The Guler Palace at Nandpur Bhatoli - Day 5
One of The Palaces of Haripur-Guler Riyasat
The morning started with a Nandpur Bhatoli village walk around when Ankur Guleria led me to the Guler Palace.
We crossed the village tank that has a Gurudwara right opposite on an elevated level. An unflattering and decremented Nishan Sahib was a shred of evidence of the unmaintained Gurudwara.
In my opinion, the community should get involved and restore the dilapidated gurudwara and decrepit tank. Both of these tasks will contribute to the prettiness of Nadpur Bhatoli.
We then met the shop owner of the solitary shop that had no eggs so we bought filament bulbs and then peeked into the high school opposite the shop that just had the bags but no students.
Then we entered through a broken gate tied with a wire into a forbidden path leading to the Guler Palace. Ankur told me that the path being a private one is not supposed to be used by locals.
The stone and gravel path indeed has been levelled by Raghav Guleria‘s efforts to provide access to the Guler Palace which he, as a custodian, is restoring.
Shorter and levelled, the path is useless for others, tourists and villagers since they cannot use it and have to access this part of the village Nandpur Bhatoli by the road of stones.
Walk way to the Palace Entrance
The Guler Miniature Paintings & Guler Palace
Restoration of the Guler Palace
This area of Guler Riyasat is considered the birthplace of the Guler miniature paintings, which were world-famous and had a rich heritage value and are globally famous.
Coming from the Guler lineage, Ankur Guleria introduced me to his cousin, Raghav Guleria. Raghav has been associated with the conservation of many tangibles & intangibles from Guler Riyasat for over 30 years.
Now being the custodian of the Guler Palace, he is spearheading the ongoing restoration of the red brick castle overlooking the mighty Pong Lake.
He briefly appraised us on the way Guler’s miniature paintings were made and what he was doing to restore the intricacies of the art of fresco wall paintings and the palace over a cup of refreshing herbal tea.
Previously Raghav, who is currently the chief correspondent for The Tribune, conducted a workshop on Guler miniature paintings in 2022 at Nandpur Guler focusing on the delicacy of lines and vibrancy of colours.
He is quite instrumental in working for the preservation of the heritage of the Guler state. Unfortunately, the state Government doesn’t seem to be involving locals in efforts to restore the former glory of Guler.
Why Should You Come Here?
The best things to see in and around Nandpur Bhatoli
I’ve outlined the best things to see in and around Nandpur Bhatoli, Haripur Guler during my stay at the Guleria Paradise, where you can stay as well. I am summarising the places to see and things to do below.
- The Pong Dam Lake – The Pong Dam Lake, an internationally recognised wetland, receives more than one lakh migratory birds every year, maximum in North India. It’s a delightful place for bird & nature lovers. The best time to visit the Pong Reservoir is during the winter months of November, December and January. It is the season when the population of migratory birds is the maximum in the Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Haripur Fort – The ancient fort and water springs at Haripur are worth visiting. This was the capital of the princely state of Haripur Guler — an offshoot of Kangra. Haripur Fort is not as famous or as large as the Kangra Fort but it is strategically built. The location is picturesque and the Banganga rivulet gives it natural protection.
- Mata Baglamukhi Temple – the Goddess Bagalamukhi Sidhpeeth, a temple of the devi of the Hindu religion and one of the ten Mahavidyas. She is associated with the colour yellow. She is also named as Devi Peethambara. The temple is a very serene and calm place for Hindu devotees. It is situated near Dehri and Kangra city on the main road and has a historical importance of its own.
- Mata Jawalamukhi Temple – Goddess Jawalamukhi Shaktipeeth temple is a famous shrine to the goddess Jwalamukhi, considered to be an incarnation of the goddess Adi Parashakti, also known as Durga or Kali. The temple is regarded as one of the 52 Shakti Peethas.
- Mata Chintpurni Temple – Chintpurni is a small town in the Una district of Himachal Pradesh about 40 km north of Una, not far from the border with the Indian state of Punjab. The elevation is about 977 meters. It is home to the Maa Chintpurni Temple which is a major pilgrimage site as one of the Shaktipeetha in India. It is on the way to Haripur Guler from Punjab.
- Heritage Village of Pragpur – Pragpur, established in the late 16th century, is an ornamental village with unchanged shops, cobblestone streets, old water tanks, mud-plastered walls and slate-roofed houses. The narrow streets, lined with fort-like houses, havelis and villas, are indicative of the area’s aged charisma. Pragpur, along with its neighbouring village Garli, was officially designated as a “Heritage Village” by the Himachal Pradesh State Government in 1997, making it India’s first heritage village. It is an hour’s drive from Guler.
- Dharamshala – Dharamshala is a major hill station and spiritual centre. It has served as the winter capital of the state and the administrative headquarters of the Kangra district since 1855. The town also hosts the Tibetan Government-in-exile and the Namgyal Monastery. It today has a 1.8 km long ropeway called Dharamshala Skyway connecting Dharamshala and Mcleodganj via cable car was inaugurated in January 2022.
- Mcleodganj – McLeod Ganj or McLeodganj is a suburb of Dharamshala in Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh, India. It is known as “Little Lhasa” or “Dhasa” as the Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered here and there is a significant population of Tibetans in the region.
- The Guler Palace – It’s under renovation however, the kind Raghav Guleria may allow you to rediscover the Palace under restoration. The Guler PalaceOnce restored and may be prepared for some hospitality may do wonders on the tourist circuit. For now, offering tea/coffee, and maybe even a night stay, things can act as an icebreaker & could get more exciting and rewarding.
So, eventually, my morning sojourn ended and I bid adieu to Ankur & Puja Guleria as well as Haripur Guler and returned to my place in Dagshai for a night halt before heading towards Gurgaon.
It was a brilliant visit that included an offroading adventure, a few religious visits, the experience of a wildlife sanctuary and lots of driving and finding new places to discover.
Accessing the location isn’t child’s play and there are a lot of kaccha roads to navigate on but in the end, it’s for your pleasure as an adventurer.
Minions in the car can say anything and live to regret this, however, in my opinion, this entire trip is highly recommended.
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