HIMACHAL Himachal, meaning the land of snow, located 450km north of Delhi is one of the most beautiful states of Indian union. Enchanting hills, deep and green valleys, popular pilgrim centers, unexplored regions bathed in pristine beauty, culturally unique and rich tribal areas, gurgling streams and alpine flora all beckon the travelers. Himachal has everything for everyone for all seasons. From casual visitor to a devout pilgrim; from those seeking a break from the busy city life to the solitude lover; from easy holiday makers to those who want to rough it out everyone can take their fill. Adventure seekers can choose from trekking, mountaineering, rock climbing, white water rafting, para gliding, angling and skiing including heli-skiing. Idyllic landscape, serene environment, cool pollution free refreshing air and pure natural bliss- Himachal waits to be felt, explored, enjoyed and cherished. Small hill villages located across high rising mountain passes that remain blocked for nearly six months in a year, ancient temples dating back to the seventh century; pre-Aryan rituals, customs and traditions; high altitude glacial lakes; national parks and wild life sanctuaries- all join together to create a magic spell. From fertile plains to lush green meadows and from thick forests to barren mountains the landscape is rich and varied. Elevation ranges from 350m in the plains of Kangra and Una to 7000m in the high hills of Lahaul and Spiti. Dharamsala receives second highest rainfall in the country whereas Lahaul and Spiti valleys go without rains. Culture is as diverse as the landscape. More than 2000 deities, local gods and goddesses are worshipped in the state and almost every village has its own deity. These gods speak through the chosen ones called chelas and gurs who regulate the lives of hill people. The dialect changes after every few kilometers and customs and traditions also vary. Numerous fairs and festivals are held around the year celebrating the spirit of life in the most taxing circumstances. People are god fearing and hospitable. There is a wondrous mix of tradition and modernity.
Himachal extends from the plains of Punjab and Haryana to the permanent snow covered Himalayan mountain ranges. The Shivaliks take off from the plains and gentle hills roll one by one and rise in altitude as one approaches Himachal from the plains. The Shivalik, Dhauladhar, Pir Panjal and Great Himalayan ranges run almost parallel to each other and shape the deep valleys irrigated by numerous perennial streams and rivers. The valleys of Kullu and Kangra receive plenty of monsoon rains but the valleys of Lahaul, Pangi, Spiti and Kinnaur that lie beyond Pir Panjal receive very little rains. Several perennial rivers originate in the state. Main rivers that rise in Himachal are Beas, Ravi, Chandrabhaga, Pabbar, Giri, Baira and Siul. The Satluj enters in Kinnaur district from Tibet and flows through many districts before entering Punjab. The Yamuna flows on the western border of Himachal in Sirmour district.
It is believed that the Kolorian people of Gangatic plains were the original inhabitants of the Himalayan hills who were pushed north by the people of Indus Valley (2250-1750 B.C). The earliest texts of Aryans composed around 1000 BC referred to the hill people as Dasas, Dasyus and Nishadas. In later works these people living in the Himalaya have been called Kinnars, Nagas and Yakshas. The Khashas, a group of Aryans coming from Khashgar, Gilgit and Kashmir spread throughout Himalayan region of Kangra, Kullu, Mahasu, Chamba, Gharwal, Kumaun and Nepal. They established small principalities in the hills. The Mahabharata refers to four Janpadas in the Himalaya- Audumbara, Trigarta, Kuluta and Kulind founded by Khasas. Of these Trigarta and Kuluta are identified with present day Kangra and Kullu. Trigarta finds mention in the Mahabharata, the Vedas and the work of Panini. Rivers of Himachal Chenab (Chandrabhaga), Ravi, Beas and Satluj are mentioned in the Vedic literature as Asikini, Parushni, Vipasha and Shatudri respectively.
On 15th April 1948 Himachal came into existence as the Chief Commissioner's province and became a Part C State of Indian Union on 26th January 1950. Bilaspur State was merged with Himachal Pradesh on 1st July 1954. Himachal Pradesh got the status of Union Territory on 1st November 1956. Kangra and most of the other hill areas of Punjab were merged with H.P. on 1st November 1966. On 18th December 1970 the State of Himachal Pradesh Act was passed by Parliament and the new state came into being on 25th January 1971 as the eighteenth state of Indian Union.