Dwelling in Dharamshala

Dis­cover what you are miss­ing out on ( but shouldn’t) in Lit­tle Lhasa

India Today - - TRAVEL - By Kavyan­jali Kaushik

Spir­i­tual abode” de­scribes Dharamshala per­fectly. It is the seat of Ti­betan gov­ern­ment in ex­ile, home to one of the most fa­mous spir­i­tual lead­ers in the world, the Dalai Lama, and a pious desti­na­tion for Hin­dus given the nu­mer­ous tem­ples pep­pered across the dis­trict. But while most tourists make a bee­line for McLeodganj in hopes of meet­ing the Dalai Lama in per­son, the other stretches of Kangra Val­ley lay for­got­ten. Not many know that prob­a­bly the old­est dated fort in In­dia rests silently barely 20 kms from the main Dharamshala town and that the Dhaulad­har range of­fers spec­tac­u­lar land­scape for ad­ven­ture sports like paraglid­ing, trekking, kayak­ing and even moun­tain bik­ing.

The his­tor­i­cal Kangra Fort sits atop a moun­tain at the con­flu­ence of Ban­ganga and Patal­ganga rivers, which to­gether would have built a for­mi­da­ble bar­rier against in­trud­ers. The fort was built by the royal Ra­jput fam­ily of Kangra, the Ka­toch dy­nasty, but bears marks of a tur­bu­lent his­tory and of many at­tempts that were made to con­quer it. They say Kangra be­longs to the one who owns the fort. The lure of power of­ten in­vited at­tacks by no­to­ri­ously ambi- tious rulers like Mah­mud of Ghazni and Muhamad bin Tugh­laq, but it was Mughal em­peror Je­hangir who held the reigns fi­nally. The au­dio guides, avail­able both in Hindi and English, cre­ate a vivid im­agery of by­gone pe­riod and a leisurely walk in the fort may take over an hour to com­plete.

Just 80 kms from Dharamshala lie the twin towns of Bir and Billing, con­sid­ered amongst the best sites for paraglid­ing and cross coun­try fly­ing in the world. While Billing is the take- off site, Bir, nes­tled by the Dhaulad­har range, is the land­ing arena. Adrenalin junkies should not miss the chance of try­ing the huge range of aero sports that th­ese two lo­ca­tions of­fer.

But if his­tory, ad­ven­ture sports or spir­i­tu­al­ity do lit­tle to make head out to Dharamshala, then pic­ture your­self away from the city, un­der a mas­sive cloud por­tal, breath­ing in the chilly moun­tain air and walk­ing be­tween the lush green tea gar­dens. Lit­tle Lhasa is def­i­nitely worth a weekend visit.

KAVYAN­JALI KAUSHIK

Seeped in his­tory: The Kangra Fort was built by the Ka­toch dy­nasty

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