Running alongside the beautiful Kullu valley,the rolling green of Kangra Valley unfold before the scenic white ridge of the Dhaula Dhar range.It is one of the snowy ridges which has verdant forests on one side and cheerful hill culture on the other.The Kangra Valley is situated between the Dhaula Dhar and the Shivalik foothills in the state of Himachal Pradesh.the valley starts near Mandi and runs north-west to Shahpur near Pathankot Named after the town of Kangra,the largest and main centre,at present is Dharamsala. The entry points to Kangra Valley, Kalka in the south and Pathankot in the west, offer rail services to the interior.While journeying on the Kangra Valley line, the train traveller gets to watch the spectacular countryside.
Besides the natural beauty of Kangra Valley,its cheerful people, hill paintings, temples,forts and adventure sports attract thousands of tourists every year from the world over.The people of the valley are well built and are known for their edicated services to the nation as soldiers.
The Gaddis of Kangra or the nomadic shepherds of the valley, came from chamba and found their way across the Dhaula dhar in quest of grazing pastures of their sheep.They are easily recognised by their distinctive attire which consists of a lon rope tied aound their waist.They lead a simple life with a few needs and even fewer worries and have permanent villages in the valley where they pursue agriculture.During summer men roam with their sheep and goat in the higher meadows.Here, they live a hard and adventurous life,often having to scare away leopards and bears.Their courageous and faithful sheep dogs are of great help.The valley is situated at a distance of 248 kms to the east of Shimla.the nearest airport is Gaggal, 7 kms away from Kangra.Private Airlines operate flights from Delhi.It can be approached by road from New Delhi via Ambala,Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur.Pathankot is linked to the valley by a superb narrow gauge mountain railway which takes three and a half hours to reach its destination.
Seventeen kms from Dharamsala and over looking the gushing torrent of the Banganga river lies the ancient town of Kangra.The town stepped in romance has a rich historical past Kangra became a Mughal province in 1620,when the then prince,Shah Jahan captured for his father, Emperor Jehangir.In the 18th century Raja Sansar Chand Katoch II recaptured the fort from the Mughals and extended the boundaries of Kangra into the Chamba and Kullu valleys.The glory of the valley is brought out in the invaluable and delicate Kangra paintings that the Raja commissioned to express his love for a comely Gaddi maiden and the beautiful land she dwelled in.Under Raja Sansar Chand II the region prospored.
During the mid 18th century, a new style of painting developed, based on Mughal miniature painting, but with a different subject matter.The theme was derived from Radha-Krishanalegends and depicted the ruler and the gods in a local setting.In 1744-73 Raja Govardhan Singh of Guler gave shelter to many artists who had fled from Mughals and thus gave birth to the famed Kangra School of Painting.
Another attraction in the town is the Kangra Fort which was the seat of power of the Katoch Rajas.It is said to have been founded by Susharma Chand Katch, an ally of the Kauravas during the Mahabharata war.It was the ancient capital of the Katoch kingdom and a symbol of power in the Punjab hill states.The fort stands on a steep rock dominating the valley and a narrow path leads up to the fort which was once protected by several gates and had the palace of the Katoch kings safely perched at the top.The Kangra fort, where the Raja held court for nearly 25 years, was adorned with paintings and attracted art lovers from great distances.About forty thousand of these paintings are preserved in temples, palaces and in museums at Chamba, Chandigadh and Delhi.
The Brajeshwari Devi Temple in Kangra town acheived a reputation fo wealth in gold, pearl and diamonds and tempted many invaders over centuries.Mahmud Ghazni sacked it in 1009, Muhammed- bin- Tughlaq plundered it in 1337,Sikander Lodi destroyed the idols in the early 15th century and yet the temple was sacked again by Khawas Khan in 1540.In the intervening years the temple was rebuilt anf refurbished several times but in the great earthquake of 1905 both the temple and the fort were badly damaged.The present temple was built in 1920 and stands behind the crowded.colourful bazaar.The state Govt. maintains the temple and the diety sits under a silver dome with silver umbrella.