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 others. The situation more or less remained unchanged till 1947. After Independence, 30 princely states of the area were united and Himachal Pradesh was formed on 15th April, 1948. With the recognition of Punjab on 1st November, 1966, certain areas belonging to it were also included in Himachal Pradesh. On 25th January, 1971, Himachal Pradesh was made a full-fledged State.The State is bordered by Jammu & Kashmir on North, Punjab on West and South-West, Haryana on South, Uttar Pradesh on South-East and China on the East.
History of Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh has been inhabited by human beings since the dawn of civilization. It has a rich and varied history which can be divided into several distinct eras.
Prehistory and Protohistory
About 2 million years ago man lived in the foothills of Himachal Pradesh, viz in the Bangana valley of Kangra, Sirsa valley of Nalagarh and Markanda valley of Sirmour. The foothills of the state were inhabited by people from Indus valley civilization which flourished between 2250 and 1750 B.C. People of Indus valley civilization pushed the original inhabitants of Ganga plains who were known as Kolorian people towards north. They moved to the hills of Himachal Pradesh where they could live peacefully and preserve their way of life.In the Vedas they have been referred to as Dasas, Dasyus and Nishadas while in later works they have been called Kinnars, Nagas and Yakshas. The Kols or Mundas are believed to be the original migrants to the hills of present day Himachal.The second phase of migrants came in the form of Mongoloid people known as Bhotas and Kiratas. Later on came the third and most important wave of migrants in the form of the Aryans who left their Central Asian home. These laid the base of history and culture of Himachal Pradesh.
Early History up to Harsha
According to the Mahabharta the tract which forms the present day Himachal Pradesh was made up of number of small republics known as Janpadas each of which constituted both a state and cultural unit.
The were the most prominent ancient tribes of Himachal who lived in the lower hills between Pathankot and Jwalamukhi. They formed a separate state in 2 B.C.
The state lay in the foothills drained by three rivers, i.e. Ravi, Beas and Satluj and hence the name. It is believed to have been an independent republic.
The kingdom of Kilita was situated in the upper Beas valley which is also known as the Kully valley. Its capital was Naggar.
This kingdom covered the area lying between the Beas, Satluj and Yamuna rivers, i.e. the Shimla and Sirmour hills. Their administration resembled a republic with members of a central assembly sharing the powers of the king.
Chandragupta slowly subdued most of the republics of Himachal by show of strength or use of force though he usually did not rule them directly. Ashoka, the grandson of Chandragupta extended his boundaries to the Himalyan region. He introduced Buddhism to this tract. He built many stupas one of which is in the Kullu valley.
After the collapse of Gupta empire and before the rise of Harsha, this area was again ruled by petty chiefs known as Thakurs and Ranas. With the rise of Harsha in the early 7th century, most of these small states acknowledged his overall supremacy though many local powers remained with the petty chiefs.
A few decades after Harsha's death (647 A.D.) many Rajput states ascended in Rajsthan and Indus plains. They fought amongst themselves and the vanquished moved to the hills with their followers, where they set up small states or principalities. These states were Kangra, Nurpur, Suket, Mandi, Kutlehar, Baghal, Bilaspur, Nalagarh, Keonthal, Dhami, Kunihar, Bushahar, Sirmour.
The small hill kingdom enjoyed a large degree of independence till the eve of Muslim invasions in northern India. States of the foothills were devastated by Muslim invaders from time to time. Mahmud Ghaznavi conquered Kangra at the begining of the 10th centuary. Timur and Sikander Lodi also marched through the lower hills and captured several forts and fought many battles.Later on as the Mughal dynasty began to break up; the rulers of the hill states took full advantage. The Katoch rulers of Kangra availed of this opportunity and Kangra regained independence status under Maharaja Sansar Chand who ruled for nearly half a centuary. He was one of the ablest administrators of the region. After he took formal possession of Kangra fort, Sansar Chand began to expand his territory. The states of Chamba, Suket, Mandi, Bilaspur, Guler, Jaswan, Siwan and Datarpur came under the direct or indirect control of Sansar Chand.
Anglo-Gorkha and Anglo-Sikh War
The Gorkhas, a martial tribe came to power in Nepal in the year 1768. They consolidated their military power and began to expand their territory. Gradually the Gorkhas annexed Sirmour and Shimla hill states. With the leadership of Amar Singh Thapa, Gorkhas laid siege to Kangra. They managed to defeat Sansar Chand, the ruler of kangra, in 1806 with the help of many hill chiefs. However Gorkhas could not capture Kangra fort which came under Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in 1809. After this defeat the Gorkhas began to expand towards south. This resulted in the Anglo-Gorkha war. They came into direct conflict with the English along the tarai belt after which the English expelled them from the hill states east of the Satluj. Thus British slowly emerged as the paramount powers in this tract.After the Anglo-Gorkha war the common border of the British domain and Punjab became very sensitive. Both the Sikh and English wanted to avoid a direct conflict, but after the death of Ranjit Singh, the Khalsa army fought a number of wars with the British. In 1845 when the Sikhs invaded the British territory by crossing the Satluj, the rulers of many hill states sided with the English as they were looking for an opportunity to settle scores with the former. Many of these rulers entered into secret communication with the English. After the first Anglo-Sikh war, the British did not restore the hill territory vacated by Sikhs to their original owners.
