In the lower Himalayas, God created a masterpiece. They call it the Kangra Valley. This district, situated in the shadows of the Dhauladhar ranges is known for its natural beauty, artistic temperament, rich history, unique culture, exquisite temples, shawls and miniature paintings, and more. It is the largest region in the state. The city has witnessed several invasions in the past, but it has stood fast, and today it is one of the most sought-after tourist places in Himachal Pradesh and India.
If you are going to Kangra, ensure the places mentioned below find a spot in your itinerary. The guide includes every piece of information about the town, including how to reach there, where to stay and where to eat.
Kangra, Himachal Pradesh- Geography, History & Places to Visit
Location and Geography Of Kangra
Kangra is a small town in Kangra District, which is the largest and one of the most populous districts in the state. The river Beas flows through the heart of Kangra. The weather of the place makes it a perfect getaway for the summer months with the mercury hovering around 32⁰C. However, winters are harsh here with temperatures plummeting to 11⁰C or lower. The town also witnesses snowfall in some places, giving you another reason to visit it.
Kangra Valley is a heaven for everyone who comes here, be it artists, photographers, adventure enthusiasts, nature-lovers, pilgrims, or anyone else. Being a popular tourist attraction, the city is easily accessible via air, train, and bus.
Brief History Of Kangra
Kangra is an ancient city that was a part of Trigarta, which finds mention in Mahabharata as well. The area was known as Nagarkot or Bhimkot during that time and was ruled by the Katoch Dynasty. Trigarta means a place where three rivers flow. They include Sutlej, Beas and Ravi. Raja Susharma Chandra had captured Trigarta upon returning from the Mahabharata war. He had fought for Kauravas, and after defeat, he established his kingdom here.
How To Reach Kangra?
You can reach Kangra Himachal Pradesh by:
Air- The nearest airport from Kangra is Gaggal Airport, just 13 km away. It is also called Dharamshala Airport and Kangra Airport as it is easily reachable from both towns. You can fly in from Chandigarh, Amritsar, and Jammu. Once here, take a cab to the hotel.
Train- Joginder Nagar Railway Station is the closest if you are taking the train route. Take a train from Delhi to JNRS. Also, Pathankot to Kangra toy train can be considered.
Road- If you are in no hurry, catch a bus from Joginder Nagar Railway Station to Kangra and then a cab to your hotel.
Places To Stay in Kangra
There is no lack of accommodation in Kangra Valley. Your best options include:
- Clouds End Villa
- Hotel The Grand Raj
- Angel’s Inn Resort
- Raja ka Bagh A Boutique Hotel
- Kay kay Resort
- Hill Ventures
- Chimbalhar Heights
- Hotel Yatrika
- Hotel Oasis
Places To Eat In Kangra
When in Kangra Valley, feel free to indulge in some local delicacies. The Pahari food available in the district is finger-licking good. Don’t forget to try Lasode ki sabji, nashpati sabji, Kalan ke pakode, Seera, kulfa ka saag, Phafru ka saag, Chhu nali ki bhaji, Barah ki chutney, etc.
So, for some mouthwatering food, visit these restaurants and cafes.
- Nick’s Italian Kitchen
- Dinner Hut
- Shiva Cafe
- Snow Lion Restaurant
- Anonymous Cafe
- Crepe Pancake Hut
- Kumar Sweets
- Royal Hotel and Restaurant
- Atithi Restaurant
- Annapurna Bhojnalaya
20 Best Places To Visit In Kangra
There’s a multiplicity of places to visit in Kangra Valley. Some must-visit destinations include:
1. Jwala Devi Temple
When you are in Himachal, a visit to this holy temple is a must. After all, it is one of the Shakti Peethas. Per a legend, Lord Vishnu’s Chakra destroyed the corpse of Goddess Sati. Shakti Peethas sprang up wherever her body parts fell. It is said that her tongue fell where the Jwala Devi Temple was built.
The temple receives a deluge of pilgrims throughout the year who come here with their wishes. Unlike other temples, this one lacks an idol. Instead, the eternal flame burning for centuries is worshipped here. You must witness the Puja here to experience a spiritual vibe that makes you one with the almighty. You can’t miss visiting this temple.
- Best Time To Visit-During Navratri, which comes twice a year, you can feel the real vibe of the place.
