Kangra is known for having the oldest serving Royal Dynasty in the world, Katoch. The second great epic of the Hindus, the Mahabharat (The great war of India) mentions Rajanaka Susarma Chandra (234th Naresh of Trigarth in lineal descent from the founder Rajanaka Bhumi Chandra) who fought on the side of Kaurvas, as Duryodhan was his son-in-law. Raja Susarma Chandra was given the task of battling the Raja of Matsya and was also involved in the plot set against Yudhishtra. It is said that in the Mahabharat Rajanaka Susarma Chandra lost his life at the hands of Arjun. After the battle, his son coded the lands of Multan to the Pandavs and retired to Jalandhar. He is also credited with building the city of Susarma Pura (Kangra) around its famous fort (Kangra Fort) which is said to have been built by his father.
According to Sir A. Cunningham the first historical reference to Jalandhar (Kangra) is founded in the works of Ptolemy - the Greek Geographer. (He accompanied Alexander on his expeditions).It is said that only two kings opposed Alexander's invasion, King Hasti (defeated after a month long battle) and Porus, ruler of the doab between Jhelum and Chenab (which contained three hundred towns). Alexander advanced to the river Jhelum in 326 B.C. and met the armies of Porus on the other bank. Porus stood alone with his two sons and an army of 50,000 soldiers against the mightiest hero of the world. Porus had been betrayed by the Raja of Abhisara, Kashmir and Takshila. (They had joined the Greeks). (Prior to this Alexander had asked Porus for his submission which Porus had proudly refused).
In the second quarter of the 7th century, the Chinese traveler Huien Tsang passed through Jalandhar which he described as 1000 Li (167 miles) long East to West and 800 Li (133 miles) broad North to South. It seems that in this period the Katoch dynasty had lost their empire in Multan and was left with a kingdom of about 25,000 sq. miles. If these measurements are correct, then the present day towns of Chamba, Mandi, Suket (all independent kingdoms during the British Raj) and Satadru (Shimla hill states) must have formed the outer limits of the Kangra States. Huien Tsang on his return from the court of Raja Harshvardhan of Kannauj is said to have revisited the Raja of Jalandhar (A.D. 643) who is identified as Rajanaka Adima Chandra from the Vanshvali.
Kangra became a district of British India in 1846, when it was ceded to British India at the conclusion of the First Anglo-Sikh War. The British district included the present-day districts of Kangra, Hamirpur,Kullu, and Lahaul and Spiti. Kangra District was part of the British province of Punjab. The administrative headquarters of the district were initially at Kangra, but were moved to Dharamshala in 1855.
An earthquake significantly damaged this area on April 4, 1905. Upon Indian Independence in 1947, Punjab province was partitioned between India and Pakistan, and the eastern portion, including Kangra, became the Indian state of Punjab. Lahaul and Spiti became a separate district in 1960, and Kullu in 1962.
In 1966, Kangra and Una districts were added to Himachal Pradesh, which became a Union territory of India, and an Indian state in 1971. Hamirpur District was separated from Kangra in 1972. The twin township and riyasat of Haripur-Guler is also an important part of Kangra District that gave refuge to people during the Mughal period and offered patronage to them to make the famous Guler style paintings. The village of Pragpur is also one of the most important historical parts of Kangra region.
Kangra is situated in the Western Himalayas between 31Â°2 to 32Â°5 N and 75Â° to 77Â°45 E. It has a geographical area of 5,739 km. constituting about 10.31% of the geographical area of the State. The altitude of the district ranges from 427 to 6401m above mean sea level, with the highest being amidst the Dhauladhar mountain range, which forms the border with Chamba and Kullu districts. The topography of Kangra District is varied, with elevations ranging from 400m altitudes at Milawan to 5500m at Bara Bhangal. The valley is filled with numerous perennial streams, which irrigate the valley. The valley has an average elevation of 2000 ft. Kangra Valley is a strike valley and extends from the foot of the Dhauladhar Range to the south of river Beas. The highest peak on the Dhauladhar range (White Mountain), which marks the boundary between the valley and Chamba, reaches 15,956 ft. The peaks of the range are approximately 13,000 ft. above the valley floor, rising sharply from its base with no low hills in between.
