India’s 17th state, Haryana, was created in 1966 when Indira Gandhi’s government decided to meet the demands of Sikh separatists agitating for an independent Khalistan and divided the state of Punjab along linguistic lines.
Visiting Haryana, imagine the decisive battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas of the epic Mahabharata in the Kurukshetra Panorama. Watch the migrating birds in Sultanpur. Organize a picnic at Pinjohr Gardens near Chandigarh. “Hunt” for souvenirs at the craft fair in Surajkund.
The districts, where 96% of the villages spoke Hindi, created a new administrative unit of the Indian Federation. However, the sharing of Chandigarh as the capital continued, as both sides did not want to cede the newly built city.
The state’s population is mostly Jat peasants, with 75% of the population living in villages. On a par with the Punjab, Haryana can be considered the “breadbasket” of India-the lion’s share of the wheat, rice, and dairy products that India consumes were produced here, on the fertile soils of the Ganges River basin.
In terms of topography, Haryana is a flat plain, descending from the 239 m suburbs of Delhi to 61 m, elevation of the state capital. The state of Haryana, with the exception of the capital Chandigarh, shared with the Punjab, is not of much interest to tourists, although many of the most important events of Indian political, military and religious history took place here.
From the time of the Aryan conquest of the plains in the basin of the Ganges, Haryana was considered a stronghold of Brahmanical culture. Here Lord Krishna preached the Bhagavad Gita and the Mahabharata, the greatest monument of Indian religious epic, was composed. The cradle of Vedic civilization has been attracting millions of pilgrims for thousands of years. Most of them go to Kurukshetra, which got its name from King Kuru, the ancestor of the Kauravas and the Pandavas, whose struggle for supremacy in northern India attracted the attention of the creators of the ancient Indian epic. And much later than these legendary events, the plains of Haryana decided who would rule the subcontinent, particularly the plains of Panipata saw several decisive battles.
Politically, the region has been under the leadership of the Indian National Lok Dal, the political wing of the Jat movement, and its charismatic leader, Om Prakash Chotala, since 1989 almost without interruption. His fifth term as chief minister of Haryana ended in the spring 2005 state assembly elections.
During the election campaign, accusations of corruption and nepotism were loudly voiced in the press and at opposition rallies. But Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party, which won many seats in the new assembly, will inherit from the previous government not only the chronic problems of the Haryana peasantry, limited access to water and electricity, but also the dynamic suburb of Delhi, Gurgaon, with its skyscrapers, flashy department stores and the headquarters of multinational corporations.
To the south of Delhi are the business satellite cities of Gurgaon and Freedabad, on the way to which you can visit Surajkund, where in early February a folk crafts fair is held. Further south is the bird sanctuary at Sultanpur. North of Delhi you will find the decisive plains of Panipat, the sacred pond at Kurukshetra and the Mughal gardens of Pinjora.