Himachal Pradesh, India: Food, Cost, Weather & geography, History, language, culture, things to see and do and how to reach

You can find about travel advice such as public places & services, best restaurants, activities, sightseen and other key facts of the Himachal Pradesh, India.

Himachal Pradesh ("Province of the Snowladen Mountains") is a state in the northern part of India. Situated in the Western Himalayas, it is one of the eleven mountain states and is characterized by an extreme landscape featuring several peaks and extensive river systems. Himachal Pradesh is the northernmost state of India and shares borders with the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to the north, and the states of Punjab to the west, Haryana to the southwest, Uttarakhand to the southeast and a very narrow border with Uttar Pradesh to the South. The state also has an international border to the east with the Tibet Autonomous Region in China. Himachal Pradesh is also known as 'Dev Bhoomi' or 'Land of Gods and Goddess'.

The predominantly mountainous region comprising the present-day Himachal Pradesh has been inhabited since pre-historic times having witnessed multiple waves of human migrations from other areas. Through its history, the region was mostly ruled by local kingdoms some of which accepted the suzerainty of larger empires. Prior to India's independence from the British, Himachal comprised the hilly regions of Punjab Province of British India. After independence, many of the hilly territories were organized as the Chief Commissioner's province of Himachal Pradesh which later became a union territory. In 1966, hilly areas of neighboring Punjab state were merged into Himachal and it was ultimately granted full statehood in 1971.

Himachal Pradesh is spread across valleys with many perennial rivers flowing through them. Around 90% of the state's population lives in rural areas. Agriculture, horticulture, hydropower and tourism are important constituents of the state's economy. The hilly state is almost universally electrified with 99.5% of the households having electricity as of 2016. The state was declared India's second open-defecation-free state in 2016. According to a survey of CMS – India Corruption Study 2017, Himachal Pradesh is India's least corrupt state.

Foods in Himachal Pradesh, India:
Madra. Chana Madra
Dhaam. Dham
Tudkiya Bhath. Tudkiya Bhat
Bhey or Spicy Lotus stems. Bhey
Chha Gosht. Chha Gosht
Siddu
Babru
Aktori
Kullu Trout fish
The Tibetan dishes
Mittha
Kaale Channe ka Khatta

Weather & geography in Himachal Pradesh, India:

Himachal is in the western Himalayas situated between 30°22′N and 33°12′N latitude and 75°47′E ́ and 79°04′E longitude. Covering an area of 55,673 square kilometres (21,495 sq mi), it is a mountainous state. Most of the state lies on the foothills of the Dhauladhar Range. At 6,816 m, Reo Purgyil is the highest mountain peak in the state of Himachal Pradesh.

The drainage system of Himachal is composed both of rivers and glaciers. Himalayan rivers criss-cross the entire mountain chain. Himachal Pradesh provides water to both the Indus and Ganges basins. The drainage systems of the region are the Chandra Bhaga or the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej, and the Yamuna. These rivers are perennial and are fed by snow and rainfall. They are protected by an extensive cover of natural vegetation. Four of the five Punjab rivers flow through the state, three of them originating here.

Due to extreme variation in elevation, great variation occurs in the climatic conditions of Himachal. The climate varies from hot and humid subtropical in the southern tracts to, with more elevation, cold, alpine, and glacial in the northern and eastern mountain ranges. The state's winter capital, Dharamsala receives very heavy rainfall, while areas like Lahaul and Spiti are cold and almost rainless. Broadly, Himachal experiences three seasons: summer, winter, and rainy season. Summer lasts from mid-April till the end of June and most parts become very hot (except in the alpine zone which experiences a mild summer) with the average temperature ranging from 28 to 32 °C (82 to 90 °F). Winter lasts from late November till mid-March. Snowfall is common in alpine tracts.

Per day Cost in Himachal Pradesh, India:
You should plan to spend around ₨1,873 ($25) per day on your vacation in Himachal Pradesh, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, ₨473 ($6.39) on meals for one day and ₨256 ($3.46) on local transportation.

