The district headquarter is situated in Ambala City. Other towns are Ambala Cantt., Barara, Naggal, Mulana, Saha and Shahzadpur. The total area of Ambala district is 1569 sq km and its population is 11,06,000. It is famous for its big army cantonment, air force base and a very busy railway junction.
There are a number of stories regarding the name 'Ambala'. According to one, this town was founded in the 14th century by one Amba Rajput. According to another the town is named after the Goddess Bhawani Amba. Yet another stories claims that the town was originally called Amb Wala (place of Mangoes), and over time this got corrupted into the present name of Ambala.
In 1841, after an outbreak of malaria, the British abandoned the cantonment at Karnal. In its place a large cantonment was founded in Ambala in 1843. Ambala district is famous for its industries, especially that of scientific instruments, metal casting, kitchen mixer grinders and submersible motor pumps.
Ambala lies on the North-Eastern edge of Haryana between 27-39"-45' North latitude and 74-33"-53' to 76-36"-52' East longitude. It is bounded by the district Yamunanagar to the South-East. To its South lies Kurukshetra district while in its west is situated Patiala and Ropar districts of Punjab and Chandigarh (UT). Sirmaur districts of Himachal Pradesh bounds the district in the North-East. The height from the sea level is 900 feet. The district is mainly drained by the following non-perennial streams:
1. The Markanda & its tributaries
2. The Dangri (Tangri) & its tributaries
3. The Ghagghar & its tributaries
The Markanda drains the southern slopes of Dharti Dhar range (Himachal Pradesh), cuts through the Shivalik hills and enters Ambala district. The Markanda and the Dangri streams ultimately drain into the Ghagghar river beyond the territory of the district. The Ghagghar along with its tributaries however constitutes an inland drainage system.
There are many shrines in and around Ambala City. There is a temple, Bhawani Amba, named after the goddess Bhawani. The Badshahi Bag Gurdwara, Sis Ganj Gurdwara, Manji Sahib Gurdwara, Sangat Sahib Gurdwara are the historical gurdwaras here. These are associated with Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Hargobind respectively.
Besides there are the popular Muslim shrines of Lakhi Shah and Taqwal Shah, Saint Paulís Church and an old British Christian cemetery. Patel Park in Ambala Cantt and City Park in Ambala City are two beautiful gardens. Rang Mahal, at nearby place Buria, is a well crafted palace with stone arches and pillars with beautiful carvings, erected during Shah Jahanís reign. Haryana Tourism has the Kingfisher resort on the national highway just outside the cantonment.