Kangra

Kangra is really a fascinating town situated merely 17 km far away from Dharamshala, in one of the lovliest valleys of the Himachal. It offers an average altitude of 733 metres. The town is nestled at the confluence of the Bener River and Majhi River, and Beas is an important river .

History Of Kangra Town

It is a historical town in district Kangra and placed in Kangra Valley. Natural beauty of this location is the only reason behind its popularity. Kangra is a town with historical importance. Historical past of Kangra starts back to the Vedic times around 3,500 years ago. At the time of invasion of Punjab by Alexander in 326 B.C., Kangra also finds reference in Mahabharta . The town had experienced numerous invasions and battles.

Kangra was initially the ancient capital of the Katoch kingdom and icon of power in Punjab Hill States. This city is recognized around the globe due to its crafts and temples. Handicrafts and artifacts which includes paintings (Pahari style of miniature painting) and fabulously embroidered shawls.

Kangra is also known as Bhawan or Nagarkot. Bhawan due to the Bajreshwari Devi Temple, and Nagarkot due to the fort Nagarkot. Another historical name of the city is Bhimagar and it was supposedly founded by Raja Bhim, younger brother of Kuru Emperor Yudhisthira of Indraprastha (now Delhi).

In the ancient times Kangra proper originally was a area of the ancient Trigartha (Jullundur) which covers the area lying between the river Sutlej and Ravi. Trigratha had 2 provinces. One in the plains with headquarters at Jalandur and other in the hills with headquarters at Nagrkot (the present Kangra).

During the period of Harsha, the renowned Chinese pilgrim Huien Tsiang visited Jullundur sometime in March 635 A.D. and in his documents he has described the principality of Jullundur positioned towards the north- east of China-Po-ti (China Bhakti) and towards the south east of Kiu-lo-to (Kullu). From historical past of Kashmir given in the Rajtirangini, Raja Shanker Verma (883 to 903) of Kashmir held suzerainty over Prithi Chand of Trigartha.

A terrible earth quake occurred on April 4, 1905 and the Kangra town was approximately damaged. The fort and temples at Kangra received permanent damage and lots of other buildings of archeological interest were more or less destroyed.

The place where the dilapidated fort mutely stands is called Purana Kangra or Old Kangra. The other attractions of the town are the Gorakh Dibbi Temple, the old Jain Temple and the Gupt Ganga Temple.

The present Kangra district came into existence on the 1st September, 1972 consequent upon the re-organisation of districts by the Government of Himachal Pradesh. It was the largest district of the composite Punjab in terms of area till it was transferred to Himachal Pradesh on the 1st November, 1966 and had Six (6) tehsils namely Nurpur, Kangra, Palampur, Dehragopipur and Hamirpur. Kullu was also a tehsil of Kangra district up to 1962 and Lahul & Spiti which also formed a part of Kangra was created as a separate district in 1960. On the re-organisation of composite Punjab on the 1st November, 1966 the area constituting Kangra district were transferred to Himachal Pradesh along with the districts of Shimla, Kullu and Lahul & Spiti and tehsils of Una and Nalagarh and 3 villages of Gurdaspur district.

Best Time To Visit

Mid May To Mid October

How To Reach

Air: Kangra airport (Gaggal Airport code DHM) is 7-km away and has got straight flights from Delhi.

Rail: Nearest broad-gauge railhead at Pathankot is 86-km away and one is situated at Mukarian is 30-km. Kangra Valley express is a narrow gauge train, starting from Pathankot and continues to Bajinath.

Road: Kangra is well connected by road with Dharamsala, which is 18-km away.New Delhi to Kangra is 497 km and Drive from New Delhi to Kangra takes about 9.94 hours by car.

Main Attraction

Many ancient temples like the Jawalaji Temple, Vajreshwari Devi temple, Chamunda Devi temple, chintapurni temple Baba Baroh, Masroor Temple built by pandvaas and Baijnath temple are found nearby. Kangra Fort is also a popular tourist attraction, Maharaja Sansar Chandra Museum adjoins the Kangra Fort.

Brajeshwari Devi Temple

Just outside the town is the temple dedicated to Brajeshwari Devi. Destroyed completely in 1905 by an earthquake, it was rebuilt in 1920. A large number of devotees throng this temple during various Hindu festivals.

Jwalamukhi Temple

The famous temple of Jwalamukhi is 30kms. from Kangra. Dedicated to the “GODDESS OF LIGHT”, the temple is one of the most popular Hindu temples in northern India. There is no idol of any kind the flame is considered as a manifestation of the goddess. An eternally burning and shining blue flame emanates from the rock sanctum and is fed by the priests with the offerings of devotees. The temple comes alive with Nawratra celebrations and coulourful fairs during March-April and September- October every year.

