The Land of
Popularly known as the Devbhumi – "Land of the Gods", Himachal Pradesh is a
beautiful hill state in India, nestles in north-west region of western
Himalayas. The state is landlocked with the Tibetan plateau to the east, Jammu
and Kashmir to the north, and the Punjab to the west. However, the state stands
apart from its neighbours in terms of its sheer topographic diversity and
breathtaking pristine natural beauty. From vast tracts of high-altitude
Trans-Himalayan desert to dense green deodar forests, from apple orchards to
cultivated terraces, from snow capped high Himalayan mountain ranges to snow fed
lakes and gushing rivers.
Brief Socio-Political History of the State
The earliest known inhabitants of the region were tribals called Dasas. Later,
Aryans came and they assimilated in the tribes. In the later centuries, the hill
chieftains accepted suzerainty of the Mauryan empire, the Kaushans, the Guptas
and Kanuaj rulers. During the Mughal period, the Rajas of the hill states made
some mutually agreed arrangements which governed their relations. In the 19th
century, Ranjit Singh annexed/subjugated many of the states. When the British
came, they defeated Gorkhas and entered into treaties with some Rajas and
annexed the kingdoms of the others. The situation largely remained the same
untill 1947. After Independence, 30 princely states of the area were united and
Himachal Pradesh was formed on 15th April, 1948. On 1st November, 1966, certain
areas belonging to Punjab were included in Himachal Pradesh. On 25th January,
1971, Himachal Pradesh was made a full-fledged State.
The State is bordered by Jammu & Kashmir on North, Punjab on West, Haryana on
South, Uttar Pradesh on South-East and China on the East.
Top Destination In
Dalhousie (2036 m) is a hill station full
of colonial charm that holds lingering echoes of the Raj. Spread out
over the five hills (Kathlog, Potreys, Tehra, Bakrota and Balun) the
town is named after the 19th century British Governer General Lord
Dalhousie. It was popular with the British Army personnel in 1860's. The
town’s varying altitude shades it with a variety of vegetation that
includes stately grooves of pines, deodars, oaks and flowering
rhododendrowns. Rich in colonial architecture, the town preserves some
beautiful churches. St. John church is the oldest one built in 1863, St.
Francis was built in 1894, St. Andrew in 1903 and St. Patric in 1909.
There are also magnificent views of Chamba valley and the mighty
Dhauladhar range with its awe-inspiring snow covered peaks filling an
entire horizon. By road Dalhousie is about 555 km from Delhi, 52 km from
Chamba via Banikhet and 46 km via Khajjiar and the nearest railhead at
Pathankot is 85 km away.
In & around Dalhousie the visitable places are:
Subash Baoli: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose spent a
large portion of 1937 contemplating here. A nice secluded place.
Panjpulla: It means five bridges. It is a picturesque spot with water
flowing under the five small bridges. A samadhi of Sardar Ajit Singh,
uncle of Bhagat Singh, adds to its importance. A small fresh water
spring Satdhara is close by.
Bakrota hills: Visit for a brisk walk round the hills and have a view of
snow clad peaks. It is 5 km from Dalhousie.
Kalatope: It is a picnic spot and a wild life sanctury, 10 km from
Dalhousie and offers a fine view of the countryside.
Bara Pathar: It is 4 km from Dalhousie enroute Kalatope. In village Ahla
here, there is atemple of Bhulwani Mata.
Dainkund: It is 10 km from Dalhousie. On a clear day this tall peak
(2745 m) affords a birds eye-view of the hills, verdant valleys and the
Beas, Ravi and Chenab rivers threading their silvery passage down to the
Height: Most of the town lies between 2,100 m and 2,300 m
Languages spoken: Hindi. Also English, Punjabi and Pahari.
Religion: Mostly Hindu. Also Sikh, Muslim and Christian
Medical Facilities: Good
Telecommunications: Worldwide links by the net, telephone and fax, code:
With all its intricacies, history seems to have been the mortar for
every brick and stone that has built Shimla. As the summer capital of
British India for well over a century it was the seat of one of the most
powerful governments in the world. From its cedar-shaded heights, one
fifth of the human race was ruled and the decisions made those decades
ago affect our lives to the present day.
