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Kangra Travel Guide

Kangra FortSeventeen kms from Dharamsala and over-looking the gushing torrent of the Banganga river,lies the ancient town of Kangra. The town steeped in romance has a rich historical past. Kangra became a Mughal province, Shah Jahan captured it 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 flory of the valley is brought out in the invaluable and delicate Kangra painting 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 prospered.

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 Krishna legends and depicted the rulers and the gods in a local setting.

In 1744 - 1773 Raja Govardhan Singh of Guler gave shelter to many artists who had fled from the Mughals and thus gave birth to the famed Kangra School of Painting.

Another attraction in 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 Katoch, an ally of the Kauravas during the Mahabharata war. It was the ancient capital of the Katoch kingdom and a Naddisymbol 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 museums at Chamba, Chandigarh and Delhi.

The Brajeshwari Devi Temple in Kangra town, achieved a reputation for wealth in gold, pearls 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 and 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 bazar. The State Govt. maintains the temple and the deity sits under a silver dome with silver umbrellas.

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