Kannauj, the administrative headquarters of the Kannauj District, is an old town situated on the banks of the Yamuna River. It is 80 km southwest of Kanpur. Kannauj is known as the ‘Attar City’ or the ‘perfume city’ of India. Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, is 155 km northeast of Kannauj.
Kannauj has been mentioned in the literary works of Valmiki and Mahabharata under the names Mahodaya, Kusasthali, Kanyakubja and Gandhipuri. It was an important town during the Gupta Period and during the Harshavardhana reign (7th century) and it came to be known after Harshavardhana. The town reached the peak of its glory during the 9th and 10th centuries. Numerous Hindu shrines and Buddhist monasteries were constructed during that time. However the invasion of Mahmood of Ghazna in 1018 saw these constructions being razed to the ground. Another incursion in 1194 almost entirely wiped out the city.
Tourist attractions in the town include the 500-year-old Siddheswar temple, archaeological museum and the Gauri temple.