Friday, December 27, 2013

Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

   Shimla, also known as Simla, the former summer capital of the British in India, and the present capital of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, located in northern India. Shimla has been blessed with all the natural bounties which one can think of. It has got a scenic location, it is surrounded by green hills with snow capped peaks. The spectacular cool hills accompanied by the structures made during the colonial era creates an aura which is very different from other hill. It is bounded by Mandi and Kullu in the north, Kinnaur in the east, the state of Uttarakhand in the south-east, and Solan and Sirmaur to the south. The elevation of the city ranges from 300 to 2200 metres, Shimla is well known as a hub for India's tourism sector. It is among the top 10 preferred entrepreneurial locations in India.

   In 1864, Shimla was declared as the summer capital of British India, succeeding Murree, northeast of Rawalpindi. After independence, the city became the capital of Punjab and was later named the capital of Himachal Pradesh. 

   As a large and growing city, Shimla is home to many well-recognized colleges and research institutions in India. The city has a large number of temples and palaces. Shimla is also well noted for its buildings styled in Tudorbethan and neo-Gothic architecture dating from the colonial era.

   Owing to its scenic terrain, Shimla is home to the legendary mountain biking race MTB Himalaya. The event was started in 2005 and is now regarded as the biggest event in South East Asia.

Passenger train Kalka-Shimla  

     The Kalka-Shimla railway line, constructed in 1906, added to Shimla's accessibility and popularity. The railway route from Kalka to Shimla, with more than 806 bridges and 103 tunnels, was touted as an engineering feat and came to be known as the "British Jewel of the Orient".[7] In 2008, it became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mountain railways of India.

Skiing is a popular tourist activity in Shimla.

Places to visit 

The Mall

 The Mall is the main shopping street of Shimla. It also has many restaurants, clubs, banks, bars, Post Offices and tourist offices. The Gaiety Theatre is also situated there.

Christ Church

Situated on The Ridge, Christ Church is the second oldest church in Northern India. It has a very majestic appearance and inside there are stained glass windows which represent faith, hope, charity, fortitude, patience and humility.

Jakhu Hill

2 km from Shimla, at a height of 8000 ft, Jakhu Hill is the highest peak an offers a beautiful view of the town and of the snow-covered Himalayas. At the top of the Hill, is an old temple of Lord Hanuman, which is also the home of countless playful monkeys waiting to be fed by all visitors. A 108 feet (33 metre) statue of Lord Hanuman, a Hindu deity, at 8,500 feet (2,591 metres) above sea level, is single statue to stand at the highest altitude among several other master pieces in the world, overtaking the Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Located just 8 km away from the city centre, this army cantonment is near Totu, an important suburb of Shimla city.

Shimla State Museum

The Museum, which was opened in 1974, has tried to protect hill-out and the cultural wealth of the state. There is a collection of miniature Pahari paintings, sculptures, bronzes wood-carvings and also costumes, textiles and jewellery of the region.

Indian Institute of Advanced Study

This institute is housed at the former Viceregal Lodge, built in 1884-88.

Summer Hill

Situated at a distance of 5 km from The Ridge is the lovely township of Summer Hill, at a height of 6,500 ft on the Shimla-Kalka railway line. Mahatma Gandhi lived in these quiet surroundings during his visits to Shimla. Himachal Pradesh University is situated here.


Developed as the playground of Shimla, Annandale is 2–4 km from The Ridge at a height of 6,117 ft. It is a very big beautiful ground, but not meant for playing as it comes under the Indian Army.

Tara Devi

11 km from the Shimla bus-stand. Tara Devi hill has a temple dedicated to the goddess of stars on top of the hill. There is a military Dairy Town here as well as the headquarters of Bharat Scouts and Guides.

Sankat Mochan

A very famous Lord Hanuman temple is located here.


Junga is near Tehsi, 26 km from Shimla. Its original name (with diacritics) is Jūnga and is a former royal retreat of the princely state of Keonthal. It is also known as the Keonthal Estate.

