Dale Of Milk And Honey
Chamba, the land of antiquity, art and scenic beauty, is a wonder in itself for every visitor. Situated at the height of 996 m. above sea level on the south bank of the Ravi River, the ancient Pahari capital was founded in 920 A.D. by Raja Sahil Verma, who named it after his favourite daughter Champavati.
Chamba valley is noted for the magnificence of it's scenery-touching the fringe of the Shivaliks and having three well-defined snowy ranges, the Dauladhar, constituting the outer Himalayas, the Pir Panjal or the mid Himalayas, and the Zanskar range or the inner Himalayas.
Chamba's serene beauty makes it the ideal holiday retreat. The land of mystic serenity, enchanting vistas, refreshing air, lofty mountain passes and slopes, provides ample opportunities to nature lovers. The place and adjoining areas have immense scope of leisure pursuits. The waters, hills, plateaus and the snowline, which can be sighted from any of the buildings and the main square, make a spectacle that can become an inspiration for many painters and poets.
Chamba valley is also known as Ravi valley. Although this
valley is quite unexposed, but now the means of communication have made
inroads into the interior parts of this valley. The scenery is of a
picturesque and varied character presenting many delightful sights.
In the lower parts, the trees grown are wild olive, pomegrantate and fig trees mingling with the acacia, 'shisham', 'pipal' and some other trees. Small village and hamlets extends over the landscape presents a beautiful picture to the visitor.
On the mountain slopes the fields are usually small in size and are arranged in terraces, the lower border of each being formed by a rough wall to make the ground more level for ploughing. In most parts of the Chamba valley, under 2,500m, only two crops are reaped per year. There are rice fields in the lower level, with maize, wheat, barely and other cereals high up. Northern mountain slopes are covered with forests, while southern are often quite bare.
The Chamba valley is famous for medicinal herbs and varieties of flowers. This valley is fairly populated. The people here are very handsome, hardworking and honest.
Adjoining to the Chamba Valley is the Pangi valley, extending along the Chenab River as it cuts through the Pir Panjal and off shoots of the main Himalayan ranges. This is one of the remotest and most beautiful tracts of the western Himalaya. The important towns located in this valley are Chamba, Bharmour, Dalhousie and Khajjiar.
Lakshmi Narayan Temple: Lakshmi Narayan Temple, which is the main temple of Chamba town, was built by Raja Sahil Verma in the 10th century AD. Built in Shikhara style, the temple consists of Bimana i.e. Shikhara and Garbh Griha with a small antralya. Lakshmi Narayana Temple has a mandapa like structure also. The wooden chhattries, the shell roof, atop the temple were in response to the local climatic conditions as a protection against snowfall. more...
Chamunda Devi Temple: Located just one-km away from Chaugan, is the ancient temple of Chamunda Mata, overlooking the fortified Chamunda and the tempestuous river Ravi. A good place for picnic, it offers a panoramic view of the town as well as villages situated on the left bank of the river. more...
Katasan Devi Temple: Another popular temple of the Chamba district, it is about 30-km from the town near Baira Siul Project. This calm and peaceful spot is ideal for picnic lovers and one can witness a full view of the valley from its premises.
Maharaja's Palace: This palace belongs to the erstwhile rulers of Chamba and the most outstanding buildings in the town. Of these, Rang Mahal or 'the Painted Palace', with towers on either side, is undoubtedly the most interesting one. There is one room in the building, the walls of which are painted with murals depicting episodes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Rang Mahal: Also known as the 'Painted Palace', was built by Raja Umed Singh in the mid-18th century. The architecture of the palace reflects Mughal influences. Later on, Jit Singh and Charat Singh made certain additions. It became the women's residence until 1947 and now houses a college. The wall paintings are splendid and represent one of the most extensive hill collections. The Paintings follow stories of Lord Krishna.
Bhuri Singh Museum: A veritable storehouse of exquisite paintings of the famous Kangra and Basholi schools, as well as a mass of epigraphical material on the history of Chamba. Also housed in the museum are woodcarvings, ancient manuscripts and murals from Rang Mahal. more...
Chaugan: This public promenade situated in the heart of the town is a grassy maidan less than one-kilometre in length and about seventy-five metres wide is a busy local trading centre for villagers from the surrounding hills. Each year Chaugan is the site for the 'Minjar' procession, a fair that lasts a week and comprise of large number of sports and cultural activities.
Church of Scotland: The Presbyterian Church and Mission House of the Church of Scotland lie opposite the Museum.
Khajjiar: The lush green meadow with a small lake is surrounded by thick pines and crowned by forests. A little away from the lake is the Khajji Nag Temple, which was built, in the 12th century.
Bharmaur (1981m): This idyllic ancient capital and the surrounding land, often referred as 'Switzerland of the East', has been the original capital of the district of Chamba for 400 years. Bharmaur has temples from the 8th to 10th centuries built in the classic 'Pahari' style peculiar to the hills. This region is also home to semi-nomadic shepherds, the Gaddis. more...
