Karnal, a city in the east central Haryana, lies along the west bank of the Yamuna River and is just east of the western Yamuna Canal. The name is said to be derived from that of Karna, a warrior in the ancient epic poem the Mahabharata and the town's legendary founder. It was later annexed by the Raja of Jind in 1763 AD and was taken from him by George Thomas in 1797. The British established a cantonment in 1811 AD but abandoned it after 30 years due to the outbreak of malaria.
The city of Karnal said to have been founded by Raja Karna, of the Mahabharata fame, sprang into prominence in 1739 AD when Nadir Shah defeated Muhammad Shah at Karnal. Raja Gopal Singh of Jind seized Karnal in 1863 AD, and the Marathas established themselves at Karnal in 1785 AD. Skirmishes however, followed between the Marathas and the Sikhs. In 1795 AD, the Marathas 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 AD and made over to Muhamdi Khan (Mandal). On Karnal's 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 Muhammad 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.
Karna Tank: The Karna Tank, named after Raja Karna, an unrivalled warrior 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 generous, used to give gold in alms to the needy.
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.
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 Mubarak Khan also exists there. An old Indian gun, almost 8 feet long made of bars of iron bound together by iron hoops. With its name '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 100 feet high tower and can be seen from a distance of several miles. A large ornamental cross surrounds the tower. The church itself named after St. James was dismantled with the shifting of the Cantonment to Ambala in 1841 AD.
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 is dedicated to the memory of a saint, Sayad Muhammad alias Miran Sahib who died in 899 AD. 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 Bu Ali Shah Qalandar. Guru Tegh Bahadur also visited it 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 Muhammad of Delhi, and is managed by Managing Committee of village Newal.
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 Kandhaar and served as Risaldar under Wazir Khwaja Nasiruddin of Radaur, with headquarters at Taraori.
Naraina: The invading army of Muhammad Bin Sam was defeated at village Naraina, seven miles from Karnal and three from Taraori, in 1191 AD by united Hindu armies under Prithvi Raj Chauhan, the king of Delhi.
Taraori: The village of historic interest is eleven miles north of Karnal. Prince Azam was born to Aurangzeb 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. 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 Vyas lived. The village bears his name. Legend has it that the sacred Ganges flowed underground into his well to save him the trouble of going to the river to bathe in its waters.
Gondar (Gautam Rishi): At Gondar 26 kilometers from Karnal Gautam Rishi is said to have caused the spots in the moon and gave Indra his 1000 eyes.
Bahlolpur (Prashir tank): It was in the Parasir tank at Bahlolpur that the warrior Duryodhana hid 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: It is believed that one Kirpal Singh got Shamgarh from Raja Gurdit Singh of Ladwa in reward for the services rendered to the confederation of Sikhs. The Sikh chief of Shamgarh exercised sovereign powers and had exclusive jurisdiction over the subjects even for offences committed in British territory until the British assumed criminal and police jurisdiction in 1833 AD.
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 Jarasandha, one of the warriors mentioned in the Mahabharata.
Indri Shish Mahal: Indri Pargana was first included in Kaithal district but was transferred to Karnal district in 1862 AD. Some of its villages had, however, formed part of the Ladwa State ruled by a Sikh Raja Gurdit Singh. In ancient times Indri (then known as Indergarh) was an independent fortress, " Shish Mahal" the ruins of which still stand today.
How to Get There
Rail: Karnal is an important city on Delhi-Ambala Rail Line & Sher Shah Suri Marg (G.T.Road), connected with all important places in the country. Connected by rail with Delhi (south) and Amritsar (northwest), Karnal is an important trade centre.
Road: It is 123 kilometres from Delhi & 130 kilometres from Chandigarh.
Where to Stay: Hotels & Restaurants
Jewel, Kunjpura Road: has a restaurant, fast food and a foreign exchange facility.
Karna Lake Tourist Complex: Run by Haryana Tourism, located just off the highway has deluxe huts, a restaurant and boating.
Oasis: has 2 camper huts and a cafeteria.
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