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Himachal Pradesh

CAPITAL SHIMLA
AREA IN Sq. km 56,000
PRINCIPAL LANGUAGES HINDI, PAHARI

Himachal pradesh the land of eternal snow peaks, is a charming mountain state. Blessed with charming crystal lakes, pretty flowers, ancient shrines and beautiful people, Himachal Pradesh is one of the loveliest states in India. Himachal Pradesh is bordered on the north by Jammu and Kashmir state, on the west and southwest by Punjab state, on the south by Haryana state, on the southeast by Uttar Pradesh state, and on the east by Tibet (an autonomous region of China). Himachal Pradesh is enveloped by the Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar ranges in the northwest, dominated by the great Himalayas in the north and east and marked with lower ridges of the Shivalik ranges in the south-east.

Himachal has five mighty snow-fed rivers flowing through it - the Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and Yamuna. Climatically, this state is divisible into two regions - the south which is as warm as the plains, and the north where the summers are temperate and winters are extremely cold.

Himachal Pradesh has a single-chamber legislative assembly with 68 seats. The state sends seven members to the Indian national parliament: three to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and four to the Lok Sabha (Lower House). Local government is based on 12 administrative districts. Shimla, also a beautiful hill resort is the capital of this state.

History

The earliest known inhabitants of this region were tribals called Dasas, who entered the hills from the Gangetic plains, between the third and second millenium B.C. They were joined by the Aryans around 2000 BC and a number of tribal republics, called the janapadas, began to emerge in geographically separate regions of this state. The close of the 10th century saw the entry of Muslim rulers, in North India, through the north western passes. The Mughals were followed by the British, who were so taken up by the beauty of the state, that they made it the summer seat of the British viceroy. After Independence, 30 princely states of the area were united and Himachal Pradesh was formed on 15 April 1948. With the reorganisation of Punjab on November 1, 1966, certain areas belonging to it were also included in Himachal Pradesh. It was declared a state of the Indian Union with Shimla as the capital, on January 25, 1971.

Society and culture

The population of Himachal Pradesh consists of various hill tribes, all speaking their own languages. These tribes include the Gadis, Gujaris, Kinnauris, Lahulis, and Pangwalis. More than 95 percent of the people are Hindus, although the caste system of social groupings is less rigid than elsewhere in India. Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist, and Christian minorities total about five percent of the population. Himachalis lead a simple and quiet life, tending their orchards, fields and flocks. Hindi (the official state language) and Pahari are the principal languages.

Himachal Pradesh is the least urbanized state in India. Its urban population accounts for less than 10 percent of the total. There are about 55 towns, of which only the capital, Shimla, has a population exceeding 80,000. Other major towns are Bilaspur, Chamba, Dalhousie, Dharamshala, Hamirpur, Kangra, Kasauli, Kulla, Mandi, Nahan, Palampur, Solan, and Sundarnagar.


Himachal also has a rich cultural heritage, and has a variety of dances, musical forms and architectural styles. The fairs and festivals of the hill people are occasions of joyful song and dance; they are a veritable riot of colours. Kullu Dussehra (October), Lavi fair (November), Minjar fair (August-September), Manimahesh fair, Shivaratri fair (February-March), and Navratri fair (April and October) are among the famous religious celebrations of Himachal.The 200 odd temples of Himachal Pradesh, diverse in style are dedicated mainly to Shiva, Durga and Buddha. Baijnath, Chintpurni, Jwalamukhi and the Laxmi Narayan temples are a few of these shrines.

Exquisitely designed shawls of Kinnaur, the distinctive woolen caps of Kullu, and the embroidered handkerchiefs of Chamba accent their colourful, festive clothing. Himachal Pradesh is also known for its Kangra Valley School of
paintings.

Economy and Infrastructure

The state’s economy is almost entirely based on the land, with about 80 per cent of the people depending on farming, horticulture, and livestock raising for their livelihood. The main crops are wheat, corn (maize), barley, rice and potatoes. One of the chief fruit and vegetable producing states in India, Himachal Pradesh produces apples, plums, peaches, apricots, and pomegranates, as well as ginger and mushrooms.

There is small scale mining of slate, gypsum, limestone, barite, dolomite and pyrite. Himachal Pradesh’s main industries include iron foundries, resin and turpentine factories, breweries, and fertilizers and electronic units. It now gas 144 large and medium units, and 21,143 small scale units which provide employment to over 100,000 people. The weaving of woolen garments is the main craft industry.

Except for the scenic, narrow-gauge rail line from Kalka (in Haryana) to Shimla
and the narrow-gauge track connecting Pathankot (Punjab) and Jogindarnagar through the Kangra valley, there are no railways or waterways in the state. Roads are the communications lifeline of Himachal Pradesh. The state-owned transport system operates more than 140 bus routes in Himachal Pradesh.

Tourist centres

Main tourist centres are Shimla, Palampur, Dharamsala, Kullu-Manali and Chamba-Dalhousie. Temples at Bhima Kali, Sarahan, Hatkoti, Jwalajee, Chamunda Devi, Chintpurni, Renuka and Rewalsar, Deoth Siddh and Naina Devi are major attractions for pilgrims. Hang-gliding competitions are held in Kangra valley. Solang Nallah slopes are getting popular for winter sports. There is an art gallery in Naggar and museums in Chamba, Shimla and Dharamsala.The beautiful tourist resort of Khajjair in Chamba district has been christened as the Switzerland of Himachal Pradesh.