Anand Vilas

Midway between Shimla and Junga. "Sarva Dharma Mandir", Temple of all Faiths, is a spiritual group dedicated to Mother Nature. Thousands of visitors and devotees come here every year. There is an "Art is Values" school with students from all over India. Classes are provided free of cost.


A major developing suburb of Shimla on NH-88. Houses Jutogh railway station & HimFed under Govt. of Himachal Pradesh.


13 km from Shimla, site of the annual Sipi fair in June.


16 km from Shimla at a height of 8,600 ft, Kufri is the local winter sports centre, and it also has a small zoo.


13 km from Shimla on route to Kufri.


22 km from Shimla, with a nine-hole Naldehra Golf Club. The annual Sipi fair in June is held in Naldehra.


Chail was built as summer retreat by the Maharaja of Patiala during the British Raj, it is known for its cricket pitch, the highest in the world.


Location of sulphur springs which are found near the Tatapani mandir(holy temple)


The main suburb of Shimla.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pandoh Lake


   19 km from Mandi, on National Highway 21 which leads to Kullu and Manali.

Targeted at the generation of hydel power, an earth and rock-fill dam has created this lake from where a tunnel diverts the water of the river Beas and pours it into the river Sutlej and the combined waters feed the Gobind Sagar. Fishing and boating are available.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Chamera Lake


   In district Chamba, this the reservoir of the Chamera dam built over the river Ravi.

   Phase 1 of the project generates 540 Mega watt of electricity. Phase 2 which is under way will add another 300 Mega Watt. The lake offers a variety of water sports.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Gobind Sagar



   This vast reservoir lies in the district of Bilaspur and Una. The town of Bilaspur is 83 km from the railway station of Anandpur Sahib.

   The Gobind Sagar over the river Sutlej is the result of the huge hydel dam of Bhakra and is named in honour of Gobind Singh the tenth Sikh Guru. One of the world’s highest gravity dams, the Bhakra rises 225.5 m above its lowest foundations. Under the supervision of the famous American dam builder, Harvey Slocum, work began in 1955 and was completed in 1962. Incidently, Slocum had no formal training as an engineer, but his conceptions and designs had been proven successful. To maintain the level of water, the flow of the river Beas was also channeled to the Gobind Sagar by the Beas-Sutlej Link which was completed in 1976. Today, this dam feeds electricity and water to several states of north India. Its reservoir – the Gobind Sagar is 90 km long and encompasses an area of approximately 170 sq km.

   As far back as 1962, the Gobind Sagar was declared a ‘Water Fowl Refuge’ and even today, hosts a variety of water and shore birds, fishing is a regular activity and fifty-one species and sub-species have been recorded. The varieties found, include Labeo dero, Tor putitora,mystus seenghala and mirror carp and allied species. Fishing licences may be obtained from the Department of Fisheries at Bilaspur.

   Water sports are available – as are speed – boat and ferry rides. In October and November, when the water level of the reservoir is at its peak, a series of regattas are also organized by the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation. Water-skiing, sailing, kayaking and water-scooter racing become available at this time.

Other Attractions

   Connected by a rope-way, the shrine of Naina Devi overlooks the Gobind Sagar. The adjoining wildlife sanctuary holds sambhar, wild boar, barking deer and red jungle fowl. Several old forts and the towns of Swarghat and Bilaspur are near the Gobind Sagar. Bilaspur has a large sports complex. The mirror carp hatchery is also accessible from the lake.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Maharana Pratap Sagar

Maharana Pratap Sagar
Maharana Pratap Sagar. 450 m above sea level.

