Bashohli is an ancient town located in the laps of Shivalik Mountains. Apart from the green mountains, the town also has River Ravi flowing by it and the vast Ranjit Sagar Dam located near it. Such concurrence of hills and water bodies make the area a tourist’s delight. In addition, the town has an unparalleled cultural heritage. Tourists are as much attracted by its scenic beauty as by its ancient monuments and intellectual legacy.
Among all the monuments, the fort at the top of the Bashohli hillock is most important. One cannot leave the area without paying a visit to it. Besides, there are also numerous old temples, ancient water tanks and engraved caves located in and around the town. One must take time to visit them as well.
The Bashohli Fort
The fort in Bashohli was constructed in 1635 by Raja Bhupat Pal of Pal dynasty. It was later enlarged by successive kings. Rangmahal and Sheesh Mahal built by Raja Mahender Pal were truly exotic. French traveler Vigne, who came to Bashohli between 1835 and 1839, had mentioned that Sheesh Mahal at Bashohli Palace was the finest building he had ever visited in the East. He also said that this palace was almost equal in grandeur to the palace in Heidelberg in Germany. However, the fort with its square turrets, embattled parapets and roofed balconies now lies in ruin. Yet, a visit to the fort can enrich you if you have eyes to see and a heart to feel.
The hillock, on which Bashohli Fort is located, is the highest peak within a radius of 5 Km. It is linked to the Bashohli town through an all weather metal road. The road is 3.5 Km long and runs parallel to the Ranjit Sagar Dam. Chancho devi Shrine is located at the end of this road. There is adequate parking facility and therefore, if you take your car, parking will not be any issue. You can also trek to the fort. Earlier many big animals used to live in the jungles here. However, with time, forests have thinned down and not many animals are now visible.
Although major part of the fort is broken down, a keen traveler will find much to cherish. The beauty of the place is indeed a big draw. During the day, one can spend hours gazing at the Ranjit Sagar Dam, watching boats and steamers sailing by. One can see almost the entire reservoir from this spot. The night however, presents a different picture. The simmering lights on the water of the Ranjit Sagar Dam create an out-of-the-world atmosphere. Besides, lights of many big or small towns of Himachal Pradesh are also visible from here. Indeed, if you come here at night you will feel that those towns are located at a stone’s throw from Bashohli.
Chanchlo Devi Shrine in Bashohli Fort
As we have already said, the temple of Chanchlo Devi is one of the main attractions of the Bashohli Fort. It was established by King Bhupat Pal at the time of establishment of the fort. It is believed that Mata Chanchlo Devi is the embodiment of Devi Sarada. She is worshipped as personal deity (Kul Devi) not only by majority of the local population, but also by many other people residing in adjoining villages of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. During the Navaratra, thousand throng this temple from far and near to pay their homage to the Devi.
Other Temples in BashohliOther than Mata Chanchlo Devi temple, there are few more ancient temples in Bashohli. Unfortunately, some of these temples have been submerged when the Ranjit Sagar Dam was installed. However, many of them survive till today. Among them, Shiv Temple, located at the centre of the town, is said to be the oldest. It is believed that Pandavas of Mahabharata fame established this temple during their life as foresters.
Mahadeva Temple, also dedicated to Lord Shiva, is another ancient temple of this town. It is said to be thousand years old and the Shiv Lingam is said to be Swayambhu, which means that it has not been installed, but come up on its own from the ground.
Chamunda Mata Temple is another old temple located in the city square. The deity in this temple is worshipped in the form of a rock. The temple has been rebuilt in 1979. During Navaratra, a huge crowd of devotees also throng this temple.
Besides, these three, following are few other important temples in the city:
- Jatajoot Temple (Siva Temple) situated close to Rajpoot colony
- Bhaironath Temple located in the southern part of the city
- Mahakali Temple also located in the southern part of the city close to River Ravi
- Sheetala Mata Temple located in the east of the town on the bank of River Ravi
- Ram Temple located near Ram Leela Ground at city square
- Hanuman Temple, which faces the Ram Temple
- Shani and Navagraha Temples located close to Hanuman Temple
Places to Visit from Bashohli
There are quite a few places located close to Bashohli. Among them we can mention Dhar Mahanpur, a newly developed tourist spot located at a distance of 27 Km from Bashohli. It is located on mountain ridge covered with trees and shrubs. Regular buses run from Bashohli to Dhar Mahanpur and so it is easily accessible from the town.
Snan Ghat is another small but beautiful town located on Bashohli-Dhar Mahanpur Road. Like Dhar Mahanpur, it too is located on a ridge covered by cheer and deodar trees. On the way, you can stop by Valetta Baba and visit its Naag temple. During the monsoon thousands throng this temple and pay their homage.
Besides, you can also visit the Ranjit Sagar Dam, popularly known as Thein Dam. It is a hydroelectric project on River Ravi and was inaugurated by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Sewa Hydel Project on Sewa River is another place to visit from Bashohli.
What to Do in BashohliApart from sightseeing, Bashohli in Jammu & Kashmir offers great scope for shopping. While in town, you must look for great Bashohli paintings, which evolved here centuries ago. They mostly depict popular rulers as well as gods and goddesses. You can also look for handicrafts made in Kashmir. Also try to witness Kud dances. These are actually ritual dances performed before the deity and are typical of Bashohli.
Accommodation in Bashohli
Bashohli has a number of government guest houses and dak bungalows where you can put up during your stay in the town. Besides, there are quite a few private hotels in the town. Among them, we can mention Hotel Ambica located near Bus Stand in Ward No 8. To make prior reservation, you can call them at any of the following phone numbers: 01921-251-398, 09596-674674, 094193-21666.