The Kangra valley is one of the most picturesque valleys of lower Himalayas. The valley, sheltered by the sublime Dhauladhar range, is green and luxuriant. It provides a tremendous contrast in nature of places to be visited. Dharamshala is full of Buddhist air whereas ancient Hindu Temples like Bajreshwari Devi, Chamunda Devi, Baijnath Shiv temple and Jwala Devi ji dot the country side. The history of Kangra valley dates back to the Vedic times more than 3500 years ago. The area was exposed to successive invasions, the last being the British domination of the princes of many small the hill states. Despite the onslaughts and political upheavals, the arts and crafts of the region continued to develop and found lyrical expressions. Crafts like the exquisitely designed shawls and miniature paintings of this region are internationally appreciated.
Kangra valley provides a tremendous contrast in nature of places to be visited. Hill stations Dharamshala and Mcleodganj are full of Buddhist air and hence one can explore the Buddhist Tibetan culture by visiting monasteries in Dharamshala and Mcleodganj. Ancient Hindu Temples such as Brijeshwari, Baijnath, Jawalamukhi and Chamunda Devi dot the countryside.
Set against the backdrop of the dramatic Dhauladhar Mountains, Dharamshala is perched on the high slopes in the upper reaches of Kangra Valley offering scopes of various adventure activities. Close to Kangra is Nagarkot a beautiful area with the fort perched on top of a ridge overlooking the confluence of Manjhi and Baner rivers. The town is divided into two distinct and widely separated sections, Upper and Lower Dharamshala, which differ almost a thousand meters in height. The tourist destinations of Kangra are mostly visited and therefore hotels in Dharamshala, Mcleodganj, Baijnath and Jawalaji etc are packed throughout the year. This beautiful town is situated in Himachal Pradesh, North India.
The town was attacked by Mohammed Ghaznavi and conquered by Emperor Feroz Tuglak and Maharaja Rant Singh. Prior to this episode, Kangra was the capital of the great Hill State, its renowned ruler being Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch, a great patron of arts. It was during his reign that the Miniature and Rajpur Schools of hill paintings flourished. Close to Kangra is Nagarkot a beautiful area with the fort perched on top of a ridge overlooking the confluence of Manjhi and Baner rivers. Kangra valley provides a tremendous contrast in nature of places to be visited. Dharamshala is full of Buddhist air whereas ancient Hindu Temples such as Brajeshwari, Baijnath, Jawalamukhi and Chamunda Devi dot the countryside.
Facts & Figures
Best Time to Visit: Mid-May to Mid-October
Altitude : 1,597 meters.
Location : The district lies between 31°40' and 32°25' East Longitudes and 70°35' and 77°05' North Latitudes. It is bounded on the South-West by Una district, on the North-West by district Gurdaspur of Punjab, on the North by Lahaul-Spiti and Chamba districts, on the East by Kullu and Mandi districts, and on the South it touches Hamirpur district.
Access by Air : Nearest airport is Gaggal airport located 13 km. from Kangra. Other airports having regular service are : Jammu 200 km. from Kangra, Amritsar 208 km. from Kangra and Chandigarh 255 km. from Kangra
Access by Rail: Nearest broad gauge railhead is Pathankot 90 km. A narrow gauge railway line between Pathankot and Jogindernagar passes through Kangra, 17 km. from Dharamshala.
Access by Road : Almost each and every part of the state is linked by roads. The Himachal Road Transport Corporation is running its buses covering the whole state. There is huge network of HRTC to cater the needs of the people.
Distances : Chandigarh 239 km., Delhi 514 km., Nangal 145 km., Jalandhar 166 km., Hoshiarpur 128 km., Mandi 147 km., Jawalamukhi 55 km., Kullu 214 km., Manali 252 km., Chamba 192 km. and Shimla 322 km.
Brijeshwari Devi Temple: Known once for its legendary wealth of diamonds and pearls, this temple was subject to successive depredation by invaders from the North. Mohammed of Ghazni is known to have departed with a king's ransom in gold, silver and jewels in 1009. Earthquake of 1905 destroyed it completely. Rebuilt in the present form in 1920, it continues to be a busy place of pilgrimage.
Chamunda Devi Temple: Chamunda Devi temple is located between Dharamsala and Nagrota. The temple has its origin over 700 years ago. It is about 15 kms from Dharamshala and 10 Kms from Nagrota Bagwan. The temple is dedicated to Devi Chamunda the "goddess of Shakti". At the back side of Devi temple is a Shiva temple in a cave like structure. The temple comprises a kund or a pool in it. The temple can easily be reached from Dharamshala, Palampur or Kangra by Taxis or by buses.
Chinmaya Tapovan : Chinmaya Tapovan is an Ashram at the foothills of majestic Dhauladhar ranges. The Ashram was founded by Swami Chinmayanand ji who was a great exponent of Bhagwad Gita. The Ashram has a 9 meter high image of Lord Hanuman, a meditation hall, a school and a health centre. The Chinmaya Ashram is 7 Kms from Dharamshala.
Mcleodganj : Often referred as "Little Lhasa" Mcleodganj is a beautiful hill station in the Kangra valley. It is in the upper part of Dharamshala and is at about 9 Kms from Dharamshala via Dharamshala Cantt and 4 Kms via a short route from Kotwali Bazaar Dharamshala. Mcleodganj is well known worldwide for its scenic beauty and as the residence of His holiness the Dalai Lama. This small town is the administrative hub of the Tibetan government in exile and is a Buddhist pilgrimage center. People from all over the world come here to learn Buddhism and the Tibetan culture. Mcleodganj has a good market which is a worth visit. The Restaurants of Mcleodganj to provide multicuisine food as people from across the world come to Mcleodganj. 2 kms from Mcleodganj is Bhagsunaag which is known for a Naag temple and a Water spring. Nearby waterfall of Bhagsunaag is a picturesque site and is a worth visit.