The town of Shimla rose in the nineteenth century when the Gurkha Wars
came to an end in 1815-16 and the victorious British decided to retain
certain pockets as military outposts and sanitaria. In 1822 the most
rigorous of dandies and the greatest of sticklers for form Captain
Charles Pratt Kennedy, Political Agent to the Hill States directed that
a house be built for him at the village whose name is variously reported
as Sheyamalaya Shumlah, Shimlu and Shemlah. Kennedy House led the
vanguard of the hundred-odd houses that were to scatter themselves by
1841 over every level or gently inclining space. Lured by the climate
and terrain scores of European invalids began moving to the station and
the only stipulation of the local chief who owned the land was that no
tree be cut or cattle slaughtered.
In 1864 the Viceroy, John Lawrence anointed Shimla – then spelt Simla,
as the summer capital of British India. With Lawrence came the Viceroy
Council, the Imperial Secretariat, representatives of the Indian princes
and foreign envoys. As the town grew to become the workshop of the
Empire, an awed visitor observed, every pigeonhole cradled an embryo of
a war or death. Despite the fact that up to the time of Indian
independence in 1947, Shimla officially remained only the summer
capital, yet the Government spent more time in these hills than at the
actual capital Calcutta and later New Delhi. As the bearer of the
Viceregal sceptre this tiny pocket became the cynosure of British
Empire. Imperial grandeur, and all the panoply and trappings of power
came along for the ride. And there was a popular local saying that went,
“You cannot sleep the nights in Simla for the sound of grinding axes”. A
social whirl of parties, gymkhanas, balls, fancy fairs and affaires du
Coeur ensured that a heady mixture of scandal and intrigue constantly
wafted through the town.
Quite inevitably the freedom movement had a close connection with Shimla.
Ornithologist and former Civil Servant, Allan Octavian Hume created the
Indian National Congress which spearheaded the struggle while living in
the town. Stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, C.
Rajagopalachari, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya and Maulana Azad regularly
visited Shimla. Major events that took place in the town were the Simla
Conference in 1942, the deliberations of the Cabinet on and finally the
decision to partition India.
And while the British Empire may have ceased to exist, its echoes linger
on in the architecture and ambience of this hill resort. The elements of
nostalgia may be strong but Shimla also has a youthful vigour in its
pace. Its easy accessibility and several other attractions have made it
one of India’s most popular hill resorts. There are many unforgettable
walks, day-excursions by the dozen, a variety of convenient shopping and
entertainment museums, and ice-skating in winter. Shimla is the base or
the unwinding point for numerous exhilarating routes to the state
Today the town is distinctive for its variety of architecture. It has
one of the rare surviving urban forests, made all the more unique, for
its species are temperate to alpine ones in what is otherwise a tropical
zone. And then Shimla’s famous Mall offers one of the longest stretches
of pedestrian shopping in the world.
View of Shimla from Jakhoo hill
Within and around Shimla, the public and private sector offer an
enormous range of accommodation that range from modern to heritage
hotels. Like satellites placed around the centre, there are many resorts
in Shimla’s periphery that are full-fledged destinations in their own
right. These are located at Mashobra, Naldehra, Kufri, Shilon Bagh and
Chail. En route by road from Kalka there are Parwanoo, Dharampur and
Plan Your Sightseeing
If you are fond of walking, Shimla will unfold parts that remain hidden
to vehicles. Combinations by car and then on foot are possible in
several areas. It is suggested that you take a direction for the day and
cover the places of interest.
The area around the Institute of Advanced Study has several walks.
Combine these with visit to the State Museum and expand if you will
towards Kamna Devi.
