About Kangra Fort
Situated on the outskirts of Kangra, about 20 kilometers away from Dharamsala, is one of India's oldest forts. The Kangra Fort sits atop a steep rock, and its towering presence dominates the surrounding valley. The fort covers an area of about 4 kilometers, and it is guarded by ramparts and high walls.
Built strategically at the confluence or meeting point of Majhi and Banganga river, Kangra Fort is one of the must-see spots in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.Besides its unique architecture and historical importance, the fort is also known for housing three temples, namely the Lakshmi Narayan Temple, Shitlamata Temple, and Ambika Devi Temple. Several doors leads into the fort, but the main entrance goes through a courtyard that is behind two gates.
The doors even have interesting names such as Ahani Darwaza, Amiri Darwaza, and Jehangiri Darwaza. Outside of the main temple gate, you will find the Andheri Darwaza. It is the fort's primary defense gate.The walls of the Andheri Darwaza are 15 feet high and the passage is 7 meters long. The gate allows only two men or one horse to pass through at a time. The narrow passage of the defense gate was designed to slow down the opposing force.
Once you pass the Ahani and Amiri Darwaza, a long and narrow passageway will take you to the top section of the fort. A staircase located between Ambika Devi and Shitlamata temple will take you to the Sheesh Mahal, which is a small hall. There is also a polygonal watchtower, which provides breathtaking views of the landscape.
How to Reach Kangra Fort
By Air - The nearest airport, officially called Kangra Airport, Gaggal, is approximately 14 kilometers away from the Kangra Fort. You can book a cab from the airport to the fort.
By Bus - Direct buses are available from New Delhi to Kangra. The average bus fare is Rs. 900, and the journey takes around 12 to 13 hours. Auto rickshaws can take you from the bus stand to the Kangra Fort.
By Road - Depending on the route, Kangra Fort is about 469.5 kilometers away from New Delhi. Traveling by road takes a minimum of 8 hours 30 minutes.
Best Time to Visit Kangra Fort
The best time to visit Kangra Fort is from September to June. If you want to explore the Kangra Fort, go sightseeing, and visit all the famous temples, the time between September and November will be ideal. Summer here lasts from May to June when the temperature remains between 22 and 30 degrees Celsius, which is comfortable and pleasant for hikers and trekkers.
However, The winter months, especially January, tends to be too cold with temperatures sometimes dipping below zero. If you are sensitive to cold climates, it would be best to avoid the winter months.
What Not to Miss at Kangra Fort
Places to visit near Kangra Fort:
Known mainly for its scenic beauty and temples, Kangra is India's spiritual abode. Often referred to as “Devbhumi” in ancient Hindu texts, the town's religious significance is undeniable. When visiting the Kangra Fort, you must stop by these following places:
1. Bajreshwari Devi Temple - Also called Kangra Devi Mandir, this popular Hindu pilgrimage site is dedicated to the deity Vajreshwari. Legend has it that Goddess Sati's left breast landed at this spot after her body was divided into 51 parts by Lord Vishnu. As a prominent Shakti Peetha, it attracts many tourists.
2. Tatwani Hot Spring - Situated about 23 kilometers from the Kangra Fort, the Tatwani Hot Spring has two separate baths. While men bathe in the open, women are given a large room for privacy. Bathing in the hot spring is said to cure ailments such as arthritis, poor blood circulation, and muscle ache.
3. Dhauladhar National Park - Though quite away from the Kangra Fort, the Dhauladhar National Park is the perfect spot for wildlife buffs. Home to leopards, black bears, angora rabbits, Asiatic lions, sambhar, red fox, and several types of deer, the national park deserves a place in your itinerary.
4. Masroor Rock Cut Temple - About an hour's drive away from the Kangra Fort, Masroor Rock Cut Temple is also known as the Himalayan Pyramid because of its unique architecture. Several studies have placed the construction of the temple somewhere between the 8th and 9th century AD. Some experts claim that the 15 Indo-Aryan style temples were carved from the same rock.
