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Palampur Travel

The Tea Capital of North India: Palampur is the tea capital of northwest India. Set on the rising slopes of Kangra Valley before they merge with the Dauladhar ranges. But tea is just one aspect that makes Palampur a special resort. Abundance of water and proximity to the mountains has endowed it with mild climate. The town has derived its name from the local word "pulum', meaning lots of water. Palampur was a part of the local Sikh kingdom and later on came under the British rule. The place enjoys a healthy climate and the pine scented air is said to have curative properties. The scenery presents a sublime and beautiful contrast- the plain presents a picture of rural loveliness and repose, while the hills are majestic. Behind this town stands the high ranges of Dhauladhar Mountains, whose peaks remain, covered for most part of the year. Situated in and about the middle of the Kangra Valley, it is convenient base to explore the surroundings. This hill station is not only known for its numerous tea gardens and paddy fields but it also known for its colonial architecture and temples. Palampur and places around it are popular for adventure sports like hang-gliding and trekking.

Location: Himachal Pradesh
Altitude: 1,220m
Places of Interest: Neugal Khad, Andretta, and Tea Factory
Best Time To Visit: March to June and mid-September to November

NEARBY CITIES
Maranda: 2-km
Gopalpur: 13-km
Bir: 14-km
Baijnath: 16-km
Andretta: 13-km
Billing: 42-km

PRIME ATTRACTION
Neughal Khad:

Close to the temple of Bundelmata temple, is this 300-metre-wide chasm through which the Neugal stream flows.

Andretta:
The charming village, spread below thethickly wooded hill and sprawling plains of the Kangra Valley was once the home of the famous painter Sardar Sobha Singh and the playwright Ms Norah Richards. Now Andretta is a centre for various artistic activities such as pottery and is just 13-km away from Palampur.

Gopalpur:
Situated 13-km away from the town, Gopalpur consists of a mini zoo.

Baijnath:
Noted for it's ancient temple, which was built in 804 AD and dedicated to Shiva Vaidyanatha. The imposing snow capped peaks of Dhauladhars frame its tall shikhara carved in stone. The linga enshrined in its sanctum is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in the country. Every year during the Shivratri fair, thousands of pilgrims descend on Baijnath for the colourful fair and festivities. It is 16-km from Palampur and 56-km from Dharamsala. One of the most remarkable monuments of the Beas Valley is the temple of Baijnath. The village of Baijnath is situated 23-miles east of Nagarkot, as the crow flies, close to the Mandi border and on the main road, which leads from the Punjab plains through Kangra, Kullu, Lahul, and Ladakh to Central Asia. Known as Kirangama, its name was changed after the temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva in his form as Vaidyanath or the "Lord of Physicians". The Temple is a good example of Nagri style of architecture. The Baijnath temple is orientated due west. It consists of a puri or adytum, 8-feet-square inside and 18-feet outside, surmounted by a spire of the usual conical shape, and of a mandapa or front hall, 20-feet-square inside, covered with a low pyramid shaped roof. The adytum, which contains the linga known as Vaidyanatha, is entered through a small anteroom with two pillars in antis. This linga enshrined in the sanctum is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in the country. The roof of the mandapa is supported by four massive pillars connected by raised benches, which form, as it were, a passage leading up to the entrance of the sanctum.The architraves resting on these pillars divide the space of the ceiling into nine compartments, each of which is closed by means of corbelling slabs. In front of the mandapa rises a stately porch resting on four columns.

"The shafts of these pillars", Fergusson remarks, "are plain cylinders, of very classical proportions, and the bases also show that they are only slightly removed from classical design". "The square plinth, the two toruses, the cavetto or hollow molding between are all classical, but partially hidden by Hindu ornamentation, of great elegance but unlike anything found after wards". The same author at considerable length discusses the capitals of the pot-and -foliage type. Both the south and north wall of the mandapa are adorned with a graceful balcony window. The four corners are strengthened by means of massive buttress-like projections in the shape of half-engaged - miniature sikhara temples, each containing two niches in which image slabs are placed. Smaller niches in slightly projecting chapels are found between the corner projections and the entrance and balcony windows.

