About Himachal Pradesh

The Land of Himachal


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 Himachal Pradesh

                                                                            Dalhousie
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 plains.

                                                                            Shimla

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: 0177

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 interior.

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 Kasauli.

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 recommended.

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

Special Interest

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.

Colonial Architecture

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.

Shopping

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.

                                                                                                                         Mandi

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.
General information:

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.

Approach:

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.

                                                                                                                     Chamba


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.
 

General information

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 highway.

                                                                                                                  Manali



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, 2012.

Approach

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 to October.

                                                                                                          Dharamshala

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.


General information

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 rainy season.

Clothing

Winter: Heavy Woollens
Summer: Light Woollens and tropical

Approach

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 (240 km).

                                                                                                                  Rajgarh

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.

                                                                                                               Pragpur

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.

                                                                                                              Sujanpur Fort

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 wall paintings.


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

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.

                                                                                                          Kangra Fort

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 Department.

For more details, visit Great Himalayan National Park website
 

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