Monday, January 21, 2019
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Chamba

 
Place
:
Himachal Pradesh
Altitute
:
2,150 m (7,054 ft)
Temperature
:
Summer- Max. 39oC, Min. 8oC; Winter- Max. 10oC, Min. 1oC
Significance
:
The hill station of Temples
Best Season
:
March-June
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Chamba the valley of milk and honey is yet another beautiful hill station in Himachal Pradesh. Located high above the river Ravi on a little mountain ledge 726 m above sea level, it is often described as the ' jewel of the Himalayas'. The hill station is famous for the magnificence of it's scenery-touching the fringe of the Shivaliks and the three well-defined snowy ranges - the Dauladhar, constituting the outer Himalayas, the Pir Panjal or the mid Himalayas, and the Zanskar range or the inner Himalayas. An ancient Rajput capital, Chamaba has a sharp contrast to Dalhousie. 

The hill station was the district headquarter of Chamba district and was ruled by a single dynasty of Maharajas. The town was founded by Raja Sahil Varman, who shifted the capital here from Brahmaur and named the town after his daughter Champavati who is worshipped as a goddess in Chamba. The town later comes under Mughals in the medieval period and later to the Sikh rulers and British. Finally it made be a part of Himachal Pradesh when India became independent in 1947. 

Chamba has many picnic spots and forest trails over the Chamba Valley. Views down over the terraced fields with tiny villages clinging to the sheer slopes of the valley is really breathtaking.

Often compared to a medieval Italian village, the hill station is also popular for its ancient temples, exquisite miniatures and handicrafts apart from its natural beauty. The hill station is famous also for its folk embroidery and the elaborately decorated Chamba Rumal (Handkerchief and the high quality designed leather chappals (flat, open shoes) and belts. 

Place to see at Chamba

Laxmi Narayan Temple

Situated opposite to the palace of the Chamba rulers, it is the main tourist attraction in Chamba. Built in the Shikhara style by Sahil Verma, it is the oldest and the largest temple in Chamba. The 10th century temple consists of Garbhgriha (the innermost sanctum), Shikhara or Bimana (peak of a temple) and a Mandapa (hall) like structure.


The temple contains several shrines and a tank in four courts, each higher than the one before. The temple complex houses six splendid temples of which three temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and another three to Lord Shiva. The temples are constructed with wooden chattries, the wheel roof in such a way that it suits to the local climatic conditions. The main idol of Lord Vishnu is made up from a rare piece of Marble that has a glittering appearance. The temple also has images of Shiva, Parvati and Nandi images of brass inlaid with copper and silver. 

The temple also houses shrines dedicated to the deities like Gauri Shankar (built in the 11th century, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva) and Radha Krishna. 

The temple is open from 6 am to 12.30 pm and from 2.30 to 8.30 pm.

Vajreshwari Devi Temple

Dedicated to goddess Vajreshwari (Durga), this temple is renowned for the stunning stone carved sculptures. Believed to be 1000 years old, it is situated on the northern most corner of the town at the end of Jansali Bazar. At the entrance of the temples, the two pillars have some inscriptions about the period of construction of the temple. 

This temple is also built in the Shikhara style with wooden Chhattries and stands on the platform. The Shikhara of the temple is a fine example of stone carving. On either side of the main shrine, there are two other small temples. 

Chamunda Devi Temple

Dedicated to goddess Chamunda Devi (the wrathful form of goddess Durga), it is just 1 km from the Chaugan. Located top of the Shah Madar Hill , it is a wooden temple built by Raja Umed Singh of Chamba in 1754 AD.

The temple is an ideal picnic spot throughout the year because it has an easy approach and offers a commanding view of the chamba town. The temple possess artistic carved pillars, beams and wood carved roof featuring animal, floral motifs and different deities. Just behind the main temple is a small shrine of Shikhara style dedicated to Lord Shiva. Here one can get the birds' eye view of Chamba Town. Even though it is a protected monument by Archaeological Survey of India, the temple is now in a ruined condition. Here devotees offer little brass bells to get their wish fulfilled. 

Sui Mata Temple

Located between the Chamunda Devi temple and Brajeswari temple, it is situated on an elevation of Shah Madar Hill. It is dedicated to Sui Mata (queen of Raja Sahil Verman) who sacrificed her life for the inhabitants of Chamba. According to a legend, due to the lack of water problem in Chamba, the then Maharaja of Chamba made a stream but the water refused to enter the channel made for it. So the Saints advised that the spirit of the stream must be tranquilized and victim must be either Rani (Queen) or her son. The Rani named 'Naina Devi' got ready to sacrifice herself. Accompanied by her maidens and bare-headed as for 'Sati', she was taken to the spot near the village of 'Balota', where Rani was buried alive. The legend goes on to say that when the grave was filled in, the water began to flow and has ever since flowed abundantly. A shrine was constructed at the top of the hill by Raja in her memory. A fair called 'Suhi Mela' is also held in her memory from 15th of Chait to the 1st of Vaishakh (April), where only women and children are allowed to participate.

