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.
History Of The Fort
The history of the fort reveals that it attracted numerous eyes that wished to control the region. In those days it was said that the person who holds the Kangra fort will be the one who ruled over Kangra. Accordingly, the king of Kashmir, Shreshta became the first one to conquer the fort in 470 AD. In 1009 AD, Mohammad of Gazni set his eyes on the fort and ransacked it. He took away with him 7 lakh gold coins, 28 tonne utensils mode of gold and silver and 8 tonnes of diamond and pearls.
The next two attack on the fort were made by Muhammad Tughlaq (in 1337) and Feroze Shah ( in 1357). A quick period of peace was soon followed by another attack. This one came from Khan Jahan, a commander of Sher Shah Suri in the year 1540. Less than a century later, Jahangir himself occupied the fort in 1620. 1781 saw the fort passing into the hands of Jassa Singh Kanhaya while five years later Maharaja Sansar Chand became its owner. Maharaja Ranjit Singh captured it in 1809 and finally in 1846, the Kangra fort fell into the hands of the British power.
A devastating earthquake in 1905 caused much damage to the fort. As of today, the fort is the property of the Archaeological Survey of India.
Inside the Fort
The fort spreads over a long stretch of land and has high ramparts and walls protecting it. They cover a circuit of around 4 kms.
Darwazas, built by various conquerors, are plenty in this ancient fort. Access to the fort is gained from the Ranjit Singh Darwaza which leads to the Jahangiri Darwaza through the Ahni and Amiri Darwazas. The construction of the last two darwaza was done by the first Mughal governor of Kangra, Nawab Alif Khan. From the Jahangiri Darwaza, a path leads to the next darwaza known as the Andheri Darwaza. From this darwaza, the path divides itself into two. The one leading to the left reaches the Darshani Darwaza, which can be described as the gateway to the most interesting part of the fort. The gate is considered one of the oldest structures in the fort and opens up into a spacious courtyard around which a number of chambers are built.
The Lakshmi Narayan Temple and the Sitlamata Temple, that stand at the other end of the Darshani Darwaza are the prime attraction of the fort. Sadly, the earthquake of 1905 has caused much damage to the temples, still both these temples have exquisite carvings to delight you. The ceilings of the Laxmi Narayan Temple is immensely beautiful with its elaborate decorations.
Standing to the north of these two temples is the Ambika Devi Temple which is still used for the purpose of worshipping. The temple appears to be a pretty recent construction despite the presence of ancient pillars and architraves of mandapa covered by flat dome. To the south of the Ambika Devi Temple, stand two small Jain temples which are in a bad shape and need instant repair. Out of the two, only one has a seated image of Lord Adinath with not so clear inscription dating back to 1523 AD. The other Jain Temple, unfortunately has only a pedestal. A modern Jain Temple is also there which serves the accommodation purpose of the pilgrims to Kangra.
The Mahal and the Tower
Between the Sitlamata Temple and the Ambika Devi Temple, there is a staircase that leads up to the Sheesh Mahal. Though the name, Sheesh Mahal might invoke a picture of a glittering palace in your mind, there is nothing that even faintly resembles the beauty of your imagination. The mahal is a block of stone with a big terrace on the edge of which stands a polygonal watch tower. This watch tower provides spectacular views of the surrounding areas.
Come back to the Andheri Darwaza and take up the second path. This path leads up to the wooded plateau where an arch of pre existing mosque (of Jahangir era) stands, hidden behind thick foliage. Closeby is also another structure, a stone stepwell by the name of Kapoorsagar
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