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KARNAL, a town and district of India, in the Delhi division of the Punjab. The town is 7 m. from the right bank of the Jumna, with a railway station 76 m. N. of Delhi. Pop. (1901), 23,559. There are manufactures of cotton cloth and boots, besides considerable local trade and an annual horse fair.

The DISTRICT or KARNAL stretches along the right bank of the Jurnna, north of Delhi. It is entirely an alluvial plain, but is crossed by the low uplift of the watershed between the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. Area, 3153 sq. m.; pop. (1901), 883,225, showing an increase of nearly 3% in the decade. The principal crops are millets, wheat, pulse, rice, cotton and sugar-cane. There are several factories for ginning and pressing cotton. The district is traversed by the Delhi-Umballa-Kalka railway, and also by the Western Jumna canal. It suffered from famine in 1896-1897, and again to some extent in 1899-1900.

No district of India can boast of a more ancient history than Karnal, as almost every town or stream is connected with the legends of the Mahabharata. The town of Karnal itself is said to owe its foundation to Raja Kama, the mythical champion of the Kauravas in the great war which forms the theme of the national epic. Panipat, in the south of the district, is said to have been one of the pledges demanded from Duryodhana by Yudisthira as the price of peace in that famous conflict. In historical times the plains of Panipat have three times proved the theatre of battles which decided the fate of Upper India. It was here that Ibrahim Lodi and his vast host were defeated in 1526 by the veteran army of Baber; in 1556 Akbar reasserted the claims of his family on the same battlefield against the Hindu general of the house of Adil Shah, which had driven the heirs of Baber from the throne for a brief interval; and at Panipat too, on the 7th of January 1761, the Mahratta confederation was defeated by Ahmad Shah Durani. During the troublous period which then ensued the Sikhs managed to introduce themselves, and in 1767 one of their chieftains, Desu Singh, appropriated the fort of Kaithal, which had been built during the reign of Akbar. His descendants, the bhais of Kaithal, were reckoned amongst the most important Cis-Sutlej princes. Different portions of this district have lapsed from time to time into the^hands of the British.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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