The hilly state in northern India, Himachal Pradesh, is a famous tourist destination in the western Himalayas. Nestled in the lap of nature, Himachal is endowed with dreamy valleys, emerald meadows, verdant forests, thickly wooded orchards, expansive pines, gushing rivers, mighty lakes, and snow-capped mountains. The capital city of Himachal Pradesh is Shimla, which is famous as the summer capital of British India. To learn more about Himachal Pradesh, keep reading this guide!

History Of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh history has been inhabited since the aurora of civilization. Indus Valley civilization was the first to set foot on the hills of Himachal Pradesh between 2250 and 1750 BC. This was followed by Mongoloids and then Aryans. Then flourished the era of dynasties; Chandragupta, with his prowess, took control of the republics of Himachal, and his grandson Ashoka extended his boundaries to the Himalayan region. Thakurs and Ranas briefly reigned in the hilly terrain until Harsha rose to power in the early 7th century. After he died in 647 AD, many Rajput rulers fought amongst themselves; few moved to Rajasthan, while defeated ones ascended to Himachal. Mughals reinstated their hold at the beginning of the 10th century with the entry of Mahmud Ghaznavi, who first conquered Kangra. Timur and Sikander Lodi made their way to Himachal through the lower hills, fought many battles, and took charge of several forts. 

With the downfall of the Mughal dynasty, the Katoch rulers of Kangra grew to prominence, and Kangra regained independence under Maharaja Sansar Chand, who ruled for nearly half a century. Under the leadership of Amar Singh Thapa, Gorkhas from Nepal began to expand their territory and took over Sirmour and Shimla. After defeating Sansar Chand in 1806, they finally captured Kangra; however, they failed to capture Kangra fort, and in 1806, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh took charge of the fort. By 1858, the region came under the British Crown. Then began the independence movement with the Mandi conspiracy in 1914-15 and the Pajhota agitation in 1942. Post-independence Himachal Pradesh was declared a Union Territory, and later, hill areas of Punjab were merged into Himachal. The State of Himachal Pradesh Act was passed by Parliament on 18th December 1970, and on 25th January 1971, Himachal Pradesh was listed as the eighteenth state of India.

Culture of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh culture and tradition are rich and diverse, reflecting the region's history and heritage. Himachal culture is characterised by colourful festivals, traditional music and dance, and unique customs that have been preserved over centuries. The pristine beauty of Himachal Pradesh is not just restricted to visuals but can also be noticed in its vibrant culture. Although the Indus Civilization first inhabited the state, the Aryans who migrated from Central Asia influenced Himachal Pradesh culture. The Hindus largely occupy Himachal. However, some regions of the state, such as Kinnaur, Lahaul, and Spiti, are strongly influenced by Tibetan culture. The majority of people in these regions follow Buddhism. Hindi and Pahari are the languages that are widely spoken in Himachal; however, the Sino-Tibetan language is spoken in the areas close to the Tibetan border.

The most dominating communities of Himachal Pradesh are Brahmins, Rajputs, Rathis, Chowdaries, Kannets, and Kolis, who contribute to 96% of the state's total population. The remaining 4% are Gujjars, Kinnars, Gaddis, Tanolis, Lahaulis, and Pangawals, who belong to the tribal communities of Himachal. Few of these communities are nomads. People of the state are extremely religious-minded, and there are plenty of Temples in Himachal Pradesh that hold great religious significance. Himachal Pradesh is famous for Dev Bhumi, boasting many revered temples in India. The hilly region of Himachal is considered an abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Natives of the state are warm-hearted, cordial, and respectful. Their primary occupation is agriculture, forestry, horticulture, or pastoralism. 

Art and Handicraft of Himachal Pradesh

The art and handicrafts of Himachal Pradesh are vivid, diverse, and exquisite. Famous for craftsmanship, the art culture of the state can be best witnessed in intricate paintings, exquisite handlooms, elaborate woodwork, unique metal products, woven carpets, stonework, leather goods, and whatnot. Himachali caps, silk and muslin embroidered handkerchiefs of Chamba, and classic thangkas are Himachal's most elegant and charming souvenirs. Pahari paintings display the unique flora and fauna of the state, and the artists often depict the life of Lord Krishna through their paintings. Handloom products, such as shawls, blankets, carpets, etc, are strongly influenced by Tibetan patterns. Basket weaving is another common craft of Himachal that the state's weavers extensively design.

The wooden craft is widely practised because the state is rich with pine, walnut, chestnut, mulberry, etc. Trees. Items such as trays, toys, utensils, sticks, etc., can be seen in Himachal's local markets. Tibetan markets of Manali, Shimla, Dharamshala, and McLeodganj are best for shopping typical Himachali handicrafts. Also famous for its unique art forms, Himachal offers tourists a joyous experience. Losar Shona Chuksam in Kinnaur, Burah dance in Sirmour, Shunto in Lahaul and Spiti, Naati in Kullu, and Dangi in Chamba are some of the popular dance forms of Himachal Pradesh. The folk songs of Himachal Pradesh people are associated with religion, customs, and harvest. Some of the best-known folk songs of Himachal are Ainchaliyan, Dholru, and Soohadiyan. With the state government's intervention, the state's authentic art culture stays well preserved.

