Himachal Pradesh : Nature Blessed State
- Population: 5.1 million
- Area: 55,673 sq km
- Capital: Shimla
- Main Languages: Hindi, Pahari
- Literacy Rate: 63%
The state of Himachal Pradesh came into being in its present form with the partition of the Punjab into Punjab and Haryana in 1966. Himachal Pradesh is essentially a mountain state – it takes in the transition zone from the plains to the high Himalaya, and in the trans-Himalayan region of Lahaul and Spiti actually crosses that mighty barrier to the Tibetan plateau. It’s a delightful state for visitors, particularly during the hot season when people flock to its hill stations to escape the searing heat of the plains.
The Kullu valley is simply one of the most beautiful areas on earth – a lush, green valley with the sparkling Beas River running through it and the snow-capped Himalayan peaks forming the background. From Manali the trip along the spectacular mountain road to Leh is breathtaking, and it takes you across the highest mountain road pass in the world – only open for a few brief months of each year.
There are fishing possibilities in many places in Himachal Pradesh and a number of Trout hatcheries have been established. Some of the state’s deer, antelope, mountain goats and sheep are now rather rare. Himalayan black bears and brown bears are found in many parts of the state; the black bear is fairly common but the brown bear is usually found only at higher elevations in certain districts. Snow leopards are now very rare and only found at high elevations in the most remote parts of the state. Panthers and leopards are, however, still found in many forested regions. Himachal Pradesh has numerous kinds of pheasants and partridges, mountain birds and butterflies.
In the Kangra and Chamba valleys there are several 8th to 10th century temples in the Indo-Aryan sikhara (curved spire) style. Pagoda style temples with multi tiered roofs are found in the Kulu Valey. There are many temples of purely local design, often with interesting wood carving, particularly in the Chamba region. In the south of the state ther are numerous temples with elements of Moghul and Sikh design, while in several locations there are cave temples.
Finally, the Tibetans, who came to the state following the Chinese invasion of their country, have built colourful gompas (monasteries) and temples. The people of Lajaul and Spiti in the north of the state are also of Tibetan extraction and have many interesting gompas.