India // Himachal Pradesh //

Kangra and around

Although most travellers bypass KANGRA on their way to Dharamsala, 18km further north, it’s worth a brief detour. Buses from all over the Kangra Valley and further afield pull into the bus stand 1km north of the town centre, where there are frequent connections to Dharamsala. Kangra can also be reached from Pathankot and from Joginder Nagar by the daily narrow-gauge railway service.

Kangra’s crumbling, overgrown fort was also damaged by an earthquake in 1905 and is now inhabited by screeching green parrots that flit through a few simple temples still tended by priests. High gates, some British-built, span a cobbled path to the deserted ramparts. To get here, head 3km south on the road to Jawalamukhi, then turn up the 1km access road just before the bridge.

Thirty-five kilometres southwest of Kangra, the tiny village of MASRUR is the only place in the Himalayas with rock-cut Hindu temples similar to those at Ellora in Maharashtra. Though nowhere near as impressive, the fifteen temples, devoted to Ram, Lakshman and Sita were hewn from natural rock in the ninth and tenth centuries. You can get here by taking a bus towards Pir Bindu, getting off at the tiny village of Nagrota Suriyan, then walking 1.5km up to the temples.

A simple whitewashed temple in the otherwise nondescript town of JAWALAMUKHI, 35km south of Kangra, protects one of north India’s most important Hindu shrines. The sanctuary, crowned with a squat golden spire, contains a natural blue gas flame emitted from the earth, revered as a manifestation of the goddess of fire, Jawalamukhi. Frequent buses (1hr) depart from Kangra and there are also direct services to Dharamsala, 53km north.