History of Himachal Pradesh, India:

Tribes such as the Koli, Hali, Dagi, Dhaugri, Dasa, Khasa, Kanaura, and Kirat inhabited the region from the prehistoric era. The foothills of the modern state of Himachal Pradesh were inhabited by people from the Indus valley civilization which flourished between 2250 and 1750 BCE. The Kols and Mundas are believed to be the original inhabitants to the hills of present-day Himachal Pradesh followed by the Bhotas and Kiratas.

During the Vedic period, several small republics known as Janapada existed which were later conquered by the Gupta Empire. After a brief period of supremacy by King Harshavardhana, the region was divided into several local powers headed by chieftains, including some Rajputs principalities. These kingdoms enjoyed a large degree of independence and were invaded by Delhi Sultanate a number of times. Mahmud Ghaznavi conquered Kangra at the beginning of the 11th century. Timur and Sikander Lodi also marched through the lower hills of the state and captured a number of forts and fought many battles. Several hill states acknowledged Mughal suzerainty and paid regular tribute to the Mughals.


Sansar Chand (c. 1765–1823)
The Kingdom of Gorkha conquered many kingdoms and came to power in Nepal in 1768. They consolidated their military power and began to expand their territory. Gradually, the Kingdom of Nepal annexed Sirmour and Shimla. Under the leadership of Amar Singh Thapa, the Nepali army laid siege to Kangra. They managed to defeat Sansar Chand Katoch, the ruler of Kangra, in 1806 with the help of many provincial chiefs. However, the Nepali army could not capture Kangra fort which came under Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in 1809. After the defeat, they expanded towards the south of the state. However, Raja Ram Singh, Raja of Siba State, captured the fort of Siba from the remnants of Lahore Darbar in Samvat 1846, during the First Anglo-Sikh War.

They came into direct conflict with the British along the tarai belt after which the British expelled them from the provinces of the Satluj. The British gradually emerged as the paramount power in the region. In the revolt of 1857, or first Indian war of independence, arising from a number of grievances against the British, the people of the hill states were not as politically active as were those in other parts of the country. They and their rulers, with the exception of Bushahr, remained more or less inactive. Some, including the rulers of Chamba, Bilaspur, Bhagal and Dhami, rendered help to the British government during the revolt.


Chamba, 1863
The British territories came under the British Crown after Queen Victoria's proclamation of 1858. The states of Chamba, Mandi and Bilaspur made good progress in many fields during the British rule. During World War I, virtually all rulers of the hill states remained loyal and contributed to the British war effort, both in the form of men and materials. Among these were the states of Kangra, Jaswan, Datarpur, Guler, Rajgarh, Nurpur, Chamba, Suket, Mandi, and Bilaspur.

After independence, the Chief Commissioner's Province of Himachal Pradesh was organized on 15 April 1948 as a result of the integration of 28 petty princely states (including feudal princes and zaildars) in the promontories of the western Himalayas. These were known as the Simla Hills States and four Punjab southern hill states under the Himachal Pradesh (Administration) Order, 1948 under Sections 3 and 4 of the Extra-Provincial Jurisdiction Act, 1947 (later renamed as the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947 vide A.O. of 1950). The State of Bilaspur was merged into Himachal Pradesh on 1 July 1954 by the Himachal Pradesh and Bilaspur (New State) Act, 1954.

Himachal became a Part 'C' state on 26 January 1950 when Constitution of India came into effect and the Lieutenant Governor was appointed. The Legislative Assembly was elected in 1952. Himachal Pradesh became a union territory on 1 November 1956. Some areas of Punjab State, namely, Simla, Kangra, Kullu and Lahul and Spiti Districts, Lohara, Amb and Una Kanungo circles, some area of Santokhgarh Kanungo circle and some other specified area of Una Tehsil of Hoshiarpur District, as well as Kandaghat and Nalagarh Tehsils of earstwhile PEPSU State, besides some parts of Dhar Kalan Kanungo circle of Pathankot District—were merged with Himachal Pradesh on 1 November 1966 on enactment by Parliament of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966. On 18 December 1970, the State of Himachal Pradesh Act was passed by Parliament, and the new state came into being on 25 January 1971. Himachal became the 18th state of the Indian Union with Dr. Yashwant Singh Parmar as its first chief minister.

