About Himachal Pradesh

The state of Himachal Pradesh is covering around 21,495 sq mi or 55,670 km2 of land in the Northern part of India. It is surrounded by the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the north; the state of Punjab is covering the western as well as the southern west part of Himachal Pradesh. Towards its east some autonomous region of Tibet is located and Uttarakhand and Haryana border the state towards South East. The name of the state was given by Acharya Diwakar Datt Sharma; the great Sanskrit Scholar. The meaning of the word Hima is Snow. Literal meaning of the Himachal Pradesh is in the lap of the Himalayas.

The lavished natural beauty of Himachal Pradesh makes it a well-known tourist spot. Himachal Pradesh was declared as a Union Territory in the year 1950 but according to the State of Himachal Pradesh Act 1971 it came out to be the eighteenth state of the Indian republic. It is one of the most prosperous states of India with the third fastest growing economy in the country.

Himachal Pradesh ’s economy at present is the third fastest growing in India. In a list pertaining to the highest per capita income of the Indian states, Himachal Pradesh is ranked on the fourth place. Due to plenty of perpetual rivers, Himachal sells hydroelectricity to other states such as Rajasthan, Punjab and Delhi. Himachal Pradesh economy is largely dependent on three sources: tourism, agriculture and hydroelectric power.

With almost 90% of its population living in rural areas, Himachal Pradesh is least urbanized state of India, however, Shimla district is relatively urbanized and its 25% population is living in urban areas. As per Transparency International survey conducted in year 2005, Himachal Pradesh is the second-least corrupt state in India after Kerala.

Geography and Weather

Being situated in the Himalayas on the western side and having an area of 55,673 kilometers (34,594 mi), Himachal Pradesh is a hilly state with altitude range from 350 meters (1,148 ft) to 7,000 meters (22,966 ft) above sea level.

Both rivers and glaciers form part of the drainage system of the Himachal Pradesh with the rivers of Himalayas cris-crossing the complete mountain chain. These rivers are much older than the mountains. Both the Ganges and Indus basins get water from the Himachal Pradesh. The region’s drainage systems are the Sutlej, the Ravi, the Yamuna, the Beas, and Chandra Bhaga or the Chenab. Being perennial, these rivers are fed by rain and snowfall and are protected by widespread cover of natural vegetation.

Due to tremendous disparity in elevation, Himachal has a large variation in the climatic conditions. The climate varies from sub-humid, hot and tropical in southern parts to glacial, alpine and cold in the eastern and northern mountain ranges with high elevation. The state includes areas like Spiti and Lahaul which are almost rainless and cold, and those like Dharamsala which receive intense rainfall. Generally, Himachal has got three seasons; cold weather season, rainy season and the hot weather season. Summer is from mid April till June end and a large amount of parts become extremely hot (exception the alpine zone which experience mild summer) with average temperature range from 28 °C (82 °F) to 32 °C (90 °F). Winter season is from late November till March mid. Alpine tracts receive snowfall (normally above 2,200 meters (7,218 ft) i.e. in the Trans-Himalayan and Higher region).

Districts of Himachal Pradesh

There are twelve diverse districts in Himachal Pradesh which are the main tourist places and are equipped with all modern amenities. Himachal Pradesh has following districts

  • Bilaspur

  • Chamba

  • Hamirpur

  • Kangra

  • Kinnaur

  • Kullu

  • Lahaul-Spiti

  • Mandi

  • Shimla

  • Sirmaur

  • Solan

  • Una

Brief History of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh region was known as 'Deva Bhoomi'. In early days, tribes like the Kirats, Dagis, Kinnars, Dhaugris, Khasas, Dasa, Halis and Kolis lived in it. There has been Aryan influence in this Indian region from the era prior to the Rigveda. In 883 AD, Sankar Varma, the ruler of Kashmir had his authority over the areas of Himachal Pradesh. In 1009 AD, Himachal Pradesh saw the attack by Mahmud of Ghazni, who attacked and looted the riches from the temples in North India. The Rajputs ruled over this region in 1043 AD. Due to its vivacious and beautiful natural scenery this region received the royal support of the Mughal emperors who built various works of art as an admiration of this terrain. In 1773 AD, Sansar Chand a Rajput king ruled this area till 1804 when Maharaja Ranjit Singh invaded and crushed the power of Rajputs in this region. This region was captured and devastated by The Gurkha migrants from Nepal. After the Gurkha War of 1815-16, the British, in the early years of 19th century, influenced and annexed the Shimla region. In 1948 it was declared a centrally administered territory combining 31 hill states and in 1966 more regions were added to it.

