Kangra Fort


The Kangra Fort is located atop a hill at the confluence of Banganga and Patal Ganga river (also known as the Majhi), in the south western outskirts of the old Kangra town. The fort was built by the founder of Katoch Dynasty, Bhuma Chand and is also known by other names, Nagarkot and Kot Kangra.

One of the most prominent attractions of Kangra district, Kangra Fort is located at the outskirts of Kangra town and around 22 km from Dharamshala. The fort is spread over an area of around 4 km and is guarded by high walls and ramparts. Kangra fort is located atop a hill on the base of which the river Banganga and Patal Ganga embrace each other. There are plenty of doors in this fort which are made by the rulers of several dynasties. The entrance to the fort is designed with stone carvings and known as Ranjit Singh Gate. The next entrance door to the fort is Jahangiri Darwaza followed by Ahni and Amiri Darwazas. There are three temples inside the fort called Ambika Devi Temple, the Shitlamata Temple and Lakshmi Narayan Temple.

There is a temple dedicated to Jaina Tirthankaras where a stone image of Lord Adinath is installed. A staircase in between the temples of Shitlamata and Ambika Devi leads to 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. While exploring the part of the palace opens towards Andheri Darwaza one can see the remains of a historical mosque. Also stepwell called Kapoorsagar is a significant attraction of Kangra Fort. Kangra Fort is claimed to be the oldest fort in Himachal Pradesh.

The climb inside the fort will lead one through seven huge doors. Along the way, one will encounter a few numbers of idols imprinted on the walls of the fort. The ramparts face the valley below. One can at once see the history of this fort come alive. As one climbs farther through the cobbled path, visitors will be exposed to three temples, richly carved in the environs of the Lakshmi Narayan temple, then the Ambica temple and a Jain of Adi Narayan. One cannot deny the fact that the view one gets to look at the rushing streams of the Banganga and the Manji rivers, seen from the fort, is mind-blowing. It for us to know, that the Kangra Fort was the place of governance of the Katoch Raja, set up by Shusharam Chand Katoch.

History


The Kangra Fort was built by the royal Rajput family of Kangra State (the Katoch dynasty), which traces its origins to the ancient Trigarta Kingdom, mentioned in the Mahabharata epic. It is the largest fort in the Himalayas and probably the oldest dated fort in India. The fort of Kangra resisted Akbar's siege in 1615. However, Akbar's son Jehangir successfully subdued the fort in 1620.Kangra was at the time ruled by Raja Hari Chand Katoch of Kangra Mughal Emperor Jahangir with the help of Suraj Mal garrisoned with his troops.

The Katoch Kings repeatedly looted Mughal controlled regions, weakening the Mughal control, aiding in the decline of Mughal power, Raja Sansar Chand II succeeded in recovering the ancient fort of his ancestors, in 1789. Maharaja Sansar Chand fought multiple battles with Gurkhas on one side and Sikh King Maharaja Ranjit Singh on the other. Sansar Chand used to keep his neighboring Kings jailed, and this led to conspiracies against him. During a battle between the Sikhs and Katochs, the gates of the fort had been kept open for supplies.

The Gurkha army entered the opened scarcely armed gates in 1806. This forced an alliance between Maharaja Sansar Chand and Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Because of the insufficiency of the need within the fort after a long Gurkha-Sikh War and unable to procure any, the Gurkhas left the Fort. The Fort remained with the Katochs until 1828 when Ranjit Singh annexed it after Sansar Chand's death. The fort was finally taken by the British after the Sikh war of 1846.


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