This nine hour drive takes you 3500 years back in time as you explore the fine nuances of the ancient Kangra Fort – a name mentioned in the Great Alexander’s diaries. Along with that, meet the splendour of Hindu temples including Chamunda Devi, Braijeshwari and Jawalaji. Apart from that, be fascinated by the solace at Tapovan Ashram and appreciate beautiful Buddhist centres including Norbulingka and Gyotto Monastery.
Book this fully customizable nine drive with Pink House and explore Kangra Valley and the beautiful Hindu Temples with a reliable driver.
+ A comfortable car
+ A reliable driver cum guide
+ A Map of Mcleodganj
Built at the confluence of Banganga and Manjhi streams, this fort is believed by the royal family of Kangra. The fort is pedestaled on a steep rock in Purana Kangra (translates to Old Kangra), which dominates the surrounding valley.
Spreading over a large area, this fort is conspicuous because of its huge walls and black stones that were incorporated to build the outer walls. Don’t miss the huge gate that bears the name of all the kings that had ruled this fort at any point in history.
The huge ‘Darwazas’ or doors of the famous Kangra fort are perhaps the most eye catching feature of the fort. A walk through the various gateways is like a transition from one period to the other. Begin your fort journey from the Ranjit Singh Darwaza, which is winged from both sides by a 4 km long outer circuit. Get on the steps that will take you through the halfway Ahni and Amiri gates. Then comes the Jahangiri gate from where you have to travel a path of rocky ground to reach the Andheri Darwaza. Notice a camouflaged mosque that was built by Jehangir. Further you will find ramparts of a step well and other dilapidated remains. The best gate among all is the Darshani Darwaza, which is the oldest standing structure and opens up to a spacious stone – paved courtyard.
A stone’s throw away from the Darshini gate is the Lakshmi Narayan Mandir and Shaitala Mandir. These temples are architecturally famous and is on the must-see list. Another temple to visit is the Ambika Devi Temple.
The temple attractions of Kangra fort is not confined only to Hinduism. One can also find the presence of Jain temples. South of the Ambika Devi temple, you find two Jain shrines that today are in desperate need of reparation. Visit this Jain temple to see the stone image of Adinath.
Another spectacular attraction of the Kangra Fort is the mirror palace. This palace lies in the upper level front of the fort where one can also find a historically significant watch tower. For breathtaking views, get on top of this tower.
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 jewelry, 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.
Norbulingka Institute’s visual focal point is its main temple where 1,173 images of Buddha decorate the 44 foot high temple hall. The temple is the master spiritual centre which took more than a year for its completion. The gilded 14 foot copper statue of Buddha Shakyamuni is the largest of its kind ever made in exile. A subsequent six and eight foot statue of Guhyasamaja and Kalachakra images respectively are works that have also never before been attempted in exile. The statues are magnificently curved showing elaborate figure composition with Buddha occupying the chief position.
Other worth seen paintings depict the twelve deeds of Buddha, fourteen incarnations of the Dalai Lama. Its ground plan based on the proportions of Avalokiteshvara, the pattern god and Bodhisattva of compassion, which invoked against the dangers that threaten mankind. ‘Avalokiteshvara’ is represented in many forms and the most common being the images with four arms”.
The skills preserved and passed on of high quality art objects at Norbulingka institute include statue making, thangka paintings, appliqué needlework, woodcarving, carpentry and metal work crafts. `thangka paintings’ known as `patta’ in sanskrit are traditional Buddhist scroll paintings drawn on cloth and canvas and are prepared with the use of traditional vegetable and mineral colour. These thangka paintings are of sacred and ceremonial subjects. They are hung up in temples and can be rolled up to be carried while traveling. The work done in different art sections, itself elaborate that the efforts in preserving Tibetan heritage and passing it on to the new generation of young artists is true and encouraging.
The statue and sculpture work is indebted to those sources from which they drew their religion and culture. The statues are made of different sizes, cast in the traditional lost wax method, to colossal images assembled from hand beaten copper plates. The images describe the detail of weapons and ornaments, the number of heads and arms as well as symbols and the position in which the divinity sits. Mention may be made of Tibetan metal work with wide range of domestic wares and jewelry which are adorned with bends and mixing of metals found in the favourite device of the Kinnouri & Spitian smiths. The techniques of reposes, the lost wax method and sand costing is used in the craftsmanship of metal work.
The appliqué artists at Norblingka do the finest work in preparing silk thangkas which become popular in 19th century. These are constructed of many hand cut pieces of silk and brocade as long as the size of fifteen story high building.
The carving of wood with tools they make themselves with elegant detail and delicate perfection take us back us to the 7th century and remind us of the ancient art tradition. The completed carved objects are made smooth and shiny in the time honored manner, painted in the healthy Tibetan traditional colours of further embellished with a gold leaf.
Richness and diversity of Tibetan costumes is introduced to the world by the Losel team of monks in the losel Doll museum of the institute. Attractively skilled and minutely produced more than 160 dolls in different characters in the Losel Doll museum is another site of admiration in the Norbulingka institute.
The indigenous knowledge of art, architecture and culture traits flowed from north-east since 7th century in India is well observed in this institute’s entirety.
The complex includes a 9 meter high image of Lord Hanuman, a magnificent Rama Temple, a meditation hall, a school, and a health and recreation centre.