Kangra Fort: The remains of the fort of the Kotch Raja's of Kangra are located on a strategic height, overlooking the Ban Ganga and Manjhi rivers. At the top of the fort there was also a place of the Kotch kings. The earthquake of 1905 in Kangra destroyed both the palace and the fort. It is now in its ruins.
Jawalamukhi: 30-km from Kangra, 56-km from Dharamshala, near the Beas river and on the side of cliff, is one of Hindu dome most famous shrines. Built against the side of a rocky spur, the temple is dedicated to the manifestation of the Devi of fire also called the "Flaming Goddess".
Andreta: It is at a distance of 13 Kms from Palampur and is the home of the famous Artist Late Sardar Sobha Singh and playwriter Norah Richards. Norah Richards was actively associated with theatre in England, first as an amateur and then as professional, she later developed the idea of Rural Theatre to which she looked upon as a powerful means to educate the rural masses. Norah Richards came to India in 1911 and settled at Andretta in the year 1925. It was in the year 1948 when S. Sobha Singh the renowned artist and painter of the master-piece Sohni -Mehiwaal at the invitation of Mrs. Richards, settled at Andretta with his studio.Norah Richards died in the year 1971. Her Woodlands Retreat in Andretta is a sanctum which she had shaped after her ideas on rural culture. Andretta with fascinating cultural heritage and magnificent surroundings also offers an opportunity to study pottery with the renowned Mansimran (Mini) Singh.
Baijnath : Baijnath is at a distance of 16 kms from Palampur on the Pathankot Mandi National Highway.The Shiva temple at Baijnath is one of the most remarkable monuments of Kangra Valley. Baijnath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. According to the inscriptions on the walls, Baijnath Mandir was built by the two native merchants by the name of Ahuka and Manyuka in 1204 A.D. In the porch of the temple, the two long inscriptions state that before the present temple, there was a shrine of Lord Shiva at the same spot. There is a fine sculptures work to be associated with Ravana who worshipped Lord Shiva at this Place. Baijnath is one of the twelve jyotirilingas. Shivratri fair of Bajinath is celebrated with great devotion and is well attended.
Gopalpur Zoo: Lying on Dharamshala-Palampur road, wildlifedepartment of H.P Goverment has established a zoo at Gopalpur spread over 12.5 hectares of thick forest. Animals which can be seen here includeAsiatic Lion, Himalayan black bear,(a major attraction with the tourists), Leopard, Sambar, hog deer, barking deer, red fox, angora rabbits and so on.
Bir Billing: Upto Bir town you can travel by any vehicle. The 14 km distance from Bir to billing is actually a rock road, whose rock cutting was done way back in 1962. It is advisable that this distance be covered either by foot or if by a vehicle it should be any 4x4 vehicle like the Gypsy or the Mahindra 4x4 . At billing there is only a Guest house of the Forest Dept. being looked after are re This is one of the most beautiful jeep able routes in the Kangra valley situated at a height of about 9500 ft from the MSL. 35Kms from Palampur is Bir Town known for the Buddhist monasteries and 14 kms from here is the famous aero sport site of Billing. You can fly up to Chamba from here. The Ariel view of the Chamba and Kangra valleys ally breathtaking.
Adventure Sports: The Kangra Valley offers exciting opportunities for trekking, rock climbing, mountaineering and fishing. The Kangra Valley is the proverbial home of various fishes such as Mahaseer as also the Malli, Soal, Bachwa, Gid and Shingra.3.5-km from Palampur is a predominant Buddhist town of Bir and 14-km from Bir is Billing, a beacon for "Hang-gliders" all over the world. In the month of May or June a tented colony is set up by H.P tourism to facilitate Hang-gliders.
Lakes in Kangra
Pong Dam:- Pong Dam is a beautiful Reservoir named the Maharana Prathap Sagar in Kangra. Kangra also known as the pong dam plays host to a wide variety of water sports like Sailing, Water Skiing, Rowing etc.. This reservoir is situated at a height of about 450 meters, covering an area of about 45,000 Hectares approx. This place is now a wildlife sanctuary with over 200 species of migratory birds having been spotted in and around the reservoir. You can visit this Place from Masroor, Pathankot and Nurpur. This Place therefore serves a dual purpose for the adventurous tourists.
Dal Lake: Approximately 3 km from Mcleodganj. It is tourist attracted spot renowned for scenic beauty and the cool ambiance the lake is surrounded by deep green deodar forest making it magnificent location. Dal Lake Eleven kilometers above Dharamshala and next to the Tibetan Children Village is a miniature oval-shaped artificial lake called Dal lake, rimmed by fir trees. Though small in area, this lake has a charm of its own solely due to its surrounding forest and hills. Taking a dip in the lake is considered sacred. Devotees believe that a bath in the lake fulfills any boon asked from Lord Shiva at that time.
Kareri Lake:- Located at a distance of 33 km from Dharamshala at an altitude of 1,983 metres above the sea level., Kareri village is set amidst beautiful settings.13 km from here lies the impressive Kareri lake 3,048 metres above the sea level amidst green meadows, oak and pine trees making it an idyllic spot to visit. At Kareri the visitors can stay in the forest rest house, for which prior reservation is needed from the Divisional Forest Officer, Dharamshala near head post office.