Chamba Valley – its tourist places and history

CHAMBA VALLEY – Dalhousie; Khajjiar; Chamba; Bharmour; Manimahesh -Himachal History
camping; trekking; & pilgrimage in the Chamba Valley and Bharmour Valley… the land of Shiva.. in Himachal Pradesh- India.

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view of Chamba town.

Chamba:   History of Chamba, Himachal Pradesh.
The original name of the town was Champa as mentioned in Kalhan’s Rajtarangani. In the bansauli or genealogical rolls of the Chamba Rajas a reference occurs of place which was adorned with highly fragrant Champaka trees and guarded by Goddess Champavati or more popularly known as Chameshni. This town was founded by Raja Sahil Varman when he conquered the lower Rani valley from the petty chiefs called Ranas and Thakurs in the beginning of 10th Century. He shifted his capital from Barhmour to Chamba named after her daughter. The temple was built by Sahil Varman in the honour of his daughter Champavati who is worshipped as a goddess in Chamba. Champavati temple became the family temple of the ruling family.
The town of Chamba, lies in a valley at an altitude of 926m and is the district headquarter of Chamba district is on the right bank of the Ravi river. Its warmer in the summer and is famous for its temples and the Chamba Rumal; the Chamba Jutti (shoe) as well as Chouk (pickle). Chamba is also famous for its grassy ground known as Chowgan, where every year the festival of Minjar and Sui Mata held.
Chamba  can be visited  round the year.  But the best time to visit Chamba is from March to June and mid-May to October.  Monsoon season is expected from July to September.  If one visit Chamba in the beginning of April then a tourist can enjoy the city annual festival- Suhi Mata festival which goes on for four days.
Chamba and near by:
Chamba is around 122 kilomeres from Pathankot railway station.  This broad gauge railway track is linked directly to Amritsar, Calcutta, Delhi, and Mumbai.  The closest airport is the Gaggal Airport, in Kangra District, (near Dharamshala) which is about 180 kilometres away from Chamba. Dalhousie is about 52 kms.  Bharmout is about 60 kms away from Chamba.

What to see in Chamba:
Bhuri Singh Museum:

Bhuri Singh Museum at Chamba opened formally on 14-09-1908, named after Raja Bhuri Singh who ruled Chamba from 1904 to 1919.  Bhuri Singh donated his family collection of paintings to the museum.  Besides these major items of collections, there are coins, hill jewelry and costumes- both traditional and royal, arms and armor, musical instruments and various decorative objects. The old museum building which merged well with the landscape of Chamba was pulled down and the present concrete monolith was inaugurated in 1975. The museum remains open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM throughout the year except on Monday and other gazetted holidays.
Chamba is also famous for Chamba Rumal – a unique handicraft of Chamba region; and its cuisines like Madra (Red beans with fried curd); Khamod (boneless mutton prepared in curd); Teli Mash (Black fried lentil) are very delicious.  Folk dances of Chamba such as GHURAI, DANDARAS and MUSADA are quite popular.  Every year during the month of July / August, the Minjar fair – a week long traditional harvest fair is held at the Chaugan. People from nearby Chamba villages came to this fair in colourful dresses and celebrate it with song, dance and music.

By road Dalhousie is about 555 km from Delhi, 52 km from Chamba via Banikhet and 46 km via Khajjiar and the nearest railhead at Pathankot is 85 km away. A hill station at a hight of 2036 meters full of colonial charm that holds lingering echoes of the British Raj. Spread out over the five hills (Kathlog, Potreys, Tehra, Bakrota and Balun) the town is named after the 19th century British Governer General Lord Dalhousie. It was popular with the British Army personnel in 1860′s. The town’s varying altitude shades it with a variety of vegetation that includes stately grooves of pines, deodars, oaks and flowering rhododendrowns. Rich in colonial architecture, the town preserves some beautiful churches. St. John church is the oldest one built in 1863, St. Francis was built in 1894, St. Andrew in 1903 and St. Patric in 1901. There are also magnificent views of Chamba valley and the mighty Dhauladhar range with its awe-inspiring snow covered peaks filling an entire horizon.


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Khajjiar - known for its scienic beauty

Khajjiar is often reffered to as “Gulmarg of Himachal Pradesh”. The lush green meadows are surrounded by thick pine and cedar forests. There is a small lake in the center of the saucer shaped meadow which has in it a floating island.  Much of the lake has degenerated into slush because of heavy silting during rains.  Still the landscape of Khajjiar is picturesque and a photographer’s deligh. It is 23 kms from Dalhousie by road and 13 kms from Kalatop is the mini Switzerland of India i.e. Khajjiar, at a height of 6400 ft.

