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Chamba District

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Chamba District is one of the 12 districts of Himachal Pradesh. It contains some of Northern India’s more popular hill stations, such as Dalhousie and Khajjiar. The district is bounded by the state of Jammu and Kashmir on the northwest and west, the district of Lahaul and Spiti on the east, the district of Kangra on the south, and the district of Gurdaspur of the state of Punjab on the southwest.

Chamba district has a total area of 6,528 square kilometers, which makes up 11.72% of the total area of Himachal Pradesh, populated by 460,499 people, as of the 2001 Indian Census. As is common in the regions of northern India, most of the district is pretty much mountainous and surrounded on all sides by lofty hill ranges, with the elevation ranging from 600 meters to 6400 meters. The climate is also varied, ranging from semi-tropical to semi-arctic.

Chamba district is one of the oldest princely states in India, with a history that dates back to the 6th century. It is generally believed that the area that the present district now occupies was for some time inhabited by some Kolian tribes, which were later brought under control by the Khasas. In the 4th century, the Thankurs and Ranas controlled the region and in the 7th century, the Rajput dynasties came to power.

It is in A.D. 500, however, when the princely state of Chamba had its roots, when a legendary hero called Maru migrated to the northwest and founded Brahmaputra in an area 75 kilometers east of the present Chamba town. His successors ruled over that area for many centuries until Sahilla Varman shifted his capital to the plateau in the lower Ravi valley. He named this town Champa, after his beloved daughter. It eventually became Chamba.

From then on, the rajas of Chamba continue to rule uninterrupted, and from a direct line of descent. Across the centuries, Chamba never had serious troubles with other invading kingdoms, even from the powerful Mughals. In the 19th century, Chamba came under protection of the Sikh Kingdom, but when that slowly disintegrated, it was decided that Chamba be merged with Jammu and Kashmir, but was taken under British control instead. In April 15, 1948, after India’s independence, three principal states were formed to make Himachal Pradesh, and Chamba was among them, becoming a district of the new state.

The main tourist attractions in Chamba district are mostly located in Chamba town and include:

1) Bhuri Singh Museum, which opened on September 9, 1908. It is named after the Raja Bhuri Singh who ruled Chamba from 1904 to 1919. The museum has paintings of Ramayana and Bhagwat Purana in a peculiar style inspired by Basohli idiom of painting. There are also coins, hill jewelries and musical instruments with various decorative objects.

2) Vajreshwari Temple, which is reputed to be 1000 years old. It was dedicated to the goddess of lightning, Devi Vajreshwari. It is located in the northern-most corner of the town at the end of Jansali Bazaar. It is built in the Shikhara style and stands on a platform.

3) Khajjiar Lake stands at an altitude of 1,951 meters above sea level, and is located at the grassy glade of Khajjiar some 20 kilometers from the town of Dalhousie. This lake is the main water source of the area of Kaltop, in the Chamba desert.


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