The road to Chamba valley
by Prabal Pramanik
For a tourist, the pleasures of the journey is just as important as the destination. There
are people who go on tours is enlightened manner, and there are those who dont do
so. I have seen many people visiting the beautiful hill region of Himachal Pradesh without
enjoying the natural beauty in the least and such crude people are often seen stopping
their vehicles on the way just to drink liquor.
There are even those who come to hill resorts seeking seclusion to satisfy their ulterior
motives. Such people spread social evils and pollute the atmosphere.
Yet, many tourists come for sight seeing, to gain knowledge and to relax in natural
environment. Such people often checkup web sites to help them to plan their journey and
This part of this web site is specially made for the needs of a conscious tourist.
Whichever road one wants to take to Chamba when reaching Pathankot, one has to go up to
Banikhet, where the road bifurcates. One branch leads to Chamba valley via Bathri and the
other road goes to Dalhousie, from where another road goes to Chamba via khajjiar.
Both these roads are picturesque and have their own charms.
The road via Dalhousie and Khajjiar is steeper, yet have a greater share of deodar forests
and pristine sylvan charm while the road via Bathri from Baniket rolls up and down in the
gentle way to the valley. This road passes the man made lakes acting as reservoir for Ravi
water for Chamera hydroelectric project.
The view of the Cheer pine woods at some places on this road are really fine, and are
worth a stop for some time. This road has quite a few Dhabas or eateries but the only
Dhaba we liked was Schins Dhaba, which is clean healthy and serves
vegetarian and non vegetarian food of really good quality. This rare eatery is situated at
a place named Goli, near a bridge over a stream.
You pass several streams along this road. The mountain streams change their appearences in
Due to the mountain conditions, all over Himachal, road repair work has to go on
throughout the year.
You may see interesting pine cones from the cheer trees on the road. In spring and early
summer, many wild flowers bloom.
At a place called Kando you may in season buy local grown vegetables, and may
enjoy roast corn on cobs when the corn ripens in the hills.
Ravi river used to be an impressive forceful flow roaring down the gorge with a much wider
span before the hydroelectric dams were constructed. Fortunately I was able to see and
enjoy that view of free flowing Ravi many years ago.
Still, Ravi flowing over the boulders in a frothy flow is worth viewing today.
Many folk songs and folk lore have been composed on and around this river that was named
Iravati in classical times. The word Ravi is a shortened form of
Take care not to throw non-bio de-gradable plastic bags or containers on the road. It is
ill mannered and illegal to do so.
During the fruit season you may buy local fresh fruit from village boys selling them at a
bargain price. Fruit grown naturally, taste much better when taken fresh.
As you enter Chamba, the traffic increases on the road and you have to drive carefully
along the road through the market.
The main Bus stand in Chamba should either be renovated properly or relocated. I think
renovation is a better choice as the situation is convenient but the planning and layout
is not proper.
There are a number of hotels and guest houses in Chamba, but it is advisable to book in
advance when you are planning to visit Minjar or any other festival in Chamba.
Chamba is a safe city when compared to most of the metropolises in the world and you may
enjoy your tour without anyone bothering you.
Most people in Chamba are quite friendly towards tourists and I have found that most of
the local residents are polite and helpful.
Food is some thing absolutely personal, but health is everyones concern. Not only in
Chamba, but all over the world, never buy food from a vendor or a restaurant where the
people working are wearing dirty clothes or look unclean. Make a point of drinking only
from clean glasses and cups.
It is important to keep healthy while on the move and to return home in a healthy state.
Do not drive while you are under the influence of liquor. Keep your seat belts on and your
vehicle papers up-to-date and handy as you are likely to be checked on the way. Do not
throw cigarette or bidi ends in the woods as this sort or careless behaviour causes forest
The road from Dalhousie to Chamba via Khajjiar is fine for trekking but you should observe
the basic rules for trekking and must not disturb nature. Take your camera with you as you
are likely to get many chances of great shots.
Walk at an easy pace and you can carry some dry fruit and nuts with you. Dont forget
your water bottle and use proper and comfortable trekking shoes when on a trek.