   Maharana Pratap Sagar is 32 degrees North and 76 degrees East. In District Kangra. 170 km from Chandigarh, 110 km from Amritsar, 55 km from the district headquarters at Dharamshala. The closest railway stations are at Mukerian-30 km, and Pathankot-32 km. The settlements of Nagrota Surian and Jawali-which are located on the Sagar’s periphery-are connected by the charming narrow gauge Kangra Railway Line that connects Pathankot to Jogindernagar. The closest airport is at Gaggal-40 km. the lake is well served by a network of roads.
   Named in honour of the great patriot Maharana Pratap, the Maharana pratap sagar was once known as the Pong Dam Reservoir. India knows the Maharana Pratap Sagar was once known as the Pong Dam Reservoir. India knows the Maharana as a man who struggled valiantly for his kingdom of Mewar-as for the principle of independence. In the words of the chroniclers James Tod and William Crooke,”Hespurned every overture that had submission for its basis”. Over the river Beas, the ‘Pong Dam’ was completed in 1976. Its reservoir has an area of about 45,000 hectares at maximum possible flooding-the level varies with every season and overages around 30,000 hectares. Over 200 villages with a population of over 85,000 people lie along the wetland.
In 1983, the Sagar was declared a wildlife sanctuary and over 220 species of birds belonging to 54 families have been sighted over the waters and the fringing mud-banks-these include black-headed gulls, plovers, terns, ducks, water-fowl and egrets. The first sighting in the region of the red-necked grebe was made at the Sagar. The wetland’s location at the head of the Indian plains has made it a suitable habitat and stopover for migratory birds that enter India from central Asia.
   The land portion of the sanctuary has barking deer, sambar, wild boars, nilgai, leopards and claw-less otters.
   Twenty-seven species and sub-species of fish belonging to six families have been recorded in the Sagar’s waters. Some of the important commercial varieties are-Labeo dero, Labeo rohita, Labeo calbasu, Tor Putitora and Mystus seenghala. Since 1976, fishing has been a major economic activity in the area and today, this provides employment to some 1,500 fishermen and the annual catch is valued at over a crore rupees.
   There is a branch of the Directorate of Mountaineering and Allied Sports at the Sagar and year-round activities include swimming, water-skilling, surfing, kayaking, rowing, canoeing and sailing. The Directorate of Tourism and Civil Aviation provides equipment at Sagar this includes sail boats, paddle boats, speed aero boats, life buoys, water scooters, speed boats, rafts, life jackets, water skis and wet suits. Various courses-beginners, intermediate and advanced-are also conducted at the Sagar.

Other Attractions

   The sagar is close to several places of Hindu pilgrimage-Jawalamukhi, Chamunda Devi, Chintpurni, Brajeshwari Devi, Mahakalesar, Bagolamata and Naina Devi. The seat of his holiness the Dalai Lama at Mcleodganj and the Namgyal monastery are a short drive away. The other Buddhist monasteries at hand are Tashijong and Bir-Billing.
   The Kangra area is rearded as amongst the best in this part of the world for Paragliding. There are many sites of architectural importance, old forts and palaces that are close to the Sagar. For example, the forts of Kangra, Mangarh, Tira(Sujanpur) and the monolithic temple of Masrur.
   This area was the cradle of the Kangra school of miniature painting. Near the Sagar is Haripur-Guler which was a major centre of the art. There are rare exhibits at the Kangra Art Gallery at Dharamsala.
   The area has several trek routes for which the sagar can act as the base camp.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lakes of Himachal Pradesh

   Light blue diamond’s set amidst the lush green of low rolling hills, or deep sapphires placed by stark snow and acres of bare rock on high mountain tops, Himachal has dozens of large and small lakes spread over the state. The state has geographical area of 56,000 sq km of which one percent is covered by lakes. Some are natural bequests that may well date back millions of years to the time when the region was a vast inland sea. Today, they are fed by streams of pure snow-melt or by ground-water springs. Practically without exception, they are held sacred- or at the very least, have fascinating legends merging with their crystal-clear waters. Other lakes are for more recent, and are man-made reservoirs. As a collection of precious jewels adorning a beautiful body, they have enhanced Himachal’s varied landscape. Many are sources of the rivers that start as tiny streams and grow to become the mighty rivers that feed the fertile valleys of the state and the genetic plains of north India. Several are home to variety of resident and migratory birds and a host aquatic life. And, these water-bodies have also opened a tremendous range of activity that includes boating, swimming, canoeing, water-skiing, kayaking, sailing, surfing and fishing.