The Kangra district has considerable diversity in its soils, physiography, land use patterns and cropping systems. On the basis of these, the district has further been divided into five sub-regions i.e. Pir Panjal, Dhauladhar, Kangra Shivalik, Kangra Valley and Beas Basin.The Beas is one of the major rivers of this district. Kangra is bound by the Chamba district and Lahaul valley of the Lahaul and Spiti district to the north, Kullu to the east, Mandi to the south-east, and Hamirpur and Una to the south. Due to the hilly terrain, not very much of the land is cultivated. The region is covered with uniform patches of barren land, as well as small forests.
Kangra town is reached by Gaggal Airport (IATA airport code DHM) about 10 km to the town's north. The town is also reached by Kangra Valley Railway line from Pathankot 94 km away.20 km.
Kangra being a valley is more grounded and has properly paved roads, marketplaces, hospitals and adequate supply of electricity, water, medical supplies, petrol pumps and banks. It, being a district houses Dharamshala as its administrative headquarters, which is as well developed as Kangra.
The temples in Himachal Pradesh have special architectural forms that are synchronous to the character of the hills where these are built. The architecture of the temples here has a language rather dialect which goes with the surroundings, so there is excellent communication between the building and the visitor.
The architectural patterns have different style, namely:
Shikhar Style - A tower like conical formation built of stone and decorated with carvings is shikhar style of architecture. The top of the shikhar has amalaka, the circular sun-disc. All the essential elements of a Hindu temple; mandap (porch), garbh griha (sanctum sanctorum) and shikhar (tower); are there in such constructions.
Less significant temples in Himachal Pradesh have done away with wonders. Lord Vaidyanath's temple at Baijnath (Kangra) and The Luxmi Narayan Group of temples at Chamba are fine examples of this style. J.P. Vogel and others have delved deep on 'the most famous stone temple at Bajaura' as an exquisite specimen of shikhar style.
The solitary instance of rock-cut architecture reminding one of the thought-provoking remnants of Gupta-influenced 'classical' art that thrived in the hills is the Thakur Wada at Masrur (Kangra). It has been called the earliest specimen of Shikhar design in the Himalayas. Timber-bonded style with pent roof and optional veranda: Bijli Mahadev (Kullu); Lakshana Devi at Bharmour (Chamba); Shakti Devi at Chatrari (Chamba) and Hatkoti (Shimla) are a few examples of this type of architecture.
Freestanding pagoda style having superimposed roofs directly over the garbh griha- the temples with pyramidal tiered roofs shape up the pagoda look. The diminishing roofs rise above the other and the top one, unlike the squarish others is round - funnel like Hadimba (Manali); Tripurasundari (Naggar); Adi Brahma (Kullu) are a few to be named. Dome temples- these are new additions to the old architecture of temples in the hills.
The temples with domes - round or elongated or flat are those of Jwalamukhi (Kangra); Bajreshwari (Kangra); Chintpurni (Una), Naina Devi (Bilaspur). Flat roofed- A few examples of flat roofed temples are Narbadeshwar at Sujanpur Tira (Hamirpur) and Ramgopal temple at Damtal (Kangra). Most of the Buddhist monasteries are also flat-roofed here. Sutlej Valley Style- It is a style of mandap with one or more pagoda roofs above the garbha griha that correspond to shikhar of a classical temple, usually at one end of the building but sometimes in the centre.
Houses in the Kangra valley have slanted roofs with a slippery stone or slate lined on top so that the snow and rainwater would trickle down to the ground and not stagnate on the roof. Made of wood and stone originally, nowadays bricks and cement are used as well. High rises are not permitted in this area because of it being a high earthquake zone.
Sair is a local festival of Kangra district and is celebrated with great zeal by the people in Palampur. This festival is celebrated on first 'tithi' of 'chaitra mass' every year. Palampur is a place of rivers and rain and in the old days when there were no bridges and fewer roads people used to die in the river floods. So this festival signifies the offset of rainy season and the black month. On this day people worship the Sair deity. They offer new crop, fruits and vegetables to there deity; they cook many local foods and delicacies and invite their friends and relatives. Newly wed brides' return to their in-laws' house after a full month's break at their parents' home. Children celebrate this festival in their own style by playing game with walnuts.
There is greater sobriety, but no less joy, when Lohri or Maghi comes along in mid January. This is the traditionally mid winter day and also commemorates the last sowing of the Rabi crops. Community bonfires, folk songs and dancing, mark the festival. Children, door to door, sing local folk songs known as 'lukdiyan'. A special type of sacrament is being made from roasted rice, sugar and peanuts called as 'tircholi'.
