Himachal Pradesh a mountainous state, of northern India, is bordered on the north by Jammu and Kashmir, on the west and southwest by Punjab, on the south by Haryana, on the southeast by Uttar Pradesh, and on the east by Tibet. The area of Himachal Pradesh is 55,673 sq km.. with its capital at Shimla.
It takes its names from the Himalayan ranges which dominate its topography. These include the Pir Panjal, Hathi, and Dhaola Dhar ranges and the Zaskar Mountains. Elevations range from about 4,600 m to more than 6,700 m ; the higher peaks are permanently under snow. In the south the land becomes more hilly and there are wooded valleys. The main rivers are the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej, and the Yamuna. The state government has built dams across many of the rivers to take advantage of Himachal Pradesh's rich hydroelectric power potential; the damming of the Sutlej River by the Bhakra Dam has created the largest lake in the region. The climate ranges from mild to bitterly cold.
Quaint Village Himachal Pradesh
The population of Himachal Pradesh is about 5. 17 million giving a density of about 93 people per sq km. . Shimla's population is about 1 10,000. At an elevation of 2,200 m , Shimla is the largest and most popular of the summer hill resorts. The town of Dharamsala, in the Dhaola Dar range, has been home of the Dalai Lama since his exit from Tibet in 1959. The predominant Hindu culture has absorbed the majority of hill tribes, although the caste system is less rigid than elsewhere in lndia. Sikh, Muslirn, Buddhist, and Christian minorities total about 5 per cent of the population.
Himachal Pradesh is the least urbanized state in India; less than 9 per cent of the population lives in towns. Hindi is the medium of instruction in schools and is widely spoken. However, the main everyday language is Pahari, a Hindi dialect. 'There is a rich tradition of song, dance, and crafts in Himachal Pradesh. The economy is predominantly agricultural. The main crops are wheat, rice, maize, barley, and potatoes. At higher elevations, arable farming is supplemented by animal husbandry.
Fruit is the major cash crop. The forests provide gums and resins, as well as timber for construction and fuel wood. There is small-scale mining of slate, gypsum, ironstone, dolomite, and pyrite. Himachal Pradesh's main industries include iron foundries, resin and turpentine factories, breweries, fertilizer and electronics plants. The weaving of woollen garments is the main craft industry. Himachal Pradesh is a popular trekking area; tourism is promoted and expanding.
Way back in 1817, a small village tucked away in the Himalayas was discovered by British surveyors and pronounced an ideal retreat for the homesick colonizers. Named after Shyamla Devi, an incarnation of the fierce goddess Kali, stories of Shimla's salubrious climate and invigorating surroundings made it grow in popularity.
Sprawled over 12 kms on a crescent shaped ridge, Shimla is the largest hill station and erstwhile summer capital of the British in India. Descending in layers from the top of the ridge, at 2,213 meters, Shimla straddles several hills, including the Jakhoo, Prospect Hill, Observatory Hill, Elysium Hill, and Summer Hill.
Though Shimla, which is now the capital of Himachal Pradesh, has come a long way from the days of the Raj, the old British buildings, quaint cottages and churches still remind visitors of an era long gone by.
Shimla is also famous for Kalka to Shimla train journey which is the one of the most sought after journey in the country. This track is now on the UNESCO's world heritage rail site. This is one of the oldest hill railway track built by the British in India.
Located on the banks of the Beas River was once known as kulanthpitha -the end of the habitable world. Beyond its perimeter loomed the magnificent himalayas, and by the beas sprawled the 'silver valley' Kullu came to be accessible only after independence. Kullu is famous for dussehra festival. Decorated palanquins and processions convey gods and goddesses from Temples allover the valley of Kullu, to pay homage to the reigning deity, raghunathji. A mela springs up during the festival which is celebrated with a great deal of singing, dancing and festivity.
Situated at the northern end of the Kullu valley, Manali has spectacular views of snow-capped peaks and wooded slopes along the banks of the Beas. It is the main holiday destination in the entire valley. The Manali market is crowded with myriad of interesting shops selling Tibetan carpets and crafts. Manali is a popular base for trekking and mountaineering in summer and skiing in winter.
