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Himachal Guide - Chamba

MapGeneral Info

Chamba, the valley of milk and honey is known for its streams, meadows, temples, paintings, handkerchief and lakes. Chamba has few rivals for its scenic beauty. There are three well defined ranges in the district - The Dhauladhar range, the Pangi or Pir Panjal range and Zanskar range. Located on the banks of the Ravi river the township resembles an Italian village fortress. Chamba's temples are mostly dedicated to Lord Shiva and Vishnu and are built of richy engraved stone. The town is also the base for Gaddi shepherds who, though nomadic in their way of life, return to Chamba periodically to stock supplies. Chamba is so sheltered by snow-clad mountain barriers that its monuments escaped destruction at the hands of invaders, which is why it still remains one of the best preserved heartlands of the Himalayan arts.

Altitude: 926m
Temperature: Summer - Max.38°C, Min.15°C & Winter - Max.15°C, Min.08°C.
Clothings: Summer - Light woollens, Winter - Heavy woollens.
Best Season: April to October.
Languages Spoken: Pahari(local language), Hindi and Himachali.
STD Code:01899.

TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATION
Air :
Nearest airport is Gaggal ( Kangra ) 135 km. and Amritsar 220 km.
Rail:The nearest broad gauge railway station is at Pathankot 120 km.
Road:Almost each and every part of the state is linked by roads. The Himachal Road Transport Corporation is running its buses covering the whole state. There is huge network of HRTC to cater the needs of the people.

DISTANCE
Shimla 378 km., Mandi 334 km., Manali 470 km., Kangra 180 km., Delhi 640 km., Jammu 245 km., Amritsar 245 km., and Haridwar 610 km., Manimahesh Lake 100 km., Bharmaur 65 km.,

SHOPPING
The most promising object of Chamba will be the rumaals and chappals that are fervently promoted by the Himachal Tourism department. You should also lay hands on metal and stone work items that are excellent souvenirs. In Chaughan Market, go to Amichand Dheems, form where you should buy the miniature paintings. For shawls and woolen artifacts in Chamba, go to Handicrafts Centre inside Rang Mahal. However, one item that you should dare not miss is the spicy Chamba Chukh, which is a unique mashed chillie pickle – exclusive of Chamba valley.

FOOD & RESTURANTS
There aren’t many stand alone restaurants in Chamba, so a good option is to eat in the hotel/resort you’re staying. Rice, paddy and maize are the staple diet of the people here. A few hotels with good restaurants are Hotel Aroma; The Neel Kanth restaurant here serves delicious vegetarian Indian and Chinese cuisine. The Hotel City Heart’s multi-cuisine ‘Khattir’ restaurant is good place to eat and the ‘Saroor’ the bar here caters to a wide variety of drinks.

RESTAURANTS
  • Iravati Restaurant
  • Hotel Aroma
  • The Neel Kanth restaurant
  • Hotel City Heart’s multi-cuisine ‘Khattir’ restaurant
  • Olive Green Restaurant
Mapchamba

The town of Chamba is the headquarters of the Chamba district. This town is primarily famous for its temples. Situated on the banks of river Ravi, this town was set up by Raja Sahil Varman. Due to its serene and peaceful environment, this place is perfect for spending a quite holiday. During your tour, you can visit the famous tourist attractions in and around Chamba.

Chamunda Devi Temple:
This temple is located on the spur of the Shah Madar Hill overlooking the town to its south east. The temple stands on a raised platform. 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 peepul 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. The temple is being looked after by Archaeological Survey of India. This temple can be approached by road from Chamba (3 km.). The temple is an ideal picnic spot throughout the year because it has an easy approach and a commanding view.

Champavati Temple:
The Champavati Temple is located in the heart of the city. It is easily accessible due to the fact that it is located behind the city police post and the treasury building. This temple was built by the Raja Sahil Varman, and dedicated to his daughter Champavati.

Bharmour:
Bharmour was the original capital of the state of Chamba. It has several ancient temples and monuments that reflect its erswhile glory. Some of the important temples are of - Manimahesh, Lakshna Devi, Ganesh and Nar Singh. This region is also home to Semi-nomadic Shepherds, the Gaddis. Once called Brahmpura, still retains its 84 ( Chaurasi ) ancient temples and the monuments of its one time glory, some of which date back to the 7th century A.D.

Manimahesh:
Mani-Mahesh is 28 kms. from Bharmour. During mela days efficient bus service is available upto Hadsar. This lake is supposed to be blessed by goddess Kali and protected by Lord Shiva. Thousands of pilgrims journey here to bathe in its sacred water, on the fifteenth day, following the festival of Janamashtami. A fair is held every year at this lake during the month of August or September. This is the must seen place in Chamba.