Tara Devi and Sankat Mochan can be linked with a short train ride to
Tara Devi station. The Himalayan Queen that leaves Shimla at 10.15 am is
Jakhoo can be combined with a stroll and shopping on the Mall and in
Lakkar Bazaar. The Lower Bazaar that runs parallel to the Mall at a
lower level has the flavour of a typical Indian market place. Trinkets
that can be purchased here include silver jewellery. You can also walk
towards Chotta Shimla and Raj Bhavan the residence of the state
Governor. The recently created rooms of Himachal Darshan offer a glimpse
of the various district in the state. Jakhoo has several paths that
criss-cross the hill a good walk is along the old Five Benches Road near
the microwaves link tower. The Bharari spur also has many walks that can
be done in a few hours or carried over the day
Some routes offer a greater variety of Shimla trees, shrubs, wildflowers
and ferns. If you are lucky some bird species can also be sighted. Some
suggested places are:
The Glen, and the narrow forest trail that runs above it and loops
around Summer Hill. The Bharari spur. Towards the villages of Kamina and
Pabo. Trek route down from Kamina to Tattapani.
Most of Shimla has diverse colonial forms culled from all over Europe.
English Renaissance: With a castle-like appearance is the former
Viceregal Lodge which is now the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.
This is surrounded by assorted cottages.
English Home Counties Marketplace: The Mall
Neo-Gothic: Gorton Castle now the office of the Accountant General and
formerly the Imperial Civil Secretariat; the Secretariat of the Himachal
Government at Ellerslie; and the Gaiety Theatre on the Mall
Norman- Baronial: District Courts.
Swiss- Bavarian chalets: The Chalet Day School and Cedar Lodge (Punjab
Government Rest House).
Tudor: The Library on the Ridge and Barnes Court
Churches: Christ Church, St. Andrew and the deconsecrated churches of
St. Andrew’s (now, the Evening College) All Saints Chapel 9nearthe gates
of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study).
Cemeteries: Adjoining Oakover, the residence of the Chief Minister of
Himachal has the oldest one. The largest ‘old-one’ is below St. Edward’s
school and is approached via the Potato Research Station. The one at
Sanjauli also dates back to colonial times and is still in use.
Others: Yarrows, various schools and college and cottages all over town.
Handicrafts. Shawls and tweeds. Fruit juice and jams. Honey. Quality
woollens. Silver jewellery. Rare books and etchings. Contemporary pahari
miniature paintings. Metalware. Rugs and carpets. Handmade footwear.
Wooden items like walking sticks.
Planning a Week in the Shimla Sector
A week’s time will give you a healthy sampler of Shimla. Dividing your
time between the town and suburbs is suggested. You can also divide your
stay between the town and the peripheral region. A good time to do the
walks are the mornings. A visit to the Mall is the ideal plan for the
evenings. When visiting the suburbs plan for most of the day. In season,
an appropriate activity like activity – like ice-skating can be pursued.
Let your hotel or an approved travel agent help you plan your itinerary
– those few minutes will add a great deal to your stay.
The historic town of Mandi (800 m) is built along the banks of the river
Beas. It has long been an important commercial centre and the sage
Mandva is said to have meditated here. This one time capital of the
princely state of Mandi is a fast developing town that still retains
much of its original charm and character. Today, it is a district
headquarters. Mandi is renowned for its 81 old stone temples and their
enormous range of fine carving, it is often called the 'Varanasi of the
Hills'. The town has remains of old palaces and notable examples of
'colonial' architecture. The temples of Bhutnath, Trilokinath,
Panchvaktra and Shyamakali are among the more famous ones. The week long
international Shivratri fair in Mandi is the major attraction of the
area every year. In the year 2012 the fair is scheduled to be held from
20th/21st to 27th February. In the fair the activities like cultural
programmes in the evenings, exhibitions, sports etc. are the major
attractions for the tourists as well as locals.
Area: 3950 sq. km
Population 9.01 lakh
Clothing: Cotton clothes in Summer and heavy woolen in winter.
Language: Hindi, Punjabi, English are understood and spoken by the
people engaged in tourism trade.
