Himachal Pradesh is popularly known as the Devbhumi – “Land of the Gods”. Himachal Pradesh is one of most beautiful states in India, nestles in north-west region of western Himalayas. Himachal Pradesh is bordered by Jammu & Kashmir on North, Punjab on West, Haryana on South, Uttar Pradesh on South-East and China on the East.. However Himachal Pradesh stands apart from its neighbours in terms of its sheer topographic diversity and divine natural beauty. From vast tracts of high-altitude Trans-Himalayan desert to dense green deodar forests, from apple orchards to cultivated terraces, from snow capped high Himalayan mountain ranges to snow fed lakes and gushing rivers.
Socio-Political History of Himachal Pradesh
The earliest known inhabitants of the region were tribals called Dasas. Later, Aryans came and they assimilated in the tribes. In the later centuries, the hill chieftains accepted suzerainty of the Mauryan empire, the Kaushans, the Guptas and Kanuaj rulers. During the Mughal period, the Rajas of the hill states made some mutually agreed arrangements which governed their relations. In the 19th century, Ranjit Singh annexed/subjugated many of the states. When the British came, they defeated Gorkhas and entered into treaties with some Rajas and annexed the kingdoms of the others. The situation largely remained the same untill 1947. After Independence, 30 princely states of the area were united and Himachal Pradesh was formed on 15th April, 1948. On 1st November, 1966, certain areas belonging to Punjab were included in Himachal Pradesh. On 25th January, 1971, Himachal Pradesh was made a full-fledged State.
Places to visit in Himachal Pradesh
Shimla is the capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh in India. It is a very popular holiday-retreat during the summer months and is well-known for its Victorian architecture, which is reflected in certain areas of the Mall and The Ridge. It is also a famous holiday spot for honeymoon. Sitting majestically above the searing plains, the British designated the town as the summer capital of India. The higher levels of the town reflect this British connection, comprising mostly buildings in the Victorian style, while the lower slopes are occupied with Indian bazaars and restaurants. Traffic is banned from the historic central area, (known as the Mall) which means that the atmosphere is calm and the air pristine. More details..
Manali is a city in the Kullu Valley. Manali is a hill station situated at a height of 2050 m (6398 ft) in the Himalayas. Situated on the Beas river (Vyaas in Hindi) and near its source, it is a popular tourist spot for Indians in summer and a magical, snow-covered place in winter. A staging point for a number of treks (Beas Kund, Chandrakhani Pass) and sports such as white-water rafting, Manali is also on the road to Ladakh via the valley of Lahaul and Spiti and rohtang pass which is main attraction near manali. More details..
This is a hill station lying on the spur of the Dhauladhar range about 17 kms north- east of Kangra town. This hill station is wooded with oak and conifer trees and snow capped mountains enfold three sides of the town while the valley stretches in front. The snowline is perhaps more easily accessible at Dharamshala than at any other hill resort and it is possible to make a day’s trek to a snow-point after an early morning’s start. Dharamshala is also the headquarter of the Kangra district. More details..
Dalhousie (2036 m) is a hill station full of colonial charm that holds lingering echoes of the Raj. Spread out over the five hills (Kathlog, Potreys, Tehra, Bakrota and Balun) the town is named after the 19th century British Governer General Lord Dalhousie. It was popular with the British Army personnel in 1860?s. The town’s varying altitude shades it with a variety of vegetation that includes stately grooves of pines, deodars, oaks and flowering rhododendrowns. Rich in colonial architecture, the town preserves some beautiful churches. St. John church is the oldest one built in 1863, St. Francis was built in 1894, St. Andrew in 1903 and St. Patric in 1909. More details..
Bharmour is located 61 kms from Chamba and often referred as the land of Shiva because of belief that lord Shiva resides at manimahesh which is located in this area. Bharmour is popular for its natural beauty, for very old archaeological remains, primarily the temples and Manimahesh. All these temples stand on a level area which is called as Chaurasi Temple, after the 84 Siddhas who are believed to have meditated in here over 1000 years ago. More details..