- Time– During the Puja, which is conducted five times a day
2. Indrahar Pass
If you are in for some adventure in the Kangra Valley, take a trekking trip to Indrahar pass. This is an easy to a moderate trek known for the endless beauty that accompanies you all through the journey. You see beautiful lakes, deodar forests, streams, and gorgeous views of the hamlets from a considerable height.
The trek starts from McLeodganj and passes through Triund, Lahesh caves, Mankian Lake, rhododendrons, and some worth-capturing beauty of the Dhauladhar range. You can camp here and stargaze. The view from up here is worth all the effort involved in reaching here.
- Best Time To Visit-May to October are the best months
- Time- Open 24 hours
3. Kangra Art Museum
For art-loving souls, Kangra Art Museum is a heaven, and the paintings and artifacts are the angels singing the song of the state’s history. The place is known for its rich collection of artistic artifacts, miniature paintings, and more that reflect the rich history and culture of Kangra.
You can see some ancient coins here, approximately 1500 artifacts, miniature paintings, which will mesmerize you with the depiction of the local life of the region. And, if you are an artist yourself, there is space in the museum where painters and artists paint and exhibit their work. The location of the museum is perfect, surrounded by beauty and peace.
- Best Time To Visit- Throughout the year
- Time– Morning 10 am -1:30 pm and noon 2 pm to 5 pm
4. Pong Dam
In the foothills of Shivalik, there is a dam, a popular one at that. They call it the Pong Dam. Its rich wildlife and varied species of birds make it a must-visit place for bird watchers and nature lovers. It was built in 1975 on the Beas River. Thus, it is also known as Beas Dam or Maharana Pratap Sagar Reservoir.
The Pong Lake is built for hydroelectricity and irrigation facilities. But this is not what it is known for. It is popular as a bird sanctuary with lots of species of migratory birds. Ramsar Conventions conferred on it the status of an international wetland site.
- Best Time To Visit- Winters are best to experience bird watching when the population of birds increases manifolds.
- Time– Morning to evening
McLeodganj, a small suburb near Dharamshala, is one of the leading Kangra visiting places in the valley. It keeps bustling with activities and is visited by tourists who want to have a first=hand experience of Tibetan culture. McLeodganj is made famous due to being the residence of the 14th Dalai Lama and other exiled Tibetans who have made their homes here. It is also called Little Lhasa.
The place is home to a small yet trendy market selling some amazing things. You can shop for singing bowls that make beautiful sounds when rubbed with a wooden stick. Also, feel free to take home some Tibetan mats and carpets, prayer wheels, and Buddha statues, chic jewelry, beautiful handicrafts and much more. The local food is yummy. Don’t miss it.
- Best Time To Visit- All year-round.
- Time– The market is alive every time of the day.
6. Masrur Temple
40 km away from Dharamshala, you must visit the rock-cut temples of Masrur, situated at 2535 feet above sea level. These temples are a supreme example of ancient architecture, featuring a total of 15 monolithic structures cut in Indo-Aryan style. The central shrine is surrounded by 14 other shrines. There is a pond here, which is always filled with water.
There are temples of Lord Rama, Goddess Sita, and Lord Laxman. Its Thakurdwara is a major attraction, which has Lord Shiva carved on it. You will wonder how they carved some stunning sculptures with primitive technology and how beautifully nature has preserved them.
- Best Time To Visit- People love to visit it in the rainy season.
- Time– Morning to evening
7. Kangra Fort
You must have come across Kangra Fort images while researching Kangra places to visit. It’s a landmark structure with a rich history. The 3500 years old structure is also known for the 21 secret wells that were filled with priceless treasures. The fort was built by King Susharma Chandra, who had fought in the Mahabharata war alongside Kauravas.
After the defeat, he conquered Trigarta and made his fort here. Once, there was an ancient temple of Goddess Parvati here, where neighboring states sent priceless treasures to please her. That’s the reason why many prominent rulers like Mahmud Gazhni, Alexander the Great, Jehangir, etc., attacked it. The fort withstood numerous attacks but finally gave in to an earthquake. Though the fort is in ruins, it is a sight to behold.
- Best Time To Visit- During summer, it is green and beautiful around here.
- Time– Every day 9 am -5:30 pm
8. Kareri Lake
Only 9 km away from Dharamshala, there is a beautiful lake in Kangra Valley, known as Kareri Lake. As tourists do not frequent it, it is a calm and serene place. You could access the lake with a one-day trek, starting from McLeodganj.