Rail The nearest railway station is at Joginder Nagar, Chandigarh and
Kalka by broad gauge train which are connected by regular bus services.
Road: Mandi is approachable by road from Shimla, Chandigarh, Pathankot
and Delhi. There are regular bus services linking it to the other towns
like Manali, Palampur and Dharamshala.
The town of Chamba, the district headquarter of Chamba district is
situated in the western Himalayas between north latitudes 32°10' and
33°13' and east longitudes 75°45' and 77°33'. The town stands on a
plateau on the right bank of the Ravi river valley between Dhauladhar
and Zanskar ranges south of the inner Himalayas. This town was founded
by Raja Sahil Varman when he conquered the lower Rani valley from the
petty chiefs called Ranas and Thakurs in the beginning of 10th Century.
It seems the original name of the town was Champa as mentioned in
Kalhan's Rajtarangani. In the bansauli or genealogical rolls of the
Chamba Rajas a reference occurs of place which was adorned with highly
fragrant Champaka trees and guarded by Goddess Champavati or more
popularly known as Chameshni. The temple was built by Sahil Varman in
the honour of his daughter Champavati who is worshipped as a goddess in
Chamba. Champavati temple became the family temple of the ruling family.
Area: 6528 sq. km
Population 4.60 lakh
Season: The best tourist season to visit Chamba is round the year.
Adventure tourists may like to undertake winter trekking from November
to March when the higher reaches of the district are snow clad and
access to most of the villages is on foot.
Climate: The climate of Chamba in general is tempreate with well defined
seasons. However, there may be variations because of micro-climatic
systems depending upon altitude and mountain aspect. The winters last
from December to February. March and April generally remain cool and dry
but snowfall does occur at higher elevations during these months. The
temperature begins to rise rapidly from the middle of April till last
week of June or first week of July when monsoon breaks-in. Monsoon
continues till the end of August or mid September. During the monsoon,
the weather remains misty, humid and cloudy. October and November are
comparatively dry but cold. The maximum temperature in Chamba town in
summers is 38°C and the minimum in winter is 0°C.
Approach: Chamba is approximately 52 kms from Dalhousie. The distance is
reduced by 6 kms. via Upper Barkota and Khajjiar road. Bus and taxi
service is available from Chamba to Pathankot, Delhi, Dharamsala, Shimla,
Chandigarh, Jammu and most of the Punjab cities along the national
Just 40 kms away from Kullu to the north, Manali is situated near the
end of the valley on the National Highway leading to Leh. The landscape
here is breath taking. One sees well-defined snow capped peaks, the Beas
river with its clear water meanders through the town. On the other side
are deodar and pine trees, tiny fields and fruit orchards. It is an
excellent place for a holiday, a favorite resort for trekkers to Lahaul,
Spiti, Bara Bhangal (Kangra), and Zanskar ranges. From temples to
antiquity, to picturesque sight-seeing spots and adventure activities,
Manali is a popular resort for all seasons and for all travellers. The
annual Winter Carnival is scheduled to be held from 9th to 13th January,
Rail: Nearest convenient rail head are at Chandigarh and Pathankot.
Manali can be reached from road from these stations.
Road: Manali is well connected by road with Delhi, Ambala, Chandigarh,
Dehradun, Haridwar, Shimla, Dharamsala and Chamba/Dalhousie. Regular
buses ply between these stations. It is connected with Leh during July
This is a hill station lying on the spur of the Dhauladhar range about
17 kms north- east of Kangra town. This hill station is wooded with oak
and conifer trees and snow capped mountains enfold three sides of the
town while the valley stretches in front. The snowline is perhaps more
easily accessible at Dharamshala than at any other hill resort and it is
possible to make a day's trek to a snow-point after an early morning's
start. Dharamshala is also the headquarter of the Kangra district.