Sadhus who often walk all the way from Pathankot to Manimahesh lake during the
time for Manimahesh pilgrimage are expert trekers who manage with minimum materials. You
will find that local village people adopt much more easily to the hill roads and rough
mountain tracks. When going on trecking tours, if you are a city dweller from the plains,
you may require a day for acclimatization. Without being acclimatized you may find
yourself puffing on the way. So take care to ensure that you have an enjoyable track.
The rich tradition of different forms of art in Chamba make it possible for a tourist to
buy many local works of art and handicrafts.
There are several shops and workshops in Chamba selling handmade objects for collection..
The traditional art in Chamba had been flourishing for centuries and it is well worth the
trouble to visit and observe a traditional artist at work.
For details about various forms of traditional art in Chamba click on the art button of
this web site.
Chamba is a city of ancient temples and there are many ancient temples in Chamba.
Besides the temples there is an impressive church and a mosque with miners in Chamba too.
Bhuri Singh Museum is an important museum that is well worth a visit. For more details
click on the museum page in this web site.
There are some quant old traditional buildings in Chamba town that should be seen to have
a feel of old Chamba.
A walk up the hill road of Dogra bazar will lead you to the Lakshminath temple chowk, and
from there you can walk up in the narrow lanes that have a peculiar character of their own
if you really enjoy tour in a refined way with a view to have a feel of this hill town.
Chogan or the large ground where the fairs are hosted is a center of activities during
festival. There are pleasant sunny parks with benches too, if you want to rest on a sunny
There are several beautiful spots around Chamba which are missed by ordinary tourists.
Bharmour is famous as the halting place for pilgrims going to the lake of Manimahesh.
During the pilgrimage season in summer, Sadhus, as Ascetics from all over
India, as well other pilgrims trek or ride from Hudsor and reach the lake side via Dhancho
and Gaurikund. For more details on Bharmour click on tribal people of Chamba district on
Food : Most of the restaurants and eating joints in Chamba and near about serve ordinary
Punjabi food cooked in the Dhaba style, where the same sort of spice mix is
used for nearly every dish.
Yet, traditional Chamba had a vast speciality of gourmet recepies.
As thses traditional chambiyali dishes cannot be cooked in the Dhaba Style in
a fast way, it is rather difficult to taste genuine chambiyali food even in Chamba in food
shops. Even when large hotels claim to cook Madra or Chawalla
mutton doubt whether the recipe they use is genuine or the ingredients are proper.
Madra a dish cooked with kidney beans or Rajma in yogurt and pure clarified
butter (desi ghee) is use less if the ghee is not pure and spices not the right.
The taste of pure chambiyali traditional food can be found in cooking done in earthen and
brass pots, and often the recipe demands the food to be cooked for a long time over a slow
wood burning fine for proper taste.
Chamba chukh a hot pungent pickle is available in many shops but Chamba
Chukh made at home at Chamba is far more better.
Tourists perhaps may like to buy a jar of Bharmour honey for a taste of the hills.
If you get a chance buy some local rice called Jhinjhin. This reddish rice is
Prabal Pramanik ©
The town of Chamba, the district headquarter of Chamba district is situated in the western
Himalayas between north latitudes 32°10' and 33°13' and east longitudes 75°45' and
77°33'. The town stands on a plateau on the right bank of the Ravi river valley between
Dhauladhar and Zanskar ranges south of the inner Himalayas. This town was founded by Raja
Sahil Varman when he conquered the lower Rani valley from the petty chiefs called Ranas
and Thakurs in the beginning of 10th Century. It seems the original name of the town was
Champa as mentioned in Kalhan's Rajtarangani. In the bansauli or genealogical rolls of the
Chamba Rajas a reference occurs of place which was adorned with highly fragrant Champaka
trees and guarded by Goddess Champavati or more popularly known as Chameshni. The temple
was built by Sahil Varman in the honour of his daughter Champavati who is worshipped as a
goddess in Chamba. Champavati temple became the family temple of the ruling family.
Area: 6528 sq. km
Population 4.60 lakh
Season: The best tourist season to visit Chamba is between April and October. Adventure
tourists may like to undertake winter trekking from November to March when the higher
reaches of the district are snow clad and access to most of the villages is on foot.