Revolt of 1857
The revolt or first Indian war of independence resulted due to the building up of political, social, economic, religious and military grievances against the British. People of the hill states were not politically alive as the people in other parts of the country. They remained more or less aloof and so did their rulers with the exception of Bushahr. Some of them even rendered help to the Britishers during the revolt. Among them were the rulers of Chamba, Bilaspur, Bhagal and Dhami. The rulers of Bushars acted in a manner hostile to the interests of British. However it is not clear whether they actually aided the rebels or not.
British Rule 1858 to 1914
The British territories in the hill came under British Crown after Queen Victoria's proclamation of 1858. The states of Chamba, Mandi and Bilaspur made good progress in many fields during the British rule. During the first World War, virtually all rulers of the hill states remained loyal and contributed to the British war effort both in thr form of men and materials. Amongst these were the states of Kangra, Siba, Nurpur, Chamba, Suket, Mandi and Bilaspur.
Freedom Struggle 1914 to 1947
The people of the hill also participated in the freedom struggle. The highlights of the freedom movement in this tract are listed below:Praja Mandal launched agitations against the British yoke in areas under direct British Rule.In other princely states agitations were launched for social and political reforms. However these were directed more against the princes than against the British and as such were mere extensions of freedom movement.The Mandi conspiracy was carried out in 1914-15 under the influence of the Gadhr party. Meetings were held in Mandi and Suket states in December 1914 and January 1915 and it was decided to murder the Superintendent and Wazir of Mandi and Suket, to loot the treasury, blow to up the bridge over Beas river. However conspirators were caught and sentenced to long terms in prison.The Pajhota agitation in which the people of a part of Sirmour state revolted is regarded as an extension of the Quit India Movement of 1942.Important freedom fighters of this state during this period included Dr. Y.S. Parmar, Padam Dev, Shivanand Ramaul, Purnanand, Satya Dev, Sada Ram Chandel, Daulat Ram, Thakur Hazara Singh and Pahari Gandhi Baba Kanshi Ram.The Congress party was also active in the freedom movement in the hill state particularly in Kangra.
The history of present day Himachal Pradesh in the post-independence era has been outlined below:
The Chief Commissioner's province of H.P. came into being on 15th April, 1948.
H.P. became a part C state on 26th January, 1950 with the implementation of the Constitution of India.
Bilaspur was merged with Himachal Pradesh on 1st July, 1954.
Himachal Pradesh became Union Territory on 1st November, 1956.
Kangra and most of the other hill areas of Punjab were merged with H.P. on 1st November, 1966 though its status remained that of a Union Territory.
On 18th December, 1970 the State of Himachal Pradesh Act was passed by Parliament and the new state came into being on 25th January, 1971. Thus H.P. emerged as the eighteenth state of Indian Union.
Himachal Pradesh has come a long way since then. It has seen a number of full-fledged governments which have led the state towards economic self-reliance.
Himachal was known since the earliest of times as "Devabhoomi", the abode of the Gods. The splendid heights of the Himalyan ranges, with its great scenic beauty and aura of spiritual calm seem the natural home of the Gods. Two thousands or more temples all over the State, reiterate this fact.Being a State full of isolated valleys and high ranges, several different styles of temple architecture developed and there are temples with carved stone shikharas, pagoda style shrines, temples that look like Buddhist Gompas or Sikh Gurudwaras etc. Several of them are important places of pilgrimage and each year attract thousands of devotees from all over the country.
Just outside the town of Kangra is the temple dedicated to Bajreshwari Devi. Known once for its legendary wealth this temple was subject to successive depredations by invaders from the north. Destroyed completely in 1905 by an earthquake, it was rebuilt in 1920 and continues to be a busy place of pilgrimage Please Visit.
The ancient temple at Baijnath is particularly beautiful. Built of stone in the 9th century AD, in the shikhara style, it is a fine blend of sculpture and architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Baijnath is close to Palampur and Kangra.
Not too far from Kangra is this popular place of pilgrimage. An eternally burning flame that issues from a hollow rock in the sanctum, is considered the manifestation of the goddess Devi. During March-April and September-October every year, colorful fairs are held during the Navratra celebration. Jwalamukhi temple is 30 km. from Kangra Please Visit.
CHAMUNDA DEVI TEMPLE:
Not far from Dharamsala (Kangra) is the famous temple to Chamunda Devi. It is an enchanting spot with glorious views of the mountains, the Baner Khud, Pathiar and Lahla forest Please Visit.
LAKSHMI NARAYAN TEMPLE:
The Lakshminarayan group of temples in the town of Chamba are of great archaeological importance. Six stone temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu with tall shikaras, finely carved, date from the 8th century AD. The Lakshminarayan Temple is the oldest in this group. Other temples around Chamba town include, those dedicated to Hari Rai, Champavati, Bansigopal, Ram Chandra, Brijeshwari, Chamunda, Narsingh, and Yogi Charpat Nath.
The 9th century temples at Bharmaur are among the most important early Hindu temples in the Chamba Valley. According to legend, 84 (chaurasi) yogi's visited Bharmaur, capital of King Sahil Varma. They were so pleased with the king's humility and hospitality that they blessed him with ten sons and a daughter, Champavati. A cluster of shrines commemorates that visit. The temple square is the Centre of all activities in the little town of Bharmaur and the Lakshmi, Ganesh, Manimahesh and Narsing temples, the main shrines, are splendidly set off by the dramatic mountainscape.