Kalatop Khajjiar Sanctuary is a 30.69 km² animal sanctuary at Kalatop and Khajjiar   is about 6 kms away from Dalhousie.  The sanctuary area is well laid out for trekking trails both at Kalatop and Khajjiar. There is a dense deodar and fir forest covering 19.63 km² of the sanctuary,  Pheasants, Serous and Black Bear are some of the common animals found here.  The Sanctuary has a well keep out the route for trekking from Dalhousie to Kalatop which most of the tourists really enjoy -  the mind-blowing views. Jungle Safari is another main feature of the sanctuary that every tourist enjoys.  The plantation or farming of the sanctuary consists of blue pine,deodar, oak forests and dense underbrush.

Dainkund Peak is a stunning tourist place, perched at an altitude of 2755 meters, is the supreme mount in Dalhousie. From this peak tourists can relish 360° view of the entire valley. The noise of the breeze passing through the trees makes a musical sound, due to which this peak has also obtained the name, the singing hill.  Dainkund Peak is one of the most visited place in Dalhousie. This place has a scenic  charm and the picturesque view of the surroundings will exactly take your breath away.


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On way to Bharmour - HRTC bus

Once the ancient capital of the Chamba rulers before the 8th century A.D. was the main center of activities in the princely state of Chamba. It was during those times the temple of CHOURASI (84) were built. The main temple of Manimahesh built in shikhara style was dedicated to Lord Shiva. The hills of Barhmour are full of flora and varieties of Herbs are grown wild in this area. At Chourasi one should not forget to visit the temple of LORD DHARAMRAJ – the LORD OF DEATH. It is believed that this is the place where one has to pass through after death. It is here that Lord Dharamraj’s Court pronounce his justice according to the KARMA(deeds) of the departed Soul. The LORD GANAPATI; GODDESS LAKSHANA DEVI AND LORD NAR SIMHA (Lord Vishnu) statues are worth seeing and magnificent. The huge SHIVA LINGAM situated in the main temple of Chourasi which is surrounded by very old and tall pine trees. Their is a lifesize bronze statue of NANDI (Bull)in front of the temple of Manimahesh – Lord Shiva.

During the festival season in the month of August / September every year this area is full of activities of local people; devotee’s of Lord Shiva and sadhus (saints). From Chourasi (Brahmaur) a visit to Brahmani Devi temple (4kms ) is must for every traveler of Manimahesh. The view of Budhal valley – Mountain range is worth viewing and mind freshing.

Hadsar  to Manimahesh: — trekking and camping ………….

From Brahmaur one has to go to Harsar or Hadsar the confluence of two rivers (10 kms by road) on way to Manimahesh. Here during old time people of the surrounding areas used to immerses the ashes of their dead one (bones) on the confluence point of the two rivers. From Harsar the real and tough trek starts for Manimahesh.  It is about 16 kms trek climbing higher and stiff mountain step by step besides river  BHUJALA
Local people cover this distance in about 5 to 6 hours but people like us who came from the Metros cities 9 to 10 hours. It is better to halt at Dhanchoo ( the water fall) about 11 kms from Harsar. Next day then one can start early morning and can reach the base of Kailash – Gauri Kund.  It is believed that Maa Gauri – the consort of Lord Shiva – Parvati used to take a bath on the auspicious day of Radhastami. To keep this tradition  in present time women pilgrimage take a holy dip at this Kund.  From here the lake of Manimahesh is just 3 kms and one passes through Shiv Kalotri – where the frezing water of river Bhujalla is flowing at a tremendous speed.  On reaching  the Lake of Manimahesh (13500 ft) one can take a holy dip and can stay for atleast one night.

MANIMAHESH  ( KAILASH PEAK  & DAL LAKE) : .. trekking & camping..

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Manimahesh -The abode of LORD SHIVA – known as the destroyer of everything. Manimahesh situated at an altitude of about 13500 feet lies in Brahmaur Tehsil of Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh, India. From Chamba to Barhmour the distance is about 65 kms and time taken is approx 4 to 5 hours as the road is very narrow sometime it is steep along with river Ravi. The view on the way is mind freshening. Taking a holy dip in the ice water lake of Manimahesh is a memorable experience.
Mount Kailash as seen from the Lake.
The weather is very unpredictable in and around Manimahesh. The dance of Lord Shiva -TANDAV – is the true manifestation in the form of Weather in this area. If you are lucky enough by getting the nice weather at night then watching the star at night is a memorable experience.

The view of Mount Kailash gives you a sense of pleasure which only an individual SOUL can understand and feel the vibration of that INVISIBLE. It seems that one of the major dream of your life is     achieved after viewing   the peak  of

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trek to kugti village; kailash view from kartika swami temple;

Kailash view from Kartika Swami Temple Kugti

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