Himachal Pradesh, the hill state of India, is a small state by comparison that lies in the north eastern region of Indian sub continent. The state is dominated by the undulated chains of hills and mountains, which encompass some of the best hill stations in India. The state shares its borders with several others which include – Jammu and Kashmir in the north, Punjab in the southwest, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in the south and Uttaranchal in the southeast.
The northern regions of Himachal Pradesh are more rugged with soaring heights that form parts of the Greater Himalayas, Pir Panjal and Dauladhar. Altitude gradually lowers as we move towards the west and into the plains. Southern regions also see quite comparable altitudes and form the peripheral parts of the Shivalik Range. Amidst all these are some beautiful hill stations, rivers, gorges and picturesque villages. For the state tourism nature plays the upper hand and if you happen to be interested in hill stations, terrain, rolling waters, adventure sports, wildlife or romantic destinations this place is for you.
Himachal Pradesh – History
Himachal Pradesh, for a long time in history, survived as a cluster of small states that were ruled by the local chieftains. According to ancient Hindu texts a small population of people inhabited the plains of north India, who were forced out of their lands by Indus Valley Civilization into the adjoining regions. These tribes settled in what constitutes Himachal Pradesh today and the dates must have been some where near 1700 B.C. The tribes – Dasas, Dasyus and Nishadas where the first inhabitants of the state.
It was during the early historic period that some organized settlements and states started developing. At that time several Rajput rulers were in power and were fighting hard for the plains. The ousted kings were forced out of the north and they too, like the aborigines, sought these hills. These defeated kings soon began establishing their hold on the lands here and consequently Himachal Pradesh became a big bundle of princely states. Medieval and early modern periods further witnessed the emergence of Muslim, Gorkha and Sikh occupation.
During British India days, the English defeated the Sikh rulers and Himachal (short for Himachal Pradesh) came under the British power. Even after Indian Independence these former princely states existed as union territories. However, in 1966 and later in 1971 more regions were added (some of the regions used to be parts of Punjab state) and combined to form a single state. Himachal Pradesh at present exists as one of the states of Indian republic and consists of 12 districts.
Himachal Pradesh – Tourist Destinations
With some beautiful hill resorts, adventure sports venue and fascinating villages Himachal Pradesh is not short of anything to attract the tourists from far off lands. From low hills to soaring peaks, deep gorges, rivers, parks and sanctuaries, orchards, forests, monasteries, rock cut shrines and more, the list is a long one. The tourist destinations of Himachal Pradesh are among the frequently visited places where travellers coming from different continents amuse themselves. Some popular tourist destinations include Shimla, Manali,Dharamsala,Kullu, Mandi, Kinnaur, Chamba, McLeod Ganj, Kangra, Lahaul and Spiti.
Himachal Pradesh – Hill Stations
Hill stations lie at the heart of the tourism industry in Himachal Pradesh. The state is gifted with some of the best hill stations in the sub continent. These stations have long been tempting the travellers. Shimla, the capital city of Himachal Pradesh and the best resorts in the state was once the summer capital of British in India. The hill stations feature a pleasant climate, panoramic views of places that lie far stretched, fresh and clean air to breathe and privacy that often makes it ideal for a romantic place.
Himachal Pradesh – Adventure
The varied landscapes at Himachal Pradesh are more to enjoy than just capturing the images. The rugged trains, mountain ranges, slopes and summits offers ample opportunities for many adventure sports. Trekking, Skiing, Heli Skiing, Ice Skating and Paragliding are some popular activities you can participate in. Every year hundreds of tourists, especially during winters, can be seen marching towards the state with their equipment.
Himachal Pradesh – Wildlife
As per the official records 78 percent of the total land area is covered by the forests in Himachal Pradesh. The figures for total area amount to 55,670 sq kms and area under forests goes to 37,691 sq kms. This vast expanse of vegetation land encompasses some 32 wildlife sanctuaries. One can have a fair idea about the resources the state is bestowed with. Some important wildlife reserves are named as Great Himalayan National Park, Simbalbara Sanctuary, Renuka Sanctuary, Churdhar Sanctuary, Chail Sanctuary, Majathal Sanctuary and Maharana Pratap Sanctuary.
How to Reach
By Air : Himachal Pradesh is served by three domestic airports located at Bhuntar, Gaggal and Jubbarhatti. Flights from national capital, Delhi, regularly provide the services.
By Rail : The undulating terrain makes it difficult to construct railway tracks in Himachal Pradesh. That is why one selected destinations are connected by railways. The Pathankot-Jogindernagar is the longest railway line connecting Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
By Road : Like railway lines there are only selected destinations that are connected by well maintained roads. At some place and because of landslides during monsoons and winters roads are temporarily closed. Long distance services are applicable for places like Shimla, Chandigarh, Kulu, Manali, Delhi, Mandi, Pathankot, Amble, Chail and Pathankot.