Not far from Bharmaur (Chamba) is the Chattari Temple with early examples of carved wood and an 8th century brass image of Shakti.
MANIMAHESH (3,950 m):
The Manimahesh Lake, high up in the mountains near Bharmaur, is an important place of pilgrimage. The solitary Manimahesh Kailash Peak- the legendary abode of Shiva, is reflected in its still waters. A little temple in the shikhara style with an exquisite brass image of Lakshmi Devi as Mahishasuramardini stands near-by. Every year, following Janmashtami, the annual Manimahesh Yatra is undertaken. The pilgrimage starts from Chamba from the Lakshaminarayan Temple and devotees wend their way up the arduous track from Bharmaur to take a sacred dip in the waters of the lake.
Mandi has a picturesque group of ancient stone temples with tall vimanas, splendidly located below the town on the banks of the foaming river. The Tarna Devi Temple (Mandi), a new shrine up on a hill, overlooks the town and valley.
Around a natural lake with a floating island are a Shiva temple-the Lomesh Rishi Temple, Guru Govind Singh's gurdwara and a Buddhist monastery founded by Guru Padmasambhava. A spot that is revered by people of three faiths (Mandi).
This temple, built in the 14th century, is a shrine where the rulers of Mandionce worshipped. The pagoda-style temple stands in the little green hollow around the Prashar lake, above the town of Pandoh. The views of the mountains are spectacular.
SHIKARI DEVI (2850 m):
It is possible to trek up to Shikari Devi from Janjheli and Karsog (Mandi). Through woods of assorted trees and shrubs - which include several medicinal herbs - two separate trek routes lead up to this ancient shrine located at the crown of the hill. Hunters in the area once prayed to the Goddess for success in their hunt - and here, perhaps, lies the origin of the name 'Shikari Devi'. The Goddess is worshipped in the form of a stone image. Interestingly, the temple which is said to have been in existence since the time of the Pandavas, has no roof - for local legend has it, that all attempts to build one have been unsuccessful.
HANOGI MAA & KOYLA MAA TEMPLE:
Hanogi Maa temple in on the way from Mandi to Kullu near Pandoh and Koyla Maa temple near Sunder Nagar in Mandi district .
Built in 1651 by the Raja of Kullu, the temple has an image of Raghunathji that was brought from Ayodhya. During the Kullu Dussehra, all the temples in the area send their deities to pay homage to Raghunathji at Kullu.
BIJLI MAHADEV TEMPLE:
An unusual temple dedicated to Shiva-the Lord of lightning, is located on a height overlooking the Kullu and Parvati valleys. A 60ft staff above the temple attracts divine blessing in the form of lightning and breaks the stone linga in the sanctum.
This four tiered pagoda, embellished in finely carved wood, stands sheltered in grove of tall deodar at Manali (Kullu). It is dedicated to Hadimba Devi, wife of the Pandava, Bhim.
A marvelous example of hill architecture, the temple complex at Sarahanis set against the incredibly beautiful backdrop of high ranges and forested slopes. Built in a mixture of the Hindu and Budhists styles, it was the temple of Bushair rulers of Rampur (Shimla). The palaces of the royal family are adjacent to the temple. From Sarahan there is a view of the Srikhand Peak, revered as the home of goddess Lakshami.
Along the River Pabbar, 104 km from Shimla, is the temple dedicated to Durga and Shiva. The gods are said to have fought a pitched battled at this spot.
JAKHU AND SANKAT MOCHAN:
These two temples close to Shimla have a commanding views of the hills.
NAINA DEVI TEMPLE:
On a hill, close to Bilaspur and Kiratpur (34 km), is famous shrine of Naina Devi. A colourful fair, the Shravana Astami Mela is held in July-August.
A winding road goes up to the temple dedicated to Bhagwati Chinmastika or Chinpurni-the goddess who grants all wishes. A popular place of pilgrimage, Chintpurni is about 75 km from the town of Una and 100 km from Jalandhar.
The temple, dedicated to the immortal Renuka, stands near the picturesque Renuka Lake (Sirmour).
About 25 km from Nurpur (Kangra), at the confluence of the Bohar and Bhali streams, is another sacred spot popular with pilgrims of various faiths. There is a Hindu temple, a Buddhist monastery, a gurdwara and a mosque at Trilokpur.
BABA BALAK NATH TEMPLE:
A cave temple located in Deothsidth, in the Dhaulagiri Hills of Hamirpur, is a noted place of pilgrimage. People come here to seek the blessing of Baba Balak Nath whose image is located in the cave. Shahtalai, 46 km from the the district headquarters of Hamirpur and accessible by road, is about 10 km from Deothsidh.
The remote valleys of Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur have strong Buddhist traditions. Splendid gompas, Buddhist monasteries, built along bare mountain-sides seem to be a part of the rugged terrain. These are the repositories of a wealth of Buddhist art and culture. The dim, cool interiors of ancient monasteries glow with the brilliance of painted murals, stuccos and elaborate thangkas framed with rich borders of silk.In Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama has settled in exile, is a marvelous Tibetan township where an entire cultural tradition is being nurtured. It is a centre that attracts scholars, pilgrims and tourists.
