Himachal Tourist Guide

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Dalhousie

Dalhousie, Chamba, IndiaDalhousie is a hill station full of colonial charm that holds lingering echoes of the Raj. Spread out over five hills. Named after Lord Dalhousie...

Dharamsala

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Kangra Fort-Invincible and Massive

Kangra Fort, HimachalThe torrential Banganga River deep in the valley forming a formidable sheer and the Kangra fort lurking atop the flat mountain range is a scene that one encounters on nearing Kangra town when you drive from Shimla. A feeling of awe mixed with joy pervades you as you look back in time. The Kangra fort is approximately 3 kilometers from the town and is also known as Nagarkot. The fort is historically significant; its massive size, and the beauty of its structure lend it an added charm. In Shash Fat'h-I-Kangra, it is mentioned as a lofty fort, strong, invincible and with beautiful buildings.

Kangra Fort, Himachal PradeshAt the entrance is a museum containing some valuable old photographs of the fort prior to the devastating earthquake of 1905 and some exquisite Stone sculptures, carvings, idols and other artifacts.

The climb leads through seven gates; en route there are some idols embossed in the walls of the fort; the ramparts open out to the fascinating valleys below and one can recreate the past and glide the corridors of history as one climbs up slowly through cobbled path.

There are three richly carved temples in the vicinity — Lakshmi Narayan temple, the Ambika temple and a Jain temple of Adi Narayan. These have delicately carved patterns and in their decorative and elaborate art they are reminiscent of Meenakshi Madurai complex (Tamil Nadu) or the temples of Orissa.

Location: 3 Kms. from Kangra Town

The Kangra Fort is located 20 km from the town of Dharamsala in Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh.The Kangra Fort, also known as the Nagarkot or Kot Kangra, is situated to the south-west of the old Kangra town. The Kangra Fort is located atop a hill at the confluence of Banganga and Patal Ganga river (also known as the Majhi), in the south western outskirts of the old Kangra town. The fort was built by the founder of Katoch Dynasty, Bhuma Chand. Also near to old Kangra is famous Jayanti Mata temple on a hill top. Also close to entrance is a small museum which exhibits history of Kangra fort.

The Fort, occupying a long strip of land is enclosed with high rampart and the walls cover a circuit of about 4km. The main entrance gate is called the Ranjit Singh Gate which is followed by a narrow path leading to Jehangir gate, and then to the main complex with a palace and temples.

Darwazas, built by various conquerors, are plenty in this ancient fort. Access to the fort is gained from the<Ranjit Singh Darwaza which leads to the Jahangiri Darwaza through the Ahni and Amiri Darwazas. The construction of the last two darwaza was done by the first Mughal governor of Kangra, Nawab Alif Khan. From the Jahangiri Darwaza, a path leads to the next darwaza known as the Andheri Darwaza. From this darwaza, the path divides itself into two. The one leading to the left reaches the Darshani Darwaza, which can be described as the gateway to the most interesting part of the fort. The gate is considered one of the oldest structures in the fort and opens up into a spacious courtyard around which a number of chambers are built.

HISTORY : The Kangra Fort was built by the Royal family of Kangra (The Katoch Dynasty), which traces its origins to the ancient Trigarta Kingdom, mentioned in the Mahabharata. It is the largest fort in the Himalayas and probably the oldest dated fort in India. In the annals of history, its first reference occurs at the time of invasions of Mahmud Ghazni in AD 1009. In 1337, it was captured by Muhammad bin Tughluq and again in 1351 by his successor, Firuz Shah Tughluq. It fell to the Muslims permanently in 1621, when after a siege of fourteen months it was conquered by Jahangir, who garrisoned it with his troops appointed a Mughal Governor to keep the hill chief in the check. Raja Sansar Chand II succeeded in 1786 in recovering the ancient fortress of his ancestors but had to surrender the fort to Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1809. It remained in the hands of the Sikhs till 1846 when it was made over to the British Government along with the hill States as far as Ravi. The Fort continued to be held by a  British garrison but was evacuated sometime before the great earthquake on 4th April 1905 in which extensive damage was sustained. As of today, the fort is the property of the Archaeological Survey of India.

TEMPLE :  The Lakshmi Narayan Temple and the Sitlamata Temple are the prime attraction of the fort. Sadly, the 1905 earthquake has caused much damage to the temples, still both these temples have exquisite carvings to delight you. The ceilings of the Laxmi Narayan Temple is immensely beautiful with its elaborate decorations. Standing to the north of these two temples is the Ambika Devi Temple which is still used for the purpose of worshipping. The temple appears to be a pretty recent construction despite the presence of ancient pillars and architraves of mandapa covered by flat dome. To the south of the Ambika Devi Temple, stand two small Jain temples which are in a bad shape and need instant repair. Out of the two, only one has a seated image of Lord Adinath with not so clear inscription dating back to 1523 AD. The other Jain Temple, unfortunately has only a pedestal. A modern Jain Temple is also there which serves the accommodation purpose of the pilgrims to Kangra.

SHEESH MAHAL : Between the Sitlamata Temple and the Ambika Devi Temple, there is a staircase that leads up to the Sheesh Mahal. Sheesh Mahal might invoke a picture of a glittering palace in your mind, there is nothing that even faintly resembles the beauty of your imagination. The mahal is a block of stone with a big terrace on the edge of which stands a polygonal watch tower. This watch tower provides spectacular views of the surrounding areas.

HOW TO REACH / ACCESS / GETTING THERE :

  • Road :  Kangra fort is easily accessible from Kangra (4 km), Dharamsala (20 km), McLeodganj (28 km) and other cities of Himachal Pradesh via road. From all these places, private taxis and state transport buses are available. Tourists can hire taxis at reasonable cost from the major intersection of the city. Generally taxi rates are fixed by the taxi trade union and does not require further bargaining.
  • Rail : Kangra Town has a Narrow guage Railway Station. Broad Gauge Railway Station is at Pathankot, which is connected with all the major cities.
  • Air : Nearest Aiport is at Gaggal (17km away).

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Shimla

Shimla, Himachal, India

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