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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Maa Jwala Ji Temple
One of the oldest known pilgrimage destinations of Northern India, Jwala Ji Temple is around 32km South-West of Kangra and esteemed by the devoted Hindus of the country. There are several other temples dedicated to Goddess Jwala Ji, among which the one in Kangra district is believed to be the most auspicious. The temple is located in Jwalamukhi Town of Kangra. The main attraction of Jwala Ji Temple is the eternal flames representing the image of deity, Jwala Ji.
The four cornered sanctum-sanctorum of the temple is set with a small dome and a square central pit where the sacred stone is found. The main flame of this temple keeps burning constantly. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas found in different corners of the South-East Asia. It is believed that the tongue of Goddess Sati fell on this ground. Offering coconut is a popular practice in Jwala ji Temple.
Tatwani Hot Spring, Kangra
Tatwani is situated at a distance of about 35kms from Dharamshala and is one of the major attractions for tourists in this area. The place is also known for Shiva Temple and a shallow river that flows at a short distance. There are two separate baths for men and women, where the men can take bath in an open area, for women a large room is built. The water of the hot spring is believed to have natural healing properties. The water can cure many ailments like muscle ache, poor blood circulation, and even arthritis. After the bath in the sulphur spring, a dip in the nearby river provides a perfect way to cleanse the skin impurities.
Baglamukhi Devi Temple, Kangra
Around 30 km from Kangra District, Baglamukhi Temple is a Siddha Peeth close to both Jwala Ji and Chintpurni Devi Temple. The deity, Baglamukhi is one of the 10 Mahavidyas and believed to be the destroyer of all evils. Yellow colour is the most favourite colour of the Goddess. That is why the temple is painted in yellow colour. The devotees do wear yellow attire and yellow desserts (besan ki laddoo) are offered to the deity. People worship the deity to win the legal confrontations, to defeat their enemy, to prosper in business and to win the heart of beloved.
Bhagsunath Temple, Kangra
A medieval shrine, Bhagsunath is Shiva Temple situated about 3kms from Mcleodganj. The temple has been highly revered by the Hindus and the Gorkha Community. The sacred shrine is famed for its two pools that are believed to have healing properties. The best time to visit Bhagsunath Temple is during the annual fair that takes place here in the month of September. The Dal Lake, Kotwali Bazaar and Bhagsu Fall are the main attractions around this holy shrine.
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