Palampur Holi Fair, held at Capt. Vikram Batra Stadium is also very famous. On these days many cultural activities are held. Many singers visit Palampur fair on these days, and beautiful tableaux representing different gods are made. The folk dances of Himachal Pradesh begin with the sound of single-note, wind instrument called 'Narsingh' and the beats of percussionist on 'Nagara'. Both these instruments are pious and are the property of the temple of the village deity. It is with the permission of the priest that those are brought out from the temple. Karnal or Karl, an elongated trumpet, drums, shehnai, bansuri are other instruments used in the dances. The dances are known by the generic name of 'Nati'.
The folk dances are: Dances, which belong to particular festivities, festivals or collective participative activity. Devotional dancing done to propitiate the village deity or in praise of nature, dances which revolve round the agriculture activities, dances of rituals, marriage ce4rornony, birthday or mundan ceremony. Hunt dances or warrior dances depicting valour or animal imitation dances.
The folk songs are rich in content and pick up the local idiom deftly to express the flight of imagination. 'Madna', 'Kamna', 'Hukku', 'Haar' etc. are the battle songs, 'Gangi', 'Jhango', 'Jhuri', 'laman' etc. are the love songs. 'Jhamakara', 'Bhadooa', 'Nawala' etc. are ceremony songs. Songs of any country or province are not complete if there wore no love-tales. Himachal has these in 'Kunju-Chanchalo' or 'Sunni-Bhunku'. 'Mohna' is a pathetic song emanating from the valley of Bilaspur.
The folk theatre of the State is very rich. Karyala, an impromptu theatre that attacks the ills of society, heads the three most popular styles. Traditionally played by men only. 'Banthra' is its parallel in Mandi District. 'Bhagat' has religious overtones. Performed in real folkish dialect, it carries the message of the story of God and his devotee.
The district has a population density of 263 inhabitants per square kilometer (680/sq. mi). Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 12.56%. Kangra has a sex ratio of 1013 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 86.49%. The native people are the Kangri people and the native language is Kangri, which is very similar to Punjabi. The majority of the people are Hindu Brahmins, Rajputs, Banias and SC/OBC, although many Tibetans and others who follow Buddhism have also settled here recently. There are also minority populations of Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians. The traditional dress for men was the kurta, pyjamas, and a woolen jacket used in winter. Women generally wear the salwar kameez and with the salwar Kameez girls and women take chuenni ("Chaddru" in local language.)
Predominant population of the district comprises of Hindus followed by Muslim, Bhudhists, Sikhs, Christians and Jains constitute the negligible proportion of the district population. The main Rajput communities in the district are Katoch, Pathania, Dogra, Jasrotia, Jaswal, Jamwal, Katwal, Guleria, Mian, Thakur, Rana, Rathi etc. Scheduled tribes population is negligible in the district. Jhamakada is a popular group dance performed in Kangra. This dance is exclusively performed by women. The dance is accompanied by a variety of percussion instruments and lyrical songs.
The major livelihood of the district comes from agriculture, tourism and farming.
Kangra valley is one of the most picturesque, green and luxuriant valleys of lower Himalayas sheltered by the sublime Dhauladhar range. One of the most important and famous districts of Himachal Pradesh, Kangra is mainly famous for its natural beauty and tea gardens. Number of people's visiting here every year. It is home of Masroor Rock Cut Temple, also known as Himalayan Pyramids and wonder of the world for being likely contender for the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many ancient temples like the Jawalaji Temple, Vajreshwari Devi temple, Chamunda Devi temple, chintapurni temple Baba Baroh, Masroor Temple built by Pandvas and Baijnathtemple are found here. One can also pay a visit to Gopalpur Nature Park in Gopalpur village and can also see tea gardens there. McLeodganj near Dharamshala is the home in exile to the Dalai Lama. "Bhagsunag temple" is there. The Kangra Fort is a popular tourist attraction. Cricket ground of Dharamshala is also a major attraction because of its location and good quality pitch for players. Maharaja Sansar Chandra Museum adjoins the Kangra Fort. Available at the Museum are Audio guides for the Kangra Fort and the Museum.
Pragpur, a quaint little village in Himachal Pradesh's scenic Kangra Valley, drew attention when the state government, in 1997, certified it as a Heritage Village, possibly the first such village in India. The recognition not only brought it on the international tourist map, but also more states resources for better telephone connectivity and regular power supply. The Heritage Village sobriquet is well deserved. Pragpur is a charming hamlet of architecturally fascinating buildings that line its cobbled lanes.