Haryana is the 20th state of India that came into being on 1st November 1966 and presently has 21 districts. Previously it was under Punjab. It is situated in the North Western region surrounded by Himachal Pradesh from North, Uttrakhand from North East, Rajasthan from the South, U.P and Delhi from East and Punjab from North West. The largest district of Haryana is Bhiwani while Panchkula is the smallest district. Panchkula, along with Mohali and Chandigarh is called Tricity. The capital of Haryana is shared by its neighboring state Punjab and is Chandigarh, designed by Swiss born French architect, Le Corbusier.
Haryana became a state of India on November 1, 1966. The present day Haryana is the region where, along the banks of the River Saraswati, the Vedic Civilization began and matured. It was here that the Vedas were written, as the Aryans chanted their sacred Mantras. Replete with myths and legends, Haryana's 5000 year old history is steeped in glory. It was here that Lord Krishna preached Bhagvad-Gita at the start of the battle of Mahabharat. It was on this soil that saint Ved Vyas wrote Mahabharat in Sanskrit. Before the Mahabharat war, a battle of ten kings took place in the Kurukshetra region in the Saraswati valley. But it was the Mahabharat War, approximately in 900 BC, which gave to the region worldwide fame. Mahabharat knows Haryana as Bahudhhanyaka, land of plentiful grains and Bahudhana, the land of immense riches. The word Hariana, occurs in a 1328 AD Sanskrit inscription kept in the Delhi Museum, which refers to the Haryana region as The heaven on earth.
Excavations of various archeological sites in Haryana, like Naurangabad and Mittathal in Bhiwani, Kunal in Fatehbad, Agroha near Hissar, Rakhi Garhi (Rakhigarhi) in Jind, Sites in Rukhi (Rohtak) and Banawali in Sirsa have evidence of pre-Harappan and Harappan culture. Findings of pottery, sculpture and jewellery in sites at Pehowa, Kurukshetra, Tilpat and Panipat have proved the historicity of the Mahabharat war. These places are mentioned in the Mahabharat as Prithudaka (Pehowa), Tilprastha (Tilput), Panprastha (Panipat) and Sonprastha (Sonipat.
Haryana has been the scene of many wars because of it being "The Gateway of North India". As years rolled by, successive streams of Huns, Turks and the Afghans invaded India and decisive battles were fought on this land. After the downfall of the Gupta empire in the middle of 6th century AD north India was again split into several kingdoms. The Huns established their supremacy over the Punjab. It was after this period that one of the greatest King of ancient India, Harshvardhan began his rule. He became the King of Thanesar (Kurukshetra) in 606 AD, and later went on to rule the most of north India. In the 14th century, the Tomar kings led an army through this region to Delhi.
Later the Mughal, Babur, defeated the Lodhis in the first battle of Panipat in the year 1526. Another decisive battle was fought in Panipat in 1556, establishing the reign of the Mughals for centuries to come. Taking advantage of Humayun's death, Hemu had marched to Agra and Delhi and occupied it without difficulty. In response, Bairam Khan (Akbar's guardian) marched towards Delhi. Both the armies clashed in the second battle of Panipat. Hemu was in a winning position when a stray arrow struck him in the eye. He fell unconscious causing panic among his troops. The tide of the battle turned and the Mughals won the battle. Towards the middle of the 18th century, the Marathas had control over Haryana. The intrusion of Ahmed Shah Durrani in India, culminated in the third battle of Panipat in 1761. Marathas' defeat in this battle marked the end of their ascendancy and the decline of the Mughal Empire, leading to the advent of the British rule.
In 1857, the people of Haryana joined the Indian leaders in the 1857 Revolt against the British Government. By the end of June, 1857, most of the present Haryana region was liberated from the British. But the British managed to put down the rebellion in November, 1857 by bringing in additional forces from outside the area.
Indian history is replete with tales of heroism of the highest order and in this context, the historic significance of the battles of Panipat and Kurukshetra in Haryana cannot be ignored by any means. The sacrifices of Haryana's brave soldiers have played a very important role in maintaining the territorial and sovereign integrity of our nation. The new state which emerged as a separate political entity of the Indian Union on November 1, 1966, is considered to be the cradle of rich Indian cultural heritage. In terms of economic development too, Haryana has come a long way during the few past years.
Haryana has set up a number of tourist complexes, motels and camping sites to promote tourism. A total of 65 lakh tourists visited Haryana in the year 2001-2002. Haryana has one of the most successful tourist development programs led by Haryana Tourism department. The tourist complexes are named after Birds found in Haryana. Some of these places have dormitories and all of them have restaurants. Hotel Rajhans (Surajkund) and Badkal Lake are on the Delhi Agra highway. Karna Lake (Karnal), Skylark, Parakeet and Kingfisher (Ambala) are on Delhi-Chandigarh highway. Yadavindra Gardens at Pinjore, on the Chandigarh Shimla road are a must see.
Surkhab (Sirsa) and Flamingo (Hissar) complexes are on the Delhi-Fazilka national highway. Kurukshetra is a great pilgrimage for Hindus and tourists from all over visit the venue of Mahabharat war and the birth place of the Bhagvad Gita. Building on its, historical and cultural traditions, it has developed in to a modern city having the Brahmsarovar, Sri Krishna Museum and the Science Museum (Panorama). Kurukshetra district is a tourist delight, and there are about 360 Tirthas of religious and historic importance. About 134 tirthas are being maintained by Kurukshetra Development Board, Kurukshetra.
The Delhi-Alwar highway boasts of a unique hilly attraction Sohna, in Gurgaon district. Standing on the Aravali Hills, Sohna looks out at a wide panoramic view of the plains below it. Sohna has been provided with landscaped gardens and an exclusive Barbet Hut complete with its own sitting area and an attached kitchen. A motel wing has been built here, where air-conditioned rooms are available for stay. In February, the Statesman Vintage Car Rally vends it way to the Sohna hill and Haryana Tourism celebrates the day with a Mela event.
Panchkula district has the Morni Hills - the only hill station of Haryana. A charming and peaceful place to rest and savor the nature. During the monsoons a carpet of grass covers the hills which makes them excellent grazing ground for black buck and Neelgai (blue bull). A lone leopard can be spotted on occasion, while Chital, foxes, wild boar, mongoose, jackals and hill forest birds are aplenty. Haryana offers a great opportunity for bird watching in Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary & National Park and Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary.
Though Haryana has given India many famous persons but few to be named are Indian cricketer Kapil Dev, Astronaut Kalpana Chawla. List of freedom fighters who represented Haryana are Babu Dayal Sharma, Heera Singh, Lala Shayam Lal, Dr.Madhoram etc.