Kangra Fort – The largest Fort in the Himalayas
Kangra Fort is a believed to be the oldest dated fort in India, on the outskirts of the Himalayan town of Kangra, near Dharamsala.
This National Monument is considered as one among the most beautiful forts or best forts in India. Kangra Fort was built by the the Rajput Katoch dynasty of the Kangra state. This royal family has its origins dating back to the ancient Trigarta Kingdom, mentioned in the Great Epic, Mahabharata.
Kangra Fort stands on a steep rock, at the confluence of Banganga river and Majhi river. Two gates which were added by the Sikh Maharaja welcomes you to a small courtyard. A long and narrow passage takes you to the top of this historic fort.
Ahani and Amiri Darwaza are two gates built by Nawab Saif Ali Khan, the first Mughal Governor of Kangra, on this small passage. Jehangiri Darwaza is another gate at around 500 feet distance from the outer gate the passage. Darsani Darwaza is another gate, near to which, you can see defaced statues of Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna. Lakshmi Narayana Sitala and Ambika Devi are two shrines situated here. There is a passage in between these two shrines, which takes you to the Palace, which is considered as one among the historic royal palaces in India.
Kangra Fort is a historic fort. This historic place has resisted siege from the third Mughal emperor Akbar, in early 16th century. His successor and son, Jehangir, was successful in conquering the fort in 1620.
In 1789, Raja Sansar Chand II succeeded in recovering the fort belonging to his ancestors. The Rajput king fought wars with Gurkhas, Katochs and Sikhs. Gurkha army was successful in opening the armed gates of the fort in 1806, resulting in an alliance between Maharaja Sansar Chand and Maharaja Ranjit Singh. However, the Gurkhas left the fort as they realised that there is severe short supply of essential items, after the long drawn battle Maharaja Sansar Chand had with the Gurkhas and Sikhs.
This historical site remained with the Katoch dynasty till 1828. After the death of Sansar Chand, the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh who reigned from 1801 to 1839, conquered the fort. Finally, the British took control over the fort, after the war with Sikhs in 1846.
Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch Museum is a small museum situated close to entrance of the fort. This Museum is run by the Royal Family of Kangra. History of this fort is exhibited here. Audio guide is available here.
Jayanti Mata temple is a famous nearby temple on a hilltop. Jayanti Mata temple was built in the late 17th century by (Bada Kajee) Amar Singh Thapa, the General of the Nepal’s Gorkha Army.
How Do I Go to Kangra Fort
Kangra Fort is at a distance of around 20 kilometers from Dharamsala, where the headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration is situated.
Amb Andaura railway station with station code AADR, is the nearest major railway station at around 48 kilometers distance from the fort town. Churaru takrala railway station (station code CHTL) is at around 58 kilometers away. Both these are small station. Pathankot is one of the nearest major railway stations at around 88 kilometers from Kangra. Dharamsala-Kangra Airport at Gaggal is the nearest airport to Kangra Fort.