  •  Maharana Pratap Sagar
  •  Gobind Sagar
  •  Chamera Lake
  •  Pandoh Lake
  •  Renuka Lake
  •  Dal Lake
  •  Khajjiar Lake
  •  Karyali Lake
  •  Karaeri Lake
  •  Kumarwah Lake
  •  Rewalsar Lake
  •  Prashar Lake
  •  Brighu Lake
  •  Ghadhasaru Lake
  •  Nako Lake
  •  Suraj Tal
  •  Chandra Tal Lake
  •  Mahakali Lake
  •  Chander Naun
  •  Dashir
  •  Lama Dal
  •  Manimahesh Lake
  •  Seruvalsar Lake

Monday, April 29, 2013

Joginder Nagar, Himachal Pradesh

   Joginder Nagar or Jogindar Nagar is a hill station and a nagar panchayat in Mandi district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Named after Raja Joginder Sen, Joginder Nagar is terminal point of 163 km long Kangra Valley Narrow gauge railhead. Joginder Nagar is the only town in Asia to have 3 hydro-electric power stations, and hence it is popularly known as The Electric City and The City of Powerhouses. The town packs good options for sightseeing, picnicking, angling and adventure sports like paragliding and trekking. The town is known for three T's namely Trolley, Trout and Train.


   In 1925, Raja Joginder Sen and Col. B. C. Batty planned a hydel power scheme near the village of Sukrahatti. A narrow-gauge railway track was laid from Pathankot to Joginder Nagar (1,220 m) to carry the heavy machinery transported from Britain. A Haulage-way system was laid from the site of Shanan Power House to Barot, where the reservoir was constructed on Uhl river. After tunneling and piping the water over several kilometres from the river Uhl to Joginder nagar, the Shanan Power House (110 MW) was built by a team of engineers headed by Colonel Batty. Shanan Power House was the only hydroelectric project in northern India which fed undivided Punjab and Delhi.
The vision of the hydel project scheme was to construct five power stations using the same water that is drawn from the Uhl river. The used water of Shanan Power House was taken through various tunnels in adjoining Siyuri Dhar, to a distance of 8 km. A reservoir was constructed at the village Chapprot that would be used for driving turbines in stage 2 of project at the base of Chapprot hill. However, the plan could not be executed following the death of Colonel Batty.
   Later in 1960s, the HP State Electricity Board decided to proceed further with the plan. In 1970, another set of turbines were added at Bassi, a small village situated at the bottom of Chapprot hill and Bassi Power House (66 MW) came into existence.
   Despite the fact that Bassi Power House was producer of cheapest hydro-electricity (since the project was based on tail-water of Shanan project), no further development was seen till the beginning of 21st century. The construction of third stage of project, Uhl Stage III (100 MW), was inaugurated at village Chulla near Tullah with two reservoir, one near the Machhyal Lake and another at Raktal village near Chulla, is currently under progress.


   Jogindarnagar is at north-east corner of the Joginder Nagar Valley located in the north-western ranges of the Himalayas. The city is situated at the north-east corner of the valley surrounded by mountains on all sides. It has an average elevation of 1,010 metres .
   The surrounding mountains are covered with thick forests of Pine. Rhododendron (Burans or locally known as Brah ka fool) and Deodar trees can be found at high altitude peaks like Winch Camp.
Joginder Nagar is a Zone V (Very High Damage Risk Zone) as per Earthquake hazard zoning of India. The after-effects of the earthquake of 1905 are still visible at nearby fort Kila Karanpur.