Climate: The climate of Chamba in general is tempreate with well defined seasons. However,
there may be variations because of micro-climatic systems depending upon altitude and
mountain aspect. The winters last from December to February. March and April generally
remain cool and dry but snowfall does occur at higher elevations during these months. The
temperature begins to rise rapidly from the middle of April till last week of June or
first week of July when monsoon breaks-in. Monsoon continues till the end of August or mid
September. During the monsoon, the weather remains misty, humid and cloudy. October and
November are comparatively dry but cold. The maximum temperature in Chamba town in summers
is 38°C and the minimum in winter is 0°C.
Approach: Chamba is approximately 52 kms from Dalhousie. The distance is reduced by 6 kms.
via Upper Barkota and Khajjiar road. Bus and taxi service is available from Chamba to
Pathankot, Delhi, Dharamsala, Shimla, Chandigarh, Jammu and most of the Punjab cities
along the national highway.
Distances from Chamba
Places to visit
Akhand Chandi Palace 1Km.
Bhuri Singh Museum 0Km.
Bhamaur 65 Km.
Champavati temple 0Km.
Chamunda Devi Temple 3Km.
Hari Rai Temple 0Km.
Kilar (Pangi Valley HQ) 173Km.
Laxmi Narayan Temple 0Km.
Rang Mahal 1Km.
Sui Mata Temple 2Km.
Vajreshwari temple 1Km.
Akhand Chandi palace
Construction of this residential building of the Chamba family was started by Raja Umed
Singh sometimes between 1748-1764 AD. The place was rebuilt and renovated during the reign
of Raja Sham Singh with the help of British engineers. The Darbar Hall (Marshal Hall) was
built in 1879 by Capt. Marshal and the Zanana Mehal was added in the reign of Raja Bhuri
Singh. The subsequent additions and alterations clearly betray the Mughal and the British
influence. In 1958 the Palace building was sold by the descendants of the royal family to
the Himachal Government. The latter handed it over to the Education Department for the
purpose of starting a Government College and District Library. The palace has a commanding
view of the Chaugan, Laxmi Narayana Temple, Sui Mata, Chamunda Devi Temple, Rang Mehal,
Hari Rai Temple and Bansi Gopal Temple.
65 kms from Chamba is the land of legendary Gaddies, i.e. Bharmaur. Known as Brahmpur in
the 6th century, was the seat of power of Chamba state for some 400 years till AD 920,
when a new capital was founded at Chamba by Raja Sahil Varman. Bharmaur is known for some
very old archaeological remains, primarily the temples. All these temples stand on a level
area which call the Chaurasi after the 84 Siddhas who are believed to have meditated in
Bharmaur over 1000 years ago. These Siddhas hailed from Kurukshetra and visited
The oldest temples in the complex are those of Lakshna Devi and Ganesh. Both these temples
are made in the hill style with gable roofs and rubble masonry. The outer facade, the
inner facade of sanctum, circum ambulatory path and the ceiling are exquisitely carved.
The idol of Lakshna Devi in her incarnation as Mahisasurmardini is magnificent.
The tallest temple in the whole complex is of Manimahesh built in Shikhara style of
architecture. The temple has a Shivalingam on a raised platform. The other temple in
Shikhara style is of Nar Singh. Lord Vishnu in his avtar as Nar Singh has been cast
vividly. There is a bronze Nandi of life size which stands facing the Manimahesh temple.
Inscriptions on the pedestal of the bull and on the idols of Lakshna Devi and Ganesh date
back to the reign of Raja Meru Varman. These idols are believed to be the work of master
craftsman Gugga. There is a small water source called Ardh Ganda in a corner of the temple
complex. Bathing in its water is considered religiously significant. The country around
Bharmour is regarded as belonging to Shiva and is sometimes called Shiv-Bhumi. Being the
home of nomadic shepherds Gaddies it is also called Gadderan. Just 4 kms above Chaurasi
temples is the hill temple of Bharmani Devi. A trek to this temple refreshes the visitors
as it unfolds the green woods before him. The best period to visit Bharmour is between
July and September.
There is PWD Rest-House and a Lodge for accomodation. A number of hotels, sarais and a
mountaineering hut with dormitory facility for 26 persons is coming up at Bharmour. There
is a regional centre of Mountaineering Institute, Manali, where courses are conducted by
qualified trainers. Bharmour is also known for its delicious apples and local blankets.
