THE KANGRA FORT

The Kangra Fort

The Kangra Fort situated at a 20 KM distance from Dharamsala on the out start of the Kangra Town. From here a long and narrow passage leads up to the top of the Fort through the Ahani and Amiri Darwaza, both attributed to Nawab Alif Khan, the first governor of Kangra under the Great Moghuls Some 500 feet from the outer gate the passage turns round at a very sharp angle and passes through the Jahangiri Darwaza.

The Jahangiri Darwaza, however, has entirely the appearance of a Muhammadan building and, judging from its name, would seem to have been raised by Jahangir after his conquest of the Fort in A.D. 1620.There is some reason to assume that a white marble slab bearing a Persian inscription, of which two fragments were recovered in 1905. It in all probability was a record of Jahangir ‘s conquest of the Fort. The Darsani Darwaza, when extant, was flanked by defaced statues of he river-goddess, Ganga and Yamuna, and must date back to a time previous to the Muslim occupation of the Fort.Along the south side of which stood the shrines of Lakshmi Narayana, Sitala, and Ambika Devi.They were square chambers profusely decorated with carvings. It is questionable whether they have been rightly designated as temples, as there was no indication that they ever contained any object of worship. Their ornamentation, however, left no doubt that they were originally intended for religious purpose.

Next to the Kangra fort in the old town of Kangra there is situated a beautiful Jain temple which was built thirty years ago. Build in traditional jain architecture it incorporates skillful stone carving of which the exquisite rosette at the centre of the ceiling is especially worth mentioning.

KANGRA ART MUSEUM

Kangra Art Museum

Situated in Kotwali Bazaar of Dharamsala, Kangra Art Gallery was inaugurated in 1990. It houses an impressive collection of arts, crafts, artifacts, costumes and other treasures, which can be traced to as far back as 5th century. The variety of items on display includes woodcarvings and tribal jewellery, sculptures and pottery, anthropological items, collections of coins and manuscripts, royal tents, Shamianas and pandals, etc.

Open from Tuesday to Sunday, Kangra Art Museum has a library and a separate section to display the works of contemporary artists, sculptors and photographers. There is also an art gallery that houses exemplary specimens of famous Kangra Kalam works or the Pahari miniature paintings, the exquisite art that is being actively promoted from the museum. This school of painting is famous for the use of seductive figures and fine colors. It is said to be a pictorial representation of the cultural heritage of Himachal Pradesh. The colors used in this style of painting are extracted from dried-up flowers and herbs and this art form has a strong thematic base. The most famous miniature paintings of the Kangra School revolve around historical, religious and traditional background of the royalty and the courts of the former rulers of Kangra that belonged to Katoch dynasty.

LOSEL DOLL MUSEUM

Losel Doll Museum

Losel Doll Museum inside the Norbulingka Institute exhibits beautifully decorated dolls. Costumes and activities of the people in each of the regions of Tibet are represented through these dolls. Along with the crafts produced at institute, models of dolls are also put on sale.

The Losel Doll Museum can be found in the Norbulinka Palace (“Beautiful Garden Palace”, originally the name of the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas in Tibet) in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India. It is a place that might have been designed by a Tibetan relative of Jan Svankmajer ( [link] ), filled with stately, strange, vivid dolls recreating the lost traditional clothes and customs of the Tibetans.

NORBULINGKA INSTITUTE , DHARAMSHALA

Norbulingka Institute , Dharamshala

Norbulingka is dedicated to handing down tradition and restoring standards by providing training, education and employment for Tibetans. It supports an environment in which Tibetan community and family values can flourish. It reconciles the traditional creatively and respectfully with the modern, and seeks to create an international awareness of Tibetan values and their expression in art and literature.

Situated at a distance of 4 km from Dharamsala, Norbulinka Institute has a mission to preserve and promote. It is a picture of old rural Tibet with all its shady paths, wooden bridges, small streams and tiny water falls, along with wooden carvings, Tibetan Thangka paintings, Tibetan handicrafts and arts. The setting of the institute makes it look paradisiacal. Department of Religion and Culture founded the Norbulinka Institute of Tibetan Culture.

The aim behind his was to keep the coming generation of Tibetan refugees, living in exile, in touch with their culture. The name ‘Norbulingka’ means ‘Jewel Garden’ and it has been derived from the Summer Residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, situated at Mcleodganj. Today, with occupied-Tibet undergoing the bleakest period in its history, the Norbulinka Institute in Dharamsala has taken the initiative to preserve the roots of Tibetan culture in exile.

ANDRETTA POTTERY

Andretta Pottery

Andretta Pottery is run by Mansimran “Mini” Singh, son of famous potter Gurcharan Singh. Andretta Pottery and Craft Society was started in 1983. It is situated between the old Shuahk hills and the towering range of the Dholadhar Himalaya. As well as being a production studio pottery making attractively designed earthen slipware; it also provides 3 month courses for aspiring potters. Panchrukhi (paanch(five)-rukhi(trees)), as name suggest it had five big trees, is the main town and use to have lot of hustle and bustle.

The beautiful small fish pond also known as machhyal is another stoppage to feed fish and then a bath in small natural water pond (bouri).

In the early 1980’s there were still 120 out of nearly 270 potter families still existing in this area. Mansimran and Mary Singh were anxious to get them interested in pottery to suit modern day demands in an effort to stop the youngsters from leaving to look for jobs elsewhere.

