Location: Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh
Climate: Hot in summers and pleasant in winters.
Places to See: Masroor Rock Cut Temple, Kangra Fort & more.
Best Time to Visit: All round the year (except monsoons from July to September)
Kangra is a cultural town in the Kangra Valley of Kangra district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. At an elevation of 733 metres, the town of Kangra is located at the confluence of Baner River and Majhi River. With the amazing Dhauladhar Range in its backdrop, Kangra valley is one of the most picturesque, green and luxuriant valleys of lower Himalayas. Kangra district is the most important, famous and populous district of Himachal Pradesh. It is popular for its natural beauty, tea gardens and ancient temples. Kangra is full of pleasant surprises with chants of mantras in Hindu Temples, aura of monasteries in Mcleodganj, historical relics in Forts, and trekking expeditions in the mountains.
Kangra had been known by different names like Nagarkot, Trigarta and Bhimnagar in ancient times. Though Kangra has been referred in sacred ancient texts of Mahabharata and Upnishads; in the dated history, the town or region is said to be established by the Katoch – Kshatriya Rajputs of Chandervanshi Lineage. These rulers must have had a stronghold here, which is evident in its forts and the temples. Kangra was exposed to successive invasions; the last being the British domination of the princes of many small hill states. In spite of the attacks and political upheavals, the arts and crafts of the region persistently developed and established its mark. Apart from its flavorsome tea and ancient temples, Kangra is renowned world-wide for its exquisitely designed shawls and miniature paintings.
Climate in Kangra
Here, summers extend from April to June, making the region quite hot (25°C – 38°C). Monsoon showers during July to September give pleasing respite from the hot summers, followed by autumn in October. During October and November, the climate is very pleasant. Winter season lasts from November till February with a brief stint of spring in March. Kangra district has a diverse geography, with altitudes ranging from 400m at Milawan to 5500m at Bara Bhangal. The Indora block falls in a semi-humid, sub-tropical zone where average annual rainfall is 1000mm approx. with an average temperature of 24°C. Dehragopipur and Nurpur blocks fall in a humid, sub-tropical zone where the annual precipitation is between 900m and 2350mm, while average temperature hovers between 2°C and 24°C. Palampur, Dharamsala and Mcleodganj fall in a wet, temperate zone where the temperature varies from 15°C to 19°C, with an annual rainfall of 2500mm. The remaining parts of the district fall in mountainous areas where the average annual temperature ranges from 13°C to 20°C and annual rainfall is 1800– 3000mm.
Tourist Attractions in Kangra
Kangra has a number of places of tourists’ interest. Located in the city center, Bajreshwari Devi Temple is a religious shrine dedicated to Goddess Bajreshwari Devi. It is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths and holds great reverence among Hindus. This temple had been successively looted by invaders. Though it was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1905, it was reconstructed in 1920 and continues to be a busy place of pilgrimage. The Kangra Fort, also known as Nagarkot Fort, is an important attraction just 3 kms from Kangra. This historically significant fort is massive in size and its great architecture is visible in its exquisite stone sculptures, carvings and idols. Adjoining the Kangra Fort is Maharaja Sansar Chandra Museum, which throws a light on the history of this fort along with a great collection of paintings and artifacts.
Chamunda Devi Temple is famous religious shrine dedicated to Godess Chamunda – a form of Shakti. It is located at a distance of 27 kms from Kangra and 10 kms west of Palampur. It is one of the very popular temples thronged by large number of people from far and near. Gopalpur is a small village about 29 kms from Kangra famous for its tea gardens. Gopalpur Zoo is a great place for wildlife and nature lovers amidst lush greenery. The Masroor Rock Cut Temple, also called Himalayan Pyramids, is a group of beautiful monolithic rock-cut temples about 38 kms from Kangra town in Masroor. Built in Indo-Aryan style, this unique monolithic structure is a protected monument. It is located on a hill and also has a huge rectangular water pond. It also offers an amazing view of the Dhauladhars.
Excursions from Kangra
Located about 25 kms from Kangra, Maharana Pratap Sagar (also known as Pong Lake or Pong Reservoir), sited at an altitude of 450 metres, is an amazing place with clear blue waters, lush greens and mighty hills all around. This lake has been declared a wildlife sanctuary, and is home of a number of rare species of flora and fauna. Apart from fishing and swimming, one can enjoy adventure activities like canoeing, rowing, sailing, and water skiing here. The best time to visit this reservoir is between September and March seeing that the water sports are best accessible during this period.