Kareri Lake is a glacial lake, formed by the snow that melts in the glacier. From here, it gushes down into the form of a stream called Nyund Nullah. The greenery, singing birds, water-gushing crystal clear streams, and the view from up here make it one of the must-visit places in Himachal Pradesh Kangra.
- Best Time To Visit- Summer months, from March to June, are best to trek to Kareri Lake. Winters are cold in the region, with temperatures going below 0⁰C.
- Time-Open 24 hours
9. Baijnath Temple
Baijnath or Vaidyanath Temple is a famous pilgrim spot in Himachal for the devotees of Lord Shiva. Being one of the 12 jyotirlingas, it is of great significance among Hindu pilgrims. The temple was built in the early 13th century, and since then, it has been standing tall and proud with its rustic look and unique architecture.
The temple’s water is believed to be medicinal that can cure all diseases and miseries. Lord Shiva is worshiped as “God of Healing” here, alongside the great demon, Ravana. Sounds strange, right? From here, you can capture glimpses of some beautiful Himalayan peaks as well. Thousands of devotees frequent this temple all year round to seek calm and blessings.
- Best Time To Visit– Visit the temple during March-June in the summer. Or, if you love winter, you can visit during October-March as well to enjoy snowfall.
- Time– Morning 6 am to 9 pm
10. Chamunda Devi Temple
When Goddess Durga killed the demons, Chand and Mund, she was called Chamunda. Here in the temple, you can see her raging form as she was killing the demons. Ten kilometres west from Palampur, the Goddess resides between the abundance of natural beauty on the banks of River Baner. It is among the 51 Shakti Peethas considered sacred in Hindu mythology.
The temple is mesmerizing, draped in Himachali architecture, with scenes of Mahabharata and Ramayana engraved on it. Locals believe that one of the priests dreamed of Goddess Durga, who ordered him to shift her idol here. Built in the 15th century, the temple attracts many tourists, especially during Navratri.
- Best Time To Visit– During the Navratris, the crowd levels surge. You can visit it throughout the year. Avoid the holidays to avoid crowds.
- Time– 5 am to 12 pm, and 1 pm to 10 pm
After sightseeing, temple visits, and shopping, one needs to relax and spend some quality time. If you are a tea lover and a peace seeker, Palampur should be on your bucket list. Surrounded by the Dhauladhar range, pouring streams, lush green deodar and pine forests, the tea gardens welcome you in blissful peace right in the heart of Kangra Valley.
Englishmen discovered the place, and since then, it has become a tea hub conducive for cultivating excellent tea leaves. The Victorian-styled mansions and buildings are worth exploring here. It is a quaint town, where you can relish the natural beauty and serenity.
- Best Time To Visit- Visit the town from March to June when the weather is very pleasant.
- Time– Open 24 hours
12. Bir & Billing
Whether you are an adventure enthusiast or a Buddhist, Bir Billing makes sense. They call it India’s Paragliding Capital presenting opportunities for indulging in paragliding. Paragliders take off from Billing and land at Bir. It is located in Joginder Nagar, 70 km from Dharamshala. It is a Buddhist village where one can visit the monastery and achieve mental peace and relaxation through meditation. You can experience the serenity and traditions of Buddhist culture here. Also, there is a Tibetan handicraft center where you can fetch souvenirs.
- Best Time To Visit- The village is situated at an elevation of 5000 feet, which gets chilly in winter. It is best to visit it during summer, from April to June.
- Time– Open 24 hours
13. Tashi Jong Monastery
Tashi Jong is a little town known for its Tibetan culture. The monastery here is a must-visit place. 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche built this monastery, and it has a temple where Khamtrul Rinpoche Stupa is located. This monastery houses the Tibetan refugees who have kept the Buddhist culture intact here. They follow the Drugpa Kagyu tradition of Buddhism here.
The entire place is filled with wooden carvings, intricate wheel prayers, and an incomparable serenity and peace. Wood carving work, thangka paintings, and glidings are other specialties of the town. Just visit it to witness the natural beauty of the Dhauladhar, and the rule of simple living promoted by Buddhism.
- Best Time To Visit– Throughout the year
- Time – 6 am to 7 pm
Village life is awesome with fewer distractions, pure air, and no pollution. But do you know about India’s first heritage village? It’s called Pragpur, which is in the Kangra Valley. With many historical and cultural tourist spots, the village takes you back in time. You enter old India with thatched mud roofs, red-brick shops, cobbled paths, and a settled calm.
