A glimpse of Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is a small state in North India. Its geographical boundaries touch regions of Punjab, Haryana, Uttrakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. The total area of the state is 55,670 square kilometers. Hima, means snow in Sanskrit, and the literal meaning of the state’s name is Him- Anchal – in the lap of Himalayas.
Though Hindi is common language spoken here most people talk in local dialect called Pahari, which varies from one district or area to another and there are 32 such dialects in Himachal Pradesh. Himachal came into existence on 15th April, 1948 as a province governed by the Chief Commissioner.
It became a part C state on 26th January, 1950 after India was declared a republic and Indian Constitution was adopted in the country. Himachal Pradesh became Union Territory on 1st November, 1956.
After reorganization of Punjab and merger of its hilly region into Himachal Pradesh a large area of Kangra, Una districts and other hill areas became part of Himachal Pradesh on 1st November, 1966.
Himachal Pradesh became 18th state of Indian Union on 25th January, 1971.
Government in Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is governed by an elected Chief Minister and a council of ministers every five years by sixty eight Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs). Governor appointed by the President of India is constitutional Head of the state.
Dr Yashwant Singh Pramar was the first Chief Minister of the state and Jai Ram Thakur is present Chief Minister. The state has four Parliamentary constituencies i.e. Shimla, Mandi, Kangra and Hamirpur and sends three elected members to Rajya Sabha.
Shimla is state capital which has state Assembly, while Dharamshala has been declared as winter capital with another state Assembly established at Tapovan. The High Court of Himachal Pradesh is based at Shimla.
Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh is a popular hill station and is known as queen of the hills. Shimla also remained summer capital of the British government during their rule in India before India became Independent.
The state has 12 districts namely 1 Shimla, 2 Solan, 3 Sirmaur, 4 Bilaspur, 5 Kinnaur, 6 Mandi, 7 Kulu, 8 Lahaul & Spiti, 9 Kangra, 10 Hamirpur, 11 Una and 12 Chamba.
Climate and topography of Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is a hilly state and majority area is mountainous located in the Western Himalayas. Most part of the state has long series of hills but a few districts like Kangra, Hamirpur, Bilaspur and Una have a large plain area, where temperature remains quite high during summers.
The state has plain and hilly area ranging from 2000 feet to 15000 feet with an extreme temperature variation ranging from minus 30 degrees during winter at a few places and 40 degrees at few others during summer.
The mountains here experience heavy to moderate snowfall during winter. Many tribal areas in Kinnaur, Lahaul – Spiti, Pangi- Bharmour, and Bada- Bhangal remain snow covered for almost six months and winters are extremely cold in these parts of the state. The state also gets heavy to moderate rainfall and Dharmashala is one of the wettest places in India. The climate of the state is generally cool and pleasant round the year.
Himachal experiences broadly three seasons i.e. summer, rainy season and winter. Many areas also have a good spring season too. The summer season is from April to June, rainy season begins with the onset of monsoon and lasts till August and winter season starts in middle of November and lasts till March. Intervening period between March to April and September to October is very pleasant and soothing in most parts of the state.
Tourist Places in Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is known for tourism and this sector is also one of the major contributors in the economy of the state. A large number of people are earning their livelihood in the tourism sector.
A large mountainous region with lofty snow covered peaks; abundance of water with several lakes and rivers, picturesque valleys, cool climate, high altitude treks passing through glaciers, fruit laden orchards, temples, monasteries, culture, tradition and simplicity of people offer a variety of attraction for pack of tourists visiting the state every year.
Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala, McLeod Ganj, Dalhousie, Kasauli, Chail, Sangla, Palampur and Khajiar are some of the famous tourist places in Himachal Pradesh. With a large number of temples, monasteries and other religious places Himachal Pradesh is also called Dev Bhoomi- a land of gods. The capital of the Tibetans in exile and residence of spiritual Guru Dalai Lama at McLeod Ganj is a major attraction for Indian and foreign tourists.
The state is also known for one of the few natural ice-skating rink at Shimla , skiing slopes at Solang Nalah and Narkanda , paragliding ranges in Bir -Billing and Manali, river rafting in Kullu district and water sports in Govind Sagar and Pong Dam lakes. The 2015 Paragliding world cup was organized at Bir- Billing. Tribal districts of Kinnaur, Lahual & Spiti, offer distinctive culture, enchanting snow peaks, lofty mountains, Buddhist monasteries, Gompas and unique tradition.