Masroor

Known for its monolithic rock temples, Masroor is 15kms. south of Kangra. There are 15 rock cut temples in Indo-Aryan style and richly carved. The temples partly ruined now are profusely decorated with sculptural ornamentations , conceived in the same manner as the great temple of Kailash at Elora in Maharastra with which they bear a striking resemblance. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita.

Baroh

About 35 km from Kangra, village Baroh is famous for Radha Krishan temple made of white marbel and the temple of Goddess Durga. There is also an ancient temple of Kali Nath Bhole Shankar. It is also approachable from Jawalamukhi.

Nag Mandir Temple

The famous temple of snake deity called the Nag Mandir is 20 km from Kangra and 2 km from Ranital . A large number of devotees visit this temple to seek the blessings of snake deity. Special fairs are held for two months during July and august one every Tuesday and Saturday.

Baglamukhi Temple

Fine example of stone carving, the ancient temple of Mata Baglamukhi ,26 km from Kangra on Hoshiarpur road, near Bankhandi is situated. The temple has the stone idol of Mata Durga.

Kaleshwar Mahadeve Temple

The ancient temple of Kaleshwar Mahadev is on the banks of river Beas and 10 km from Pragpur and 18 km from Nadaun. It is famous for Sacred Panchtirthi waters. Pilgrims take a holy dip on the day of Baisakhi (13 April) in Panchtirthi and nearby river Beam. Local believes the origins of this temple complex to the exile of Pandavas.

Garli -Pragpur

Heritage village Pragpur is a small town in Kangra district. Located at an elevation of 1800 ft above the sea level. The Kuthiala Soods had set up the village of Pragpur in the memory of Princess Prag Devi of the Jaswan Royal Family.
The area has several streams that drain into the river Beas. Many places of historic, religious and cultural importance are within easy reach. It is about 40 km from Kangra and 65 km from Dharmshala. Pragpur village lies on the foothills of the massive Dhauladhars popularly referred to as the White Ranges.

Many places of historic, religious and cultural importance are within easy reach. With its equitable climate, easy access, safe passage and rich flora and fauna, Pragpur and its surroundings offers an ideal location for village tourism. The ambience of the heritage zone of Garli-Pragpur is zealously protected by the local residents. In their endeavour that Garli-Pragpur retains its unique character, panchayats preserve their heritage buildings. Several heritage structures are now being restored using original techniques but with modern facilities to facilitate tourist.

in December 1997 the Government of Himachal Pradesh notified Pragpur as a Heritage Village and followed this up by making Garli -Pragpur Heritage Zone in 2002. This Heritage Zone has now been brought under a Special Area Development Authority (SADA) and is integrated with the national wetland -Maharana Pratap Sagar (Pong Dam)Tourism Development Project.

Sight Seeing

Nakki

This is the one of the entrances to Heritage Village Pragpur. Since ancient times, the Rerumal family provided a water point for common use, the overflow of which falls into small tanks where the village people bathed and washed.

The Taal

Taal or the Pond constructed by the village brotherhood known as the Nehar Committee which has records of its meetings since 1864. This body continues to be responsible for the maintenance of this ancient water system.

The Taal is surrounded by many heritage structures – 250-year-old Nehar Bhawan, NAUN (dated around 1864), a drinking water facility by the Nehar Committee Dhunichand Bhardial Sarai, and Radha Krishna

The Judge’s Court

The Judge’s Court is built in typical Anglo-Indian style of architecture. Justice Sir Jai Lal built this manor in the 20th century. . It stands in 12 acres of greens, and is just a short walk from the village core and the Taal. It is now run by the owning family as a heritage hotel.

Kalesar Temple

6 km from the Judge’s Court. Local lore traces the origins of this temple complex to the exile of the Pandavas, an episode from the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata. By the banks of the river Beas, this has some ancient temples and water pools. It is also quite a scenic spot for picnics.

Butail Niwas

Butail Niwas is a unique building which is more than 100 years old was built by Lala Buta Mal, a scion of the Chaujjar Sood clan.

Dada Siba Temple

Dada Siba Temple (22 kms) has beautiful wall paintings and is reached via CHINOR ( 17 kms) that has a temple and water mills. Dangra (2 kms) has an old temple.

Around Kangra

Kangra Fort

The fort stands on a steep rock in Purana Kangra (Old Kangra) dominating the surrounding valley, built strategically at the “sangam” (confluence) of Banganga and Majhi rivers. The view of gushing streams of Banganga and Majhi rivers from the Fort is charming. It is said that Kangra belongs to one who owns the fort. The place where ruined fort stands is called Purana Kangra or Old Kangra.