The major attraction of the village is the Court Manor, a gigantic 300-year-old building, which has now been lately transformed into a resort. You can take a stroll through the village, look at some local crafts, and go to Taal and Kangra School of Painting. You will have a once-in-a-lifetime- experience here. So, visit it on your next trip to Kangra Valley.
- Best Time To Visit- Visit the place in monsoon and summer to enjoy the best weather.
- Time– Open 24 hours
Haripur is known for its wetland sites, miniature paintings, natural beauty, streams, Haripur Hill Fort, and so on. The place is the heritage of Guler Riyasat, where miniature or Pahari paintings found their origin. King Hari Chand founded the place in 1464. He had been out hunting when he fell into a well. His fellows couldn’t find him and declared him dead.
The king’s wives jumped into the flames, committing Sati. And, his younger brother was declared the new king. When he came out of the well after 22 days, he didn’t go back to claim his kingdom. Instead, he established another one, named Haripur. The ruined fort of the king is still a sight worth beholding.
- Best Time To Visit- You can visit it throughout the year, but June- October is the best time.
- Time– Open 24 Hrs
16. Brajeshwari Mata Temple
Kangra has its share of temples. But none is as highly regarded as the Brajeshwari Mata Temple. It is believed that the temple was constructed by Pandavas when Goddess Durga came into their dream and requested them to build a temple there.
Devastated by the 1905 earthquake, it was rebuilt soon after. The architecture of the temple is worth talking about. It is beautiful and one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. Visit it to pray here and get your wish fulfilled.
- Best Time To Visit- During the Navratri, the temple lit up.
- Time– 6:30 am to 8 pm
17. Kaleshwar Mahadev Temple
Legends and places go hand in hand. In fact, these legends add a charm to the place. One such place is Kaleshwar Mahadev Temple known for its history and a rumour. The locals believe that Pandavas laid the foundation of the temple. Then, the kings of the Katoch dynasty undertook the unfinished business and built the temple.
The temple is beautiful, with several mythological sculptures surrounding it. The major attraction is Shivling situated below the ground. It is said that every year River Beas rises to a level that she can touch the feet of the Shivling, and then it recedes.
- Best Time To Visit– Throughout the year
- Time– 6:30 am to 8 pm
18. Taragarh Palace
Want to live like royalty? Come to Taragarh Palace, your wish would come true. Spread across 15-acres amidst beautiful gardens, the Taragarh Palace has an elevation of 1000 meters. Previously, it served as a summer residence for Nawab of Bahawalpur.
It is a beautiful European-style palace decorated with Italian marble, expensive chandeliers, tiger skin, and, more importantly, natural beauty. Recently, the present owners converted it into a resort, equipped with a tennis court, a pool, and other recreational activities.
- Best Time To Visit– From September to June, both in winters and summers, the place presents itself perfectly.
- Time– As it is a hotel, it is open 24 hours
If you are an artist, Andretta is heaven for you. This place has been called Artist’s Colony since its establishment in 1920. As it was established by an artist Norah Richards, the name fits it perfectly. This place attracts thousands of artists and tourists keen on creating some beautiful memories and paintings.
As an artist, you can paint its beautiful landscape on your canvas. Or, as a tourist, you can try some pottery making and take back with you some not-so-perfect pots but perfectly beautiful memories. Here, Norah Richard’s Center for the Arts, Andretta Pottery and Craft Society, and Sobha Singh Art gallery are the prime attractions.
- Best Time to Visit- You can visit the place in the summer, or December if you can keep up with the cold here.
- Time– Open Everyday
20. Bathu Ki Ladi Temple
Ever heard of a temple that emerges only in summer? Yes, Bathu ki Ladi temples can only be visited during the summer. During the remaining time, it gets submerged in the Pong Dam or Maharana Pratap Sagar Dam. Bathu Ki Ladi means the chain of Bathu.
Bathu is a stone used in the construction of these temples. Even after being submerged in water for months, the structure and appeal of the temples stay intact. These temples are considered ancient, and one can see the stone idols of Lord Ganesh, Goddess Durga and Lord Vishnu here. The surroundings add to its charm, and the varied bird species make it a must-visit place.
- Best Time To Visit– During March to June
- Time– Open 24 hours
It is impossible to grasp the beauty of Kangra Valley in one trip, thanks to the stunning variety of tourist attractions here. Featuring the best 20 places to visit in Kangra, this list will help you create a wholesome itinerary for your next vacation.
Good Luck With The Trip!
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