The Chinmaya Mission follows the Vedic teacher-student tradition (guru-shishya parampara) and makes available the ageless wisdom of Advaita Vedanta, the knowledge of universal oneness, providing the tools to realize the wisdom in one’s life. Vedanta, the essential core of Hinduism, is the universal science of life, relevant to all people of all backgrounds and faiths. Vedanta inspires seekers to understand their own faith better. Thus, although Chinmaya Mission is a Hindu organisation, it does not seek to convert other religious practitioners. As a spiritual movement that aims for inner growth at individual and collective levels, the mission offers a wide array of Vedanta study forums for all ages, promotes Indian classical art forms and operates numerous social service projects. To date, millions worldwide have benefitted directly or indirectly from Chinmaya Mission’s numerous centres, ashrams, classes, events, services and projects.
As a result of the communist Chinese invasion in 1959, the Monastery was re-established in India. To accommodate the growth of the monastery to over 500 monks, it has recently been relocated to Dharamsala near the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Chamunda Devi is considered as the wrathful form of Durga, but at the same time, the Goddess is known to be kind to her true devotees. The term ‘Chamunda’ has been derived from two words, ‘Chanda’ and ‘Munda’. As per the mythological legends, Durga made a goddess with her power, to slay the demons, Chanda and Munda. With her immense power, the Goddess killed the demons. Goddess Durga became happy with the slaughter and blessed the goddess that she would be known and worshipped as Chamunda.
In the temple, the main image of the goddess, draped in rich clothes, is visible from the main entrance. The main shrine is adored on the sides by the images of the guards of goddess – Lord Bhairav and Lord Hanuman.
Chamunda Devi is worshipped daily while the sermons include ‘Aartis’ at intervals. Reciting the hymn of ‘Shat Chandi’ with devoted heart at this temple is considered auspicious. In the corner of the temple, one can see small footsteps of the Goddess on a stone. Besides the main shrine, there is a marble staircase that takes down to the cave of Lord Shiva. This is a cave-like scoop where Shiva Lingam is placed. People visit this cave and worship Lord Shiva with great devotion.
In the temple complex, there is a huge pond with images of Lords and people can take bath here. There is sculpture of Goddess, in which, she is garlanded with serpents, scorpions, and skulls. During the time of Navratras, the temple is a popular centre of worship amongst the pilgrims.
Legend says that around 400 years ago, a King and a Brahmin priest prayed to Chamunda Devi asking her consent to shift the image to an accessible location. Chamunda Devi appeared in a dream to the priest granting him the permission. She asked him to dig a certain area and subsequently, they will find an ancient idol. They can brought the idol in the temple and worship her. The priest told about the dream to the King and sent his men to bring the idol. The men got the idol, but they could not lift it.
Again, the Goddess appeared and asked the priest that the men could not lift the idol because they took it as an ordinary stone. She told the priest to get up early in the morning and take a bath. After wearing fresh clothes, he should go to the place in a devoted manner. The priest did the same what was told to him. He found that he could lift the idol easily. He placed the idol in its present location and from that time, the Goddess is worshipped by people.
Legend says that Indra and the other deities went to goddess Parvati and requested her to help slay the demon Kalikala. Goddess Parvati assured that she would come to their aid at the right time. Another legend says that after Goddess Sati sacrificed herself in the honor of Lord Shiva in her father’s Yagya. Shiva took her body on his shoulder and started Tandav. In order to stop him from destroying the world, Lord Vishnu divided the body of Sati into 52 parts with his Chakra. The right breast of Sati fell at this spot, thus making it a Shakti Peeth.
The original temple was built by the Pandavas (of the Mahabharat mythology). If legends are to believed, one day the Pandavas saw Goddess Durga in their dream in which she told them that she is situated in the Nagarkot village and if they want to be safe and secure, they should make a temple for her in that area. Else, all will be destroyed. That same night they erected a magnificent temple for her in the Nagarkot village.
Inside the main area, Goddess Brajeshwari is present in the form of Pindi. The temple also has a small temple of Bhairav. In front of the main temple, is an idol of Dhayanu Bhagat – who had offered his head to the Goddess at the time of rule of Akbar – the great Mughal Emperor.
In the early times, people tried to explore the fact behind these burning flames, but nothing substantial was made out. These flames are burning due to some natural jets of combustible gas. The temple came to be known as the Jwala Devi Mandir. In this temple, there is no idol because the Goddess is considered to be residing in the form of flames. This temple has nine ceaseless flames that are named as Mahakali, Annapurna, Chandi, Hinglaj, Vindhya Vasini, Mahalakshmi, Saraswati, Ambika and Anji Devi respectively.
Inside the shrine, there is a pit where several flames are burning. The offerings are made to the Goddess in this same pit. The ‘Aartis’ at different intervals of the day, are the main attraction of this temple. Usually, an offering of Rabri or thickened milk is made to the goddess. In the temple complex, there are several small shrines including Gorakh Dibbi and Chaturbhuj Temple. These blue flames are coming out from the fissures in the ancient rock.
Being an important pilgrimage of the Hindus, devotees come to this temple in large numbers. During the days of Navaratri, the temple is thronged by countless number of devotees. Colorful fairs are also organized for the period of Navaratri in March-April and Sep-October.
According to the legend, the mouth of Sati fell here at the time of self-sacrifice. Ever since, the Goddess occupied the place, she manifested into nine flames. After years, one day Raja Bhumi Chand Katoch, a resident of Kangra and a great devotee of Goddess Durga, dreamt of the holy place. He sent his men to locate the place. With the grace of the Goddess, the site was found and Raja started constructing a temple. It is believed that Pandavas also contributed in the erection of this temple. However, the construction of this temple was completed in the 19th century, when Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his son, Kharak Singh, gave the Gold and Silver for the dome and door respectively.