Kirpal Singh got shamgarh from Raja Gurdit Singh of Ladwa in reward for the services rendered to the confederacy of Sikhs. The Sikh chief of Shamgarh exercised sovereign powers and had exclusive jurisdiction over their own subjects even for offences committed in British territory until the British assumed criminal and police jurisdiction in 1833 A.D.
Assandh: The village lying 27 miles to the south-west of Karnal on the Karnal-Jind road, is said to be the capital of the kingdom of Jarsangha, one of the warriors mentioned in the Mahabharta. A Shahidi Smarak (martyrdom-memorial) commemorates the part played by the villagers of this place and of the surrounding area during the 1857 uprising when they revolted and were heavily punished by the Britishers.
Indri Shish Mahal: Indri Pargana was first included in Kaithal district but was transferred to karnal district in 1862. Some of its villages had, however, formed part of the Ladwa state ruled by a Sikh Raja Gurdit Singh. It consisted of 36 jagirs out of which 12 major ones included those of Shamgarh, Saga, Sikri, Barthal etc. In ancient times Indri (then known as Indergarh) was an independent fortress, " Shish Mahal" the ruins of which still stand today. The place is mythologically connected with the episode of Nihalde and Sultan, the two immortal lovers, their love having consummated in marriage but ended in tragedy. The palace contains ruins of a Naulakha Bagh which is reported to have once had nine lakh varieties of plants.
Moghul Bridge Saiyads: The Sayad's shrine built at Moghul Bridge about 7 kilometers from Karnal city is the scene of a big mela every Thursday. Lamps are lit. Superstitious people from far and near come to make offering at the shrine and ask for boons varying from diseases cure to elimination of ghosts from their bodies and prayers for material prosperity.
GogriPur: Bawa Farid: It has a shrine at Ghogripur. Crowd of people offer prayers to him after the spring harvest. Bu-Ali -Kalandar; a contemporary of Bawa Farid, Bu-Ali-Kalandar was a celebrated local saint. He had settled at Panipat, during prayers he stood in the Jamuna to avoid the labour of washing his hands and feet every time. After standing there for seven years, the fishes had gnawed his legs, and he was so stiff that he could hardly move. So he asked the Jamuna river to step back seven paces. She, in her hurry to oblige the saint, went back seven miles and there she is now. He gave the Panipat people a charm which dispelled all the flies from the city, but they grumbled so he brought them back a thousand fold. After death he was buried at karnal but the Panipat people claimed his body. They took some bricks from the grave for the foundation of a shrine at Panipat, but when they opened the box, they found his body in it, so he now lies buried at both Panipat and at Karnal.
Guga Pir: Guga is supposed to be the greatest of the snake-kings. He is worshipped throughout the district on the 9th of Bhadon. His shrine known as Mari is usually a cubical building with a minaret on each corner and a grave inside.