Jhamwar: Located amidst wooded forests, Jhamwar is famous for its apple orchards.
Saho: Situated on a high plateau and beside the banks of River Sal, this village is famous for its temple dedicated to Lord Chandra Shekhara or Shiva the moon-crowned God.
Manimahesh (4267m): Located, 97 km away from the district Chamba, this lake, at the base of the peak Manimahesh Kailash, is celebrated for its holiness. A beautiful and ancient shikara or spire style temple marks the spot.
Salooni (l829m): Situated at a height of 1,829m.(6,000 ft.) and 56-km away from Chamba, Salooni offers a breath-taking panoramic view of the snow-covered hills and peaks.
Bandal Valley: 27-km. from Salooni, this is where the Himachal border meets Jammu and Kashmir.
Sarol: Just 11-km from Chamba is situated the remarkable picnic spot of Sarol, where along with lovely landscaped gardens and Sarol's Sheep-Breeding Centre, there is a Apiary or Bee-keeping Centre.
Chatrari:The village is inhabited mostly by the Gaddies, who are semi-postral lot engaged in rearing of sheep and goats. Situated at a height of 6,000 feet, Chatrari famous for its remarkable hill-style temple of Shakti Devi. It consists of a small Cell or sanctuary in which one of the rare brasses by the master craftsman 'Gugga' is enshrined. The walls of the temple are built of rubble masonry alternating with beams of wood.
The Pangi Valley: The Pangi Valley is not green, but the desolate, craggy territory has an awesome grandeur of its own. At an altitude of over 2,438 m. (8,000 ft.), in the midst of its wild rugged hills flows the great river Chandrabhaga in a deep and narrow gauge. The Pangiwals, inhabitants of these cold, hard lands have a reputation for pretty faces, beautiful dances and scenic splendour. The Mindhal temple is the principal shrine of the region. more...
Killar: Located in the deep narrow gauge of the Chenab River, Killar can be reached through the Sach Pass and is also known as a Trekker's Paradise.
Chamba offers both short and 'out and back' treks and longer treks such as through Bharmour, Triund to Dharamsala. In Killar one can trek northwest to Kishtwar in Jammu & Kashmir or turn east to Kishtwar and cross Umasi-La Pass into the Zanskar valley. Towards the southeast trek to Keylong and Mandi and while trekking from Killar to Lahaul one will come across a beautiful place, Purthi, known for the best forest nurseries and a historical Rest House situated on the bank of Chandra Bhaga. Duration of these treks, which are operational from June to October, is 5 to 8 days. Shorter treks include the 8-km walk to Sarol, 24-km trek to Bhandal or to Chhatrari, which is en route to Bharmour. more...
Air: The nearest airport is at Gaggal in Kangra
valley, 180 km from Chamba. Indian Airlines operates its flights on the
Rail: Chamba town is 122-km from Pathankot, the nearest broad gauge rail head, which is linked by direct trains to Amritsar, Bombay and Calcutta. Chamba is well-connected with places in and outside the state.
Road: Daily bus service is available for Dalhousie and jeeps on hire are also available but it is relatively expensive.
The accommodation in Chamba provide a taste of the village life in the traditional mud and wood building among rolling hills and terraced fields. The slightly shabby Hotel Chamunda, Jimmy's Inn, is situated opposite the bus stand. Chamba's best hotel is HTPDC Hotel Iravati on the northwest edge of the Chowgan.
Chamba's annual Suhi Mata Festival, which lasts for four days in early April, commemorates Rani Champavati, the wife of the 10th century Raja Sahil Verma. Only women and children participate in the festival, dancing on the Chowgan before processing with an image of Champavati and banners of the Rajput solar emblem to the Suhi Mata temple. Manjar Fair is a week long festival of singing and dancing at the start of August to celebrate the growth of maize. The Manimahesh Yatra to the sacred tarn of Manimahesh is held immediately after the festival of Janamashtmi. Chrewal, Badronjo or Patroru is a festival of fire and flowers and a time for purification of the fields during the month of August. In same month several places in Chamba celebrates the Gugga fair, which is connected with the worship of 'Gugga', the Nag Devta.
Chamba is a good place to pick up metal work. The distinctive silver tribal jewellery is sold by weight in the bazaars, while outside the Lakshmi Narayana temple complex, coppersmiths manufacture curved ceremonial trumpets and brass hookhas. Rumal embroidery and leather goods from Handicrafts Centre, Rang Mahal are also worth a buy.
Chamba is 726m. above sea level. The maximum temperature of Chamba town in summer is around 36 Celsius. Winter temperature comes down to almost OoC. Heavy woollens are required in winter and light woollens or tropical clothes in summer.
Shimla : 257-km
Kullu : 278-km