Naddi Village near Dharamshala
In 1905, tragedy struck Dharamshala when an earthquake levelled it
completely. After its reconstruction, Dharamshala flourished as a quiet
health resort. It is divided into two distinct parts. Lower Dharamshala
has civil offices and business establishments with courts. Kotwali bazar
and Upper Dharamshala comprise of places with names which bear witness
to its history like McLeod Ganj and Forsythe Ganj. Since 1960, when it
became a temporary headquarter of His Holiness The Dalai Lama,
Dharamshala has risen to international fame as "The Little Lhasa in
India". Mcleodganj is 9 km from Dharamshala.
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. There is also a beautiful Cricket stadium in the city
facing mighty Dhauladhar.
Languages Spoken: Hindi, Punjabi, English and Pahari are understood and
spoken by the people engaged in tourism trade
Shopping centres: Kotwali Bazar, a general shopping area, and McLeod
Ganj for Tibetan handicrafts
Area: 5739 sq. km
Population: 13.39 lakh
Altitude: Between 1250 m to 1550 m (Dharamshala)
Temperature: Max. 38 C in June; Min. 0 C in Jan.
Annual rainfall: Varies between 290 cm to 380 cm second highest rainfall
in the country.
Best season: January to June; September to December. July-August is
Winter: Heavy Woollens
Summer: Light Woollens and tropical
Air: The nearest airport at Gaggal is 14 km away after which it is
accessible by road.
Rail: Pathankot is the nearest broad gauge railway terminal to
Dharamshala. From Pathankot there is a narrow gauge railway line up to
Kangra (94 km) and from here Dharamshala is 17 km by road.
Road: Direct and regular bus service from Delhi (520 km), Chandigarh
(250 km), Jammu (210 km), Shimla (238 km), Chamba (185 km) and Manali
Popularly known as the Peach valley, Rajgarh is a lush green valley in
Sirmaur district. Rajgarh is a place of great natural beauty and is
about 40 km from Solan. One can camp and trek in the valley. At Rajgarh,
rest house of PWD and Forest Department are available for staying,
besides private hotels and guest houses.
The people of this valley are dynamic and hardworking. They are
religious and worshippers of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga. The local
Shaya temple of Lord Shirgul has a mammoth following. According to a
legend, Lord Shirgul had first come to Shaya village and later settled
in Churdhar Mountain at height of 12,000 feet.
The famous Baru Sahib Gurdwara also lies in this valley and is worth a
visit. It is 29 km from Rajgarh and is situated beyond Kheri, a
picturesque spot on the banks of a tributary of the Giri River.
Habban Valley: It is an enchanting destination and the area has thick
pine fir, kail, baan and deodar forests besides orchards of apples and
peaches. The climate is pleasant round the year and in winter, Habban
occasionally has snow. Habban is about 70 km from Solan via Yashwant
Nagar and Rajgarh.
Haripurdhar: Haripurdhar is about two hour journey from Rajgarh and is
famous for the temple of Bhangyani Devi, a god sister of Lord Shirgul,
the principal deity whose seat is at Churdhar. For staying PWD rest
house (3 sets) and newly constructed trekkers hut is available, besides
the Sarai in the temple.
Nohradhar: On way to Haripurdhar from Rajgarh, Nohradhar is one hour
journey and is a base for trekking to Churdhar. There are many trek
routes in the valley to Churdhar, like-Sailpaw-Dokhta-Churdhar (7 km),
Haripurdhar-Churdhar (17 km), Nohradhar-Churdhar (14 km),
Sarahan-Churdhar (7 km), Habban-Churdhar (15 km). For staying rest house
of PWD (3 sets), IPH (2 sets) and some Guest houses are available.
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 with in 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. The ambience
of the heritage zone of Garli-Pragpur is zealously protected by the
local residents. In their endeavour that Garli-Pragpur retains its
unique character, panchayats preserve their heritage buildings. Several
heritage structures are now being restored using original techniques but
with modern facilities to facilitate tourist.
The Taal: Dating before 1868, the Taal or pond forms the core of Pragpur
village and serves as a recreational space for young and aged alike. The
Taal is surrounded by heritage structures.