Perhaps the most sacred spot for Buddhists in Himachal Pradesh, Rewalsar is 20 km south west of Mandi. According to legend, Guru Padmasambhava departed for Tibet from this beautiful spot, to spread the 'dharma'. A pagoda-style monastery stands along the edge of the lake.
GURU GHANTAL MONASTERY(3020 m):
This is on the right bank of Chandra river about 4 kms. above Tandi and is believed to be the oldest Gompa of Lahaul having wooden structure with pyramidal roofs, wood carving, preserving the idols of Padmasambhava & Brajeshwari Devi. On the full moon night in mid-June a festival called "GHANTAL" is celebrated by Lamas & Thakurs together.
KARDANG MONASTERY(3500 m):
It is about 5 kms. from Keylong across Bhaga river. It is believed to be built in 12th century. Monastery has a large library of Kangyur and Tangyur volumes of Budhist scriptures in Bhoti. Kardang village was once the capital of Lahaul.
Situated on a hill about 3 kms from Keylong (Lahaul & Spiti) towards north on the same slope. During June/ July this monastery attracts a large number of visitors when Lamas perform the devil dance. It was founded in the 17th century a.d. It belongs to red hat sec and is located among the blue pines. The paintings represent the history of 84 Buddhas.
TAYUL GOMPA(3900 m):
Tayul Gompa is 6 kms. from Keylong (Lahaul & Spiti) and is one of the oldest monasteries of the valley having a huge statue of Guru Padmasamhava about 5m high and houses library of Kangyur having 101 volumes. In Tibetan language Ta-Yul means the chosen place. There is an interesting story behind this.
It is situated 12 kms. north of Kaza (Lahaul & Spiti) and serves the western population of Spiti. It is the oldest and biggest monastery of the valley and located at (4116 m) above Kye village. It houses beautiful scriptures and paintings of Buddha and other goddesses. Lamas practice dance, sing and play on pipes and horns. Relegious training to Lama's is imparted here. It has murals and books of high value.
THANG YUG GOMPA:
It is located 13 kms. above Kaza (Lahaul & Spiti) serving western part of central Spiti. Situated in a secluded place in the narrow gauge of Kaza Nallah, it generally has a Lama from Tibet. Above this there is a long plateau which leads to Shilla peak.
It is situated in the Pin valley about 10 kms. from Attargo where Spiti river has to be crossed to enter Pin valley. It is serves the population of Pin valley.
It is situated about 25 kms. east of Kaza and serves eastern part of central Spiti. Dhankar is a big village and erstwhile capital of Spiti King. On top of a hill there is a fort which use to be a prison in olden times. The Monastery has about 100 Lamas and is in position of Buddhist scriptures in Bhoti language. Principal figure is a Statue of "Vairochana" (Dhayan Budha) consisting of 4 complete figures seated back to back. It has relics in the shape of paintings and sculptures.
This is another large gompa serving the population of eastern side. It has its origin in the tenth century old and is located 50 kms. from Kaza (Lahaul & Spiti). In fame it is next to Tholing Gompa in Tibet. It has about 60 Lamas and houses a large collection of Scriptures, wall paintings etc. Murals of this gompa have similarity to that of the Ajanta paintings.
The legendary footprints of the Guru Padamsambhava are enshrined at the Lotsabaage Monastery at Nako. This high altitude village in Kinnaur is located near a limpid lake.
Can be visited by taking diversion from Khab to Namgya and then trekking to the Gompa.
TILASANGH MONASTERY: 1 km. trek from Ka, it is 12 km. short of Yangthang.
The Sikhs came to the Shivalik Hills, in Himachal Pradesh in 1695, at the invitation of the ruler of Sirmaur, to help him fight the Mughals. Guru Gobind Singh with his army, settled in Paonta Sahib in the foothills. During the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, at the end of the 18th century, many of the western hill states also came under Sikh sovereignty.
PAONTA SAHIB: This is the main centre of Sikh pilgrimage in Himachal. The gurdwara picturesquely located on the banks of the River Yamuna in district Sirmour, is venerated due to its association with Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru. In March, an important fair is held and the holy Granth Sahib is taken out in procession.
REWALSAR: The gurdwara at Rewalsar, near Mandi, is located on the periphery of a lake sacred to both the Hindus and Buddhists as well.
MANIKARAN: The serene location and the seemingly mysterious hot springs made Manikaran (Kullu) a place of pilgrimage in earlier times. Guru Nanak, the first Guru of the Sikhs, visited this place to spend time in meditation. A gurdwara that was built to commemorate his visit, is now a place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs.
Christianity made a late appearance in Himachal Pradesh, after the arrival of the British. The churches here are not more than 150 years old. Tall churches-the relics of the Raj, are to be found mainly in the small hill stations that the British created as summer retreats.
KASAULI: Still unspoiled and very much as the British left it fifty years ago, Kasauli (Solan) has a fine old church. The Christ Church, is a typically Anglican structure of the period. Its foundation stone was laid in 1844. Well proportioned, its spires, buttresses and gothic arches are framed against the stately deodars.
