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. Dharamsala is full of Buddhist air whereas ancient Hindu Temples like Bajreshwari Devi, Chamunda Devi, Baijnath Shiva 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 making Kangra one of the prime holiday destinations.
Kangra Fort – The 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-Mataur national highway. A feeling of awe mixed with joy pervades you as you look back in time. The Kangra Fort is approximately 3 Km 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. At 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 artefacts.
Masroor rock cut temples – Known for its monolithic rock-cut temples, Masroor is 38 Km from Kangra Town. There are 15 rock-cut temples in Indo-Aryan style and are richly carved. It is a unique monolithic structure in the sub-Himalayan region and is a protected monument. The main shrine contains three stone images of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita. The temple complex is located on a hill and also has a large rectangular water pond. The view of snow clad Dhauladhar is amazing from the temple premises.
Pragpur – Located at an elevation of 2000 feet above sea level, heritage village Pragpur is ideally suited to explore the Kangra valley. The area has several streams that drain into the river Beas. 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.
Baijnath Shiv Temple – –
This particularly beautiful ancient Shiv temple at Baijnath is 16 Km from Palampur, on the Pathankot-Mandi national highway . Built of stone in the 9th century AD in the shikhara style, it is a fine blend of sculpture and architecture. The temple is easily accessible from both Palampur and Kangra. The linga enshrined in its sanctum is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in the country. Every year during the Shivratri fair, pilgrims decend on Baijnath for the colourful fair and festivities.
The Taal – Dating before 1868, the Taal or pond forms the core of Pragpur village and serves as a recreational space for young and aged alike. The Taal is surrounded by heritage structures.
Chintpurni Temple – This Shakti-temple is located on Dharamshala-Hoshiarpur road on a ridge. Thousands of devotees visit this temple. In addition to many religious festivals, the main fair is held during the 10 days of “Shukalpaksh” in August. There is a Yatri Niwas which is managed by Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation.
The Judge’s Court – – Completed in 1918, this is a splended country manor designed in Indo-European tradition. The visionary behind this bold structure was Justice Sir Jai Lal. 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. The residents of Garli-Pragpur are hospitable. There is always a warm welcome for tourists and the area provides a safe passage. The area can be visited round the year.
Bajreshwari Devi temple – In the middle of the town of Kangra is the temple dedicated to Bajreshwari Devi. It is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths. Known once for its legendary wealth this temple was subject to successive depredations by invaders from the north. Destroyed completely in 1905 by an earthquake, it was rebuilt in 1920 and continues to be a busy place of pilgrimage. In the surroundings of Kangra, one can visit the historical Kangra Fort at Old Kangra (3 Km) and also trek up to the temple of Jayanti Devi located on the hill top, opposite to the Kangra fort.
Taragarh Palace Hotel –
Low rolling hills criss-crossed by narrow fast-flowing streams, scores of tiny hamlets, lush tea gardens and paddy fields with the backdrop of the majestic Dhauladhar mountains – all combine to make Kangra one of Himachal’s most beautiful tracts. Here, built in 1931, by the 27-year old ruler of Bahawalpur, Nawab Sadiq Mohammed Khan Bahadur is Al Hilal (literally the Land of the crescent moon), now called Taragarh after Maharani Tara Devi, of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, who became its subsequent owner. Now a heritage hotel, this is a splendid art-deco mansion set amidst large grounds. Memorabilia of past adorn its elegantly appointed rooms while the grounds host a ‘jungle camp’.
Chamunda Devi Temple
-Just 24 Km from Kangra and 15 Km from Dharamshala is the famous temple of goddess Chamunda Devi (Chamunda Nandikeshwar Dham). At the back of the temple is a cave-like scoop where a stone “Lingam” under a boulder represents Nandikeshwar (Shiva). The temple complex is an enchanting spot with glorious view of Dhauladhar, the Baner Khad and Dadh. A vast running water pool houses the statues of Lord Shiva and Saraswati. A trek of about 16 Km up in the Dhauladhar ranges is the ancient temple of Aadi Himani Chamunda.
Nadaun – It is situated on the Shimla-Dharamshala road on the banks of Beas River, 27 Km from Hamirpur town and 50 Km from Kangra. It is peaceful town with a good Rest House, an old palace and an ancient Shiva temple. This town became famous when the Kangra rulers shifted their capital here after they lost Kangra Fort to the army of Jahangir. However, it lost its glory when Raja Sansar Chand re-captured Kangra Fort and became the strong ruler of Kangra valley again. The palace building at Amtar still houses some of the paintings of that time. Shaktipeeth Jawala ji temple (14 Km) can be visited from here. This place provides excellent facilities for Mahaseer fishing in the Beas River. There are beautiful camping sites for anglers. Another attraction here is the river rafting to Dehra and further. In view of its beautiful setting, there is a famous local saying “Why he who goes to Nadaun should return”.
The town of Palampur (1219 m) is situated in a idyllic valley priding itself with tea gardens, and hills covered with pine trees. The place enjoys a year-round pleasant climate and the pine scented air is said to have curative properties. The scenery presents a sublime and beautiful contrast- the valleys presents a picture of rural innocence and repose, while the hills are majestic.
Nurpur – Nurpur is famous for an old fort and a temple of Brij Raj. It spreads across a long flat plateau forming the western end of the ridge and bears signs of great architectural designs. Inside, the palace walls, though crumbling, have deep niches, decorative arches and the faint signs of some paintings. The northwest walls of the fort have some deeply carved panels showing animals. Particularly graceful are the bulls in their various actions like pulling a cart, or walking in a file; there are also figures of men, women, children, the kings, gods and goddesses and birds. The overall impact of the fort is one of awe and wonder.
Trilokpur – It is situated 38 Km from Kangra and can be approached by road the natural cave temple of Trilokpur contains a stalactite and stalagamite is dedicated to Shiva. High on the ridge of the cave are ruins of a palace and baradari (audience hall) of Lehna Singh Majitha, Governor of Kangra hills during the Sikh rule.
Dehra Gopipur – It is situated on the bank of river Beas. It is possible to use Dehra as a base for different fishing areas like Pong Dam, Pattan and Nadaun. PWD & Forest rest houses are available at Dehra for night stay, besides, privatel hotels & guest houses. One can also visit the famous temple of Shaktipeeth Jwala ji, Chintpurni ji from here. Heritage village Pragpur and Dada Siba, which is famous for ancient temple of Radha Krishan and wall paintings are accessible from Dehra. The small fort of Mangarh is close to Dehra. The view of the valley and Pong Lkae is very attractive from the fort.
Maharana Pratap Sagar
– Named in the honour of the great patriot Maharana Pratap (1572-97 AD) the Maharana Pratap Sagar (Pong Lake) is situated at an altitude of 450 metres above sea level, 32 degree north and 76 degrees east, in district Kangra. Clean blue water all around with the panoramic view of Dhauladhar Ranges and Kangra Valley make the visit to Ransar Island an unforgettable experience. Black buck and Cheetal on the island along with Surkhab, Cranes, Pintails and variety of water birds welcome the visitors on the Island. The best season to visit the Pong Lake is between September to March. The nearest other visitable places are Masroor rock-cut temple 10 Km from Nagrota Surian railway station, Haripur fort, near to Guler railway station.