Language in Himachal Pradesh, India:
Hindi to be official language of the State. - The official language of the State of Himachal Pradesh shall be Hindi.

Culture of Himachal Pradesh, India:

Himachal Pradesh was one of the few states that had remained largely untouched by external customs, largely due to its difficult terrain. With remarkable economic and social advancements, the state has changed rapidly. Himachal Pradesh is a multireligious, multicultural as well as a multilingual state like other Indian states. Western Pahari languages also known as Himachali languages are widely spoken in the state. Some of the most commonly spoken individual languages are Kangri, Mandeali, Kulvi, Chambeali, Bharmauri and Kinnauri.

The Hindu communities residing in Himachal include the Brahmins, Kayasthas, Rajputs, Sunars, Kannets, Rathis and Kolis. The tribal population of the state consists mainly of Gaddis, Gujjars, Kanauras, Pangwalas, Bhots, Swanglas and Lahaulas.

Himachal is well known for its handicrafts. The carpets, leather works, Kullu shawls, Kangra paintings, Chamba Rumals, stoles, embroidered grass footwear (Pullan chappal), silver jewellery, metal ware, knitted woolen socks, Pattoo, basketry of cane and bamboo (Wicker and Rattan) and woodwork are among the notable ones. Of late, the demand for these handicrafts has increased within and outside the country.

Himachali caps of various colour bands are also well-known local art work, and are often treated as a symbol of the Himachali identity. The colour of the Himachali caps has been an indicator of political loyalties in the hill state for a long period of time with Congress party leaders like Virbhadra Singh donning caps with green band and the rival BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal wearing a cap with maroon band. The former has served six terms as the Chief Minister of the state while the latter is a two-time Chief Minister. Local music and dance also reflects the cultural identity of the state. Through their dance and music, the Himachali people entreat their gods during local festivals and other special occasions.

Apart from national fairs and festivals, there are regional fairs and festivals, including the temple fairs in nearly every region that are of great significance to Himachal Pradesh. The Kullu Dussehra festival is nationally known. The day-to-day cuisine of Himachalis is similar to the rest of northern India with Punjabi and Tibetan influences. Lentils (Dāl), rice (Chāwal or Bhāț), vegetables (Sabzī) and chapati (wheat flatbread) form the staple food of the local population. Non-vegetarian food is more preferred and accepted in Himachal Pradesh than elsewhere in India, partly due to the scarcity of fresh vegetables on the hilly terrain of the state. Himachali specialities include Siddu, Babru, Khatta, Mhanee, Channa Madra, Patrode, Mah Ki Dal, Chamba-Style Fried Fish, Kullu Trout, Chha Gosht, Pahadi Chicken, Sepu Badi, Auriya Kaddu, Aloo Palda, Pateer, Makki Ki Roti and Sarson Ka Saag, Chouck, Bhagjery and Chutney of Til.

Place to visit in Himachal Pradesh, India:
Kasol
Shimla
Kasauli
Dharamshala
Spiti Valley
Manali
Chitkul
Bir Billing
Dalhousie
Khajjiar

How to reach in Himachal Pradesh, India:
The fastest way to travel to Himachal Pradesh is by air. But it is also the costliest when compared to price per unit of distance covered. However, if you are short on time and wish to splurge, you can take a flight to Shimla or Kullu if you are heading to Manali, and Kangra or Pathankot if you are heading to Dharamsala. The flights are largely limited to Delhi, so you will need to first arrive at Delhi to explore more flight options.

The airport in Shimla, Jubbal Hatti, is around 40 km away from main Shimla City. You can get pre-paid taxis right outside the terminal. Go to the booking counter and state your destination to get a sense of the fare before you hop in. Travel only with registered taxis to avoid getting taken for a ride. The other two airports, Kullu-Manali Airport in Bhuntar and Dharamsala Airport (or Kangra Airport), are also well-connected to the city centre and you can get a cab without any hassle. 

Travel Guide for Himachal Pradesh, India: Food, Cost, Weather & geography, History, language, culture, things to see and do and how to reach. – Published by The Beyond News (Travelling).