The Christ Church, with its tall spire dominates the ridge in Shimla. This imposing structure is visible from as far away as Tara Devi, 8 km away. It was built in 1844, when Shimla was slowly coming into its own as the premier hill station of India., the Christ Church was designed to accommodate the entire Shimla congregation. Various memorials and stained glass windows fill the somber interior with colour and light.The first Catholic edifice of Shimla, St. Michael's Church, was built in 1850, at the western end of the Lower Bazaar. Later additions have made it an unusual piece of architecture. Inside the church are five marble altars, all brought from Italy in 1855 and fine stained glass windows.
The stone church of St. John lies on a motorable road between Mcleodganj and Forsyteganj 8 Km from Lower Dharamshala (Kangra). It has a monument of Lord Elgin, one of the viceroys of India, who died in Dharamshala and was buried here.
Dalhosie (Chamba) is another hill station with a number of old churches. The church near the G.P.O. looks untouched by time. It has an angular roof of inter-leafed hexagonal slates. The Catholic church of St. Francis, built in 1894, is set against a backdrop of tall pines overlooking the Subash Chowk.
Himachal Pradesh has a varied topography, climate and forest cover and is endowed with a vast variety of flora and fauna. From times immemorial, this tract is known for its wilderness, landscapes, beautiful forests and wildlife. In Himachal Pradesh, out of the total geographical area of 55,670 sqkm, the forest area as per legal classification is 37,691 sqkm. At present there are 32 Sanctuaries, 2 National Parks and 3 Games Reserves.
This sanctuary is located in Paonta Valley of Sirmour District. This area bears beautiful dense Sal forests with grassy glades. This is probably the most picturesque area of Shiwaliks. There is a perennial stream in the area. Simbalbara Forest Rest House is connected by a fair weather road from Puruwala and provides a beautiful view of the valley. Goral, Sambhar and Chittal can be easily seen here.There are walking trails in the quiet adjoining forests.Winter is the best season to visit this sanctuary. [Sirmour]
This is a small sanctuary connected by motorable road. Renuka lake and the temples attract a large number of people from hills and plains. Forests and the catchment of the lake add to its beauty and attraction. Lion Safari and open Nature Parks with freely moving animals like Chittal, Sambhar, Kakkar, etc. are a big attraction. Tourist Bunglow and Cafeteria provide the comforts needed in a calm and quite place. Visitors come all round the year. [Sirmour]
Churdhar peak, with height of 3647 metres is the highestpeak in outer Himalayas.It is like a Oasis of Alpine area in a ocean of temperate forests.This is an excellent area for trekking during summer and early winters. The view from Churdhar peak is un-paralled. One is sure to come across a large number of multicoloured and agile Monals in the adjoining forests. Trekking from Nohra, Sarain and Pulbahal is tough but enjoyable. There are Rest Houses at Nohra, Choras and Sarain. There is also a Sarai and a Shiv Temple at Churdhar.
Chail is a hill station visited by many tourists.The Deodar and Oak forests with grasslands around the township are the abode of wildlife. One can see Sambar, Goral and Cheer Pheasants at Blossom and Jhaja.Visitors are welcome to the Cheer pheasant breeding centre at both these places. Barking deer and Kalijin in the forests are sure to meet and greet the visitors at dusk and dawn. Trekking from Chail to Gaura and Chail to Jhaja is common and rewarding as one is sure to see wildlife and beautiful snowy peaks. Range Officer Wildlife Chail and his staff welcome the visitors and assists the wildlife lovers to see wildlife in the sanctuary area. [Solan]
This sanctuary has a very steep and rugged terrain away from habitation. This can be visited by travelling about 10 kms. on a kacha road Kararaghat (Shimla-Bilaspur- Highway) to Kashlog and then walking on foot from Kashlog. This sanctuary has the highest concentration of Goral which can be seen in its natural habitat. This sanctuary is reported to have the maximum population of endangered Cheer pheasant. One has to stay in tents in the forest, Best season to visit is the winters. [Solan]
MAHARANA PRATAP SAGAR:
This lake sanctuary is a big attraction for migratory ducks from Siberian region during winter. One can see thousands of ducks in the swamp area between Shahnahar barrage and Pongdam and the surrounding shallow waters of the lake. Clean blue water all around with the panoramic view of Dhauladhar Ranges and Kangra Valley make the visit to Ransar Island an unforgettable experience. Black buck and Cheetal on the island along with Surkhab, Cranes, Pintails and variety of water birds welcome the visitors on the Island. [Kangra]
This sanctuary starts about 2 km from Manali town. It forms the catchment of Manalsu khad. A bridle path from Manali log huts/ Dhungri temple passes through dense Deodar, Kail, Horse chestnut, Walnut and Maple forests. Night stay in tents at Lambadug or Gallant thatch is an unforgettable experience. Alpine lush green pastures and glaciers beyond Galant thatch are a romantic attraction for the enthusiastic but enduring visitors. One may see Musk deer, Monal and Brown bear digging or ploughing the land and also pug marks with scent of Leopard or Snow leopard. Those who venture up to snows can see herds of Ibex in the glacier zone in summers. [Kullu]
This sanctuary is located in Parbati valley of Kullu district. There is a Rest House at Kasol. R.O. wildlife Kasol provides information and help to visitors. Uphill walk along Garahan Nala from Kasol through dense majestic Deodar and Fir forests is enjoyable. This sanctuary has large population of Himalayan Thar in Himalayas and seeing this big goat on high mountain cliffs is dream fulfillment of any wildlife lover. [Kullu]
