Chamba Town

Chamba

Height : 1000 m
Chamba town is located on the right bank of the river Ravi. As a former princely State, This is one of the oldest in the country and dates back to the sixth century. lt is well known for its splendid architecture and as the base for numerous excursions. lt is also a district headquarters. Banked by the majesty of the high snow-covered peaks,Chamba lies between the Dhaula Dhar and the Pangi ranges – which are sub-systems of the Himalaya. The town is built over and along the sides of two large terraces. Towering over We magnificent wide, grass-covered flat, the chaugan is the Alicand Chandi Palace, the former home of the state’s rulers. Chamba‘s intricate lanes are replete with architecture, history arc lore. lf there is a cluster of exquisite temples at the end of one street, there is an equally fine one tucked behind a high
wall elsewhere. Elegant decorative devices on buildings abound and much of the state’s heritage is on display at the Bhuri Singh Museum. The folk songs of Chamba unfold timeless stories of love and longing; its fine crafts include the exquisite rural scarf where the embroidery done with a ‘double satin-stitch that emerges as a positive of both sides. The cuisine is distinctive and includes the sharp Chamba-
chukhh made of fiery peppers or the succulent chah-meat, sour mutton.
Step out of town and a world relatively untouched by modern changes yet lives and thrives. The migrant Gaddis still move with their herds of sheep and goats over high passes and narrow trails. The villages still hold rustic architecture at its most functional and picturesque and in some remote pockets, organic agriculture is a part of life and several fields have never been touched by chemical fertilizers. Trek trails and offbeat drives abound all around Chamba.

GETTING THERE:

  • BY ROAD : Chamba is 126 km from Pathankot via Banikhe
    3:78 km from Shimla through Hamirpur, 169 km from
    Dharamsala via Lahru, 185 from Dharamsala via Chakki, 65
    lam from Bharmour and 41 km from Dalhousie via Khajjiar.
  • BY RAIL: Pathankot, 196 km away is the closest train station
    to Chamba.
  • BY AlR : Gaggal in Kangra at 140 km and Pathankot at 126 km
    are the nearest airports to Chamba.

CLIMATE :

Summers are pleasant and cotton clothing is recommended Winters are cold and temperatures drop below 0 degree Celsius. Heavy woollens are essential.

ATTRACTIONS :