The Kangra Fort was the seat of power of the Katoch Dynasty from the time it was built by Raja Susharma Chand Katoch, an ally of Kauravas in the Mahabarata war. It is the largest fort in the Himalayas and probably the oldest dated fort in India. The ruins still dominate the Kangra valley.
The entrance to the fort is through a small courtyard enclosed between two gates i.e. Ahani and Amiri Darwaza (gate), About 500 feet from the outer gate the passage turns round at a very sharp angle and passes through the Jehangiri Darwaza. In fact, one of the most beautiful forts in India.

At the top of the fort, there was the palace of the Katoch kings. In the courtyard there are two temples of Lakshmi Narayan and Ambika Devi, family goddess of Katoch. Jain temple with Adinath in stone image also exists. The fort remained neglected during the British period but now the Archaeological department maintains it. The Fort is still an attraction to the tourists and the pilgrims visiting Kangra.

Adjoining the Fort is the Raja Sansar Chandra Museum run by the Royal Family of Kangra which exhibits the history of Kangra fort. . Museum contains some valuable old photographs of the fort prior to the devastating earthquake of 1905 and some exquisite stone sculptures, carvings, idols and other artifacts.
Also near to old Kangra is the famous Jayanti Mata temple on a hill top. The historical Kangra Fort is 3 km from the Kangra town.

Invasions on Nagarkot

In 1009, Mahmood Ghazni after defeating a large Hindu army at Ohind and later at Peshawar, advanced into the plains of the Punjab. After defeating the Hindu king at Lahore he invaded Nagarkot. Mahmood satisfied his lust for wealth by carrying away,( it is said , 700,000 golden dinars, 700 mans of gold and silver plates, 200 mans of pure gold in ingots, 2000 mans of unwrought silver and 20 tons of jewels including pearls, corals, diamonds and rubies) on camel backs, enormous wealth of jewels, gold and silver from the fort and shrine of Kangra. One lbrahim of Ghazni conquered the Fort from the Katoch King Jagdeo Chander in 1070 A.D. Muhammed Tughlaq also plundered the fort in 1337A.D. but could not hold it for long. Emperor Feroz Tughlaq also invaded Kangra fort in 1365 A.D. Raja Rup Chand Katoch exhibited great courage and endurance, but ultimately Raja gave in his submission and was permitted to retain his dominions but Tughlak once more plundered the temple.

Sher Shah Suri, the Afghan king also captured Kangra in 1540. By 1555, the Muslim influence again declined.

Jahangir himself states that Akbar made many attempts to capture the fort but failed. However, his frequent visits to Kangra can also be inferred from the popular song sung in the hill states and elsewhere in the country in praise of Durga Jawalji.

“Nangi-Nangi Peri Mata Akbar Aya, Sone Da Chattar Chadaya”

Jahangir succeeded in capturing the Kangra fort in 1619-20. The Katoch ruler lost the fort at least for 160 years. The fall of the invincible fort of Katoch to the Mughal was possible only with the help of the Hill Rajas adjoining the state of Kangra. The Rajas of Guler and Nurpur and in particular, the Raja of Jammu, played a very important role in helping the Mughal. They were all aware about the secret hideouts of the fort, the style of defence of Kangra Rajas and their internal weakness.

Once all such secret information was available to the Mughal forces, the possibility of capture of the fort became easy. These Rajas helped the Mughals in order to see that the Katoch Rajas are defeated and weakened as the Katoch Rajas had become powerful neighbour of these Hill states. Mughals needed local Rajas to help them and were looking for an opportunity to win them over who in turn were looking for such a golden opportunity in order to defeat Katoch of Kangra.
The decline of Mughal power in the second half of 18th Century, Raja Sansar Chand-II succeeded in recovering the ancient fort of his ancestors in 1785. With the occupation of the fort, Raja Sansar Chand became the supreme ruler of hill states of the Jalandhar Circle.

Unlimited ambition of this great Raja Sansar Chand ultimately ruined him. His dream was to regain the far-reaching dominions of his ancestors and even to establish the Katoch rule in the entire Punjab. In 1803-1804, he invaded the plains of Punjab twice but was defeated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In 1805 he annexed a part of Bilaspur state. Gorkhas became angry at the annexation of a part of Bilaspur State,. They invaded Kangra, but were defeated. The hill Rajas of Kangra however, were feeling sore against Raja Sansar Chand. They all approached Raja Amar Singh Thapa of Gorkhas through the Raja of Bilaspur to invade Kangra again. In 1805, with the help of the hill chiefs, the Gorkhas defeated Raja Sansar Chand who had to take refuge inside the fort. The siege lasted for four years. Raja Sansar Chand managed to get out of the fort and fled to Sujanpur Tira.