KALATOP KHAJJIAR SANCTUARY:
This sanctuary area with its well laid out trekking jungle trails both at Kalatop and Khajjiar is a tourist paradise. Dense Deodar and Fir forests are places of solitude very close to Dalhousie town. Visitors should look for pheasants and Serow in these forests but should be beware of Black bear which can be encountered often in the area. [Chamba]
This sanctuary located in the upper area of Shimla District has undisturbed forest area with plenty of wildlife. Monal, Tragopan, Koklas and Kalij are the pheasants found here. The area also has Musk deer, Goral and Thar. There is a net work of bridle paths and inspection paths in the sanctuary. Visitors are advised to seek assistance from the forest staff posted at Dofda and Sarahan. The area is ideal for those who love to trek along mountain heights. [Shimla]
GREAT HIMALAYAN NATIONAL PARK:
The National Park with an area of 620 sq. km. is located in Kullu District and has the representative area of temperate and alpine forests of Himachal. It has some the virgin coniferous forests of the State.Vast areas of alpine pastures and glaciers cap this park. This area has many important wildlife species of Western Himalayas, like Musk deer, Brown bear, Goral, Thar, Leopard, Snow leopard, Bharal, Serow, Monal, Kalij, Koklas, Cheer, Tragopan, Snow cock etc. Trekking of Rakti-Sar, origin of Sainj river and camping in alpine partures is unforgettable. Similar is the trekking route to Tirath the origin of Tirthan river. Visitors can contact Director, National Park at Shamshi or Range Officer wildlife at Sainj or Range Officer Wild Life at Sai Ropa (Banjar) for assistance and guidance. Camping equipment and guides are provided by the Forests Department. [Kullu]
PIN VALLEY NATIONAL PARK:
This National Park is situated in the cold desert of Spiti Valley. In this area visitors come across large herds of Ibex and Bharal. Snow leopard is found in this park. This area can be visited only by those who have tough leg muscles and strong lungs. Visitors can contact Divisional Forest Officer Wildlife Division Sarahan, Assistant Conservator of Forest Wildlife Kaza or Range Officer Wildlife Tabo for information about the park. The area is closed to foreign visitors. Indian visitors are also required to obtain a permit for entry from Deputy Commissioner Shimla or Sub Divisional Magistrate Rampur. [Lahaul & Spiti]
NATURE PARK, KUFRI:
Kufri is a well known tourist resort near Shimla. A large number of tourists visiting Shimla also visit Kufri where a nature park has been established. In this park rare varieties of Hangal, Barking Deer, Musk Deer, Brown Bear, rare species of Monal and other pheasants are kept in social groupings. [Shimla]
NATURE PARK, MANALI:
Manali is another tourist spot where a large number of visitors come. To expose visitors to the nature and to create awareness and love for wild life it is planned to develop many other facilities at Manali. There is a wild life sanctuary about 2 km away from Manali town. The tourists will be encouraged to visit this area and see the magnificence of nature here. [Kullu]
NATURE PARK, GOPALPUR:
Gopalpur is a village situated near Palampur on Palampur-Dharamsala upper road. Kangra valley in Himachal Pradesh is another area where visitors come regularly. In this nature park animals will be kept in large enclosures and conservation messages will be conveyed to the visitors through audio-visual aids. [Kangra]
FOR DETAILS PLEASE CONTACT:
Chief Conservator of Forests (Wild Life),
Mist Chamber, Khalini, Shimla - 171002.
Set high where they lord over the surrounding countryside, or tucked in wooded nooks, or placed by elegant promenades, Himachal has an enormous range of Heritage properties. These range from ancient forts that breathe of a tumultuous past, colonial mansions that speak of an age of leisure and graciousness. There are palaces that belong to a time when opulence marked the lifestyles of India's princes - and there are century old hotels that are maintained in a pristine glory, which have been painstakingly restored.This spectrum offers a range of decor and ambience - and a richly varied experience. From time-worn battlements, where the very stones speak of glory and courage, you can move to a lush countryside and savor the traditions of 'haveli' life. Just as easily, you can slip into distinctive mansions where time seems to have stood still for decades and where an easy elegance wafts under the watchful weave of priceless tapestries. Then there are hotels that justly pride themselves for years of tradition and service and whose guest-list reads like an international who's who.With nostalgia and comfort skillfully interlaced, here is a window that invites you to share a bygone era and hold its enduring charms.
ALPINE HERITAGE INN, SHIMLA
Restored and modified, this is a colonial bungalow that has a considerable measure of the character that marked Shimla's architecture. Period furniture and artifacts have been tastefully blended with modern facilities.
With the comfortable elegance of an English country manor, Chapslee was originally built in 1835. With major refurbishing done at the turn of the century, Chapslee has a magnificent interior with priceless artifacts. Ornate brass beds, Belgian chandeliers, drapes from the Doge's palace in Venice, delft tiled fireplaces and exquisite rugs, all combine to evoke the heyday of another age. Even the Burma teak used in the paneling, belongs to the same shipment that was used for the interior of the Viceregal Lodge at Shimla. In time, Chapslee became the property of Raja Charanjit Singh of Kapurthala, whose descendants now run it as a select hotel.
