The history of the Kangra Valley is a long and complex one, dating back more than 3,500 years. As the centuries have gone by, and kingdoms have come and gone, layer upon layer of tradition and culture have been added to a land now steeped in legend. The many ancient and holy sites that have weathered the test of time, as well as the adaptations of each successive culture, tell the remarkable history of the Kangra Valley.
Exploring the Ancient Empire
Exploring the Ancient Empire
Let us take you on a tour of the town of Kangra where we’ll uncover these rich layers of history and culture that lie waiting to be discovered beneath the surface. Along the road to Kangra, about a half-hour drive from Dharamsala, one can catch a view of traditional life as it has existed relatively undisturbed, for several centuries. The squat, brightly painted mud houses beam beneath the blue sty; the terraced, fertile fields bloom with yellow mustard flowers in spring, pale green rice in summer and golden wheat in fall. In the Kangra Valley it can feel as though you have entered a different world, a timeless and beautiful place that you will not soon forget.
Our first stop will be to Vajreshwari, one of the most revered temples in all of North India. Leading up to the temple, we will pass through a brightly coloured market filled with baskets of goodies to offer to the Goddess Sati, first wife of Lord Shiva, to whom the temple is dedicated. Inside, the temple air is filled with the sound of drums and hymns, and one can visit the ancient banyan tree on which the faithful tie red ribbons hoping their wishes will come true. Here you will learn of the rich legends which surround the temple and its founding, and the story of the tragic love between Sati and Shiva.
We will continue on to the Kangra Fort, believed to be the most ancient fort in all of India. Kangra Fort was built by the Katoch Dynasty, the world’s oldest surviving royal lineage. The Katoch trace their origins to the Trigartha Kingdom, mentioned in the ancient Indian epic poem, the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata is considered one of the finest and longest pieces of literature ever written. It tells the story of the great Kurukshetra War which took place in India 3,000 vears ago between rival principalities, among them the mighty warriors of the Trigartha Kingdom. Kangra Fort was also mentioned in the journals of Alexander the Great as he travelled across India in the 4th century BCE. Located atop a hill and flanked by two rivers, it is said that whoever could gain control of the fort controlled the entire valley. As we explore the fort, whose paths wind gradually upwards, you will enjoy a guided audio tour, learning of its incredible history and impressive architecture. To give a greater appreciation of the local culture and its vast history, we will visit the museum at the entrance of the fort, filled with excavated artifacts and the traditional art of the Kangra Valley. At the top of the fort is a panoramic view of the Kangra Valley and the Banganga and Majhi Rivers that run through it. Here, surrounded by this splendid view, we will enjoy a delicious picnic lunch prepared by Norbulingka’s Hummingbird Cafe.
. Tour leaves Norbulingka at 10am and returns around 4pm.
. Please book at least one dav in advance.
. The cost per person is Rs. 3,500. A group should be a minimum of two people.
. Lunch and snacks will be provided.
. Please bring good walking shoes as it is a bit of a hike to the top of the fort Please dress modestly as we will be visiting a temple.
. You will be required to take off your shoes at the temple.