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Himachal Pradesh >>

Kangra Travel Guide

Once known as an important seat of administration, Kangra the capital city of Chand dynasty tells a story of glory, which has faded into history. One of the most picturesque valleys of lower Himalayas, the valley, sheltered by the sublime Dhauladhar hills, is green and luxuriant. The temple of Brajeshwari Devi is very famous in the area. It is believed that in the bygone era this temple was very rich and each time it was plundered it was always able to restore itself. The valley also comprises of the famous Kangra fort, which was taken over by the British in 1846 on clause of a treaty. In 1905 an earthquake destroyed both the temple and the fort, but the temple was rebuilt. 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.

Location: Himachal Pradesh
Altitude: 615m.
Places of Interest: Jawalamukhi, Kangra Fort, and Brajeshwari Temple
Best Time To Visit: Mid-May To Mid-October.

PRIME ATTRACTION
Brajeshwari Devi Temple (Bajeshwari 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. Mr. F. Cunningham's District Gazetteer of Kangra has the following account of the Bajreshwari temple in Kangra: - 'the temple of Bajreshwari or Vagreshwari Devi at Kangra is - perhaps the most famous in this district. It is said to have been founded by the divinity of that name at a famous 'Ashwamedh' or horse sacrifice, which was held on the spot. The famous Mehmood of Ghazni is said to have invaded the district and destroyed the temple, building a mosque on its ruins. It was, however, restored and is said to have been visited by Akbar together with his celebrated Divan Todar Mal. There are some temples in the vicinity, which, are, said to have owed their origin to Todar Mal. Finally, Maharaja Ranjit Singh visited and under his orders the domes of the temples here and at Jawalamukhi were guided. Subsequently devotees from Amritsar subscribed together and presented the temple with marble floor."

THE LEGEND OF BRAJESHWARI TEMPLE:
According to legend there was a severe and prolonged drought in Kangra area of Beas basin and hundreds of people started dying. A few devotees fasted and did 'havan' and penance to propitiate goddess Durga. It is said the goddess showed them the spot, where the breasts of Sati had fallen and wanted a temple to be built for the Goddess Bajreshwari at that place. Bajreshwari was another manifestation of Sati. This mythical origin of Bajreshwari Devi and the temple enshrining her is firmly believed throughout Himachal Pradesh. Thousands of people visit the temple and the rush is greatest during the Navratra days. The valuable jewels and other articles offered to the deity by the devotees attracted the invasion of Sultan Mehmood of Ghazni in 1009. It is said the temple was plundered and gold, silver and jewels were carried away. Sultan Mehmood left a small garrison at the place. But thirty-five years later the Hindu princes under the guidance of the Raja of Delhi regained possession. A replica of the idol was enshrined. In 1360 Emperor Feroz Tuglak again invaded Kangra and the temple was again plundered and desecrated. Emperor Akbar is supposed to have visited the temple with his divan Todar Mal and restored the temple to its previous glory.

The temple was razed to the ground by an earthquake in 1905, but a new one came up the very same year, thanks to the Kangra Restoration Committee.

Jawalamukhi:
30-km from Kangra, 56-km from Dharamsala, 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". A blue flame fed by natural gas, shoots out of the rock in the sanctum in which the goddess, Jawalamukhi, manifests herself.

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.

Nadaun:
Nadaun is a pretty town situated on the left bank of river Beas and is 13-km from Jawalamukhi. It was the favourite residence of Raja Sansar Chand who built himself a palace at Amtar on the riverbank 2-km from the town. This historic town, which was once the capital of the Kotch rulers, derives its name from demon Nandan.

Sujanpur Tira:
Just 30-km away from Nadaun, situated on the banks of the foaming Beas, the historical town Sujanpur Tira was built by Raja Sansar Chand, who had ascended to the throne when he was only ten years old. The palace was the winter residence of Sansar Chand and the Alampur palace on the other side of the river Beas was his summer resort.

ADVENTURE:
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 Mali, Soal, Bachwa, Gid and Shangri.
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.

SHOPPING:
Amid the crowded streets of the Kangra town, the central bazaar brims with puja essentials such as red powder, coconuts, tinsel and sugar.

HOW TO GET THERE
Road: Kangra is well connected by road with Dharamsala, which is 18-km away.
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.
Air: Kangra airport is 7-km away and has got straight flights from Delhi

 
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