This temple is located behind the City Police Post and Treasury building. As mentioned
earlier the temple was built by Raja Sahil Varman in memory of his daughter Champavati who
is believed to have influenced her father to set-up Chamba at its present location. The
temple is in the Shikhara style with elaborate stone carving and the wheel roof. The size
of this temple is equivalent to the largest of the Laxmi Narayana Temple.
Chamunda Devi temple chamba
This temple is located on the spur of the Shah Madar Hill overlooking the town to its
south east. The temple stands on a raised platform. The temple has artistic carvings on
its lintel, pillars and the ceiling. Behind the main temple is a small shrine of Lord
Shiva in the Shikhara style. There is another platform in front of this temple where two
very old peepul trees provide shelter to the visitors. From this platform a bird's eye
view of most of the land marks in the town including Chaugan, Circuit House, most of the
temples and river Ravi can be had. The temple is being looked after by Archaeological
Survey of India.
This temple can be approached by road from Chamba (3 kms). It lies on the right hand side
of the Chamba-Jhamwar road. School going children and pilgrims prefer to take the flight
of steps from Sapri to this temple. There steps were got constructed by Raja Raj Singh
(1764-1794 AD). The temple is an ideal picnic spot throughout the year because it has an
easy approach and a commanding view.
The Chaugan is the heart and hub centre of all activities in Chamba. Tradition is silent
as to its use as a polo ground and the name is etymologically distinct from Chaugan, the
Persian name of Polo, being of Sanskrit origin and meaning 'four-sided'. Initially the
five Chaugan were a single patch of meadow. In 1890s the leveling of the Chaugan was done.
It became a public promenade and Cricket ground for the British. Annual Minjar Mela is
held in the Chaugan. Local people can be seen promenading in the Chaugan till late night.
The 9th century temples at Bharmaur are among the most important early Hindu temples in
the Chamba Valley. According to legend, 84 (chaurasi) yogi's visited Bharmaur, capital of
King Sahil Varma. They were so pleased with the king's humility and hospitality that they
blessed him with ten sons and a daughter, Champavati. A cluster of shrines commemorates
that visit. The temple square is the Centre of all activities in the little town of
Bharmaur and the Lakshmi, Ganesh, Manimahesh and Narsing temples, the main shrines, are
splendidly set off by the dramatic mountainscape.
45 kms from Chamba via road is this famous village of Chhartrari. The village is inhabited
mostly by the Gaddies who are semi-postral lot engaged in rearing of sheep and goats. This
village, situated at a height of 6000 feet, its famous for its remarkable hill-style
temple of Shamti Devi. The temple of Chhatrari is regarded as one of the holiest ones
competing with well known temples of "Lakshna Devi" at Bharmour and of
"Bhawani" at Kangra. The construction of the temple is simple. It consists of a
small Cell or sanctuary in which one of the rare brasses by the master craftsman Gugga is
enshrined. The walls of the temple are built of rubble masonry alternating with beams of
wood. The structure is surmounted by a sloping roof of slate. The roof is supported by
richly craved wooden posts which form a VARANDAH or circumambulatory path round the
sanctum. The Shakti Devi temple is of interest owning to the elaborate decoration of its
facade, ceiling and pillar. The sanctum, its architecture and sculpture betray a conscious
effort on part of its builder to introduce a highly refined post Gupta art in this remote
part of Chamba.
The main idol in the temple is that Shakti. This fine brass statue, 4 feet 6 inches tall
shows Shakti holding in her hands a lance (Power, energy) and a lotus (life), a bell
(aether, space) and a snake (death and time). Besides this main idol there are almost
thirty other small figurines of tutelary deities like Annapurna. Some of these are
believed to have been brought from far South or the State of Orrisa. According to the
inscription at Chhatrari the temple was built by Raja Meru Varman, by whose order the
inscription was engraved alongwith the names of his father, grand father and great grand
father as well as that of the sculptor. This epigraph commemorates Meru Varman's victory
over his rivals with the help of the Devi. The outer walls of the sanctum are covered with
frescoes which are of recent origin and represent scenes from PURANAS.