Around Joginder Nagar


Haulage-way Trolley: Haulage-way trolley, that goes from 4,300 feet to up to 8,000 feet using cable wire and runs on railway track.

Winch Camp

Winch Camp is the Highest hill station of Joginder Nagar at 2400 metres. A trolley track goes from Winch camp (8,000 feet) to Head-gear (8,300 feet) and then haulage way descends down to Barot.


Barot is the main reservoirs on Uhl river for Shanan and Bassi hydel projects.


There are lots of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Bir. Billing (8,600 ft.) is the hang-gliding take-off spot for Paragliding Pre-World Cup.

Shanan Power House

Shanan Power House is the one of India's first hydroelectric power projects was built in 1932.

Narrow-gauge Railway

The narrow-gauge railway, from Pathankot to Joginder Nagar. This railway line has been nominated for inclusion in UNESCO's cultural heritage list.

Bassi Power House

The generation cost of this power house is cheapest in the India.

Banderi Temple and Kila Karanpur

Banderi temple is situated on the hill to the north-west of Joginder Nagar. Kila Karanpur is abandoned fort of Raja Karan Sen, son of Raja Joginder Sen.

Macchyal lake

Macchyal lake is holy lake held sacred to Machinder Devta i.e. Fish God.

Tarangari Mahadev

Tarangari Mahadev is a holy place dedicated to Lord Shiva. Near Yora, on the way to Bhalaridha, this is a place where 3 water streams merge to form Rana Khadd, a major water stream.


Jhatingri is a Para-gliding take-off spot amongst thick forests.

Ayurvedic Research Institutes

Ayurvedic Research Institutes is the largest Herbal Garden and institute for research on Ayurvedic medicines and plants in North India.


Dhelu is a Paragliding spot where joyrides are enjoyed.

Lakshminarayana Temple

Lakshminarayana Temple is a very old temple said to be built by Pandavas dedicated to Lord Lakshminarayana.

Baba Balakrupi Temple

Baba Balakrupi Temple is a temple of Lord Balak Nath situated in Garoru village.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh

   McLeod Ganj (also spelt McLeodGanj or Mcleodganj) is a suburb of Dharamshala in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India. It has an average elevation of 2,082 metres.

   Situated on the Dhauladhar Range, whose highest peak, "Hanuman Ka Tibba", at about 5,639 metres, lies just behind it, it is known as "Little Lhasa" or "Dhasa" because of its large population of Tibetan refugees. The Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered in McLeodGanj.


   McLeodGanj was named after Sir Donald Friell McLeod, a Lieutenant Governor of Punjab; the suffix ganj is common Hindi word for "neighbourhood"


   In March 1849, the area was annexed by the British after the Second Anglo-Sikh War, and soon a subsidiary cantonment for the troops stationed at Kangra was established on the slopes of Dhauladhar, on empty land, with a Hindu resthouse or dharamshala; hence the name for the new cantonment, Dharamshala. During the British rule in India, the town was a hill station where the British spent hot summers, and around the late 1840s when the district headquarters in Kangra became overcrowded, the British moved two regiments to Dharamshala. A cantonment was established in 1849, and in 1852 Dharamshala became the administrative capital of Kangra district. By 1855 it had two important places of civilian settlement, McLeodGanj and ForsythGanj, named after a Divisional Commissioner. In 1860, the 66th Gurkha Light Infantry, later renamed the historic 1st Gurkha Rifles, was moved to Dharamshala. Soon 14 Gurkha paltan villages were established nearby and the Gurkhas patronised the ancient Shiva temple of Bhagsunath.

