Being the oldest civilization in the world, India has an unparalleled historical legacy. Every part of the country is adorned with historical symbols that stand as testimony of its rich heritage. 

Kangra district is regarded as the spiritual and historical abode of the state of Himanchal Pradesh. Not only this place is famous for its adventure tourism but also for its spiritual significance. Youths come in large numbers in search of adventure. Out of all the gems that the district has to offer, Kangra fort stands out due to the history associated with it. It is one of the significant monuments that is wrapped in legend and fascinating history of struggle. 

Read on to know everything about Kangra fort so that you are prepared well in advance to visit this historical marvel. 

Where is The Kangra Fort Located?

Kangra fort one of the most prominent attractions in Himachal Pradesh after Mcleodganj where His Holiness, The Dalai Lama resides. Perched on top of a hill and amidst the most picturesque locations, Kangra is located 20 minutes away from Dharamshala. The largest and the oldest fort of India, the Kangra fort is sprawled across 483 acres. The base of the fort is an amalgamation of the two most iconic rivers: Patal Ganga and Ban Ganga. 

Ruins of Kangra fort
Ruins of Kangra fort

What is the History of Kangra Fort?

Kangra fort history is a history of resistance against foreign forces. It traces its genesis to the Trigarta Kingdom mentioned in the popular Hindu epic Mahabharata. The Kangra fort was constructed by the Katoch dynasty who were the Rajpoot Royalty of the state. The fort has been an object of constant struggles between two opposing forces. The most talked-about siege that it resisted was by Akbar in 1615.

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However, in 1620, Akbar’s son Jahangir was successful in forcing the Raja of Chamba into submission. Jahangir in collaboration with Suraj Mal garrisoned with his troops at the fort. Kangra fort was finally taken over by the British in 1846 after the Sikh war. It was occupied by a British garrison till an earthquake damaged it in 1905. 

It is claimed that the Kangra fort had 21 treasure wells out of which 8 wells were looted by the Sultan of Ghazni. The British discovered 8 more wells in the 1890s. The locals believe that the Fort still hides a few treasure wells within its walls. 

kangra Fort heritage

The history of this Fort itself is so majestic which you will surely feel when you visit it. Being one of the oldest fort in Northern India the architecture of this fort is a window to the past. Betrayal, loot, foreigners, and whatnot but still this fort hold its glory of a rich past.

What is the architecture of Kangra Fort Like?

Kangra fort architecture is symbolic of old-style architectural engineering. A delight to history and architectural buffs, the fort is surrounded by huge black stone walls from all four sides. The highest point of the court is taken by a courtyard. Below the courtyard are three temples of Ambika Devi, Laxmi Narayan, and a Jain temple. The Jain temple houses the original idol of Lord Mahavir and is a sacred place for the followers of Jainism. The fort has 11 gates and 23 bastions.

architecture of kangra fort
Architecture of Kangra fort

Kangra fort has some of the most interesting names for its gates like Amiri Darwaza, Jehangir Darwaza, and Ahani Darwaza. Andheri Darwaza, located outside the main temple gate is 15 feet high and 7 meters long and the main defense gate of the fort. Engineered to slow down the pace of the enemy forces, the narrow passage of Andheri Darwaza allows only two men or one horse to pass through at a time. The Darsani Darwaza is circumscribed by the statutes of River Ganga and Yamuna making it an absolute visual delight.

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How to Reach the Kangra Fort?

The Kangra fort is situated just 20 mins away from the famous hill town of old Dharamshala. Dharamshala being a popular tourist and spiritual spot provides easy access from major North Indian cities by all three routes- air, train, and road.

By Air: The nearest airport to Kangra valley is Gaggal airport. You could board the flight from New Delhi. Gaggal airport is a fairly popular airport. One can easily find flights from popular destinations like Delhi, Mumbai. The next biggest airport to reach is Chandigarh airport which is very well connected to all the airports in India.

By Road: You would have to come to Delhi or Chandigarh if you plan to board buses to Kangra Valley. Taken an overnight Volvo or hire a taxi to the destination. IF you are like me who loves valleys and long traveling I would suggest you take the road route.

By Train: Pathankot Cantt.(Chakki) is the nearest board gauge railway station. This is 87 km away from Kangra town. You can easily find a taxi service for Kangra from here. Pathankot railway station is very well connected to all the major railway stations of India.

Taking a flight to Chandigarh and then taking a taxi from Chandigarh to Valley is the best possible way to enjoy the picturesque Himachal.

More about Dharamshala Here

What is the Best Time to Visit Kangra?

If you are a snow enthusiast, to visit Kangra valley is Dec- Feb when it is embraced by the white carpet of snow. However, note that the weather during this time is exceptionally cold. The more suitable time is September to November. For the people who love a slightly hotter climate, the summer months of May and June are ideal for hikers.

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What is the Entree Fee and Timings?

Kangra fort can be accessed by paying an entry fee of INR 150/- for Indians. The price includes an audio guide as well. For foreign nationals, the price is INR 350/-. Kangra fort timings are from 9 AM – 6 PM all seven days and takes a maximum of 2 hours to cover the fort. 

What are Some of the Attractions Near the  Kangra Fort?

Kangra district is a treasure trove of natural beauty. Apart from the many temples that you would come across, you can continue your scenic journey by visiting the following attractions:

Tatwani Hot Spring: This hot spring has two separate baths. The open area for men and an enclosed area for women.  The hot spring is claimed to have therapeutic properties for many an ailment including arthritis and poor blood circulation. It is 23 km away from the Kangra fort.

Kareri Lake: This shallow freshwater lake offers one of the most panoramic views in the entire Kangra district. Enveloped with the imposing mountains and greenery, Kareri lake makes a perfect choice for a fun-filled picnic with family and friends. 

What are Some of the Things to Keep in Mind?

Keep the following tips in mind to make your trip memorable

  • No matter which season you prefer to visit Kangra fort, ensure to keep yourself warm 
  • Wear comfortable footwear as there would be a lot of walking involved. It would be better to wear shoes specially designed for hiking 
  • Be sure to carry a bottle of water to keep dehydration at bay
  • Since there are a lot of spiritual attractions around  the Kangra fort, remember to dress modestly. 

Kangra Fort is an integral part of the rich historical tapestry of the country. One must visit this iconic fort whenever going to Himachal. So when are you traveling to this iconic fort? Do tell me in the comments below.

Happy traveling.

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