Kangra district lies between 31˚ 21′ to 32˚ 59′ N latitude and 75˚ 47′ 55″ to 77˚ 45′ E longitude. It is situated on the southern escarpment of the Himalayas. The entire area of the district is traversed by the varying altitude of the Shivaliks, Dhauladhar and the Himalayas from north-west to south-east. The altitude varies from 500 metres above mean sea level (amsl) to around 5000 metres amsl. It is encapsulated in the north by the districts of Chamba and Lahaul and Spiti, in the south by Hamirpur and Una, in the east by Mandi and in the west by Gurdaspur district of Punjab. The present Kangra district came into existence on the 1st September, 1972 consequent upon the re-organisation of districts by the Government of Himachal Pradesh. It was the largest district of the composite Punjab in terms of area till it was transferred to Himachal Pradesh on the 1st November, 1966 and had six tehsils namely Nurpur, Kangra, Palampur, Dehragopipur, Hamirpur and Una. Kullu was also a tehsil of Kangra district up to 1962 and Lahaul & Spiti which also formed a part of Kangra was carved out as a separate district in 1960. On the re-organisation of composite Punjab on the 1st November, 1966 the area constituting Kangra district were transferred to Himachal Pradesh along with the districts of Shimla, Kullu and Lahaul and Spiti and tehsils of Una and Nalagarh and three villages of Gurdaspur district.
Kangra district derives its name from Kangra town that was known as Nagarkot in ancient times. Kangra proper originally was a part of the ancient Trigarta (Jullundur), which comprises of the area lying between the river "Shatadroo" (probably Sutlej) and Ravi. A tract of land to the east of Sutlej that probably is the area of Sirhind in Punjab also formed a part of Trigrata. Trigrata had two provinces. One in the plains with headquarters at Jullundur and other in the hills with headquarters at Nagarkot (the present Kangra).