Standing at the foot of the spectacular Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas, sprawled over five hills-kathlog, portrevn, moti tibba (formerly known as tehra), bakrota and balun, Dalhousie is noted for the magnificence of its scenery. A resort that still exudes an old worldly charm, Dalhousie has retained much of the British Raj style. The British governor general, lord Dalhousie, had visited this area and ever since it has been named after him. Set amidst the thickly wooded hills, clothed in deodar and pine, Dalhousie has marvelous forest trails and picnic spots with splendid vistas over the Chamba valley.
It is a Hindi word and an approximate translation into English would be 'spiritual dwelling' or, more loosely, 'sanctuary'.
The hill station sits on a narrow ridgeline along the Dhauladhar range. Surrounded by pine forests, the grand Dhauladhar ranges tower like sheets of rock over Dharamshala, making this a great place for the adventure lover. Dharamshala town is roughly divided into two sections – the lower town with its traditional settlement and market areas and the upper town of McLeodganj, famous for its celebrity resident, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Founded by the British between 1815 and 1847, Dharamshala remained a low-profile hill town till the influx of Tibetan refugees along with the Dalai Lama. The influx of Tibetan refugees after Chinese occupation in 1959 changed all that. The Dalai Lama set up his temporary residence at McLeodganj, the upper town and has continued to stay here.
The serene town of Chamba lies on the bank of the Ravi River. An erstwhile princely state, it was the capital of the former rulers of Chamba. Raja Sahil Verma who had named it after his daughter Champavati founded it in 920 ad. Isolated in this valley by the high ranges, Chamba developed its own style of architecture and art. Much of this heritage has been preserved and Chamba is known for its exquisite miniatures and handicrafts.
An exciting mountain road runs through Cliffside cuttings along the left bank of the Sutlej, which is frequently blocked by rock falls and landslides during the monsoons. At Choling the Sutlej joars through a narrow force, and at Wangtu the road re-crosses the river where vehicle details are checked. Immediately after crossing the Wangtu bridge a narrow side road goes to Kafnoo village (2,427 mts), in the Bhabha valley. It is a 5-hour drive from Sarahan to Kafnoo which is a camping site and the start for an attractive 10-day trek to the Pin valley.
Mandi, at the lower end of the Beas valley, 760 meters above sea level, 400 years old town is located on an old trade route into Tibet. Mandi is famous for its beautifully sculpted stone Temples of Panchvaktra, Ardhanarinateshwar, Triloknath and Bhutnath. Jnajheli, an un spoilt village, is located at 67 km from Mandi. Rewalsar 25 km away from the Mandi has a lake with its curious floating islands of reed. It is believed that the Buddhist sage and teacher Padmasambhava had departed for Tibet from Rewalsar to spread the message of lord Buddha. Buddhist pilgrims come every year to the ancient Nyingmapa monastery on the bank of the lake.
It is one of the most scenic saucer shaped plateau and is surrounded by dense pine and deodar forests. Its beauty has further been enhanced by a small lake in the center with a floating Island and a temple of Khajjiar deity. Under the canopy of the blue sky, set in the rolling green turf is a small but picturesque lake, with the added attraction of a island. Adding to the Charms of Khajjiar, which also hugs a golden-domed Devi temple, is a golf course set in idyllic surroundings. The golden spire of the Devi's abode beckons one to the fringe of the lake. One gets out of the car to go to the lake but the ground seems to give way. The earth is `spongy' due to dense growth of earth. There is plenty of wild life Sanctuary. There is a 9 hole golf ground here but is no more in regular use. The lake has been taken up for improvement. It is known as the Gulmarg of Himachal Pradesh.
Situated at an altitude of 3350 meters, Keylong is the head quarter of Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh lying on Indo-Tebetan Border. The region is strange, exciting, primitive mountaineous and delightful. It is on the main road to Leh over Rohtang Pass. It is an oasis of green fields and willow trees, water streams surrounded with brown hills and snow capped peaks.