5. Kareri Lake - Situated 2934 meters above sea level, this shallow, high-altitude, freshwater lake provides one of the most serene views in all of Kangra. Majestic mountains and verdant pastures surround the area, making it a perfect picnic spot. It is also a popular trekking spot for many.
Other Essential Information About Kangra Fort
Location - The Kangra Fort is located in Old Kangra of Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh. It is about 20 kilometers or a 40-minute drive away from Dharamshala.
Price - The entry fee for Indians is Rs. 150 per person with Audio Guide. For foreigners, it is Rs. 300 per person with Audio Guide.
Timing - 9 AM to 5.30 PM from Monday to Sunday.
History of Kangra Fort:
The Katoch dynasty built the Kangra Fort sometime in the 4th century BC. Over the centuries, different rulers tried to conquer the fort. Those who succeeded pillaged the treasures from its temples. From Mahmud Ghazni to Mughal Emperor Jahangir, a number of prominent historical figures sought possession of the fort. Jahangir acquired the fort in 1621 after a 14-month siege. He also built a mosque inside the fort.
However, in 1789, Katoch King Raja Sansar Chand II recovered his ancestral fort from the Mughals. He continually fought against Gurkhas and Maharaja Ranjit Singh to maintain ownership of the fort. After his death in 1828, Ranjit Singh annexed the fort. The British finally took over the Kangra fort after the First Anglo-Sikh War and remained there until the 1905 Kangra earthquake.
Places to Eat near Kangra Fort:
One of the most exciting aspects of visiting a new place is getting to experience the local cuisine and flavor. Whether you need a hearty meal to begin a fun-filled day of sightseeing or a power-packed lunch to get you through the rest of the day, the following eateries are worth trying:
1. Annapurna Bhojnalaya - Known for its cheap prices and delicious meals, Annapurna Bhojnalaya offers the perfect spot for you to enjoy a nice lunch or dinner with family. It is known for serving Chinese and North Indian cuisine and the restaurant takes pride in the quality of food it provides. You can have a satisfying meal at just Rs. 350!
2. Kumar Sweets - One of the most popular eateries in Kangra Valley, Kumar Sweets, and Fast Food serves snacks such as pizza, burgers, and other fast food. It also has a sweet shop.
3. Atithi Restaurant - Part of Hotel Atithi Chamunda Devi, Atithi Restaurant is famous for its beautiful décor and delectable food. The staff is friendly and always willing to help you choose the best items from the menu. The food is fairly cheap. The average cost is Rs. 300 for two.
4. The Cliff - Rooftop Bar & Lounge - A little bit on the pricey side, The Cliff - Rooftop Bar & Lounge serves North Indian cuisine and finger food. Here, you will find a range of choices when it comes to food and beverages. But the best part is that the restaurant comes with a magnificent view! The seating area overlooks the valley below and the mountains ahead.5. Joyful Café - Located 16 kilometers away from the Kangra Fort, Joyful Café is the perfect place where you can chill out and enjoy a warm cup of coffee. The cafe serves Italian and finger food. While you are here, you must try the pizza. They make it in a special wood-burning oven!
Travelers' Tip before visiting Kangra Fort:
Kangra Fort gives you a glimpse into ancient India. It has seen wealth, grandeur, invasion, war and more. If the adventurer in you likes exploring ancient ruins, this is the one spot you cannot miss! However, before you leave for Kangra Fort, you should know a few things:
1. For starters, you need to dress according to the weather. As mentioned above, Kangra can get pretty chilly right before and during winter. So, make sure to stay warm!
2. Secondly, you will need comfortable footwear. You can also get a pair of hiking shoes to be safe. Exploring Kangra Fort involves a fair amount of walking. Wearing the wrong shoes can give you blistered feet.
3. Finally, exploring the fort might take at least a couple of hours. So, make sure to plan the rest of the day accordingly.