Economy of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh economy is largely dependent on apples and tourism. There are also some natural minerals in this state. There are two big cement factories in Himachal which not only fulfills needs of its people but also to other states. Due to the presence of large numbers of perennial rivers, hydro electricity forms another major part of the economy of Himachal Pradesh. In spite of substantial challenges, the state is well connected through rail, road and air. Among all hill states of India, Himachal has the highest road density with two narrow gauge rail tracks and three airports. The swift infrastructure developments by the government and the suitable agricultural machinery, promotion of modern techniques of cultivation among the farmers and good breeds of poultry, sheep and cattle have made Himachal as a role model of rapid conversion from most backward part of India to one of its highly developed states. Now Himachal is at fourth rank in per capita income among the states of India.

Himachal Pradesh Travel Information

Himachal Pradesh is having everlasting snow peaks abound in unusual valleys, magnificent green hill-slopes, streams, mountains and the hills of Himalayas which attracts the tourists’ world over. Himachal Pradesh is having various pilgrimages, adventure sports destinations, hill resorts and wildlife which draw numerous tourists. Today, Himachal Pradesh is one of the most important destinations for tourists in India. It also has admirable trekking. Main tourist areas are Palampur, Chamba-Dalhousie, Dharamsala, Shimla, Kulu-Manali. Temple at Sarahan, Bhima Kali, Jwalajee, Hatkoti, Chintpurni, Chamunda Devi, Rewalsar and Renuka, Naina Devi  and Deoth Siddh are key pilgrimage attractions. Tourist complexes are being brought up at Kaza, Keylong, Shoja, Sangla, Kharapathar, Khadrala, Kalpa, Bharmour, Chansal, Chindi and Naggar castle. Hang-gliding tournaments are organized in the Kangra valley. For winter sports the Solang Nallah slopes are popular. An art gallery is in Naggar and museums in Shimla, Dharamsala and Chamba. The striking resort of Khajjair located in Chamba district is termed as the Switzerland of Himachal Pradesh.

Education of Himachal Pradesh

During the British Raj, Himachal Pradesh was the summer capital. Therefore, the education and its standard here is of substantial level. There are many educational institutes in this state for higher studies. National Institute of Technology and H.P. University lead the way for the institutes of the state. There are many other Universities - Dr. Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture & Forestry, Nauni; Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Palampur; National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur; and Jaypee University of Information Technology, Solan. According to 2001 census, total literacy rate is 77.13% with female literacy rate at 68.08% and male literacy rate at 86.02%.

Food of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh does not have many explicit varieties of food. The extensive migration of people of Tibet and a long-time relationship with Punjab has caused impact of the Punjabi and Tibetan food on Himachal. The exclusive Himachali cuisines consist of Indra (prepared with Urad dal), Nasasta (a sweetmeat) of Kangra region; Bada/Poldu and Baadi/Ghaunda of Shimla region; other favorites of this state are Chouck, chutneys of Til, Bhagjery and Pateer. Non-vegetarian cuisines are also popular in Himachal Pradesh.

Arts & Culture of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal has diverse and few complicated dance forms. The dances are an inevitable part of the ethnic life, which shows enormous determination and humor of the people despite death and poverty. Dancing is an inseparable part of all festivals in Himachal. The state has dance forms like Dharveshi, Dulshol, Dev Naritya, Drodi, Nritya, Nagas, Lasa, Nati and Rakshas Dangi.

There is very good sense of art among Himachalis and it can be seen in their day to day life. Their materials made of metal includes ritualistic vessels, attractive utensils, silver jewelers and idols; the clay pots of Kangra; the garments and embroidered shawls depict both simple folk and classical designs and styles; and the customary jewelers for all imaginable usages, are a few of their admired crafts. Wool weaving is a main cottage industry.

Music & Dance of Himachal Pradesh

Himachali songs do not require instruments along with them and they are usually based on love and sentiments of separated lovers. However, rituals form part of few songs. Love songs include Laman, Chhinj, Gangi, Jhoori, Tappe and Mohana. Dholru is a song based on seasons. The ballads depicting warriors are Bare-Haren, the Soohadiyan are child birth songs. Pakkahad and Losi and Suhaag songs are family songs, Karak are songs praising the deities and Alhaini is a mourning song. A specific singing style is followed in these songs and they have deep impact of the geographical specifics.

Costumes of Himachal Pradesh

The residents of high lands like Kinnaur and Lahaul- spiti make the dresses from wool for festivals and weddings. The byangi wool is popular for making the woolen products. Himachali women generally wear sari. Dresses like Kameez, Kurta and Salwar in traditional Himachali style are also popular among all ages of women. Himachali women also wear waistcoat / coat in cold winter weather.

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