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Chamba: Picturesque valley between two mountains

May 22
22:34 2011

The small town of Chamba is located in a picturesque valley, amidst the Shivalik ranges and is famous for its medieval temples. The architecture of the temples of Chamba reflects the glory of its erstwhile rulers. It is also known for its local festivals.

Chamba is located in the northwestern part of the state of Himachal Pradesh in the northern region of India. The town lies on River Ravi, in a valley between two mountain ridges. Chamba is 56 km from Dalhousie via Khajjiar. The weather in Chamba is alpine. Summers (April-June) are mild and winters are cold (November-February). It experiences southwestern monsoon rains in July-September.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Chamba is between March and June

History: The local Rajput rulers ruled Chamba valley in the 6th century AD and made it their capital city. Raja Sahil Verman founded the town in 10th century and named it after his daughter Champavati. It was a part of the Mughal Empire in the medieval period and later became the part of various Sikh kingdoms. It was finally taken over by the British and became a part of the state of Himachal Pradesh, when India became independent in 1947.

Tourist attractions

The Laxmi Narayan Temple is the main tourist attraction of the town. The architecture of the six temples in this complex is an example of the Hindu shikhara style of architecture. However, the local flavor is distinct and makes the carvings on these temples unique. Three temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and another three to Lord Shiva. The temple was built in the 10th century AD and was renovated in the 16th century. This Laxmi Narayan Temple complex also some fine sculptures of residing deities, which include figures of Lord Vishnu (of the Hindu trilogy), Goddess Laxmi (Goddess of wealth), Narasimha (Lion form of Lord Vishnu) and Lord Krishna.

Chowgan, the grassy promenade at the heart of the town, is the focus for local festivals.

To the northeast of the Laxmi Narayan temple lies the small Surara temples. Nearby is the Brajreshwari Devi temple, dedicated to Goddess Durga. This temple is constructed in the of traditional shikhara style and is known for intricate carvings on its surface.

The Chamunda Devi Temple is located on a hill overlooking the town of Chamba and one has to climb for about 30 minutes to reach it. This temple is dedicated to Chamunda, the wrathful form of Goddess Durga. The entire wooden ceiling of this temple is embellished with intricate carvings depicting floral motifs and different deities. This temple has a number of brass bells, offered by the devotees, and footprints of the Goddess on a small pillar.

The Sui Mata Temple is located between the Chamunda Devi temple and Brajreshwari Devi temple, and is dedicated to Sui Mata (a local princess, who gave her life for the people in Chamba). Colorful paintings within the temple depict the life of Sui.

The 11th-century Harirai Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is also made in the Shikhara style and has a triple-headed statue of Lord Vishnu made from eight different materials.

Other temples to visit in Chamba are the Radha Krishna Temple, the Sitaram Temple and the Champavati Temple.

The Rangmahal or the Old Palace is another important place to visit and houses the Himachal Emporium, from where the travelers can buy handicraft items. The Bhuri Singh Museum has a good collection of artifacts belonging to this region. Of particular importance is the collection of traditional miniature paintings. St Andrew’s Church and Gandhi Gate are also worth visiting.

Places around

The picturesque Chamba valley is the home of a number of important places like Dalhousie, Khajjiar and Bharmaur. Dalhousie is 43 km from Chamba and is an important station. Khajjiar is 24 km from Chamba and is a grassy meadow, amongst the pine trees with a pond in the middle. Sixty-five kilometers southeast of Chamba is Bharmaur and is famous for its trekking trails and temples.

Fairs & festivals

Chamba is known for its festivals. The Sui Mata festival is held for four days in March/April every year in memory of princess Sui, who gave her life to protect the people of Chamba. Women in Chamba revere her and her image is carried from the Old Palace (Rangmahal) to her small shrine accompanied by singing and dancing.

The Minjar festival is celebrated in late July/early August every year. The origin of this festival goes back to the 10th century AD. This festival marks the harvesting of the annual maize crop. It culminates with a procession to River Ravi and throwing of the silk tassels or Minjars (representing sheaves of maize), worn by men and women into the river.

How to reach

Road – There is neither an airport nor a railway station in Chamba. The bus station in Chamba is located near the Chowgan. The bus service from Chamba to Bharmaur (3½ hours), Dharamshala (10 hours), Khajjiar (1½ hours), Dalhousie (3 hours), and to Pathankot (6 hours) is very good.



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