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Himachal Pradesh >>

Chamba Travel

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 AD by Raja Sahil Verma, who named it after his favorite 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.

Location: Himachal Pradesh
Discovered In: 920 A.D
Altitude: 726m.
Attractions: Lakshmi Narayan Temple, Bajreshwari temples, Chamunda Shrine
Best Time To Visit: Mid-May to Mid-October

NEARBY CITIES
Dalhousie: 29-km
Kangra: 86-km
Dharamsala: 95-km
Shimla: 257-km
Kullu: 278-km

PRIME ATTRACTION
Lakshmi Narayan Temple:

Raja Sahil Verma built Lakshmi Narayan Temple, which is the main temple of Chamba town, 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. To the north of the palace at Chamba, there is a group of six stone Sikhara temples arranged in a row from north to south. Three of these temples are dedicated to Vishnu and three to Shiva. The northern most is that of the Lakshmi- Narayana- the principal temple of Chamba.

THE LEGEND OF LAKSHMI NARAYANA TEMPLE:
There is a curious legend current about the installation of image of Lakshmi Narayana in this temple. Desiring to raise a temple to Vishnu, the Raja Sahi Varman sent nine of this son to the marble in frog. Since it was considered unsuitable for making the Vishnu image, the slab was used for some other purpose like the making of three-faced image of Shiva and a small image of Ganesha, now preserved in the Chandra Gupta temple. The young princes were deputed again for the purpose. But were slain by robbers on their way back. Thereafter on receiving the news. Raja Sahi Varman sent his eldest son 'Yugkara' for the purpose. The robbers too attacked him, but with the help of a saint, he destroyed the robbers, and return to Chamba with the desired slab from which the image of Vishnu was made and installed in the temple.

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. Not far from Dharamsala is the famous temple of Chamunda Devi. It is an enchanting spot with glorious views of the mountains, the Baner Khud, Pathiar and Lahla forests. 15-km from Dharamshala a tiny village of Dadh on Palampur road is the famous temple dedicated to Goddess Chamunda Devi. On reaching the temple a glorious view of Dhoula Dhar on three sides and 'Baner Khud' flowing alongside the temple. The temple has artistic carvings on its lintel, pillars and the ceiling. Behind the main temple is a small shrine of Lord Shiva in the Shikhara style. There is another platform in front of this temple where two very old people trees provide shelter to the visitors. From this platform a bird's eye view of most of the land marks in the town including Chaugan, Circuit House, most of the temples and river Ravi can be had. Archaeological Survey of India is looking after the temple. There is a Shiva 'Lingam' under the rock where the temple of Chamunda is sited. There are no legends about the Lingam. The idol is called Nandikeswar. So the sacred site is called 'Chamunda Nandikeshwar'.

THE LEGEND OF CHAMUNDA DEVI:
In Jallandar Mahatmya, Chapter VI reference is made to 'Chamunda Nandikeshwar' and people believe the reference is to these two deities 'Chamunda' and 'Nandikeshwar'. The legend associated is well known. In 'Satya Yuga' two 'Daityas' (demons), 'Shumbh' and 'Nishumbh' engaged themselves in deep meditation and were blessed by Lord Brahma with immense power.

The Daityas deified 'Indra' and other Gods. The Gods were terrified of the Daityas and resorted to Jadrangal village and propitiated 'Jagadamba Devi'. The Devi was pleased and promised to rescue them from the Daityas. She created a Devi out of her body, a beautiful person 'Kaushika'. Kaushika was given the assignment of destroying Shumbh and Nishumbh. The two Daityas heard of her beauty and wanted to bring her to them. They failed to persuade her to come to them through a 'doot' (messenger) who was scornfully sent away. Kaushika sent word through the messenger that she could only be won by a war. A dreadful war started. Kaushika Devi created 'Kalika' Shakti from her forehead and Kalika cut off the heads of 'Chund' and 'Mund', two brave and fearless commanders of the two Daityas. The destruction of the Daityas followed and the three worlds were relieved of the Daityas. Kaushika Devi blessed Kalika Shakti and asked her to be seated at Jadrangal village and be known as Chamunda. She would fulfil the desires of the needy persons. This mythological story is based on Devi Bhagwati, Markandey Puran and Durga Saptsati. There is another story about the siting of Chamunda. She was seated first on a higher mountain near a fort built by Raja Chandra Bhann of Kangra. A blind devotee of Chamunda pleaded with the Devi to shift to a lower place where he could go more easily. The Devi agreed and came down to the present lower site. The Chamunda Devi was installed in a cave. It is said the temple was built about 700 years back. The great earthquake of 1905, which had created havoc in this area, did not cause any damage to the temple. The snow line starts at Illaqa. Those who want to do a return trip in one day are advised to start very early in the morning. There is a Forest Rest House.