Lord Elgin, the British Viceroy of India (1862–63), liked the area so much that he even suggested at one point that it be made the summer capital of India. He died at Dharamshala while on a tour there, on 20 November 1863, and lies buried at the St. John in the Wilderness at ForsythGanj, just below McLeodGanj. His summer residence, Mortimer House, became part of the private estate of Lala Basheshar Nath of Lahore and was acquired by the Government of India to house the official residence of the Dalai Lama. The original Tea House built by Lord Elgin and catered to by a local grocery store called Nowrosjee & Son continues to prosper to this date. Nowrosjee & Son is a popular hangout for visitors to McLeodGanj and has been at its present location since 1860. The Tea House set up by Lord Elgin became homeless when the Government acquired Mortimer House and shifted to a new base in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. It continues to this date under the name Mcleodganj Tea House and sells fine teas under the Mcleodganj Tea House brand by invitation to hotels and residences on the ground, in the air and at sea. The official tea service in residences ranging from the Buckingham Palace to Rashtrapati Bhavan to Air Force One to the Tea Buffet at the Claridges in London is almost always a proprietary blend created by McLeodGanj Tea House exclusively for that customer.
   The twin towns of ForsythGanj and McLeodGanj continued to grow steadily in the coming years, and by 1904 had become important centres of trade, commerce and official work of Kangra District. But much of the town was destroyed by the devastating 7.8 magnitude 1905 Kangra earthquake at 6:19 am April 4, 1905; close to 19,800 people were killed and thousands were injured in the Kangra area. The earthquake destroyed most buildings in Kangra, Dharamshala, and McLeodGanj; even the Bhagsunath Temple was destroyed. Thereafter district headquarter offices were shifted to a lower spot, and the town waited another half century before anything significant transpired in its history.
In March 1959, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled to India after the failed uprising in 1959 in Tibet against the Communist Party of China. The Indian Government offered him refuge in Dharamshala, where he set up the Government of Tibet in exile in 1960, while McLeodGanj became his official residence and also home to several Buddhist monasteries and thousands of Tibetan refugees.[9] Over the years, McLeodGanj evolved into an important tourist and pilgrimage destination, and has since grown much in population.


   Tourism is an important industry in McLeodGanj, but many people come here to study Tibetan Buddhism, culture, crafts, etc. The town is also known for Tibetan handicrafts, thangkas, Tibetan carpets, garments and other souvenirs.


   Dharmalaya offers educational and service-learning programmes and promotes cross-cultural appreciation and personal empowerment. Volunteers in McLeodGanj can serve as English tutors or computer teachers or can help with the environmental programmes of the Tibetan Welfare Office. Dharmalaya also offers volunteer and service-learning opportunities in the nearby town of Bir.



   The nearest airport is Gaggal airport, 15 km south of Dharamshala.


   The nearest railway stations on the Shimla-Kangra narrow gauge line are at Kangra and Nagrota (about 20 km south of Dharamshala). The nearest railhead (broad gauge) is at Pathankot (85 km).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

   Kangra is a charming town located just 17 km away from Dharamshala, in one of the prettiest valleys of the Himachal. Brimming with lush green terraces and orchards, it overlooks a gushing stream known as Banganga. Once the ancient capital of a powerful hill state, Kangra was known for its magnificent temples and as a thriving centre for arts, in particular, the exquisite Pahari style of miniature painting that flourished during the reign of Raja Sansar Chand (1775-1823). Fine murals commissioned by the King are still to found in palaces and temples across this area. However, at Kangra itself, only a fort and a handful of temples remain, as a reminder of Kangra’s glorious past.

   Just outside the town is a beautiful temple. It is renowned for it is legendary wealth and craftsmanship. Dedicated to Bajreshwari Devi, invaders from the north systematically attacked this temple and Mohammed Ghazni is known to have looted a king’s Ransom in gold, silver and jewels in the year 1009. Destroyed completely in 1905 by an earthquake, the temple was rebuilt in 1920. It continues to be a busy place of pilgrimage even today. Stalls outside the temple provide everything pilgrims’ may need and also sell brass puja utensils, incense, sacred threads, flags and images of the goddess.

   Kangra is famous the world over for its astounding beauty. Surrounded by splendid valleys, it is dotted with several ancient shrines, making it a destination hard to resist for any traveler. A visit is an experience to be remembered.