Jwala Devi Temple is a famous Hindu shrine at a distance of 35 kms from Kangra and 23 kms from Pragpur. It is one of the 52 Shaktipeethas, visited by thousands of devotees every year. Located 38 kms from Kangra, Trilokpur is another attraction famous for its cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Close to the cave are the ruins of a Palace of Lehna Singh Majitha, who once had been the Governor of Kangra Hills during Sikh rule. Dehra Gopipur is a town and a municipal council in Kangra district, at a distance of 37 kms from the town of Kangra. Pragpur, which is the only World Heritage village in India, is sited here. Dera Gopipur also has three other wonderful hamlets, namely Garli, Nagrota Bagwan and Chamba Pattan. Located on the banks of River Beas, Dera Gopipur makes a great base for fishing destinations like Pong Dam, Pattan and Nadaun. The Mangarh Fort, which offers attractive views of the valley and Pong Lake, is close to Dehra.
If you actually want to see the real beauty of Kangra valley, head towards Pragpur which is a notified “Heritage Village” by the State Govt. Pragpur is an ornamental village that has many places of historic, religious and cultural importance. About 45 kms from Kangra, this village has several streams that merge in the River Beas. The Taal, constructed in 1868 by the Nehar Committee, is a pond in the heart of Pragpur village. Many heritage structures like the 250-year old Nehar Bhawan, Bhutail Niwas, the Dhunichand Bhardial Serai, and the Radha Krishna Mandir, surround the Taal. Another attraction is the Judge’s Court which is a mansion showcasing the Indo-European style of architecture. Chintapurni Mata Temple is a famous holy shrine of Hindus, about 27 kms from Pragpur. Also known as Chhinmastika Dham, the temple is thronged by pilgrims throughout the year, especially during Navratras.
Baijnath Temple is a famous shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, located on the Pathankot-Mandi National Highway about 52 kms from Kangra and 16 kms from Palampur. This 9th-century temple is built out of stone in the Shikhara style of architecture. The Lingam enshrined in its sanctum is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in the country. The temple observes much festivity during the Shivratri Fair, held every year. Nurpur is a historical town at a distance of 62 kms from Kangra. Earlier known as Dhameri, Nurpur is famous for its Nurpur Fort built by Raja Basu. The renowned Brij Raj Swami Temple is located inside the fort. It is the only temple in the world where Lord Krishna and his devotee Meera are worshipped. Nurpur with its magnificent history and structure definitely deserves a visit.
The district of Kangra also offers great trekking opportunities from different sites to Kareri Lake, Triund, Indrahar Pass, Moon Peak and Jalsu Pass. Apart from these sites, some of places worth mentioning and visiting are Dharamsala, Mcleodganj and Palampur.
Accommodation – Hotels/Resorts in Kangra
Kangra has plenty of places to stay, ranging from homestays, guest houses, lodges, hotels as well as resorts. In fact, it houses many ancient structures that have been converted into heritage hotels to experience the royalty by guests. Some of the major heritage hotels are Taragarh Palace Hotel, The Judge’s Court, Grace Hotel, The Chateau Garli, etc. Besides luxurious, there are accommodation options for every segment of travelers in Kangra. Eating out is not a problem in Kangra as there are number of restaurants, food stalls and eateries available throughout the region.
How to Reach Kangra
Kangra has its own airport at Gaggal, at a distance of 13 kms from the town. The airport is well-connected to Delhi via flights. From here, taxis can be easily hired to reach the town. You can also board buses from Kangra bus stand to arrive at different major destinations in the district of Kangra.
Kangra has its own railway station which is well-connected to all the major towns and cities of the adjoining states. You can either board buses or hire taxis to reach the desired location.
Kangra is well-connected through a network of roads. HPTDC runs regular buses from Dharamsala (21 kms), Palampur (36 kms), Pathankot (90 kms), Jammu (190 kms), Amritsar (200 kms) and Chandigarh (230 kms) to Kangra. One can also rent out cabs to reach Kangra.