The grand ancient fort stands tall as it reflects the warm sunlight of its glorious structure. As the sun rays touch each of its grooves, one can almost hear a story coming off it. Kangra Fort, as this fort is famously called, is not just another of your regular forts. It is known to be the oldest forts in India. Located 20km from Dharamshala and is the largest fort in the laps of the breathtaking Himalayas. The fort is the perfect sightseeing place in Himachal, if one wants to take the off beaten road and try something new. The secrets and the stories that resided in the walls of this fort alone makes it worth one’s time. Kangra Fort itself is a clear symbol of the once royal and rich history of India and its dynasty.
The Fort was famously built by Maharaja Susharma Chandra, a descendant of the Katoch family, about 3,500 years ago. What makes this Fort so different from all the others is the mere number of attacks that Kangra Fort witnessed in its time. The sheer wealth of this Fort was so famous that a lot of people including Alexander the Great, Mahmud Ghazni, the Mughal ruler Jahangir, Maharaja Ranjit and the British had all attempted to control it and had led subsequent invasions to get its wealth. The Fort has withstood about 52 attacks, and till date it is standing tall- like a proud warrior reflecting exactly what its maker- a Rajput symbolised. The rulers were strong devotees of Brijeshwari Temple, and sent great treasures to the idol inside this Fort. At one point the wealth became so much that writers stopped recording it. It was too baffling for them.
The strategic location of this Fort- into the laps of Himalayas also made it vulnerable to several attacks. The Kangra fort has 21 treasure wells – all of the wells are 4 meters deep and about 2 and a half meters in circumference. From the Sultan of Ghazni to the British everyone looted those wells to amass the great wealth found there. Many locals still believe that there are eight more wells hidden that have treasures inside them. Try your luck and find them. Finally the British got a hold of it and places their garrison there. This continued till an earthquake hit the Fort in 1905 and the British had to evacuate.
The Fort itself is a magnificent structure to just marvel at. The Fort is spread across both sides. The whole Fort is guarded by huge and abundant walls made of shining black stones. The fort has a total of 11 gates and 23 bastions.
The layout is built with a lot of strategy in mind. The passages are only seven metres in length and just wide enough for two men. This was done to keep the enemies at a disadvantage.
The highest point is taken up by the palace massive courtyard, below which there is another enormous courtyard with the wondrous stone carved temples of Laxmi Narayan, Ambika Devi and the Jain Temple (a pilgrimage point for Jains since the idol of the Mahavir resides there).
The highlight of this Fort is the Sheesh Mahal, where a small hall-like compartment is designed with a block of stone at the edge of which a polygonal watch tower is installed. It is a sight to behold and gape at. A stepwell (a step well is a small pond, in which the water is reached by descending a set of steps to the water level) called Kapoorsagar is a significant attraction of Kangra Fort. It is a perfect spot for tourists to take pictures.
• Climb the fort to experience the stupendous sunset and view
• It is a photography haven, the views and the rustic look of the Fort add to the serene beauty. After all who doesn’t like to click beautiful photos with medieval doors as the perfect background.
• The temples are a must visit. They add a mystic charm and aura to them, and just makes one feel at peace
• One can also visit the Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch museum which is located nearby.
• Local eateries are rampant, so one can grab a delicious authentic meal around this place.
For Indians it is only Rs. 150 per person with an audio guide.
For Foreigners it is Rs. 300 per person with an audio guide.
It is open everyday from 9 am to 6 pm.
Side note- A guide or an audio guide is a must to fully grasp the stories of the Fort. It also enhances the experience and helps one understand the beauty of its past in a better way.
This fort is for anyone and everyone. Just simply take soak in its beauty, meditate at the temples or just walk around as you touch the walls of this extremely historic and rich Fort.