The town of Chamba, is situated in the western Himalayas between north latitudes 32°10? and 33°13? and east longitudes 75°45? and 77°33?. The town stands on a plateau on the right bank of the Ravi river valley between Dhauladhar and Zanskar ranges south of the inner Himalayas. In the bansauli or genealogical rolls of the Chamba Rajas a reference occurs of place which was adorned with highly fragrant Champaka trees and guarded by Goddess Champavati or more popularly known as Chameshni. The temple was built by Sahil Varman in the honour of his daughter Champavati who is worshipped as a goddess in Chamba. Champavati temple became the family temple of the ruling family. More details..
Getting to Himachal Pradesh
There are five major zones that draw the maximum visitor or act as base camps for most of Himachal Pradesh – Shimla, Kullu and Manali, Dalhousie and Chamba, Kangra- Dharamshala-Palampur and Paonta-Nahan. From these routes one can explore “off-beat” destinations also. A wide range of accommodation like tourism hotels, private hotels, guest houses, home stays, rest houses etc. are available in these areas.
By Air: The airport is at Jubbarhatti, 23 km from Shimla city and is connected to Delhi. Taxi/cabs are available.
By Rail: Shimla is connected by a broadgauge line up to Kalka (90 km). The journey between Kalka and Shimla takes about six hours and is one of the finest ways of enjoying the landscape. The quaint rail car, which runs on this stretch, takes about five hours. A luxury coach that accommodates six persons has recentely been introduced and can be attached to any train of your choice. The Shivalik Express is a deluxe train on this route. Delhi (380 km), Chandigarh (120 km) and Kalka (90 km) from Shimla.
By Road: Shimla is connected by road to all major cities in north India. Taxi cabs for Shimla are available at Delhi, Chandigarh, Ambala and Kalka. Several state-run transport corporations including the Himachal Tourism Development Corporations ply Volvo ac and deluxe buses from Delhi and Chandigarh. Buses can also be chartered.
Dalhousie, Chamba and Bharmour
By Air: The closest airport is at Gaggal (Kangra) near Dharamshala which is 125 km (Approx) from Dalhousie, 170 km (Approx) from Chamba via Banikhet route and 230 km from Bharmour. Taxis are available.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is at Pathankot 85 km from Dalhousie,120 km from Chamba and 180 km from Bharmour. Taxis are available.
By Road: Dalhousie, Chamba and Bharmour are well connected by road. Taxis and regular coaches connect the towns.
Dharamshala, Kangra and Palampur
By Air: The airport at Gaggal is 14 km from Dharamshala, 10 km from Kangra and 23 km from its twin town Mcleodganj. Palampur is 40 km away. Taxis are available.
By Rail: Pathankot is the closest broadgauge railhead and is 85 km from Dharamshala and 124 km from Palampur. Taxis are available. You can opt for the narrow gauge train for a taste of the area. It connects Pathankot to Jogindernagar. The station feeding Dharamshala is Kangra Mandir (20 km) and the one for Palampur is Maranda.
By Road: Dharamshala is accessible from National Highway No. 20 and is well linked to the region. It is 12 km from Gaggal town. Palampur is 38 km from Dharamshala and even independently is well linked. Dharamshala is 17 km from Kangra.
An interesting variation of the standard can be made by taking the train from Delhi up to Jalandhar or Una and then traveling by road. En route you can visit the shrines of Chintpurni, Jawalamukhi and Bajreshwari Devi (Kangra). The shrine of Naina Devi is also easily accessible if you opt for the Nangal railway station. The road distance from Jalandhar to Dharamshala is 165 km along this route.
Kullu and Manali
By Air: The airport at Bhuntar is the common base that feeds these towns. This is 10 km from Kullu and 50 km from Manali. Public transport buses and taxis are available.
By Road: Kullu and Manali are connected by an extensive network of road with the northen region. Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned deluxe coaches are run by HRTC, HPTDC and by private sector operators. National Highway No. 21 runs through the valley and connects Chandigarh and Delhi. Kullu is 535 km from Delhi.
Nahan, Paonta and Renuka (Sirmaur)
By Air: The closest airport is at Chandigarh.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is at Ambala and Kalka . Taxi’s are available.
By Road: From Ambala, Chandigarh & Kalka and Dehradun. Regular bus service connect the towns. Paonta Sahib is 45 km and Renuka is 38 km from Nahan.