Near the Shakti Devi Temple is the temple of Gauri Shankra. The stone image of Gauri
Shankra is of later origin. The work can be attributed to the 10th century AD which
indicates a long period of sculptural activity in the region. A few minutes walk up the
mountain slopes from the main village is the Charauta temple which houses a stone image of
BHATOD NAG who gives water to the people in return for one black and four white goats
every three years. There are two interesting legends connected with the village. Villagers
had to fetch water from a nearby village call Makain. Once, a Chela of a siddha while
carrying water fell prey to bears. The Siddha invoked the deity to solve the water
problem. Inspired by the Devi he made 36 marks with his trident at different places in the
village and water gushed out from the points where the marks had been made. There are 36
water sources in the village around which beautiful PANIHARS (Fountain slabs) can be seen.
According to J. Hutchison the village was named Chhatrari at a later date when Raja Bala
Bhadra (1589-1611) made a grant of 36 LARHIS to the temple following an accidental death
of a cow at the hands of the Raja. One larhi is equal to three acres of land and such
Lahris are today known as Chhatrari.
In the month of September a mela is held on the third day after the mela at the
Mani-Mahesh lake whence a man brings a Lota of water with which the idol of Shakti is
bathed. On this day a number of sheep are slain to appease the goddess and to invoke her
blessings. After the prayer the gaddies in their traditional costumes dance to the tune of
local music. The village is approached either from Gehra from where a bridle path leads to
Chhatrari or from Luna-Ka-Pul from where a steep trace is to be ascended to reach the
village or by the motorable road, experiencing a scary ride almost 700 to 900 feet above
the river Ravi as one nears the village. The ascent on foot is most rewarding as the
visitors are welcomed by lush green fields and orchards at the outskirts of Chhatrari.
Chhatrari looks most scenic during September and October. Even on other occasions,
particularly in spring, Chhatrari offers pleasant scenery.
Hari Rai temple
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and dates back to 11th century. It was probably
built by Salabahana. This temple lies in the north-west corner of the main Chaugan, which
had became the official entrance to the town by the end of 19th C. A steep path leads to
the old Shitla bridge, which was constructed in the year 1894. The temple is built in
Shikhara style and stands on a stone platform. The Shikhara of the temple is finely
carved. This is one of the major old temples, which is away from the old township and the
only one near the Chaugan. Much of this temple is hidden behind some unimaginative
structures of the British period behind the Gandhi Gate and the Fire Station Building. The
Gandhi Gate was built in the year 1900 to welcome Lord Curzon, Viceroy. It is the only
structure that has been coated with saffron colour and stands out because of its prominent
colour. The temple enshrines a marvellous bronze image of Lord Vishnu in the form of
Chaturmurti. The temple of Hari Rai is believed to be of great antiquity and legend
affirms that the Ravi once flowed in a shallow stream across the Chaugan and the temple
had to be approached by stepping stones.
Kalatop and Khajiar are best explored if you take a three days walk from Dalhousie to
Kalatop, Khajjiar and back Dalhousie.The trek is more or less level and requires good
health, a pair of sturdy walking shoes. Kalatop is 10 kms from G.P.O. at an altitude of
8000 feet. Walking along the secluded and forested road through upper Nakorota hills, one
reaches Lakkarmandi. Between G.P.O. and Lakkarmandi lies the Dalhousie water system,
Tibetan Handicraft Centre and Dalhousie Potato Farm at Ahla. Lakkarmandi is nestled
between 8600 feet high DayanKund peak on its right and Kalatop on the left. Dayan Kund has
military installations and is closed to civilians except the local people who visit
Bhulwani Mata temple near DayanKund. Lakkarmandi is home for dhogri families that are
engaged in charcoal making. Most of the dhogris have been driven to plains because of the
fall in the demand for charcoal.
At Lakkarmandi there is a Wildlife Barrier to check movement of vehicles on the unpaved
but narrow level road that runs 3 kms to Kalatop Forest Rest House. The walk from
Lakkarmandi to Kalatop is through dense forest of pines and deodars. The solitude is
occasionally broken by singing birds. The blissful solitude of Kalatop is ideal for the
honeymooners. Permit for the rest house is obtainable from DFO, Wildlife, Chamba.
Lakshimi Narayan temple
Laxmi Narayana Temple, which is the main temple of Chamba town was built by Sahil Varman
in the 10th century AD. The temple has been built in the Shikhara style. The temple
consists of Bimana i.e. Shikhara and GarbhGriha with a small antralya. Laxmi Narayana
Temple has a mandapa like structure also. The wooden Chhattries, the shell roof, atop the
temple were in response to the local climatic conditions as a protection against snowfall.
