Palampur (altitude 1,219 meters), is a fascinating spot in the Kangra Valley, surrounded on all sides by tea gardens and pine forests. The place enjoys a salubrious climate and invigorating pine scented air is believed to be good for health. Palampur houses two very important institutions-Agriculture University and CSIR complex.
The nearest airport is Gaggal and the nearest railhead is at a distance of 5 km. from the town. Palampur is situated on National highway No. 20 and connected with Dharamshala 35 km., away Kangra 40 km., Baijnath 16 km., Jogindernagar 40 km. and also connected with other places like Mandi, Kullu, Manali and Shimla.
Place of interest
Andretta :- (13 km. from Palampur) It is the home of the famous artist, late Sardar Sobha singh and late play writer Norah Richards. This Presents an excellent view of the Dhauladhar Range.
Why did the sleepy little village of Andretta with its Italianate sounding name, become the meeting place of great minds?
Here is how it happened-first came Norah Richards, an Irish writer, dramatist and a follower of Tolstoy. Her husband had been a Professor at the Government Collage, Lahore. After her husband’s death there, and a short stay in England, Norah returned to India in the mid- 30’s. She settled in Andretta were she built a beautiful English style cottage constructed of mud, slate and bamboo. At Andretta, she taught drama to students from the Punjab. She was made a fellow of the Punjabi University, Patiala and in return, she bequeathed her house and land around it to them. The Vice Chancellor of the University, Sadar S.S. Boparai has had the house lovingly restored by local craftsmen and masons. Even now, students from the Punjabi University come to celebrate Norah’s birthday every year on the 29th of October. They enact very professional dramas in her modest open air theatre.
From Lahore, Norah called B.C. Sanyal, the well known painter and sculptor and Professor Jaidayal who dad been her husband’s pupils. They also built mud houses in Andretta. Laater, Prithviraj Kapoor used to visit Andretta and stay with Professor Jaidayal who had been his tutor in Lahore.
Sobha Singh, the painter of Sikh Gurus, settled in Andretta and lived there until his death in the mid-80’s.
Today, you can visit the gallery where his paintings hang and buy prints of the originals. Norah also called Sadar Gurcharan Singh, the master potter from Delhi. He was responsible for introducing studio art pottery into India. He built a house and a small pottery for summer use in Andretta.
During the time of Norah, there were vibrant discussions about art, drama and the philosophy of living in rural environment. Norah’s ideas were very sound on how one should live in the countryside using local materials for building houses, how yyou should live in harmony with nature and encourage local people to do the same.
Bir :- (35 km. from Palampur) This village is famous for its Buddhist monasteries Hang gliding pilots use it as their landing site. Billing is 14 km., from here, considered as one of the finest take off points in the world for hang gliding.
Bundla Steam :- (2 km. from Palampur) Bundla stream with wide chasm of more than 100 meters, swells up and rise madly in monsoons taking stones and bboulders along with it making a loud noise like that of continuous thunder. This is a lovely walk from Palampur to Bundla.
Baijnath :- (16 km.) The Shiva temple at Baijnath is one of the most remarkable monuments of the Kangra valley. Ancient name of this town was ‘Kirgrama’. Baijnath got its name from Shiva Vaidyanatha (Lord physicians). The temple consists of an ‘Adytum’ surrounded by a spire of the usual conical shape with a mandapa covered with a low pyramid shaped roof. The Adytum contains the lingam. There is fine sculpture work to be associated with Ravana, who worshipped Shiva at this spot and gained immortality. Baijnath is one of of the ‘twelve jyotirlingams’. Shivaratri of Baijnath is a well attended fair.
Neugal Khad :- (2 km.) Neugal Khad provides a fine view of the Dhauladhar range. It is roaring season and gurgling all the year round.
Kangra Painting :- To understand any great art, one has to view it as an organism with its own soul, forms of expression and conventions. Art is the symbol of the culture to which it belongs, acquiring its style of expression in relation to it. Every culture thus has its own style of art, and one must know the culture to understand its phases of development. This is also true of Kangra art. All great art is inspired by religion. The paintings and sculpture of Ajanta and the great monument of Borobudur in Java owe their origin to the inspiration of Buddhism. Christianity inspired paintings of sublime quality in Medieval Italy and Spain. The religious revival also stimulated literary activity. The cult of Ram and Sita, Krishna and Radha were the sources of inspiration to many artists and poets who wrote in Sanskrit and Hindi. Jayadeva, Ramanand and Kabir are among the most prominent.