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 is round the year visitable.
Sixty five km from Dharmshala, this small village seems to hold the
kernel of much of Kangra’s rural beauty. Pragpur has been notified as a
Heritage Village by Himachal Pradesh Govt. in December 1997. Pragpur is
175 km from Chandigarh & 25 km from Jwalaji.
24 km from Hamirpur town and
close to the district border of Kangra is the fort of Sujanpur. This
place was the capital of Katoch Dynasty and the old fort is worth
visiting. Popularly known alongwith its twin title 'Tira', this fort was
built by Raja Abhaya Chand of Kangra in 1758. In the early 19th century
this was the home of the famous Raja Sansar Chand - renownded patron of
the Kangra school of miniature paintings. The fort has a Barahdari
Hall', where Sansar Chand used to hold court, some shrines and excellent
Remanants of Sujanpur Fort
There is a huge ground, where the annual Holi fair is held for 3-4 days,
besides being used for sport activities. A Sainik school is also located
here. It is also a religious centre. Narbadeshwar, Gauri Shankar and
Murli Manohar are the three well known temples in the town. By the
waters of the river Beas, the town has a charming setting and the river
stretch offers good angling opportunities. This place is suitable for
other adventure sports as well, such as angling, rafting and trekking.
Chail was the summer capital of the former princely state of Patiala. It
came into being in the late nineteenth century when it’s handsome and
dashing Maharaja Bhupender Singh was banished from Shimla, the summer
capital of British India for a dalliance with the British Commander
–in-Chief’s daughter. Smarting at this insult, Bhupender Singh began
exploring the neighbouring hills with a single guiding force – to find a
hill that was within sight of Shimla but higher. The little village of
Chail seemed perfect. Shimla lay within direct vision, and most
important, Chail was higher than the British controlled Shimla town.
Large tracts of the land here already belonged to him. This had been
given to his ancestors for services rendered during the Gurkha wars
which had come to an end in 1815-16. A site was selected and the
Maharaja began building his summer palace. But an ill omen seemed to
hang over the construction area. Local legend has it that the moment
anything was built, it would collapse over night. Dozens of snakes would
appear from nowhere and attack the labourers. Then Bhupinder Singh had a
dream. A sage appeared before him and declared that the site the
Maharaja had chosen was where he had meditated till he was taken by the
earth, and his peace should not be disturbed. The Maharaja had the
sage’s blessing to build on any other spot. Bhupinder Singh moved to
another site and at the original spot – which is about a kilometre from
the Palace Hotel – he had a temple built to the sage. Here the stone
embodiment of the sage may still be seen along with the iron tongs and
trident. The shrine is known as the Sidh Baba Ka Mandir and is revered
by many who claim that the sage has the power to grant boons. Meanwhile
Bhupinder Singh had another site levelled out and a splended mansion was
built and sumptuously furnished. And at 2226 m, a good hundered meters
above Shimla’s average height, Bhupinder Singh’s summer capital was
prepared to taken on the British one at equal terms.
Chail Palace Hotel
In 1972 the property set in about 75 acres of land – including
peripheral cottages, woods, sport and recreation facilities and even an
orchard – passed into the hands of Himachal Tourism. This is now the
Palace Hotel – a full- fledged destination resort. This retains the
grandeur of its princely past and a large elegant lawn, complete with
pavilion and fountain, adjoins the Hotel. Chail’s famous cricket ground
was built in 1893 after leveling out the top of a hill. This stands at
2444.4 m and is perhaps the highest cricket pitch and the polo ground in
the world. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh was an avid cricketer and the teams
that have played here include the MCC. Bhupinder Singh was not averse to
a spot of fun in cricket too. This once included a match with all the
players dressed as women; the Maharaja took the crease in a nun’s black
habit sporting and equally black beard. Several easy walks can be done
in and around Chail. The small wild life sanctuary has a variety of wild
life that includes the ghoral, kakkar, sambhar, red jungle fowl, and the
khalij and cheer pheasents. There are Machan-like sighting posts near
‘Blossom’ at Khariun and on the blade pate of the prosaically named Roda
Tibba. Fishing is possible on the Gaura river 29 km from Chail and there
are several trek routes that lead out of the resort, including the one
to the Choor Chandni mountain which is visible from Chail and poetically
translates as “The Mountain Of The Silver Bangles”. Chail is 86 km from
Kalka via Kandaghat and 45 km from Shimla via Kufri.
