Kangra Valley (Himachal Pradesh, Himalayan State)

Kangra valley, situated between the Dhauladhar and the Shivalik foothills, starts near Mandi and runs northwest to Pathankot. It is named after the town of Kangra but the largest and main centre of attraction among tourists at present here is Dharmshala.

Kangra, an ancient town situated 17 km south of Dharmashala, overlooks the Banganga river. Raja Sansar Chandra Katoch-II recaptured it from the Mughals and developed this region. It is famous for delicate Kangra paintings which are mostly based on Radha- Krishna "raas leelas". The historical fort here is the biggest fort of Himachal Pradesh. Brajeshwari Devi temple in which the deity sits under a silver dome with silver 'chhatras' is a masterpiece of architecure.

Masrur, 15 km away from Kangra, has fifteen shikhara temples which were built during 9th and 10th centuries and were chiselled out of solid rock. These have been compared with the world famous temples at Ellora in Maharashtra and at Mamallapuram of Chennai.

Jwalamukhi, 34 km away from Kangra, is one of the most popular Hindu pilgrimage sites in Himachal region and is recognized as one of the 51 "shaktipeeths". Jwala Devi Temple is set against a cliff and from a fissure comes a natural inflammable gas which accounts for the blue 'Eternal Flame'. Two small ponds fed by natural springs; one appears to be boiling and the other with the flame flaring above the surface has surprisingly cold water. Once Emperor Akbar visited this temple and had the whole dome gilded with gold leaf as an offering to the goddess.

Pragpur, situated 20 km southwest of Jwalamukhi, is a medieval heritage village with worth seeing cobbled streets and slate-roofed houses.

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