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Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/252

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Sarusti, Umla, and Ghagar. It is a wretched fever-stricken region where a short lived race of weakly people reap precarious harvests. The southern division is on the whole a much better country. It includes the whole of Karnal and Panipat, the south of Kaithal, and a small tract in the extreme east of the Thanesar tahsil. North of Karnal the Jamna valley or Khadir is unhealthy and has in many parts a poor soil. South of Karnal it is much better in every respect. Above the Khadir is the Bangar, a plain of good loam. North of Karnal its cultivation is protected by wells and the people are in fair circumstances. South of that town it is watered by the Western Jamna Canal. Another slight rise brings one to the Nardak of the Karnal and Kaithal tahsils. Till the excavation of the Sirsa branch of the Western Jamna Canal and of the Nardak Distributary much of the Nardak was covered with dlidk jangal, and the cultivation was of the most precarious nature, for in this part of the district the rainfall is both scanty and capricious, and well cultivation is only possible in the north. The introduction of canal irrigation has effected an enormous change. Wheat and gram are the great crops.

Historically Karnal is one of the most interesting districts. The Nardak is the scene of the great struggle celebrated in the Mahabharata. The district contains the holy city of Thanesar, once the capital of a great Hindu kingdom. It has found climate a more potent instrument of ruin than the sword of Mahmud of Ghazni, who sacked it in 1014. It still on the occasion of Eclipse fairs attracts enormous crowds of pilgrims. Pihowa is another very sacred place. Naraina, a few miles to the north-west of Karnal, was the scene of two famous fights[1], and three times, in 1526, 1556, and 1761, the fate of India was decided at Panipat.

  1. See page 169.