MADAN KUNJ, SHIMLA
Once called Khud Cottage, this colonial cottage in western Shimla, has a flavour of the past. During World War II, when Burma was under Japanese occupation, this was the summer residence of the Governor of Burma.
THE OBEROI CLARKES, SHIMLA
Towards the eastern end of Shimla's Mall, where the row of shops ends, is the Clarkes. Its neat Tudor- framed structure with window boxes, started life in the early part of the 20th century as the Carlton. In the 1920s, the hotel was taken over by Ernest Clarke and named after him. While over the years, major modifications have gone into the structure, it retains the character and warmth of an English country inn.
WOODVILLE PALACE HOTEL, SHIMLA
Backed by a hillside covered with trees of tall Himalayan cedar - the fabled 'deodar' - Woodville is a stately art-deco mansion. From 1865 to 1881, the site held the residence of the British Commander-in-Chief of the Indian army. In 1938, Raja Sir Bhagat Chandra of Jubbal, had the old house removed and in its place, the present structure was created by a body of Pathan and Chinese workmen. The terraced lawns and a facade bearded with trimmed Virginia vines, is complemented by an evocative interior - complete with select objets d' art, hunting trophies and even signed photographs of Hollywood's 'golden age' stars.
HOTEL SPRINGFIELD, SHIMLA
Towards Shimla's eastern section called 'Chhotta' - small - Shimla, is this refurbished bungalow. With an excellent view of the peak of 'Choor Chandni' - that poetically translates as 'the mountain of the silver bangle', Springfield was the residence of the former chiefs of Sheikupura.
THE CECIL, SHIMLA
In the last quarter of the 19th century, at the site of the Cecil - towards the western stretch of Shimla's elegant Mall - stood the small 'Tendril Cottage'. Its most famous occupant for a 'season' in 1885, was the writer Rudyard Kipling. The estate went on to provide the location of the Cecil - which since its creation in 1902, has been a major focus of Shimla's social life. As a guest clerk, it was here that the well-known hotelier, M.S. Oberoi started his remarkable career. The hotel which has hosted variety of dignitaries over the years, has recently been exhaustively renovated. Warm woodwork is set-off by elegant furniture and furnishings. There is a full range of suites, rooms and facilities that are comparable with the best in the world. The hotel has the coveted classification of 'Heritage Grand'.
PALACE HOTEL, CHAIL, SOLAN
The little 'hill station' of Chail came into being when Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala was banished from Shimla, the 'summer capital' of British India, after a dalliance with the Commander-in-Chief's daughter in the late 19th century. Facing Shimla-at Chail-the smarting Maharaja decided to build his own 'summer capital'. A splendid mansion surrounded by picturesque cottages, soon took shape. Chail is encircled by forests of 'deodar'—Himalayan cedar-trees and has splendid views on all sides. In 1972, the property set in about 75 acres of land—including orchards, tennis courts and cottages—passed into the hands of Himachal Tourism, and is now run as a popular Heritage Hotel and a full-fleged destination resort.
FORT RESORT, NALAGARH, SOLAN
Strategically placed at the foothills of the Himalayas, Nalagarh was the capital of the state of Hindur. This area witnessed some fierce fighting during the 'Gurkha Wars' in the first quarter of the 19th century. Spread over considerable acreage, the fort and the palace of Nalagarh have a series of structures that are mostly built in the Mughal style of architecture. These have been exhaustively renovated and are now a quality heritage resort.
HOTEL ROS COMMON AND THE HOTEL ALASIA, KASAULI, SOLAN
The small town of Kasauli has an enormous amount of 'character'. Attractive cottages with gables set in neat gardens, narrow cobbled paths shaded by oak. pine and massive horse- chestnut trees, make it picture-perfect. In this quaint town, are two properties that hold considerable measure of what is nostalgically called 'old world charm'. Himachal Tourism's Hotel Ros Common is a modified bungalow, while the Alasia dates back several decades as a hotel.
RAJMAHAL PALACE HOTEL, MANDI
A manor built in the colonial style-and still owned by the former ruling house of Mandi the hotel lies partially concealed from view by other buildings. With corridors lined with arms and portraits, its interior echoes another age. Striking pieces of ornate furniture appear at every turn and fill every nook and corner of the palace.
HOTEL CASTLE, NAGGAR, KULLU
With hewn stone neatly packed in a horizontal mesh of timber sleepers, this medieval castle was built by Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu around 1460. Perched high on a cliff, this was the stronghold of the rulers of Kullu for over two centuries till they moved down the valley. The hotel overlooks the Kullu valley and apart from the spectacular view and superb locale, this has the flavour of authentic western Himalayan architecture.
TARAGARH PALACE HOTEL, TARAGARH, PALAMPUR, KANGRA
Low rolling hills criss-crossed by narrow fast-flowing streams, scores of tiny hamlets, lush tea gardens and paddy fields - with the backdrop of the majestic Dhauladhar mountains - all combine to make Kangra one of Himachal's most beautiful tracts. Here, built in 1931, by the 27 year old ruler of Bahawalpur, Nawab Sadiq Mohammed Khan Bahadur is Al Hilal-'the Land of the Crescent Moon'. Now called Taragarh after Maharani Tara Devi, of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, who became its subsequent owner, this is a splendid art-deco mansion set amidst large grounds. Memorabilia of past adorns its elegantly appointed rooms while the grounds host a 'jungle camp'.