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. It is 170 km from Chandigarh, 110 km from Amritsar and 55 km
from Dharamshala. The closest railway stations are at Mukerian 30 km,
and Pathankot at 32 km. The settlements of Nagrota Surian and Jawali-which
are located on the sagar's periphery-are connected by the charming
narrow gauge Kangra railway line that connects Pathankot to
Jogindernagar. The closest airport is Gaggal 40 km. The lake is well
served by a network of roads.
Maharana Pratap struggled valiantly for freedom of Mewar-as for the
principle of independence. In words of chroniclers James Tod and william
Crook, "He spurned every overture that had submission for its basis".
Over the river Beas, the Pong dam was completed in 1976. Its reservoir
covers an area of about 45000 hectares at maximum possible flooding.The
level varies every season and averages around 30000 hectares. Over 200
villages with a population of over 85000 people lie along the wetland.
This lake sanctuary is a big attraction for migratory ducks from
Siberian region during winter. One can see thousands of ducks in the
swamp area between Shahnahar barrage and Pongdam and the surrounding
shallow waters of the lake. 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.
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
kilometer 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 artifacts.
The climb leads through seven gates; en route there are some idols
embossed in the walls of the fort; the ramparts open out to the
fascinating valleys below and one can recreate the past and glide the
corridors of history as one climbs up slowly through cobbled path. There
are three richly carved temples in the vicinity-- Lakshmi Narayan
temple, the Ambika temple and a Jain temple of Adi Narayan.
The view of gushing streams of Banganga and Manjhi rivers from the Fort
is charming. The Kangra Fort was the seat of power of the Katoch Raja's
and is believed to have been founded by Shusharma Chand Katoch. It was
the ancient capital of the Katoch Kingdom and symbol of power in the
Punjab hill states. The Fort of Nagarkot (Kangra) stands as a mute
witness to the ravages of conquerors from Mahmud of Ghazni (1009 AD) to
the emperor Jehangir (1619 AD) and the disastrous earthquake of April,
1905. Emperor Akbar made many attempts to capture this fort but could
not succeed. This place is now called as " Purana Kangra". One can enter
the fort by a narrow path. It was protected by a number of gates named
after its winners like Jehangir, Ranjit Singh.
The fort remained neglected during the British period but now the
Archaeological department maintains it. The Fort is still an attraction
to the tourists and the pilgrims visiting Kangra.
The historical Kangra Fort is 3 km from the Kangra town. One can reach
Kangra town by road, rail & air. Kangra is 17 km from Dharamshala, 220
km from Shimla and 235 km from Chandigarh.
The National Park
The National Park with an area
of 754 sq. km. is located in Kullu District and has the representative
area of temperate and alpine forests of Himachal. It has some the virgin
coniferous forests of the State. Vast areas of alpine pastures and
glaciers cap this park. This area has many important wildlife species of
Western Himalayas, like Musk deer, Brown bear, Goral, Thar, Leopard,
Snow leopard, Bharal, Serow, Monal, Kalij, Koklas, Cheer, Tragopan, Snow
cock etc. Trekking of Rakti-Sar, origin of Sainj river and camping in
alpine pastures is unforgettable. Similar is the trekking route to
Tirath the origin of Tirthan river. Visitors can contact Director, Great
Himalayan National Park at Shamshi or Range Officer wildlife at Sainj or
Range Officer Wild Life at Sai Ropa (Banjar) for assistance and
guidance. Camping equipment and guides are provided by the Forests
For more details, visit Great Himalayan National Park website