  • The Chaugan : This wide terrace is the heart of much of Chamba’s social and cultural life. lt is here that people gather in the evenings to talk and stroll. It over the lush grass that the Minjar Fair held in July-August and this showcases the history and culture of the area.
  • Hari Rai Temple : This stands by the Chaugan gate and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple is dated to the eleventh century and was built by Raja Lakshman Varman. The light bronze image with gold and silver inlays depicts Vishnu as ‘Chaturmurti’ and has four facets to its head.
  • Bhuri Singh Museum : Named after Raja Bhuri Singh who ruled Chamba between 1904 and 1919, this was opened in 1908. The displays include embroideries like rare examples of the Chamba rumals, miniature paintings, copper-plate inscriptions, murals, carved and painted doors, stone can/ings and several items of princely paraphernalia. Unique exhibits are the barselas, water or fountain stones.
  • Champavati Temple : Located behind the Police Station, this temple was built by Raja Sahil Varman. It is believed that this was named after his daughter who is now worshipped as a goddess. At the time ofthe Minjar Mela, it was customary for the rulers of Chamba to visit all the important temples – and their round of obeisance began and ended with a visit to this one. The goddess is enshrined as a black stone image sitting atop a tiger. Vajreshwari Temple : Placed at the northern end of the
    Jansali Bazaar, this old shrine is dedicated to Vajreshwari Devi, the goddess of lightening.
  • The Laxmi Narayan Group of Temples. With six main shikara style temples and several smaller shrines, this group is renowned for its finely executed classical forms. From north to south the main shrines are — Lakshmi Narayan, Radha-Krishna, Chandragupta Mahadeva, Gauri Shankar, Tri-Mukeshwara and Laxmi Damodar. The complex also holds some minor shrines. Three of the main temples are dedicated to Shiva and three to Vishnu. All the main temples have a square sanctum and an antrala. ln a corner is a small water body called the ‘Ardh Gandha’ and bathing in its water is ritually significant. An unusual feature of the complex are the slate ‘umbrellas‘ supported by wooden brackets that are placed below the amalaksa; these protect the external parts of the shrines and their ornate carving and panels from the weather.
  • Chamunda Devi Temple : Built high on the hill above town at a position where a superb view is available, this temple was rebuilt in the seventeenth century. This has excellent carvings on stone and wood. Bansi Gopal Temple : Built in the shikara style, this temple lies on the banks of the River Ravi. Built in the sixteenth century, when the worship Krishna Ji became popular in the hills, the sanctum has images of Radha and Krishna while the doon/vay has a fine carving of Ganesha Ji.
  • The Sita Ram Temple : Placed in Chamba’s ‘Mohalla Bangota‘, near the old palace, this was built by Batu the ‘aya’, nursemaid, of Raja Prithvi Singh. Rang Mahal : Construction on this palace began in the middle of the eighteenth century, and additions were made later. An interesting mix of British colonial and other styles, this held superb wall paintings — some of which are now displayed in the Bhuri Singh Museum.
  • Akhand Chandi Palace : Opposite the Lakshmi Narayan temples, this imposing building once housed Chamba’s ruling family. The palace was exhaustively renovated and rebuilt during the reign of Raja Sham Singh. Much of the original craftsmanship can still be seen.
  • Sui Mata Temple : The temple of Sui Mata lies on Chamba’s Shah Madar hill. It is said that when an aqueduct was built to carry water to the town of Chamba from the Sarota stream, the water refused to flow. This was put down to supernatural causes. The local priests said that either Raja Sahil Varman’s son must be sacrificed, or it must be the Rani. Dressed as a sati, the Rani was buried alive at this spot and the water began to flow. Even today, this sacrifice is honoured by a fair held every March-April and is known as the Sui Mata ka Mela. This is largely attended by women and young girls who sing praises of the Rani.
  • Pangi Valley : This remote corner of the Himachal is 137 kms from Chamba. With its lowest height at a lofty 2438m, this secluded valley is held between the Pir Panjal ranges and the Greater Himalaya. Its sub-divisional headquarters are at Kilar. Trapped in a deep and narrow gorge, the river Chandrabhaga races through the valley. Pangi’s high crags and untamed grandeur, act as a beacon for intrepid trekkers. The Sach Pass (4428 m), opens the way to several trek routes. Thick forests with a variety of wildlife fill the Pangi valley. Its side-valleys — Saichu, Hunan and Sural Nallah — are also endowed with remarkable natural beauty. The temple of Mindhal Devi in Pangi is held in high reverence.
  • St. Andrew’s Church : Over a century old, this is a dressed-stone structure with lancet windows and epitomises the bare minimum of decorative devices used in Scottish churches. The Church was built by the efforts ofJohn Hutchison, a medical doctor who also co-authored the standard work, History of the Punjab Hill States. The land for the church as well as the construction expenses, were given by the rulers of Chamba.
