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Karnal Tourism

Karnal, a city in the Indian state of Haryana, boasts of a history reaching into the period of the Mahabharata. Nestled in the banks of the sacred Yamuna River, Karnal today is popularly called the ‘Rice Bowl of India’ for its vast rice fields.

Located in the National Capital Region, Karnal has limited tourist attractions to see, the most popular of which is Karna Lake. It is believed that it was here that the mythological hero Karna, after whom the city is named, gave alms to the poor. Karnal is home to some world-class institutes of research and development like the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) and Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR). The best way to explore this town is to take a leisurely walk, gorging on the local food.

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The city is located in the state of Haryana, where most residents speak Haryanvi. This is a dialect similar to Hindi. Most locals speak Hindi as well, so you should be fine if you have a working knowledge of Hindi. Guides and employees at tourist centres speak English as well, as do most taxi drivers. It is advisable to learn some basic phrases in Hindi or Haryanvi before you visit Karnal. In the central city, knowledge of English will see you through. Signboards in the town have instructions in English and Hindi, so it is convenient for solo travellers and backpackers as well.


Legend has it that the city of Karnal was founded by Karna, one of the most prominent characters of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Famous for his bravery, honour and unparalleled works of charity, the city is popularly known as the abode of ‘Daanvir Karna’ – the brave and charitable Karna. A site of historical wars of the Mughals and the British too, monuments in the city stand testament to the rich history and culture of Karnal.


Events and festivals make up plenty of celebrations at Karnal. The Hariyali Teej Festival is celebrated in the month of August-September every year. Commemorating the marriage of the Hindu Gods Shiva and Parvati, the locals herald this festival by preparing unique delicacies and holding folk performances. Dussehra is held on the tenth day after the nine-night Navratri festival. This marks the victory of the Goddess Durga over demons and is celebrated by taking out processions of the decked up idols of the goddess. This is held in September-October. Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is marked by glorious firework shows and special prayers to the goddess of wealth – Lakshmi. Diwali is celebrated in October-November. Vasant Panchami is a kite-flying festival that marks the beginning of spring. Held in February, this event is a sight to behold – the myriad of colours that dot the sky in various patterns is breathtakingly beautiful. Holi, the festival of hues and tones is delightful at Karnal. Watch a riot of shades come to life as you play with coloured powders and celebrate the victory of good over evil.


The city is famous for its handicrafts and jewellery. The Mughal influence on the local culture is apparent. Stroll into the local central market to try on Punjabi and Haryanvi attire with its characteristic patterns and embroidery. Silver, gold and terracotta jewellery are popular here, and they make for great souvenirs as well.

Best Time to Visit Karnal

How to Reach Karnal

How to Reach Overview

Karnal is easily accessible by air and road. If you’re looking to travel on a budget, a bus or train journey are your best options.

How to reach Karnal by flight

The nearest airport to Karnal is the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. International travellers can catch a bus or a train from the airport.

How to reach Karnal by train

Trains are also a more economical mode of transport. Mussoorie Express, Jhelum Express, Unchahar Express, Amritsar Express, Himalayan Queen and Jan Shatabdi Express all pass through Karnal Railway Station. Tickets range between INR 150 and INR 500.

How to reach Karnal by bus

Karnal is on National Highway 1, which is connected to Delhi and other major regions. Everyday bus services exist between Delhi and Karnal. While local buses cost around INR 50 – INR 150, deluxe Volvo buses may cost you between INR 300 – INR 700. At a distance of 120 kilometres from Delhi, the journey may take around 3-4 hours. You can also reach Karnal from Chandigarh – it is at a distance of 140 kilometres.

Local transport in Karnal

Local transport is available in the form of taxi cabs, rickshaws, buses and rented vehicles. You can take part in guided tours as well, to get a glimpse into the fascinating history of the region. If you’re planning on using public transport, make sure to confirm the timings beforehand. Fix prices before you embark on taxi rides.

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Karnal Photos

Noor Mahal, Karnal

FAQs on Karnal

What is the best time to visit Karnal?

The winter months between October and March are the best months to visit Karnal. With temperatures averaging between 4°C and 25°C, the weather is pleasant and ideal for sightseeing. Visibility is excellent during the day, and the sky is mostly clear. Early morning fog may hamper visibility for a few hours though. The nights may get too cold, so it is advisable to take woollens to stay warm. The monsoon months between July and September see moderate rainfall that refreshes the landscape. Although this might deter travel plans, the monsoon is the best offseason time to visit Karnal. Summer is the least advisable season to visit Karnal as the heat is scorching and unbearable. Temperatures soar to 44°C, and it becomes very uncomfortable to travel.
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What is the local food in Karnal?

Since Karnal is close to Chandigarh, you can hope to find delectable Punjabi food in the city. Haryanvi and Punjabi delicacies prepared on the characteristic Tandoor oven are a must-try. The sweet and savoury Lassi is bound to have you craving for more. Do not miss out on sweetmeats as well. There are ample vegetarian restaurants available, and there are Jain options too. Vegans may find it difficult to adjust with food choices, so it is advisable to pack accordingly.
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What is the best way to reach Karnal?

Karnal is easily accessible by air and road. If you’re looking to travel on a budget, a bus or train journey are your best options.
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What are the things to do in Karnal?

The top things to do in Karnal are Noor Mahal, Karna Lake, Babur's Masjid, Kalander Shahs tomb, Gurudwara Manji Sahib, Durga Bhavani temple. You can see all the places to visit in Karnal here

What are the places near Karnal?

The top places near to Karnal are Shimla which is 158 km from Karnal, Delhi which is located 115 km from Karnal, Rishikesh which is located 130 km from Karnal, Mussoorie which is located 134 km from Karnal, Kurukshetra which is located 41 km from Karnal

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