Cunningham and Fergusson that the Baijnath temple had undergone a thorough restoration at the bands of Raja Sansar Chand Katoch (A.D. 1776-1824) assumed it. But Sir Aurel Stein, who had the advantage of personally inspecting the temple in December, 1892, expressed the opinion that the building "has not under gone such very great alterations as the earlier describers state.

"He points out, that the doorway of the adytum is still decorated with the images of the river goddesses mentioned in the inscription. Only the roof seems to be modern; and according to the - statements of the local priests - it was renovated in the days of Raja Sansar Chand II". A life-sized stone Nandi, believed to be the carrier of Lord Shiva stands at the entrance. Also are other miniature shrines and memorial stones within the complex said to have been built around 804 A.D.

The temple of Baijnath, although situated at no great distance from the centre of the earthquake of the 4th April 1905, but suffered slight injury from that catastrophe. The neighbouring smaller temple of Sidhnath, on the contrary, completely collapsed.

Every year during Shivratri Fair, pilgrims descend on Baijnath for the colourful fair and festivities.

Chamunda Devi:
The famous temple dedicated to the goddess Chamunda is 25-kms away from Plampur and Yatri Niwas here provides an excellent accommodation for the visitors.Not far from Dharamsala is the famous temple of Chamunda Devi. It is an enchanting spot with glorious views of the mountains, the Baner Khud, Pathiar and Lahla forests. 15-km from Dharamshala a tiny village of Dadh on Palampur road is the famous temple dedicated to Goddess Chamunda Devi. On reaching the temple a glorious view of Dhoula Dhar on three sides and 'Baner Khud' flowing alongside the temple. The temple has artistic carvings on its lintel, pillars and the ceiling. Behind the main temple is a small shrine of Lord Shiva in the Shikhara style. There is another platform in front of this temple where two very old peepul trees provide shelter to the visitors. From this platform a bird's eye view of most of the land marks in the town including Chaugan, Circuit House, most of the temples and river Ravi can be had. Archaeological Survey of India is looking after the temple. There is a Shiva 'lingam' under the rock where the temple of Chamunda is sited. There are no legends about the lingam. The idol is called Nandikeswar. So the sacred site is called 'Chamunda Nandikeshwar'.

THE LEGEND OF CHAMUNDA DEVI:
In Jallandar Mahatmya, Chapter VI reference is made to 'Chamunda Nandikeshwar' and people believe the reference is to these two deities 'Chamunda' and 'Nandikeshwar'. The legend associated is well known. In 'Satya Yuga' two 'Daityas' (demons), 'Shumbh' and 'Nishumbh' engaged themselves in deep meditation and were blessed by Lord Brahma with immense power.

The Daityas deified 'Indra' and other Gods. The Gods were terrified of the Daityas and resorted to Jadrangal village and propitiated 'Jagadamba Devi'. The Devi was pleased and promised to rescue them from the Daityas. She created a Devi out of her body, a beautiful person 'Kaushika'. Kaushika was given the assignment of destroying Shumbh and Nishumbh. The two Daityas heard of her beauty and wanted to bring her to them. They failed to persuade her to come to them through a 'doot' (messenger) who was scornfully sent away. Kaushika sent word through the messenger that she could only be won by a war. A dreadful war started. Kaushika Devi created 'Kalika' Shakti from her forehead and Kalika cut off the heads of 'Chund' and 'Mund', two brave and fearless commanders of the two Daityas. The destruction of the Daityas followed and the three worlds were relieved of the Daityas. Kaushika Devi blessed Kalika Shakti and asked her to be seated at Jadrangal village and be known as Chamunda. She would fulfil the desires of the needy persons. This mythological story is based on Devi Bhagwati, Markandey Puran and Durga Saptsati. There is another story about the siting of Chamunda. She was seated first on a higher mountain near a fort built by Raja Chandra Bhann of Kangra. A blind devotee of Chamunda pleaded with the Devi to shift to a lower place where he could go more easily. The Devi agreed and came down to the present lower site. The Chamunda Devi was installed in a cave. It is said the temple was built about 700 years back. The great earthquake of 1905, which had created havoc in this area, did not cause any damage to the temple. The snow line starts at Illaqa. Those who want to do a return trip in one day are advised to start very early in the morning. There is a Forest Rest House.