  • Vajreshwari Devi Temple, Sarota : Built at the start of the Sarota valley, this eleventh century temple is dedicated to Devi Bhagwati. With a high quality of workmanship, this has elaborate carvings — including the gateway adorned with an image of ‘Chaturbhurji Durga’. The free-standing stone carvings near the temple are also exemplary and were created in the sixteenth century.
  • Bhalai Mata Temple : The village of Bhalai is 40 kms from Chamba and the temple of Bhadra Kali, (popularly known as Bhalai Mata, after the village), is held in considerable veneration. There is an excellent view of the Chamera Lake from the temple.
  • Jalpa Devi Temple : 4 kms from Chamba and surrounded by cedarwoods, this is located in the village of Batalwan. Chatrari : Halfway between Chamba and Bharmaur, about 40 kms from Chamba, the village of Chatrari is largely inhabited by musicians and Brahmins who have been associated with the temple for generations. Here, dedicated to the Devi in her form of ‘Shakti’, is the Shakti Devi temple. The sanctum has her image executed in ashtadhatu as ‘Shool-dharini‘ and holds various symbols of her attributes. The temple dates back to the eighth century and the reign of Raja Meru Varman; the Raja‘s master craftsman, Gugga is regarded to have built this. Some repairs were carried out after damage caused by the earthquake of 1905. The ceiling, doorjambs and pillars have exemplary carvings. The other temples at Chatrari include the temple of Gauri Shankar and a short walk away, is the one dedicated to Bhatod Nag. The village has some exemplary fountain stones with fine carvings.
  • Bharmaur : This is 65 kms from Chamba. At an altitude of 2195 m, this is surrounded by alpine pastures and is the summer home of the nomadic Gaddis. This was once known as Brahmpur and between the sixth and tenth centuries, was the capital ofthe princely state of Chamba. it is renowned for its cluster of eighty-four temples — collectively known as the ‘ Chaurasi‘; With varying architectural designs, “these were built between the seventh and tenth centuries. Legend has it that in the tenth century, eighty-four holy men visited Bharmour. They blessed the ruler, Sahil Verman with ten sons and a daughter, Champavati — after whom the town of Chamba is said to be named. And while some shrines were already in existence, the remainder were built by Sahil Verman to commemorate their sojourn.Some of the prominent shrines in Bharmaur are the Ganesha temple, the Lakshana Devi Temple, the Mani Mahesh Temple and the Narasingha Temple. From Bharmour, there are trek routes over the Chobia and Kugti passes. Other interesting places at hand are the temple of Bani Mata and picturesque Khundel.
  • Manimahesh : This is 93 km from Chamba and 28 km from Bharmaur. At 4183 m, this lake is sacred to Lord Shiva and his divine consort, Parvati. The route is past
    villages inhabited by the Gaddi people and wide meadows — which steadily give way to bare rock and large snow fields. The lake’s deep blue waters rest at the feet of the
    Manimahesh Kailash peak — regarded as one of the mythological abodes of Bhagwan Shiva. Every year, after the festival ofJanamashtmi, in August-Septembera yatra, pilgrimage is conducted to the lake. This begins from the Laxmi Narayan Temple in Chamba.
  • Chamera Lake : Created by the Chamera dam over the river Ravi, this large reservoir offers water sports and boating. Basic facilities are available by the lakeside..
  • Saho Chandrashekhra Temple : A bare 20 kms from Chamba, on the right bank of the Sal rivulet is the picturesque village of Saho. This is placed on an , impressive high flat and is surrounded by fields. With the ,changing seasons, the colours of the fields enhance the setting. At Saho is the famous temple of Chandrashekhra where Shiva, is depicted as the Lord Crowned by the Moon. The shrine isi not immediately visible as it tucked behind an impressive cluster of trees. The entrance is flanked by a pair of l magnificent images of Shiva and the sanctum enshrines a large Shivalinga. Facing the temple is a life-sized carving of Nandi, the sacred bull; this has been carved with considerable delicacy. The temple is believed to predate the time when the state capital was moved from Bharmaurto Chamba in the 10th century. Coinciding with the yatra to the sacred lake of Manimahesh, in August-September a fair is held in the temple  compound.

HOTELS

HOTEL IRAVATI – Deluxe Hotel
The Hotel lravati draws its name from the Vedic word used
‘or the river Ravi. Modern and centrally located, the hotel is
surrounded by flowering bougainvillea and is set in an
attractive lawn.
ADDRESS : The lravati Chamba, Distt. Chamba (HP)-176310
Tel. : (01899) 222671 Fax: (O1892)222565
E-mail : chamba@hptdc.in

Café Ravi View  on the southern side of Chowgan serves delicious meals, snacks and beverages.
HOTEL CHAMPAK – Budget Hotel
Run by the HPTDC, this is a clean and functional budget hotel with essential facilities. The location of the hotel presents some spectacular views of the mountains.
ADDRESS : The Champak, Chamba Distt. Chamba (HP)
176310, Tel. O1892- 222671, E-mail : chamba@hptdc.in