Just around the corner from south Delhi, a mere eight-kilometre drive away lies Surajkund with its large sun pool and amphitheatre. Built during the 10th century AD by Raja Suraj Pal of the Tomar dynasty, Surajkund combines proximity to the national capital with many amenities and comforts in an ambience that is typically rural and far away from the trappings of the urban centres.
Also within an easy motoring distance from New Delhi is the Badkhal Lake. Here, the Aravali hills are on the fringe and the lake offers special opportunities for water sports such as canoeing, kayaking or just a simple boat ride. In addition, there is a luxury yacht for those interested. But the real attraction of Badkhal Lake are its serene waters around which small cottages have been built at an elevation, thus affording the occupants a splendid view of the lake alive with the activity of birds during the winter months.
Farther afield, yet well connected to Delhi and on the National Highway No 1, is another manmade lake, named after Karna, one of the heroes of the epic Mahabharat. Having been carved out of a marshy area, the Karna Lake offers all the advantages of a designer complex with charming cottages overlooking a landscaped garden and tall eucalyptus trees planted to act as a barricade against the noise of the highway. Other trees and the emerald waters of the lake become the home for the pied crested kingfishers, darters, ducks and geese during the winter months.
Haryana is proud of its many lake retreats besides Badkhal and Karna. There is the Tilyar Lake at Rohtak, 70 kilometres away from Delhi, with facilities like boating and kayaking. In a different direction and located 64 kilometres from Delhi on the old highway to Alwar, is the Damdama Lake with cottages built on higher ground and mirrored in the calm waters of the lake. A camping complex for the adventurous is also there and facilities for sports such as rock climbing on the surrounding Aravali ranges, canoeing, kayaking, cycling and trekking are all available.
Not far from the Damdama Lake is Sohna, named thus after traces of gold were found in the nearby waters in the old times. Sohna has become quite popular due to the annual Vintage Car Rally that takes place in February. Motorists drive the 56 kilometres from Delhi and come to rest and picnic here, half way away from the venue of the rally.
If one wants to get away from Delhi towards the shadow of the mountains, there are the Yadavindra Gardens at Pinjore, just 22 kilometres from Chandigarh. Here, a historic building belonging to the 17th century is set in a Mughal garden, with a waterway surrounded by green lawns. A later addition to this beautiful spot is a Japanese garden.
Kurukshetra in Haryana is the name given to an area covering 48 kosas (an Indian unit of measuring land) where 860 places of pilgrimage related to the Mahabharata exist today. The important sites are the Brahma Sarovar, Sannihit Sarovar, Gurudwara Sadbhiti, Thaneswar Tirtha, and Rajghat.
Near Kurukshetra, Thaneswar is a sacred town for Hindus because Lord Shiva in the form of the lingam (phallic representation of Shiva) was first worshipped here. Also situated here is the tomb of Sheikh Chilli Jalal. It is a fascinating monument, octagonal in shape, crowned with a dome of white marble and surrounded by a white marble courtyard. Also worth a visit are the Chini Masjid and Pathar Masjid, two outstanding Islamic monuments.