Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Special Tour Kangra Valley | Kangra Valley Temples visit | Railway Journey and Paragliding Sports | Kangra -Dharamshala Hills Station Tourism

 The Kangra Valley is situated in Himachal Pradesh, India and is 525 km north west of New Delhi. The District Headquarter of Kangra is Dharamshala. Kangra Valley derived its name from Kangra town which was called Nagarkot in ancient times. 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 stands at the foot of Dhauladhar and has a beautiful view of the Dhauladhars. Dharamsala has an international importance being a hill station,the residence of 'His Holiness Dalai Lama'.

Dharamsala and the Kangra Valley is accessible by air, rail and road. The Kangra airport at Gaggal is 12 Kms from Dharamsala . A narrow gauge railway line runs between Pathankot and Jogindernagar crossing the towns of Kangra, Nagrota Bagwan, Palampur and Baijnath. The nearest broadgauge railhead is at Pathankot which is 90 Kms


The history of Kangra valley finds its importance as it is more than 3500 years old and finds its mention in Vedic times. Historically known as Nagarko and "Trigarta". The town of Kangra was founded by Katoch Kshatriya Rajputs of Chadervanshi Lineage. The Katoch Rajas had a stronghold here, with a fort and rich temples.

Another ancient name of the city is Bhimagar and it was supposedly founded by Raja Bhim, younger brother of Kuru Emperor Yudhisthira of Indraprastha (now Delhi).

Invasions on Nagarkot (Kangra Valley)

Mahmud of Ghazni took the fort in 1009 and from one of the temples carried off a vast treasure. In 1360 Kangra was again plundered, by Feroz Shah Tughluq. The temple of Devi Vajreshwari was one of the oldest and wealthiest in northern India. In 1905, the Kangra valley suffered a major earthquake. On April 4 of that year, the earth shook, demolishing much of the cantonment and the neighbouring city of Kangra as well as the Bhagsunag temple. The Gurkhas rebuilt the town along with the temple, which today is acknowledged as the 1st Gurkha Rifles' heritage. In 1855 the headquarters of the district were removed to the cantonment of Dharmsala, which was established in 1849.

Kangra was also occupied by the Gurkhas and made it a part of Greater Nepal. Later it was lost to the British in the mid-19th century. Kangra was merged in India in 1948 by the then titled Raja of Kangra-Lambagraon namely Raja Druv Dev Chand Katoch. It was part of composite Punjab till November 1966 when it got transferred to Himachal Pradesh.

Visitor's attractions

In and around Dharamshala, one can visit the Kangra Art museum at Kotwali bazar, War memorial, Kunal Pathri temple and tea gardens on way to Kunal Pathri. Many ancient temples like the Jawalaji Temple, Vajreshwari Devi temple, Chamunda Devi temple, chintapurni temple Baba Baroh, Masroor Temple built by pandvaas and Bajinath temple are found here. One can also pay a visit to Gopalpur Nature Park in Gopalpur village and can also see tea gardens there Kangra Fort is also a popular tourist attraction, so is Mcleodgani near Dharmsala,"Bhagsunag temple" is there, and Dharamshala is also headquarters of the district, and now home-in-exile to the Dalai Lama. There is also a beautiful Cricket stadium in the city facing mighty Dhauladhala. Maharaja Sansar Chandra Museum adjoins the Kangra Fort. Available at the Museum are Audio guides for the Kangra Fort and the Museum.

Kangra Valley train: The Kangra Valley train runs between Pathankot and Jogindernagar. The Kangra valley railway comes under the Firozpur division of Northern Railway. It is one of two mountain railways that run in Himachal Pradesh, the other being Kalka-Shimla Railway, which has been designated as world heritage site by UNESCO. The Kangra Valley Railway is among in the tentative list of UNESCO world heritage sites. Certainly the scenery through which the train passes is ample compensation for the extra distance covered as compared to getting there by road. Pathankot-Joginder Nagar section (Narrow gauge) is a picturesque rail approach to the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh which draws not only tourists and nature lovers but also has a special attraction for the religiously inclined as the train passess through various temple towns of Kangra Valley.

Andretta: It is at a distance of 13 Kms from Palampur and is the home of the famous Artist Late Sardar Sobha Singh and playwriter Norah Richards. Andretta with fascinating cultural heritage and magnificent surroundings also offers an opportunity to study pottery with the renowned Mansimran (Mini) Singh.
Baijnath Temple: Baijnath is a town in Kangra. It is roughly fourteen kilometres from the town of Palampur. It is very famous all over the world for its 13th century temple dedicated to Siva as Vaidyanath, ‘the Lord of physicians’ as is believed to be one of twelve jyotirlingas according to popular legends. Originally known as Kiragrama, the town lies on Pathankot-Chakki-Manali highway (National Highway No. 20) almost midway between Kangra and Mandi. The present name Baijnath became popular after the name of the temple. The Shiva temple at Baijnath is one of the most remarkable monuments of Kangra Valley. Baijnath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. According to the inscriptions on the walls, Baijnath Mandir was built by the two native merchants by the name of Ahuka and Manyuka in 1204 A.D. In the porch of the temple, the two long inscriptions state that before the present temple, there was a shrine of Lord Shiva at the same spot. There is a fine sculptures work to be associated with Ravana who worshipped Lord Shiva at this Place. Baijnath is one of the twelve jyotirilingas. Shivratri fair of Baijnath is celebrated with great devotion and is well attended.

