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Kangra District

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Kangra District is the most populous district of Himachal Pradesh. It is located in the west of the state, occupying an area of 55,673 square kilometers. The 2001 Indian Census pegs the district’s population at 1,339,030, with a population density of 233 people per square kilometer. Kangra District is bounded by the district of Chamba to the north, Kullu to the east, and Una and Hamirpur districts to the south. Lahul and Spiti district can be found to the northeast while Mandi district occupies the southeast. The states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir borders Kangra on the southwest and northwest, respectively. The city of Dharamsala is the district’s headquarters, which also happens to be the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, and where His Holiness the Dalai Lama is based.

Known for the oldest serving Royal Dynasty in the world, the Katoch lineage, Kangra first became a district of British India in 1846, after it was ceded to the latter after the conclusion of the First Anglo-Sikh War, which resulted in the partial subjugation of the Sikh empire. Back then, the district also included the present-day districts of Kullu, Hamirpur and Lahul and Spiti, and was part of the Punjab, which was then a British province. At first, the district headquarters was located at the town of Kangra, but this was eventually moved to Dharamsala in 1855.

When India gained its independence in 1947, the British province of Punjab was partitioned between India and Pakistan, leading to the western portion to become the Indian state of Punjab. Since then, the original members of the former Punjab province became districts: Lahul and Spiti in 1960, Kullu in 1962 and Hamirpur in 1972, after it was separated from Kangra. Kangra and Una were added to Himachal Pradesh in 1966, which eventually became a state in 1971.

Geographically, the district lies in the low foothills of the Himalayas, in the Dhauladhar mountain range. The Beas, one of the district’s larger rivers, contribute much to the fertility of the land but due to the hilly terrain, not much of it is cultivated. The whole district is full of uniform patches of barren land, interspersed with small forests. Even so, the economy consists mostly of agriculture and farming, with tea cultivation, in particular, contributing a vital role in the revenue; the Kangra Tea is an internationally famous variety of tea.

Tourism is also a significant contributor to Kangra’s economy, mainly due to the fact that the district has several tourist destinations, both natural and man-made. The Kangra Art Musuem, for instance, displays valley arts and crafts, some of which date back to the 5th century. Its collection includes famous paintings, sculptures and anthropological items that have historic as well as contemporary value. Another famous tourist spot is the historical Kangra Fort, which was built by the founder of the Katoch dynasty, Ranjanka Bhumi Chand in the 11th century. It is the largest fort in the Himalayas, and is largely acknowledged to be the oldest fort in all of India. At present, the Archaeological Survey of India oversees and manages the fort.


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