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Chamba - its arts and crafts OR it's magnificent scenery

DISTANCE - 600 KM From Delhi, 185 KM From Dharamshala, 378 KM From Shimla

CONNECTION

By Air : Nearest airport is Gaggal ( Kangra ) 135 km. and Amritsar 220 km.

By Rail : The nearest broad gauge railway station is at Pathankot 120 km.
By Road : Almost each and every part of the state is linked by roads. The Himachal Road Transport Corporation is running its buses covering the whole state. There is huge network of HRTC to cater the needs of the people.

ABOUT CHAMBA

A just right go away from the mundane hustle-bustle of city life, Chamba invites tourists from all over the world to unwind themselves in its picturesque lap. This beautiful hill station of Himachal Pradesh is very famous hill resort in the state. The hill town of Chamba came to be named after Champavati, daughter of King Sahil Varman who was the erstwhile ruler of Chamba. A small historic town slowly developed to become one of the largely visited tourist destinations of Himachal Pradesh. The major contributions to this are the landscaped beauty of Chamba, several magnificent ancient temples that dot the town and dense forests.

The town is also a famous shrine for devotees of Lord Shiva and Vishnu and thus you can take up a number of pilgrimage tours to Chamba Himachal Pradesh. The forests in the region are the habitat for a wide variety of hill birds and animals and attract wildlife lovers. Chamba is also a nature lover’s paradise.

PLACES OF INTERESTS IN CHAMBA

Chaugan : The Chaugan is the heart and hub center of all activity in Chamba. According to Dr. J. Hutchison, “ The town is built on two terraces. On the lower is the Chaugan a fine grassy sward, about a half a mile long by eighty yards broad. Tradition is silent as to its use as a polo ground and the name is etymologically distinct from Chaugan, the Persian name of Polo, being of Sanskrit origin and meaning ‘four-sided; Besides being a public promenade and recreation-ground, the Chaugan was utilized for State Darbars and sports”.

Akhand Chandi Palace : Construction of this residential building of the Chamba family was started by Raja Umed Singh sometimes between 1748-1764 AD. The place was rebuilt and renovated during the reign of Raja Sham Singh with the help of British engineers. The Darbar Hall (Marshal Hall) was built in 1879 by Capt. Marshal and the Zanana Mehal was added in the reign of Raja Bhuri Singh. The subsequent additions and alterations clearly betray the Mughal and the British influence. In 1958 the Palace building was sold by the descendants of the royal family to the Himachal Government.

Rang Mahal : One of the largest monuments, Rang Mahal is located in Surara Mohalla. The foundation of Rang Mahal was laid by Raja Umed Sing (1748-1764). The super structure of RangMahal, which is in brick belongs to a later date with its southern portion built around 1860 by Raj Sri Singh. The architecture of Rang Mahal is an amalgam of Mughal and British styles. This palace was the residence for a branch of the ruling family.

Bhuri Singh Museum : Bhuri Singh Museum at Chamba opened formally on 14-09-1908, it is named after Raja Bhuri Singh who ruled Chamba from 1904 to 1919. Bhuri Singh donated his family collection of paintings to the museum. The idea to open a public museum came from J. Ph. Vogel, an eminent Indologist who was serving A.S.I. and who through an intensive exploration had discovered, read and analyzed old inscriptions dispersed far and wide in the territory of Chamba state. These inscriptions mostly in Sarda script shed important light on the mediaeval history of Chamba. The parasites of Sarahan, Devi-ri-kothi and mul Kihar are now preserved in the museum.

Church of Scotland: Over the hundred years old this Church was founded by a mission of Church of Scotland. This Church is remarkable for its fine stone work and buttress and lancer arch windows. The Church was founded by its first missionary the Rev. William Ferqueen in Chamba from 1863 to 1873.

Art Garden / Minjar Camping Site : The proposed site is located at the entrance of the entrance of the town on the bed of Ravi River. This site has been built by the Department of tourism by making 3 lawns which has been covered with green grass and a good place for picnic also. Presently wall statue are being build on wells to depth the culture of Chamba which has recently been appreciated by the Minister of Tourism during his recent visit to Chamba from Tourism angle. There is a proposal to provide Restaurant facility in the vicinity.

Rock Garden At Devi Dehra : The proposed site is located on main road from Banikhet to Chamba at a distance of 10 kms from Banikhet. It is just near the Devi Dehhra temple and is located on both sides of the main road. In one site the Tourism Department have built 3 grasses lawns for use of the tourists. On other site there is a proposal to built a Café to the tune of Rs. 31 lakhs approximately to provide seating facilities to the tourists on way to Chamera reservoir and Chamba town.

RELIGIOUS PLACES IN CHAMBA

Chamunda Devi Temple : The ancient temple of Chamunda Mata is dedicated to Goddess Chamunda, one of the incarnations of Goddess Durga. Just behind the main temple, is a small shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. Chamunda Devi Temple situated on a hilltop and offers panoramic views of the entire Chamba, the mighty River Ravi as well as the surrounding villages and countryside.

Katasan Devi Temple : Katasan Devi Temple is situated near Baira Siul Project, approximately 30 km from Chamba valley. One of the main reasons for the popularity of the temple comprises of its calm, peaceful and serene locales that offer beautiful views of the valley.

Champavati Temple : Champavati Temple, as the name suggests, is dedicated to Goddess Champavati, the patron deity of Chamba. It is said that the temple was constructed by the father of the Goddess, King Sahil Verman. Built as per the Shikhara style of architecture, it boasts of magnificent stone carvings and an amazing wheel roof.

