Karnal Fort, also known as Old Fort, has a chequered history. It was built by Gajpat Rai, the ruler of Jind around 1764 A.D. Thereafter, it was captured by the Marathas, George Thomas and then by the ruler of Ladwa. Later on it was occupied by the British forces. In the year 1805, it was transferred to Nawab of Karnal.
One year after, it was taken back from him by the British army for using it a part of the cantonment that was under construction. It was used as a residence for troops, a poor house, a prison and a court after the cantonment was abandoned and shifted to Ambala in 1843 A. D. consequent on the outbreak of Malaria.
Subsequently, it became the residence of Dost Mohammad Khan, the ruler of Kabul for a period of six months when he was arrested on his way to Calcutta. Incidentally, his daughter died here and was buried near the bastion on its north-eastern side.
It was again given over to the Nawab of Karnal, but bought back by the British government for Rs.1616. The fort is currently being used as the residence of the Tehsildar and other officials in Karnal.