Agriculture and Horticulture
Agriculture is main profession of the people of Himachal Pradesh but during the last few decades the state has also emerged as a leading horticulture state. Apple is grown on large area of the state which is also known as Fruit Bowl of India. Variety of delicious apple grown here are very popular in Indian market. The state is also producing variety of other fruits like plum, apricot, peach, pears, almonds, Kiwi, cherry, pomegranate, mangoes, Kinoows etc. A pine tree nut grown wild, Chilgoza is also a famous produce of Kinnaur district.
The state has also emerged as leading mushroom growing state and Solan is also known as mushroom city of India. Floriculture has also become popular here during the past few years.
The State has also come up as a producer of a large number of seasonal and off- seasonal vegetables like peas, cauliflower, tomatoes, capsicum and cucumber etc. Some people are also involved in growing and extracting aromatic plants and herbs. Rearing livestock is also a profession of nomadic tribe of Gujjars, Gaddis (tribal nomads) and other people.
Himachal has many old renowned schools and colleges like Sanawar school near Kasauli , Bishop Cotton, Saint Edward, Jesus and Marry, Loreto convent Tara Hall schools and St, Beads college at Shimla, Dalhousie Public school at Dalhousie and many others.
The state has Himachal Pradesh University at Shimla, Agriculture University at Palampur, Horticulture University at Nauni, Solan, Technical University at Hamirpur and recently a Medical Education university has been opened at Ner Chowk in Mandi district.
Besides, the state has Indian Institute of Advanced Study at Shimla, Central Potato Research Center at Shimla, Central Research Institute at Kasauli, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Kamand (Mandi), National Institute of Technology (NIT) at Hamirpur, Indian Institute of Hotel Management at Kufri and Hamirpur, Indian Institute of Management at Dhaula Kuwan, Six medical colleges and dozens of post graduate colleges, besides a large number of other educational institutions. The state has good network of government schools, graduate level colleges and technical education.
Flora and Fauna
Himachal Pradesh is replete with diverse flora and fauna. Total area covered by forest is 37, 03.275 hectares (66.52 percent of the total area). Pine, oak and deodar (cedar) are main species of the trees in the forests and the state has some of the finest forests of deodar and pine trees. It also has good number of medicinal and aromatic plants. The state is also known for many species of birds and wild animals. As per government data there are 467 birds, 77 mammalian, 44 reptiles and 88 species of fish.
Deodar (cedar) is state tree, snow leopard is state animal and western tragopan (jujurana or monal) is the state bird. Pink rhododendron is the state flower.
The state also has famous Pong Dam Lake, which is visited by lakhs of migratory birds from as far as Siberia every winter. UNESCO World Heritage site Great Himalayan National Park and Pin Valley National parks are two famous national parks, besides, 30 wildlife sanctuaries in Himachal Pradesh.
Meadows and pastures are also in abundance here. Wild flowers also bloom in many areas. Carnation, marigolds, roses, tulips and lilies are also being grown here commercially.
Interesting and useful information about Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh has one of the oldest narrow-gauge railway lines constructed by the Britishers during their rule in India. One such railway track is from Kalka to Shimla and other from Pathankot to Joginder Nagar. Kalka – Shimla railway track, which passes through 103 tunnels, has been declared as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO.
The state is also connected by-air and three airports are located at Shimla (Jubbarhatti), Kullu (Bhuntar) and Kangra (Gaggal).
Malana, a remote village in Kullu district is famous among the researchers and foreign tourists. This village is considered as one of the oldest democracy in the world and its residents claim them as decedents of the Great Alexander, any outsider visiting the village has to observe strict rules set by the villagers in the name of village god Jamlu Devta.
The state also has distinctive deity culture and every village has its god or goddess to worship and these are considered guard and guide of people. Himachal Pradesh is also famous for hydro power generation and one of the largest hydro power garnering state in India.
Himachal is also famous for its handicrafts, especially Chamba chappal and handkerchiefs, Kullu Shawls and famous of Himachali, Kulvi and Kinnauri caps.
Many fairs and festivals are held in different parts of the state, some famous fairs are Mandi Shivratri, Kullu Dushehra, Chamba Minjar, Renuka and Lavi fairs, besides other festivals.