Vajreshwari Temple : One of the most revered shrines in Chamba, Vajreshwari Temple is dedicated to Devi Vajreshwari, the Goddess of Lightening. It has also been built as per the Shikhara style of architecture. Since there are no historical records about the foundation of the temple, it is very difficult to ascertain the year of its construction. However, it is believed that Vajreshwari Temple is more than 1000 years old.

Laxmi Narayan Temple : Laxmi Narayan Temple, which is the main temple of Chamba town was built by Sahil Verman in the 10th century A.D. The temple has been built in the Shikhara style.
The temple consist of Bimana i.e. Shikhara and Garbhgriha with a small antralya. Laxmi Narayan Temple has a Mandapa like structure also. The wooden Chhattries, the wheel roof, atop the temple were in response to the local climatic conditions as a protection against snow-fall.

Sui Mata Temple : This temple can be divided into three parts which can physically spread apart. The temple of Sui Mata is on an elevation of Shah Madar Hill. A steep flight of steps comes down to a small pavilion just above the Saho road. From the Saho road the flight of steps continues down to the main town a little to the east of Chauntra Mohalla. At the end of the flight of steps there is another small pavilion with gargoyles with running water. The flight of stone steps to the aqueduct from the Sarota stream was built by Sarda, the Rani of Raja Jeet Singh (1794-1808).

Hari Rai Temple : This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and dates back to 11th century. It was probably built by Salabahana. This temple lies in the north-west corner of the main Chaugan, which had became the official entrance to the town by the end of 19th C. A steep path leads to the old Shitla bridge, which was constructed in the year 1894. The temple is built in Shikhara style and stands on a stone platform. The Shikhara of the temple is finely carved. This is one of the major old temples, which is away from the old township and the only one near the Chaugan.

WHEN TO GO CHAMBA

The best time for the tourist’s to visit chamba is between the April and the October months. The weather is pleasant barring the monsoon months of July and August. Summer temperatures range from 8°C at night to 39°C during the day, while winter temperatures drop to freezing – between 10°C and 1°C. Cotton clothes and light woollens are fine for summer, but heavy woollens and snow clothes are required in winter. However, the people involved in adventure sports may like to visit chamba in winter season.

WEATHER FORECAST

Summers (March to June) are warm with maximum temperature about 30 °C and minimum temperature touching 14 °C. The season is preferred by all kinds of tourists.

Winters (November to February) are very cool. Minimum observed temperature is about 4 °C. Snow falls were occurring during January and February, but for the last some years there has been no snow.

Monsoons (July to October) offer low to medium rainfalls. Chamba looks beautiful in rains.

EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN CHAMBA

Minjar Fair : One of the most important fairs of Himachal, the Minjar is a seven-day harvest festival held in July-August. Much of rural India is still largely dependent on the rains for watering their fields. So much so that rain is looked upon as a god and is thus ‘appeased’ from time to time. The Minjar festival is a kind of a thanksgiving ceremony to the god of rain and a prayer for good harvest. Although meant to honour gods, such fairs and festivals provide people a welcome break from their daily chores.

The Great Processions : Processions with decorated horses and banners are taken out through the streets to mark the beginning of the fair. In keeping with tradition, all the gods and goddesses are brought out in colourful palanquins to the Chaugan on the banks of the Ravi river.

Sui Mela : Held for 15 days in the month of Chaitra (March-April), this fair commemorates Sui Mata, a beloved deity of the region. See Sui Mata Temple for the full story of Sui. Women gather to sing, dance and worship the Devi during this festival. The event is an all-women affair – men are strictly prohibited from participating in the mela. Gaddi women from Bharmaur and other villages participate in the fair as it coincides with their return from the foothills.

Pathroru : A month-long festival of fire and flowers, Pathroru is celebrated in Chamba with much fervour. It’s held in August, the month for the ritual purification of fields to ensure abundant produce. The chira (a structure of wood and earth to which dry grass and flowers are tied) is worshipped in the belief that it will destroy pests that come with the rains. It is also known as prithvi puja (or earth worship).

Lishoo : Baisakhi is known as Lishoo in the Pangi-Chamba region. Though celebrated in many northern states, this agrarian festival is celebrated differently in different regions of Himachal. In Shimla it is called Bissu. Lishoo is generally held on the first of Baisakh (13th April). It signifies vigour and vitality and serves as a ritual before the onset of the harvesting season. Burning the jhalra – a pile of dry twigs with a pole bearing a conical bamboo basket erected in the middle – is an important ritual. It is set afire in the morning as young boys sing and dance around it.

Nawala : Nawala is the ‘family celebration’ of the gaddis (nomadic tribals of the Chamba region). A lot of feasting and merrymaking is done in the name of Lord Shiva (third of the Hindu Trinity of Creator-Preserver-Destroyer). The festival has no fixed day on the calendar but is celebrated whenever the head of the family thinks its time, but it has to be held at least once in a lifetime.

FOOD AND RESTURANTS IN CHAMBA

The preferred taste in CHAMBA varies from region to region. Non-vegetarian food, with a generous dose of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and red chilies, is very much the norm. The average Himachal kitchen churns out all sorts of meat, lentil and cereal preparations. But the one and the most inportant thing in Chamba is the DHAM the traditional food of Chamba. It is only prepared on the special occasions in the Family for example Marriage Ceromony, Poojan and other Functions. I would request all of you and the visitors who came to Chamba should enjoy this dish called Chamba Dham.


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