There are several other temples within the complex. The temple of Radha krishna, Shiva
Temple of Chandergupta and Gauri Shankar Temple are among these. The temple of Laxmi
Narayana continued to be embellished by the Rajas who succeeded to the throne of Chamba.
Raja Balabhadra Verma perched the metallic image of Garuda on a high pillar at the main
gate of the temple. Raja Chhatra Singh place gilded pinnacles on the temple tops in 1678
as a reaction against the orders of Aurangzeb to demolish the temple. Later Rajas also
added a shrine or two, thus enriching the complex.
One of the largest monuments, Rang Mahal is located in Surara Mohalla. The foundation of
Rang Mahal was laid by Raja Umed Sing (1748-1764). The super structure of Rang Mahal,
which is in brick belongs to a later date with its southern portion built around 1860 by
Raj Sri Singh. The architecture of Rang Mahal is an amalgam of Mughal and British styles.
This palace was the residence for a branch of the ruling family. Its fort like looks
justify its use as royal granary and treasury which is on its western side. Once the
palace must have hummed with activity of busy servant and the frolics of the royal blood
but now under the aegis of Handicrafts Department of the State Government, most of the
rooms of this palace are being used as work-shops for making shoes, chapples and rumals. A
number of decorative and colorful wall painting have been removed and taken to National
Museum of Delhi. Some of the wall paintings and richly painted doors of the palace can be
seen preserved in the Bhuri Singh Museum of Chamba.
In the month of August/September the famous JATRA of Mani-Mahesh commences from
Laxmi-Narayana Temple in Chamba. The CHHARI is taken to the sacred lake of Mani-Mahesh,
which is one of the chief tirthas in the district. Off late people from north India and
beyond have started visiting this sacred lake. According to an estimate nearly one lakh
people visit this sacred lake every year and take a holy dip. The lake is situated at the
height of 13,500 feet above sea level and at the base of Mani-Mahesh Kailsah peak (18,564
feet). Mani-Mahesh kailash is a virgin peak. In 1968 an Indo-Japanese team led by Nandini
Patel made an unsuccessful attempt to scale the peak. The devout attribute the failure to
the divine prowesses of the holy mountain. On the margin of the lake is a small marble
Shivlaing called CHAUMUKHA.
Mani-Mahesh is 35 kms. from Bharmour. During mela days efficient bus service is available
upto Hadsar. The pilgrimage is generally done in two stages. First camp is set-up at
Dhanchho. Several grazers can be seen grazing their sheep in the alpine pastures of this
place. the ascent from Chanchho to Mani-Mahesh lake is difficult in patches. Just short of
the lake is Gauri Kund where women take a holy dip before returning to home. The
pilgrimage to Mani-Mahesh is considered sacred like that of Amarnath, Badrinath and
Rameshwarm. During the mela days several BHANDARAS are set-up for the benefit of pilgrims
and meals are served free of cost. Pack animals are also available for those who do not
want to carry their luggage themselves.
Minjar is the most popular fair of Chamba which is attended by a large number of people
from every nook and corner of the district. This mela is held on the second Sunday of the
Shravana month. The fair is announced by distribution of Minjar which is a silk tassel
worn on some parts of the dress by men and women alike. This tassel symbolises the shoots
of paddy and maize which make their appearance around this time of the year. The week long
fair begins when the Minjar flag is hoisted in historical Chowgan. The town of Chamba
wears a colourful look with every person turning out in best attire. Most part of the
Chowgan is converted into markets and people do brisk business during this week. Sports
and cultural programmes are organised. On the third Sunday the gaiety, colourfulness and
enthusiasm reaches its crescendo when the colourful Minjar procession of the deities
accompanied by dancing troupes, traditionally attired locals, traditional drum beaters
along with Police and Home Guards band, begins its march from Akhand Chandi Palace for the
venue near the Police Lines Nalhora. A great concourse of people is already assembled
there. Earlier the Raja and now the chief guest throws a coconut, a rupee, a seasonal
fruit and a Minjar tied in a red piece of cloth - Lohan - as offering to the river. This
is followed by all the people throwing their Minjars into the river. Traditional
Kumjari-Malhar is sung by the local artists. Betal leaves and ittra are offered to
everyone among the invitees as a gesture of respect and festivity. Untill 1943, a live
buffalo used to be pushed into the river to propitiate it. It if was carried away and
drowned, the event was regarded as propitious, the sacrifice having been accepted. If it
crossed the river and reached the other bank, that also was auspicious as it was believed
that all the sins of the town were transferred to the other side of the river.