Bir- Billing: Bir is a village at a distance of 35 kms from Palampur. This village is surrounded by tea gardens. Bir is a noted centre for spiritual studies and meditation and a popular destination for adventure sports such as paragliding and trekking. Bir is also home to a Tibetan refugee settlement with several Buddhist manasteries and a large stupa. The massive Dhauladar mountain range and the Kangra valley below with its panoramic views offer opportunities for high altitude 'up and down' and cross-country flying.

Brajeshwari Temple Kangra: The Brajeshwari Devi temple, located in the old Kangra Township, is said to have been built over the charred breasts of Sati.  It is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths. This shrine, once renown for its great wealth, has been subjected to successive invasions relentlessly over the ages. Destroyed completely in 1905 by an earthquake, it was rebuilt in 1920 . The temple has special significance at the festival of Lohri.

Chamunda Devi Temple: Chamunda Devi temple is located between Dharamsala and Nagrota. The temple has its origin over 700 years ago. It is about 15 kms from Dharamsala and 10 Kms from Nagrota Bagwan. The temple is dedicated to Devi Chamunda the "goddess of Shakti". At the back side of Devi temple is a Shiva temple in a cave like structure.The temple comprises a kund or a pool in it. The temple can easily be reached from Dharamsala, Palampur or Kangra by Taxis or by buses.

Jawalamukhi Temple: Jwalamukhi Temple is situated 30 km south of Kangra valley. It is dedicated to Goddess Jwalamukhi. The famous temple of shaktipeeth Jawalaji and also known as the Flamming goddess the temple is one of the most popular Hindu temples in northern India. There is no idol and the flame is considered as a manifestation of the goddess. There are natural flames in the temple which are worshipped as a manifestation of the nine Goddesses - Mahakali, Unpurna, Chandi, Hinglaj, Bindhya Basni, Maha Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ambika and Anji Devi. These flames burn continuously without any fuel or assistance and may be seen erupting from a rock-side.

Mcleodganj: Often referred as "Little Lhasa" McLeodganj is a beautiful hill station in the Kangra valley. It is in the upper part of Dharamshala and is at about 9 Kms from Dharamsala via Dharamsala Cantt and 4 Kms via a short route from Kotwali Bazaar Dharamsala. Mcleodganj is well known world wide for its scenic beauty and as the residence of His holiness the Dalai Lama. This small town is the administrative hub of the Tibetan government in exile and is a Buddhist pilgrimage center. People from all over the world come here to learn Buddhism and the Tibetan culture. Mcleodganj has a good market which is a worth visit. The Restaurants of Mcleodganj too provide multicuisine food as people from across the world come to Mcleodganj. 2 kms from Mcleodganj is Bhagsunaag which is known for a Naag temple and a Water spring. Nearby waterfall of Bhagsunaag is a picturesque site and is a worth visit.

Chintpurni Temple: When Lord Vishnu cut up the body of Sati into 51 pieces so that Lord Shiva would calm down and stop his Tandava, the pieces were scattered over various places in the Indian subcontinent. It is said that the feet of Sati fell at this place and is thus considered one of the most important of the 51 Shakti Peeths. The temple dedicated to Mata Chintpurni Devi is located in District Una of Himachal Pradesh. Mata Chintpurni Devi is also known as Mata Shri Chhinnamastika Devi. Devotees have been visiting this Shaktipeeth for centuries to pray at the lotus feet of Mata Shri Chhinnamastika Devi. They bring with them their worldly concerns and seek blessings from the Devi. It is believed that if you ask something from the Devi with a true heart, your wish will be granted.

Apart from the holy shrine, according to Manav Bhardwaj, the place is full of picturesque surroundings. Some very nice places for sight seeing, indoor and out door activities are situated in and around Chintpurni. Chintpurni is very well connected through roads and with good number of hotels and dharamsalas erceted in and around chintpurni, accommodation is not a problem at all.

Palampur: Palampur is a green hill station and a municipal council in the Kangra Valley, surrounded on all sides by trea gardens and pine forests before they merge with Dhauladhar ranges. Palampur is at a height of about 1219 m above mean sea level. Palampur is the tea capital of northwest India but tea is just one aspect that makes Palampur a special interest place. Abundance of water and proximity to the mountains has endowed it with mild climate. There are numerous streams flowing from the mountains to the plains from Palampur. The combination of greenery and water gives Palampur a distinctive look. Palampur is at the confluence of the plains and the hills and so the scenery shows the contrast the plains on one side and the majestic snow covered hills on the other side. Behind this town stands high ranges of Dhauladhar mountains, whose tops remain snow covered for most part of the year.The town has two very important educational institutions i.e. Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University and the CSIR(Council of Scientific and Industrial Research). Palampur is on NH -20 and is 24 Kms from Nagrota Bagwan and 35 Kms from Dharamsala and 40 kms from Kangra.

Masrur Rock Cut Temple: The Masrur rockcut temple is known for its monolithic temples. There are fifteen rock cut temples in the Indo Aryan style. It is one of the four monolithic rockcut temples in India. Two of these, including Kailash of Ellora and Mamlapuram in Deccan are famous across the world. Third is Dhamnar located in Rajasthan. While the other three temples are in a pit or on the ground, Masrur temple is unique because of the fact that it is located on a hill top at a height of about 760 m above the mean sea level. Legend has it that like many temples in the region, Masrur temple was also built by the Pandavas. Masrur is about 22 kms from Ranital Road, 37 Kms from Kangra and about 55 Km from Dharamsala.