PALAMPUR TEA GARDEN

Palampur

Palampur is a fascinating green hill station and a municipal council in the Kangra Valley in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, surrounded on all sides by tea gardens and pine forests before they merge with the Dhauladhar ranges. 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

The town has derived its name from the local word “pulum’, meaning lots of water. 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.

MCLEODGANJ DAY TRIP

Mc Leod Ganj

Public relations are important to the Tibetans, for McLeodganj is more than just temples and the Dalai Lama’s residence. It is home to a flourishing number of enterprises, political, religious and commercial, all of which are designed to demonstrate the seriousness and competence of the government in exile. Everywhere we go we are handed well-produced information sheets by well-dressed, knowledgeable and patient young men, who do a thoroughly professional job of marketing the mysteries of Tibet.

McLeod Ganj, also known as Dharmsala, is located in Himanchal Pradesh near the spectacular Dhauladhar Mountains. Historically important as it is beautiful, this destination is filled with Buddist Temples, sanctuaries, churches and natural attractions to make an travelers visit here memorable.

Then there are two temples, the Tsuglagkhang itself and the Kalachakra temple, plus a series of buildings forming the Namgyal Gompa where many monks live and study. It’s a rather strange experience to walk into these temples finding the same statues as one would see in Ladakh and Tibet in important monasteries but the external look and feel being nothing like those gompas.

TRIUND

Triund

While exploring the sylvan beauty of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh you can embark on various excursions. A place called Triund, situated at a distance of about 17 km from Dharamshala, can serve as an ideal gateway. This wonderful retreat is thronged by scores of tourists and is ideal for a short outing or picnic.

Triund is placed at a height of 2827 meters. It provides you with mesmerising views of the surrounding places, enveloped with snow. This white sparkling snow is a delight to the eyes and instantly rejuvenates you. These enchanting surroundings will leave you in awe of nature’s beauty. From here you can also view the famed Dauladhar mountain ranges.

Many adventure activities like trekking are carried out here in Triund. You will come across many exciting treks which offer a unique experience. The trek from Macleodganj to Triund, through deodar and oak forests, is very famous among the tourists. The total distance in one way is just 10 km, but it can take a day. On your way, you will come across Dharmkot and Rakkar villages, where you can closely observe the sylvan Himachal life. However, you will have to start the trek in the early hours of morning if you are planning to return to Macleodganj on the same day. The trek includes climbing a pretty steep slope from Macleodganj for about three hours, after which one reaches the final destination. For a safe and informative trek you can take help of the guides that are made available.

Reaching Triund is not a problem at all. You can reach Dharamshala which is accessible by road, rail and air. Thereafter you can avail of the buses or taxis and go further to Triund. You can also reach here on foot, through a trek. So do not forget to visit this beautiful place while enjoying a stay in Dharamshala. It may come across as a fascinating revelation.

BAROT

Barot

Barot is a picnic spot and tourist location in Mandi district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is situated 40 km from Jogindernagar and 66 km from Mandi, the district headquarters. The road to Barot branches off at Jogindernagar-Mandi high ways and from Jogindernagar the distance is 40 km. If one is lucky enough one can use the trolley up from Jogindernagar which, apart from the thrill, knocks the distance down to 12 km. Through terraced fields and thick cedar forests, the track rises to Jhatingri, an enchanting spot atop the hill.

The remains of the summer palace of the former rulers of Mandi are located here.Through the little village of Tikkan, the road carries on to Barot. The town has a range of outdoor activities. For a start there is a trout breeding centre from where fish are released into the Uhl and there is a 30 km section of the river which is excellent for angling.

Barot also forms the gateway to the Nargu Wildlife Sanctuary which lies across the Uhl. The sanctuary is home to the monal, black bear and ghoral. Within it are forest rest house s at Thaltuckhod and Silbandhwari. Through woods of cedar and pine a trek route cuts across the sanctuary to Kullu.

Known only to a select band of angling aficionados and some intrepid trekkers, Barot has all the wonderful views , wildlife, adventure- and even the option of solitude – poured into a small but satisfying dish.

UTTARALA

Uttarala

Uttrala is a small hamlet located nearly 11 km north of Baijnath. Uttrala is an ideal place to enjoy a break from the humdrum of the city life. If you are a Trekking enthusiast, this serene destination is worth the visit. The trek to Ravi valley over Jalsu Pass starts from Uttrala. Jalsu Pass (3600 m) is one of the lowest passes of the majestic Dhauladhar, and is easy to cross. Alternatively, one can also trek from Uttrala to Gdoh village.

Uttrala to Gdoh village trek: The first destination of this trail is the Parai village located at an altitude of 2390 m and at a distance of 12 km from Uttrala. The trek to Parai Village winds up all along the Parai Nullah. Parai is a captivating village located at an altitude of about 2,390 m above sea level, on the Baijnath – Jalsu Pass trek route. The village offers panoramic view of the Pir Panjal and the Dhauladhar mountain ranges. It is also an ideal base village for trekking and mountaineering and several base camps are available here.

From Parai to Yara Jote: (13 km): You need to cross the Jalsu pass to reach Yara. It’s an easy and accessible pass. Yara is covered with vast expanse of verdant meadows. The residents of the area set-up temporary tea stalls to help trekkers during the trekking season.