Minjar fair has been declared as one of the state fairs of Himachal Pradesh. Wide coverage
is given on TV and print media. Undoubtedly Chamba is at its very best during this fair
that generally falls in the month of July/ August.
Twenty kms from Chamba is the village of Saho on the right bank of Sal river. The village
is situated on a high plateau of great beauty. Saho is famous for its temple dedicated to
Lord Chandra Shekhra i.e. the moon-crowned God, Shiva. The temple is hidden behind the
locality in a tree grove. Two magnificent images of Shiva can be seen at the entrance and
a huge Shivaling is enshrined in the sanctum. Facing the temple is a life size Nandi bull
carved with fine details.
According to Sarahan Prasasti, "The temple was constructed by Stayaki, a local Rana
in order to establish friendship between his wife Somprabha and the daughter
Parvati". It is believed that the temple belongs to a period earlier than transfer of
seat of power from Bharmour to Chamba in 10th century. In the month of August/ September a
mela is held in the compound of the temple. This mela coincides with Manimahesh Yatra.
During summer Saho wears a golden mantle of wheat crop and in August/September the fields
are lush green with paddy crop. The spring water of Saho is supposed to have medicinal
value. There is a Forest Rest House at Saho.
Sui Mata temple
This temple can be divided into three parts which can physically spread apart. The temple
of Sui Mata is on an elevation of Shah Madar Hill. A steep flight of steps comes down to a
small pavilion just above the Saho road. From the Saho road the flight of steps continues
down to the main town a little to the east of Chauntra Mohalla. At the end of the flight
of steps there is another small pavilion with gargoyles with running water. The flight of
stone steps to the aqueduct from the Sarota stream was built by Sarda, the Rani of Raja
Jeet Singh (1794-1808). According to the legend when Raja Sahil Varman founded the town
and made this aqueduct for water supply to the town the water refused to flow. It was
ascribed to supernatural causes. It was prophasised that the spirit of the stream must be
propitiated, and the Brahmins, on being consulted replied that the victim must either be
the Rani or her son. Another tradition runs that the Raja himself had a dream in which he
was directed to offer up his son, where upon the Rani pleaded to be accepted as a
substitute. Thus on a appointed day the Rani along with her maidens was buried alive in a
grave. The legend goes on to say that when the grave was filled in the water began to
In memory of her devotion a small shrine was erected at that spot and mela called Sui Mata
Ka Mela was also appointed to be held annually from 15th of Chait to the first of Baisakh.
This fair is attended by women and children who in their best attire sing praises of the
Rani and offer homage to the Rani for her singular sacrifice.
This ancient temple is believed to be 1000 years old and is dedicated to Devi
Vajreshwari-Goddess of lightning. The temple is situated on the northern most corner of
the town at the end of Jansali Bazar. No historical record of the temple is available. The
temple is built in the Shikhara style with wooden Chhattries and stands on the platform.
The Shikhara of the temple is elaborately carved. There are two other minor temples on
either side of the main shrine.
YOU ARE WELCOME TO
VISIT OUR OTHER WEB SITES
Tourist Information Centers with in the state :
* Near Victory Tunnel, Shimla-171003 Phone: 0177-2654589
* Railway station, Shimla-171004.
* Bye pass road, Shimla, Phone: 0177-2832498.
* The Mall, Manali-175131 Phone: 01902-252175.
* Dhalpur, Kullu-175101 Phone: 01902-222349.
* Bhuntar Airport, Kullu-175126 Phone: 01902-265037
* Dharamshala. Phone: 01892-223325.
* Near Bus Stand, Dalhousie-176304. Phone: 01899-242225.
Tourist Information Centers outside State :
* Opposite Railway Station, Pathankot (Punjab). Phone: 0186-2220316.
* Inter State Bus Terminal, Sector 17, Chandigarh-160022. Phone: 0172-2708569.
* Tourist Information Centre, Kalka - Railway Station. Phone: 01733-221079.
