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Introducing Kangra

The former capital of the princely state of Kangra, this bustling pilgrim town is a good day trip from McLeod Ganj. Hindus visit to pay homage at the Brajeshwari Devi Temple, one of the 51 Shakti peeths, the famous temples marking the sites where body parts from Shiva's first wife, Sati, fell after the goddess was consumed by flames (the temple marks the final resting place of Sati's left breast). It's reached through an atmospheric bazaar winding uphill, 10 minutes from the main road, lined with shops selling prasad and religious trinkets.

On the far side of town, a ₹100 autorickshaw ride from the bus stand, the impregnable-looking Kangra Fort soars above the confluence of the Manjhi and Banganga Rivers. The fort was occupied by Hindu rajas, Mughal warlords and even the British (in 1846), before it was finally toppled by the earthquake of 1905. Head up to the battlements for views north to the mountains and south to the plains. A small museum back at the entrance has stone carvings from temples inside the compound and miniature paintings from the Kangra School.

Just above the fort entrance is the Maharaja Sansar Chand Museum, whose uniforms, ornate palanquins and sets of armour give a fine insight into the twilight years of the local Katoch royal family.

Royal Hotel & Restaurant on the main road between the temple bazaar and the bus stand has acceptable, tiled rooms with hot showers, plus a decent restaurant, though rooms are a bit overpriced.