Colourful paintings on the temple wall depicts the story of how Sui Mata sacrificed her life for the residents of Chamba.

Hariraya Temple

Situated next to the colonial fire station is the Saffron coloured Hari Raya Temple. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple dates back to 11th century. Built in stone, the temple is built in Shikhara style of architecture and stands on a stone platform. Once the temple's idol was stolen in the 1970's, then miraculously recovered from the Bombay Docks. The temple enshrines a bronze image of Lord Vishnu with a triple headed image that is made of eight different materials. This temple is also possess other deities such as lord Shiva, Surya and Aruna. The main deity is artistically ornamented with bracelets, finger-rings, armlets, a beaded garland, mukut, necklaces, and kundals.

Chaugan 

Situated in the heart of the Chamba town, it is a beautiful grassland less than one-kilometre in length and about seventy-five metres wide. A busy local trading center, the place is popular location for various for public meetings, sports and cultural activities, local get together etc. The famous Annual minjar mela takes place here.

Gandhi Gate

This was the main gateway of Chamba before the new road was built. It was built in the year 1900 to welcome the Viceroy of British Government Lord Curzon. And this is the only structure that has been coated with saffron colour. 

Bhuri Singh Museum

The museum was founded in Chamba, by its erstwhile ruler Raja Bhuri Singh on September 1, 1908. It has rich culture Chamba like antique jewelleries of the royal family of Bhuri Singh, Musical instruments, designed handkerchiefs, traditional costumes, Coins,weapons. Local artifacts and finely executed miniatures of the Kangra and Basholi schools are displayed in the museum. . Established in 1908, it houses elegantly designed wooden doors and windows that reflect the architectural splendor. 
The museum opens from 10 am to 5 pm. Closed on every Monday and on all national holidays. 

Kalatope (2,440 m- 8000ft)

It is 30-km from Dalhousie to Chamba along the eastbound road from Gandhi Chowk. is an ideal weekend retreat. Besides offering a panoramic view of the surrounding snow peaks, Kalatope sanctuary has many species of animals, which include the ghoral, barking deer, the Himalayan black bear and a large avian fauna population. Several tributaries of the River Ravi, which lies to its north, flow through the dense forest of pines and deodars of Kalatope. There is a Forest Rest house here built by the British in 1925, for those who wish to spend the night in the sanctuary. The place is ideal for trekking. From Dalhousie one has to approach Lakkarmandi, from there it is a 3km ride on the unpaved but narrow level road to Kalatope Forest Rest House. On the way to Lakkarmandi lies the Dalhousie water system, Tibetan Handicraft Centre and Dalhousie Potato Farm in Ahla village. 

Special permission is needed from DFO, Wildlife, Chamba. 

Rang Mahal or 'the Painted Palace'

Built by Raja Umed Singh in the mid 18th century, this beautiful palace is located in Surura Mohalla. Undoubtedly the most interesting building in Chamba, the red coloured Rang Mahal's architecture is a mixture of Mughal and British styles. Looks like a fort, the palace was the abode of a division of the ruling family. The walls of this palace lined with fine examples of Punjab Hill style which depict the life of Lord Krishna. There is room in the palace where the walls are painted with murals depicting episodes from the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. A number of decorative and colorful wall painting have been detached which were removed to the National Museum of Delhi and some of the wall paintings and richly painted doors of the palaces preserved in the Bhuri Singh Museum. 

Now the palace houses the local employment exchange and the Handicrafts Department of the State Government. The Handicrafts emporium sells Chamba's famous rumals, shawls made in wooden looms, cheppels etc. It opens between 10 am to 1 pm and 2 to 5 pm from Monday to Saturday.

Akhand Chandi Palace

Built around 1747-1765 AD by Raja Umed Singh, the palace was renovated with the help of British Engineers by Raja Sham. It was the residential building of the Chamba Ruling family which they sold to the Himachal Government in 1958 now houses a Government College and a District Library. Built in a unique style of architecture, the palace houses with painted walls, beautiful glass work, ceiling and intricate woodwork which are in a ruined condition due to lack of proper maintenance. The palace also offers the panoramic view of the Chaugan, Laxmi Narayana Temple, Sui Mata, Chamunda Devi Temple, Rang Mehal, Hari Rai Temple and Bansi Gopal Temple.

Church of Scotland

Situated opposite to the museum, the church is also known as St.Andrew's Church. Built in the year 1903, its is founded by the mission of Church of Scotland. The scottish style architecture church with a fine stone works, arched windows is now a library.







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