* 2H, 2nd Floor, Electronic Centre, 1A, B.A.C. Street, Kolkata-700072. Phone:
* 36, World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai-400005. Phone: 022-22181123.
* 28, Commander in Chief Road, Chennai-600001. Phone: 044-25385689.
HPTDC's Marketing Offices :
* The Mall, Shimla-171001. Phone: 0177-2652561 / 2658302. Fax: 0177-2652557.
* The Mall, Manali. Phone: 01901-253531
* 36, Chander Lok Building, Janpath, New Delhi-110001. Phone: 011-23325320 / 23324764
* 205,SHILP-2 Near Income Tax Office, Ashram Road, Ahmedabad - 380009 Tel.
+91-079-27544800 Fax 91-79-27544548
* Himachal Emporium, Ganesh Complex No. 13, S.C. Road, Bangalore-560009. Phone:
Himachal Tourism Directorate
Block No. 28, SDA Complex,
Ph:0177-2625511,2625924, Fax: 0177-2625864
1. Foreigners who wish to overstay should contact the nearest Foreigners Regional
Registration Officer or the Sadar Police Station in the town.
2. Unleaded petrol is available at select stations only.
3. Where available, it is advisable to use pre-paid taxis/ auto rickshaws or, pay by meter
or ask for the fare chart.
4. Himachal has an enormous range of weather conditions. Most areas of Bilaspur, Una,
Solan, Sirmour, Hamirpur and Kangra are largely warm to hot in summer, and mild to
pleasant in winter. The district of Chamba, Kinnaur, Kullu, Shimla and Lahaul and Spiti
are mild to pleasant in summer and cold in winter. Do check the type of clothing and other
equipment you may require for the region you are visiting.
5. Stay only in hotel/guesthouses that are registered with the Department of Tourism. A
certificate to this effect is prominently displayed by them.
6. In the main tourist centers, the rates of porters are fixed. For hiring porters and
pack animals, especially for treks, these are normally negotiated. Let the Department of
Tourism help you.
7. Stop at Government emporia. Prices are reasonable and quality assured. Himachal
Emporium outlets are located at Bilaspur, Chamba, Dharamshala, Mandi, Kullu, Keylong,
Kinnaur, Recong Peo, Nahan, Solan, Arki and Shimla. Outside the state, these are at New
Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chandigarh. You can also buy directly from craftsmen located
throughout Himachal. But if you plan to carry them overseas, do take a receipt for
8. For electrical appliances, check voltage, 220 V is the standard in the state.
9. For sightseeing and excursions, contact Himachal Tourism offices, or Government
Approved Travel Agents and Tour Operators. The HPTDC has its own fleet of coaches and
10. Some buildings and monuments require permission for photography and filming. Contact
the nearest Tourism office or the concerned District Administration for guidance and
11. Change money only at authorized Foreign Exchange Outlets/Banks/Hotels. Insist on
receipt for money changed.
12. Credit cards are accepted at most shops, restaurants and hotel in the main towns.
Their use is minimal outside them and all payments are in cash.
13. Normal banking hours are 10 am to 2 pm from Monday to Fridays, and 10 am to noon on
Saturdays. Some banks also have evening counters but these rarely deal in foreign
currency. Bank remain closed on Sundays and Gazetted Holidays.
14. If a document is lost immediately contact the nearest Tourism Office or Police
15. Dispose all litter carefully. The use of plastic bags is banned in Himachal.
16. Keep your valuable in hotel lockers/ safe deposit vaults.
17. STD/ISD/FAX facilities are available at small booths throughout the state.
18. For medical assistance contact Government hospitals and dispensaries or accredited
nursing homes/ clinics/ hospitals.
19. Observe local traditions and custom especially while visiting religious places.
Contact your nearest Tourist office or your hotel for guidance.
20. Smoking is not allowed in public vehicles.
21. For guide maps and information contact Himachal Tourism offices.
1. Dont leave non-biodegradable litter behind.
2. Dont encourage beggars.
3. Dont be coerced in to shopping or sightseeing tours by touts, taxi drivers or
strangers. Let the Department of Tourism, the Himachal Pardesh Tourism Development
Corporation, approved travel agents or your hotel help you.
4. Dont buy articles made from rare or endangered species or animals.
5. Dont disfigure or scribble on rocks, trees, building etc.