HOTEL MOUNTVIEW, HOTEL GEETANJALI, HOTEL GRANDVIEW, HOTEL AROMA'N' CLAIRE AND SILVERTON, DALHOUSIE, CHAMBA
The town of Dalhousie swings around the hills like a figure of eight. Along its roads andpaths are a variety of trees — pine, oak and rhododendron. And nestling among them, are examples of fine colonial architecture. Having become popular in the 'second string' of hill stations that the British built in the 19th century, Dalhousie is still a popular holiday destination. Hotel Geetanjali is run by Himachal Tourism, while Mountview, Grandview, Silverton and the Aroma'n' Claire are in the private sector. All date back several years and have a long tradition of hospitality. Built in 1939, Silverton is a modified bungalow in the heritage tradition, and is run as an exclusive guest house.
CLOUD'S END VILLA, DHARAMSALA, KANGRA
Placed in the upper reaches of the town - and with a spectacular view that encompasses the hills and allows an unimpaired look towards the plains, this is an attractive villa. With gracious hospitality, this is run by the erstwhile ruling house of Kangra. The grounds have a 'Shikar Camp'.
THE JUDGE'S COURT, PRAGPUR, KANGRA
The little village of Pragpur in Kangra's sylvan tracts, has an endearing beauty. Narrow cobbled lanes flow past old houses, and flowering Bougainvillaea drape their colours over pipul and banyan trees. And to the north, the snow clad Dhauladhar ranges frame this picture of pastoral beauty. Completed in 1918, the Judge's Court stands in a large orchard and here, the area's rural life goes easily by. Built in the 'haveli' style, but with a largely European floor plan, the house has been meticulously restored. Just a stone's throw away, is the 300 year old ancestral home that also offers the Court's hospitality.
OTHER HERITAGE PROPERTIES:
ARKI FORT, ARKI, SOLAN
Once the capital of the princely state of Baghal, Arki has witnessed a good measure of turbulence in this area. Arki became the stronghold of an invading force of Gurkhas during the 'Gurkha Wars' that came to an end in 1815-16. About 1850, Raja Kishen Chand had the fort decorated with fine murals executed in the Pahari style. Here is a place packed with history and adomed with fine art.
DAOJIDHAAR, MASHOBRA, SHIMLA
Quite different from the other heritage places, this is a rural Himachali house that has been modified to accommodate a more modern lifestyle. This is set in a large acreage, surrounded by forests - and has a stunning view of the valleys and mountains.
SUJANPUR FORT, DISTRICT HAMIRPUR AND THE LAMBAGRAON PALACE, DISTRICT KANGRA
Close to the district border of Kangra, is the fort of Sujanpur. Popularly known alongwith its twin title 'Tira', this was built by Raja Abhaya Chand of Kangra in 1758. In the early nineteenth century this was the home of the famous Raja Sansar Chand - renownded patron of the Kangra school of miniature paintings. The fort has a Barahdari Hall', where Sansar Chand used to hold court, some shrines and excellent wall paintings. With the rise of British power in the area, Lambagraon (Lambagaon) became the 'Jagir' village of the Kangra family. By the waters of the Beas, this has a charming setting and the river stretch offers good fishing.
KUTHAR FORT, KUTHAR, DISTRICT SOLAN
Within a short driving distance of both Arki and Subathu - and barely an hour away from the Jubbarhatti (Shimla) airport - is the fort of Kuthar. Its oldest sections are 800 years old while the most recent structures are barely eight decades old. This is spread over a large area and fresh-water springs flow within its confines. Close-by are several scenic attractions like Kunihar, the Gurkha fort of Subathu and the hill station of Kasauli.
THE HOLME, SHIMLA
Perhaps a place with greater 'heritage' than many there, situated, at Summerhill in Shimla. This colonial bungalow was the one-time residence of the celebrated artist Amrita Sher-Gill where she painted.
A HERITAGE MISCELLANY
Shimla, the state capital of Himachal Pradesh has some of the world's finest examples of British-colonial architecture. There is the English renaissance-inspired grey-stone former Viceregal Lodge (now the Indian Institute of Advanced study), the neo-Gothic structures of the Gaiety Theatre and the former Imperial Civil Secretariat (now the Accountant General's Office), The Tudor-framed 'Barnes Court' (now the Raj Bhavan), the Vidhan Sabha and the Secretariat of the Government of Himachal Pradesh. Colonial buildings can be found elsewhere in the state, especially in the 'hill stations' of Kasauli and Dalhousie. In addition, there are forts, palaces, temples, monasteries and residences that follow a much older tradition, to be found all over the state. The thousand year old Buddhist monastery of Tabo in Spiti with its fine wall-paintings and stucco statues has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The village of Pragpur with its age-old and well preserved architecture and cobbled streets has been declared a 'Heritage village'. Many of Himachal's forts, palaces and residences are privately owned, and naturally, the discretion of their use rests with their owners. Yet, we are proud to have them as a part of our rich heritage. Some remarkable places within or easily accessible from the main holiday stations are - Padam Palace, Rampur, The Palace Sarahan, Jandrighat Dalhousie, The Palace, Jubbal. The Palace, Sunni. The Palace, Nahan. Many traditional farmhouses all over Himachal, are also making accommodation available on their premises. These will provide visitors an insight into local lifestyles, cuisine and culture.