Kangra Fort in Himachal
The hefty fort of Nagarkot stands on a steep rock in Purana Kangra
dominating the surrounding valley. It was strategically built at the
confluence of the Banganga and Manjhi (also called Fatal Ganga)
streams which serves as a natural moat for the fort. Weather beaten
yet stoic among the surrounding hills, Nagarkot braved many natural
onslaughts and destruction by invaders.
In fact, the history of the fort is synonymous with the history of
the town. Kangra belonged to him who owned the fort.
Today most of it stands touched by ruination, an existence taken
advantage of by creepers and shrubs, but that doesnt belittle
Nagarkots grandeur in any way.
The Darwazas (Gate-Ways)
One way to get to the fort is by a culvert over a deep gully. Right
across the culvert is a massive wooden door called Ranjit Singh
Darwaza, one of the several darwazas or doors in the whole complex.
The gate is flanked by ramparts on both sides demarcating a 4km-long
outer circuit. From the Ranjit Singh Darwaza, steps lead to the
Jahangiri Darwaza through the intermediate Ahni and Amiri Darwazas.
From the Jahangiri Darwaza a path over stones and steps leads to
Just before you reach the andheri Darwaza, a path ascends westwards
to the wooded wild plateau where a desolate mehrab (arch) of the now
non-existent mosque from Jahangirs days is hidden under thick
foliage. Nearby, to the south of the mehrab, youll find a large
stone stepwell, called Kapoorsagar, and other structures in ruins.
Hidden in the woods, they are now the playground for leopards.
But the most interesting part of the Fort is inside the Darshani
Darwaza. This gate is one of the oldest standing structures. It opens
up to a spacious stone-paved courtyard around which are built various
¤ Hindu Temples
On the other end of the courtyard beyond the Darshani Darwaza are
extant structures of Lakshminarayan Mandir (9th-10th century) and
Shitala Mandir. Both of these are beautifully carved and are a
must-see. To the north of these temples stands the Ambika Devi temple.
To the south of the Ambika Devi temple are two Jain shrines in a sad
state of repair. One of them contains only the pedestal but the other
still has a stone image of Adinath. At the foot of the fort stands a
large modern Jain temple which offers accommodation for pilgrims.
¤ Sheesh Mahal & Watchtower
From the courtyard a steep staircase leads to the upper level of the
fort to the Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace).
But not a trace of the glorious mirror studded edifice remains now,
except for blocks of stone.
However, theres a spacious terrace here and along its edge
stands a polygonal watchtower.
Sansar Chand must have taken a last look at his beloved land from
this tower on the fateful day of July 20 in 1809, when the fort had to
be given away to the Sikhs. The ruins of the Sansar Chands
palace at the very top offer fantastic views of the surrounding area.