The Palampur valley is often called one of the most scenic pockets of the Indian Himalayas. On this tour, spend nine hours driving around the valley – breathe in the fresh mountain air at the scenic tea gardens, explore the serene cultural centres including Hindu Temples and Buddhist monasteries and get a first-hand experience with the Himalayan wildlife.
Book this fully customizable six hour drive with Pink House and explore Palampur with a reliable local driver.
+ A comfortable car
+ A reliable driver cum guide
+ A Map of Mcleodganj
This tea region of India comprises exclusively China or China hybrid tea plants. The history of Kangra Tea records say that Dr. Jameson, then superintendent of the botanical Tea gardens visited Kangra in 1849 and pronounced that lower slopes of the Dhauladhar range of mountains was ideal for Tea cultivation.
The seeds for planting were obtained from china and by 1892, the area under Tea was extended to 9,000 acres by Europeans as well as local proprietors. Kangra Tea reached European market through London, Barcelona and Amsterdam and won gold and silver medals in exhibition of tea in Europe during 1886-95.
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.
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.
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.
The flora and fauna found here are diverse in nature and the zoo has been designed with proper signage to inform the tourists and spread awareness about the Himalayan wildlife and vegetation alike. The animals housed by this zoo include the Asiatic lion, the Himalayan black bear which is the major attraction, the sambar, hog deer, musk deer, red foxes, barking, deer, angora rabbits, wild pigs, leopards and so on.
Besides, the zoo is also home to peacocks, vultures, eagles, Monal, the state bird of Himachal Pradesh and several other endangered species. Apart from these, the zoo also preserves certain species of reptiles like cobras, monitors, pythons and other mammals like the Indian porcupine, common Langur, mongooses, etc.
According to the inscriptions on the walls, Baijnath Mandir was built by the two native merchants by the name of Ahuka and Manyuka in 1204 A.D. In the porch of the temple, the two long inscriptions state that before the present temple, there was a shrine of Lord Shiva at the same spot.
The structure of this temple gives the hints of the early medieval North Indian style of architecture. This type of structure used to be known as ‘Nagara’ style of temple. The architectural style has been imbibed from Orissan style, which is very much unique in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The exterior walls of the temple have numerous alcoves with images of gods and Goddesses from the Hindu pantheon.
In order to enter the temple, one has to cross the vestibule that has a large ‘Mandap’ in the centre and two huge balconies on either side. The temple has fortifications, leaving space for two entrances in the north and the south. Just before the Mandapa, there is small porch placed on four columns. Here, a huge image of Nandi (the bull of Lord Shiva) is placed. The door leading to the sanctum is speckled with many images of artistic nature.
Lord Shiva is commemorated here as Vaidyanath (the Lord of Physician) and is placed in the form of ‘Lingam’ (phallic form of Lord Shiva). The main sanctum comprises five projections on every side and a tall curved shikhar (spire). The history of Baijnath temple is inscribed on the stone slabs inside the complex. As per the beliefs, Ravana (King of Lanka) had worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple.
The water of this temple is believed to contain medicinal properties, which can cure diseases of people. Due to this reason too, Baijnath Temple receives thousands of people every year. Shivratri is the major festival that is observed at this temple with full gusto and fervor. Devotees visit the temple during this time to seek the blessings from the God.