In 1809, Maharaja Ranjit Singh visited Jawalamukhi temple where Raja Sansar Chand met him and entered into a treaty with him. It was agreed that the Maharaja should help Raja Sansar Chand in expelling Gorkhas from the state and that in return the Maharaja would get the Kangra fort along with nearby 66 villages. Raja Sansar Chand had to agree to the demand of Ranjit Singh and the combined forces of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Raja Sansar Chand defeated Gorkhas. from the hills forever and in 1809 itself the fort was taken over by the Sikhs from Raja Sansar Chand. Raja Sansar Chand returned to Sujanpur Tira where he died in 1823.

After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the British violated the Treaty of Amritsar and defeated the sikh forces. It took them only 10 years to capture Punjab and along with Punjab, Kangra fell into their hands also.

Local Market

There are many silversmiths in the local market selling trinkets and curios. The village is known for the Weaving Cottage industry. One can purchase hand woven blankets, shawls and hand block printed clothes.

Places Near Kangra

 

Nadaun

After the attack on Kangra by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Raja of Kangra Katoch Sansar Chand moved his capital to Nadaun, 65 km frm Dharamshala, 48 km from Kangra and a few kilometers beyond Jwalamukhi.. Here on the left bank of river Beas, he built a palace where soon grew a centre of Kangra’s culture, art and business. For his meditation he erected a temple of Shiva, soon Nadaun become the favourite haunt of artists and the new capital hummed with life. Sansar Chand’s palace at Amtar still has priceless paintings. An old adage in the valley says “He who visits Nadaun will never like to come back”. This is explained by the fact that there were two hundred singing and dancing girls at Nadaun and whoever come under the spell of these enchantresses never thought of leaving.
Nadaun is also Known for Blikleshwar Mahadev temple which is said to be have been founded by the Pandavs.
During Sansar Chand’s time , Nadaun became a centre of Kangra culture, art and business. Artists from far and near visited Nadaun. Even today, ruins of the old palace here tell tales of the better days it has seen. Kangra miniature paintings are still Housed at Amtar palace.
It is peaceful town with a good Rest House, an Old Palace and Shiva temple. The Palace Building at Amtar still houses some of the paintings of that time. Jawalajee temple is also not very far and can be visited from here. This place provides excellent facilities for Mahaseer fishing in the Beas River flowing close by. Another attraction is the river rafting from this place to Dehra and further. There are beautiful camping sites for anglers.

Hamirpur

The district of Hamirpur having inherited its name from a descendent of a great Katoch lineage Raja Hamir Chand. Hamirpur District was created mainly as a result of trifurcation of the erstwhile Kangra district on 1 September 1972. The headquarters of the district is in the Hamirpur town which lies on Shimla-Dharamshala road. It is most educated District of Himachal and has highest density of roads amongst all districts of India. This area is situated at lower elevation varies from 400 meters to 1100 meters and comparatively warmer but has some hilly ranges covered with Pine forests. It is well connected by roads from all. Majority of the population here comprise of Hindus. Bulk of the people speak Pahari. . The majority of its population fluently speaks Hindi. Beas river flows through the northern part of and Satluj river flows through the southern part of district Hamirpur.

Sujanpur Tira

Sujanpur Tira is only 25 km from Hamirpur town and 80 km from Dharamsala .

In 1748, overlooking the settlement of Sujanpur, Abhaya Chand, a Katoch ruler, built a fortified palace top of a hill. It acquired the name Tira and with time this ancient town on the bank of river Beas began to be called Sujanpur- Tira.
Towards the decline of Kingdome, Raja Sansar Chand shifted his capital 16 km further along the left bank of the Beas river to Sujanpur Tira into his third capital from Nadaun. Sansar Chand spent the remaining years of his life there
Being a great patron of art and culture, soon many famous artists flocked to his court. Till his death in 1824, Sujanpur- Tira and nearby Alampur were homes for the Katoch ruler where he indulged with arts and artists and has gone down in history as a true patron. There is the Barahdari hall within the fort of Sujanpur- Tira, which had twelve chambers for other rajas. Here, Sansar Chand Katoch used to hold his court.

Haripur-Guler

Situated on the periphery of Maharana Pratap Sagar wet Island. Haripur is Haripur is known for fort and the place was the capital of the princely state of Haripur-Guler and stand ltestimony to the royalty and grandeur of the by gone era. Raja Hari Chand, the ruler of Kangra (Trigarta) built the form and town of Haripur in 1405 A.D.. a major school of Phari Miniature Painting was established here. The settlement still has several old temples, wells and remarkable city gates.

How To Reach

By Train : It has two railway stations: Kangra station, which is 3 km south of the town, and the Kangra Mandir station, 3 km east of the town.

By Air : The nearest Airport is at Gaggal, 8 Kms from Kangra Town.

By Road : Almost each and every part of the state is linked by roads.

 

Kangra