Saho:
Saho is situated about 20 kms. from Chamba on the right bank of Sal river. The village is situated on a high plateau of great beauty. Saho is famous for its temple dedicated to Lord Chandra Shekhara i.e. the moon-crowned God, Shiva. The temple is hidden behind the locality in a tree grove. Two magnificent images of Shiva can be seen at the entrance and a huge Shivalinga is enshrined in the sanctum. Facing the temple is a life size Nandi bull carved with fine details. According to Sarahan Prasasti, "the temple was constructed by Stayaki, a local Rana in order to establish friendship between his wife Somprabha and the daughter Parvati". It is believed that the temple belongs to a period earlier than transfer of seat of power from Bharmour to Chamba in 10th century. In the month of August/September a mela is held in the compound of the temple. This mela coincides with Manimahesh Yatra. During summer, Saho wears a golden mantle of wheat crop and in August/September the fields are lush green with paddy crop. The spring water of Saho is supposed to have medicinal value.

Akhand Chandi Palace:
The construction of the Akhand Chandi Palace, the residential building of the Chamba family was started by Raja Umed Singh between 1748-1764 AD. The place was rebuilt and renovated during the reign of Raja Sham Singh with the help of British engineers. The Darbar Hall (Marshal Hall) was built in 1879 by Capt. Marshal and the Zanana Mehal was added in the reign of Raja Bhuri Singh. The subsequent additions and alterations clearly betray the Mughal and the British influence. In 1958 the Palace building was sold by the descendants of the royal family to the Himachal Government. The latter handed it over to the Education Department for the purpose of starting a Government College and District Library. The palace has a commanding view of the Chaugan, Lakshmi Narayana Temple, Sui Mata, Chamunda Devi Temple, Rang Mehal, Hari Rai Temple and Bansi Gopal Temple.

Chaugan:
A public promenade - a grassy maidan less than 1 km. in length and about 75 metres wide. It is a busy local trading centre for villagers from the surrounding hills. Each year Chaugan is the site for the Minjar procession ( Minjar Mela ). The fair lasts for a week and people attend the fair in the Minjar procession. The fair lasts for a week and people attend the fair in the local customs and colorful dresses, in a gay mood walking in the Chaugan where a large number of sports and cultural activities take place to commemoratethis occasion. On the conclusion of fair the "Minjars" are immersed into the Ravi river. It is also an establishment base for various exciting treks into the valley around.

Bhuri Singh Museum:
This museum is named after the ruler of Chamba who was in charge of the region during the period of 1904 to 1919. The museum was opened in the year 1908 , however the building you see today was constructed in the year 1975. Items on display include the family paintings of Bhuri Singh, embroidered Chamba rumaals, coins, hill jewellery and costumes- both traditional and royal, arms and armour, musical instruments and numerous decorative objects. The Chamba rumaals will hold your attention a lot since their design were made by the pahari painters but the embroidery itself was done by the household ladies. There are also carved doors from old palaces and frescoes to be seen. The museum is open from 10 in the morning to 5 in the evening everyday except Mondays. It is also closed on the Gazetted holidays.

Rang Mahal:
The Rang Mahal is one of the grand monuments in Chamba. This place is located in the Surara Mohalla. this palace is popularly known as the” painted palace” due to its colorful structure. The foundation of this palace was laid by Raja Umed Singh in 1748-1764. But the southern part which is built in bricks is made by Raja Sri Singh in 1860. The architecture of Rang Mahal is a fine combination of Mughal and British styles. Some additions were made by Jit Singh and Charat Singh which add to the beauty of Rang Mahal. Hence it is a treat for the eyes of the tourists coming here. This palace was decorated with wall paintings and cravings. The Rang Mahal had the most exquisite collection of pahadi paintings.

Laxmi Narayan Temple:
Laxmi Narayana Temple, which is the main temple of Chamba town was built by Sahil Varman in the 10th century AD. The temple has been built in the Shikhara style. The temple consists of Bimana i.e. Shikhara and GarbhGriha with a small antralya. Laxmi 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. There are several other temples within the complex. The temple of Radha krishna, Shiva Temple of Chandergupta and Gauri Shankar Temple are among these.

Pangi Valley:
Pangi Valley is located in the upper part of Chamba district. This hidden valley is located between Pir Panjal and the Greater Himalayan Zanskar ranges.

Parbati Valley:
The Parbati valley is hemmed in by giant pinnacled mountain peaks. This valley twists in the west from the glaciers and snowfields on the Spiti boader. The picturesque hamlets perch precariously on its sides, amid lush terraces and old growth pine forests.