Read More : Waterfalls In Himachal Pradesh

Food of Himachal Pradesh

The speciality of Himachal Pradesh has natural splendours, diverse cultures, and delectable cuisines. The food of Himachal Pradesh is a tasteful blend of fresh produce and aromatic spices. Himachal Pradesh produces the finest quality Basmati rice, which is also the state's staple. Freshly grown vegetables, fruits, and local leafy greens are abundant in the lower belt of Himachal, while as you move upwards, meats and grains take over. Dham is a traditional festive meal of Himachal that Botis, the Brahmin chef from Kangra, prepares. Patande is a unique version of pancakes, which is a popular breakfast dish in the Sirmaur district. Babru is a popular snack that is the Himachali variation of kachoris. Sidu is a distinct bread that is usually savoured with mutton or daal. Chana Madra is white chickpeas cooked in gravy, a very popular gravy dish in the state.

Some more popular vegetable preparations of the region are Auriya Kaddoo, Mash daal, Sepu Vadi, and Gucchi Mattar, which are delectable and aromatic. Tudkiya Bhath is a rich and spicy rice dish. Bhey is a unique dish made from lotus stems. Chha Gosht is a Himachali mutton dish with a distinct flavour. Kullu Trout and  Chamba Style Fried Fish are much-loved fish delicacies from Kullu and Chamba, respectively. Pahadi Chicken is the simple-to-cook chicken gravy of almost every Himachali kitchen. Mittha is a local dessert of Himachal Pradesh. Akotri is a regional speciality of the Northern Hills. Himachali or Pahari cuisine has a unique aroma and flavour due to the low-flame cooking technique and usage of yoghurt and cardamom. 

Read More : Water Parks In Himachal Pradesh

How to Reach Himachal Pradesh?

By Air

To reach Himachal Pradesh by air, you can fly to the nearest airports. The main airports are Shimla (Jubbarhatti Airport), Kullu (Bhuntar), and Dharamshala (Gaggal). You can fly from major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, or Chandigarh. After landing, you can take a taxi or bus to your destination in Himachal Pradesh.

By Road

You can reach Himachal Pradesh by road using buses or cars. Many state and private buses go to Shimla, Manali, and Dharamshala. You can also drive your car or hire a taxi. The roads are well-connected and offer beautiful views.

By Train

To reach Himachal Pradesh by train, you can travel to the nearest railway stations. The major stations are in Kalka, Pathankot, and Chandigarh. You can take a toy train, bus, or taxi from these stations to places like Shimla, Manali, and Dharamshala. The train journey is scenic and enjoyable. 

Read More : Snowfall Places In Himachal Pradesh

Places To Visit In Himachal Pradesh

Each area of Himachal Pradesh has its own charm due to diversified natural features, cultures, and customs. The state offers immense travel opportunities to its tourists, and the Best Things To Do in Himachal Pradesh include exotic activities, sightseeing, trekking, temple tours, etc that are mentioned below:

  • Exhilarating adventure sports in different parts of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Dodge the currents while river rafting in Kullu and Mashobra. 
  • Enjoy the soulful experience of quaint villages.
  • Take a pilgrimage tour to the most revered Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist shrines in Himachal. 
  • Explore the offbeat places of Himachal, such as Shoja, Barot, Chitkul, and Kalpa, which are hidden gems.
  • Discover history on heritage trails to many forts in Himachal  
  • Nature trekking and hiking tours in Kufri, Solang, Chail, etc.
  • Visit the world's highest cricket ground. 
  • Witness the unique Hot sulphur spring in Tattapani.
  • Timber Trail, Cable car ride, fruit orchards in Parwanoo

Read More : Festivals Of Himachal Pradesh

Acharya Diwakar Datt Sharma, one of the great Sanskrit scholars and astrologers of Himachal Pradesh, thoughtfully named the state. The word Himachal derives from 'Him', which means 'Snow', and 'Aanchal' means 'Lap'. Etymologically, the hilly state has a perfect name as this mesmerising part of India lies in the lap of eternally snow-covered Himalayas. Himachal Pradesh is India's most beautiful and serene tourist destination, with everything to offer.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is Himachal Pradesh famous for? 
Himachal Pradesh is famous for its beautiful landscapes, hill stations, temples, and adventure sports. Popular destinations include Shimla, Manali, and Dharamshala.

Q. What are the 12 states of Himachal Pradesh? 
Himachal Pradesh is a state in India and does not have 12 states. It is divided into 12 districts.

Q. Why does Himachal Pradesh have two capitals? 
Himachal Pradesh has two capitals for administrative convenience: Shimla serves as the summer capital and Dharamshala serves as the winter capital.

Q. Who is the current CM of Himachal? 
A. T
he current Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh is Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu (as of 2024).

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