Kangra Fort

   The Kangra Fort was built by the royal Rajput family of Kangra (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 was taken by the Mahmud of Ghazni in AD 1009. In 1337, it was captured by Muhammad bin Tughluq and again in 1351 by his successor, Firuz Shah Tughluq. But it was not completely subdued until 1622, when after a siege of fourteen months, it was conquered by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir who garrisoned it with his troops and appointed a Governor to keep the turbulent hill chiefs in check.

   In the second half of 18th Century, following the decline of Mughal power, Raja Sansar Chand-II succeeded in recovering the ancient fort of his ancestors, in 1789. But by carrying his ambitions too far he came in conflict with the neighboring hill chiefs, the Gurkhas.In 1804, crossing the Gadwall finally in 1805 the Gorkha army conquered Kangda valley across the Sutlej River after continuous fighting for three years. Till 1809 Gorkha Army conquered Kangda Fort. Subsequently in 1809 the Gorkha army was defeated and they had to retreat across Sutlej River. Concurrently as British East India Company was also in their expansion spree of colonization advanced up to Nepal’s the then border. Finally, with Maharaja of Punjab, Ranjit Singh was the conquerer of Kangra Fort in 1809. It remained in the hands of the Sikhs till 1846 when it was made over to the British Government, along with the surrounding hills. A British garrison occupied the fort until it was heavily damaged in an earthquake in the year 1905.

Around Kangra


   Jwalamukhi is a famous temple to the goddess Jwalamukhi, the deity of flaming mouth, built over some natural jets of combustible gas, believed to be the manifestation of the Goddess. Raja Bhumi Chand Katoch of Kangra, a great devotee of goddess Durga, dreamt of the sacred place and the Raja set people to find out the whereabouts of the site. The site was traced and the Raja built a temple at that location. The building is modern with a gilt dome and pinnacles, and possesses a beautiful folding door of silver plates. Under the gaze of the Dhauladhar range and set amidst the undulating hills that character sub-Himalayan Himachal Sati's tongue is believed to have fallen at Jwalamukhi and the goddess is manifest as tiny flames that burn a flawless blue through fissures in the age old rock.

   The temple located on a small spur on the Dharamsala-Shimla road at a distance of about 20 km from the Jwalamukhi Road Railway Station attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year. No idol is located in the temple and the deity is worshipped in the form of flames which come out from the crevices of the rock. They are natural jets of combustible gas. There is a small platform in front of the temple and a(check usage) big mandap where a huge brass bell presented by the King of Nepal is hung. Usually milk and water are offered and the ahutis or oblations are offered to the sacred flames in the pit, situated in the centre of the temple in between the floor pillars supporting the roof.
   The deity is offered Bhog of Rabri or thickened milk, Misri or candy, seasonal fruits, milk. There is a mystic Yantra or diagram of the goddess, which is covered with, shawls, ornaments and mantras are recited. The puja has different 'phases' and goes on practically the whole day. Aarti is performed five times in the day, havan is performed once daily and portions of Durga Saptasati are recited.
   The temple was looted and destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1009. The Mughal Emperor Akbar, learning about the legends of Jwalamukhi tried to douse the flames with a stream of water. However, the great power of the Goddess, still kept the flames burning. Realizing the power of Jwala Devi, Akbar came with his army to this temple. He brought a Gold umbrella (Chatra) for the Goddess, but on offering, the umbrella turned into an unknown metal suggesting that the Goddess did not accept his offering.
   Maharaja Ranjit Singh paid a visit to the temple in 1815 and the dome of the temple was gold-plated by him. Just a few feet above the Jwalamukhi temple there is a six-feet deep pit with a circumference of about three-feet. At the bottom of this pit there is another small pit about one and a half feet deep with hot water bubbling all the time.
   The temple is identified as one among the 52 Shakti Peethas . It is also one of the most renowned temples of Goddess Durga