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 Raja Umed Singh built known as the ‘Painted Palace’, 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 epigraphically material on the history of Chamba. Also housed in the museum are woodcarvings, ancient manuscripts and murals from Rang Mahal.Bhuri Singh Museum was opened on 14th September 1908 and is named after Raja Bhuri Singh who ruled Chamba from 1904 to 1919. This museum is very near to Chamba’s Chaugan.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 Archeological Survey of India. Through an intensive exploration he 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 Prasastis of Sarahan, Devi-ri-kothi and Mul Kihar are now preserved in the museum. Paintings of 'Bhagwat Purana' and 'Ramayana' in peculiar style are inspired by Basohli idiom of painting, whereas Krishna, Sudama, Rukmini 'Vivah' and 'Usha-Anirudh' and portraits in prime Guler-Kangra style were executed by the artists who were patronized by the Chamba rulers. The old museum building, which merged well with the landscape of Chamba, was pulled down and the present concrete monolith was inaugurated in 1975.

ANTIQUITIES ON DISPLAY:
The embroidered Chamba-Rumals are related in style since pahari painters made their drawings though the household ladies did the embroidery. Besides these major items of collections, there are coins, hill jewellery and costumes- both traditional and royal, arms and armour, musical instruments and various decorative objects. Carved doors from the old palaces, frescoes as well as emgire used by Chamba's erstwhile rulers are also on display.

Chaugan:
This public promenade situated in the heart of the town is a grassy maiden less than one-kilometer in length and about seventy-five meters wide is a busy local trading center 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', have 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.

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 Center, there is a Apiary or Bee-keeping Center.

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 splendor. The Mindhal temple is the principal shrine of the region. Pangi Valley in the upper part of Chamba District is a remote world in itself. This hidden valley located between Pir Panjal and the Greater Himalayan Zanskar ranges is cut off from the rest of the world. Killar the headquarters of this area has a helipad. During winter and spring this valley is completely cut off. River Chanderbhaga aka Chenab gorges through it. From Kilar, trekkers can go west to Badarwah, Jammu & Kashmir and east to Lahul, Spiti, and Manali via the Rohtang Pass. The major tribe inhabiting this area is Pangwal. These rugged people, who are Hindus, have their unique customs, traditions, and institutions. It looks as if time has come to a standstill in this peaceful place. In the northern part of the valley in the Zanskar hills live the Bhot tribals. They are a mixture of Aryan and Mongolian races. Their religion is Buddhism mixed with a primitive form of the Hindu religion and myths. The foaming river, the high crags of the gorge and the difficult terrain are a challenge for intrepid trekkers. The Sach Pass 4,428m open the way to several trek routes. Thick forest the habitat of varied wildlife surround the Pang I Valley and the numerous side valleys - Saichu, Hunam, Sural Nallah, that are also endowed with remarkable natural beauty. The temple of Mindhal Basan Devi in Pangi is an important shrine. Appropriately, the people of Pangi are as attractive as the tract they inhabit. There is a rest house also available in Pangi.

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.

ADVENTURE:
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.

FAIRS & FESTIVALS
Chamba's annual Suhi Mata Festival, who 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.

SHOPPING:
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; coppersmith’s manufacture curved ceremonial trumpets and brass hookhas. Rumal embroidery and leather goods from Handicrafts Center, Rang Mahal are also worth a buy.

HOW TO GET THERE
Air: The nearest airport is at Gaggal in Kangra valley, 180 km from Chamba. Indian Airlines operates its flights on the Delhi-Dharamsala sector.
Rail: Chamba town is 122-km from Pathankot, the nearest broad gauge railhead, which is linked by direct trains to Amritsar, Mumbai 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.

CLIMATE:
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.

 
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