Temple of Bundelmata:
Walk through tea gardens and open fields or drive to reach this temple built about five centuries ago.

Bir and Billing:
Sheltered by the mountains and surrounded by tea gardens, Bir serves as a landing ground for hang & para gliders as well as known for it's Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan handicrafts. One of the best aero-sports sites in the world, Billing is 14-km from Bir. The mountain ranges set like an amphitheater, offer opportunities for high altitude and cross-country flying for more than 200-km.

Tea Factory:
The cooperative society tea factory provides an insight to the processing of Kangra Tea.

Al-Hilal:
A few kilometres from the city of Palampur are Al-Hilal, a place of unparalleled charm. During the conquests of Kangra by Maharaja Renjit Singh, this place was a military bastion.

Trekking:
Several trek routes lead out of Palampur, particularly over the Dhauladhar Mountains towards the town of Chamba. Treks of 5-8 days duration are viable from May to October. Some of the interesting treks from Palampur include Palampur to Holi over the Shingar pass, Palampur to Dharamsala via Indrahar Pass and Baijnath to Manali over the Thamsar pass.

Hang/Paragliding:
Twenty-eight kilometers from Palampur is an important center for the adventure sport of hang/paragliding. It also has numerous Buddhist monuments and is famous for its Tibetan handicrafts. The town of Billing, which is 42 km from Palampur and 14 km from Bir, is also an important center for hang-gliding. Hang-Gliding is a new sport practiced at Billing, 14-km from Bir and is said to be among the finest sites for hang-gliding in the world. An annual hang-gliding tournament is also held over here.

About Hang-Gliding:
Hang-glider is an aircraft to which undercarriage and solely the pilot’s legs provide take off power. It consists of 3 aluminum tubes pivoted at the nose, a trapeze or cross bar for control and a decor tail. They are of various sizes and weights ranging from 7 to 25 kg. A parachute assures the safety of the pilot. They are made of high quality material to withstand different heights, wind force and gravity to which they are exposed. The alit-meter, vary-meter and wind-speed meters, and indicators are used for right movements and safe landing. To make further improvement, a small engine and wheel with extra seat have now been added for comfortable flying. Hang gliders are portable and can be carried on back or in a jeep to the starting point. These can be made ready quickly. Using air current without an engine power usually performs hand gliding. The pilot is suspended in a swing harness from the centre of the keel and maintains control wholly by weight shift arrangement with the help of airframe. To take off, the pilot runs on a down hill approximately 40-degree slope and is airborne the moment he crosses the gliders stalling speed, which vary from 15-km to 30-km per hour.

Soaring can be done by using ridge lifts created by wind striking the hill face or by hot air columns known as "thermals" that keep rising upward from the sun heated surface. One can fly as long as one wishes once he has acquired good experience.

Fishing:
There are ample opportunities for the angler between 1st March to 1st June and 1st September to end of October for Mahaseer fishing in and around Dehra Gopipur, Nadaun and Pong Dam.

FAIRS & FESTIVALS:
Holi: In the month of March, Holi's riot of colours and celebration of spring comes with laughter and vitality. There are exuberant celebrations at Palampur and Sujanpur.

SHOPPING:
Palampur is an ideal place for the purchase of exquisite Kangra tea, local handicrafts, Tibetan carpets and pullovers.

HOW TO GET THERE
Rail: Palampur does not have an airport or railway station. The nearest railway station is at Maranda, which is 2-km from Palampur and on the narrow-gauge line between Pathankot and Joginder Nagar. The main bus station is located 1-km south of the main Bazaar. There is frequent bus service from Palampur to Dharamshala, Mandi, and Pathankot. Travelers can also make use of taxis to travel to these towns from Palampur.

CLIMATE:
The weather in Palampur is moderate. Summers are mild and winters are cold but pleasant. It experiences southwestern monsoon rains in July-September.

 
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