Chamba Sightseeing Places
Chamba is a town in the Chamba district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, in northern India. According to the 2001 Indian census the town is situated on the banks of the Ravi River (a major tributary of the Trans-Himalayan Indus River), at its confluence with the Sal River. Chambial were the Rulers of Chamba State Chambials use suffix Varmans.
Though historical records date the history of the Chamba region to the Kolian tribes in the 2nd century BC, the area was formally ruled by the Maru dynasty, starting with the Raju Maru from around 500 AD, ruling from the ancient capital of Bharmour, which is located 65 kilometres (40 mi) from the town of Chamba.In 920, Raja Sahil Varman (or Raja Sahil Verma) shifted the capital of the kingdom to Chamba, following the specific request of his daughter Champavati , Who Further Adopted a Kid Named Pt.Shiv Kumar Upmanyu(Chamba was named after her). From the time of Raju Maru, 67 Rajas of this dynasty ruled over Chamba until it finally merged with the Indian Union in April 1948, although Chamba was under British suzerainty from 1846 to this time.
The town has numerous temples and palaces,and hosts two popular jatras (fairs), the “Suhi Mata Mela” and the “Minjar Mela”, which last for several days of music and dancing. Chamba is also well noted for its arts and crafts, particularly its Pahari paintings, which originated in the Hill Kingdoms of North India between the 17th and 19th century, and its handicrafts and textiles.
Chamba is the headquarters of the Chamba district, bordered by Jammu and Kashmir to the north-west and west, the Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir and Lahaul and Bara Banghal to the north-east and east, Kangra to the south-east and Pathankot district of Punjab to the south. It has an average elevation of 1,006 metres (3,301 ft).
The town, the district and the valley where the town is located, share the name of Chamba. The town of Chamba is located at the junction of Ravi River and its tributary, the Sal River, with the Shah Madar hill forming the backdrop on its eastern side.The Ravi flows in east-west direction forming deep canyons. During the spring and summer months, the levels of the river rise significantly from snow melt and pose a flooding risk.Record levels were experienced in early July 2005, when the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation was forced to shut down the power generation on its 300-MW Chamera Power Station.
Located on the right bank of the Ravi river valley, built on successive flat terraces, the town is bounded topographically by the Dhauladhar and Zanskar ranges, south of the inner Himalayas. Chamba, despite its hill location, is well connected by road to the rest of the state and country, including Shimla, Delhi and Chandigarh along several routes. The nearest broad gauge railway stations are at Chakki Bank and Pathankot, the latter of which is 120 kilometres (75 mi) away by road.
The temperatures in summer vary between 38 °C (100 °F) and 15 °C (59 °F) and in winter: 15 °C (59 °F) and 0 °C (32 °F). The maximum temperature recorded in summer is 39 °C (102 °F) and the minimum temperature in winter is −1 °C (30 °F) Climatically March to June is said to be the best period to visit Chamba, which is a well known hill station. The average annual rainfall in the town is 785.84 millimetres (30.939 in).
Buildings in Chamba were traditionally constructed using local materials. Buildings were made out of dry stone masonry, with the walls and floors of the older houses plastered with a concoction of clay and cow-dung. Thick wooden beams were used to support the walls, paying attention to durability and to withstand earthquakes, and wooden cantilever construction was often used to support the verandas The staircases and doors were made from wood, with the doors often decorated in religious reliefs and flanked by two lamps to light it at night. Before the arrival of the British, who introduced slate roofs to Chamba, roofs were covered with planks, coated in clay. Few of these houses remain today, although a number still have wood-clay roofs in villages in the suburbs.
The old heritage monuments, which are palaces and temples are located in the old town (east of the Chaugans), on the lower slopes of Shah Madar hill. They were built in the lower valley where the two rivers and steep thickly forested hillsides provided a strong defense. Located here is the 10th century Champavati Temple, said to have marked the birth of the town, the Lakshmi Narayan group of temples (built from 10th-19th century), the 10th century Sita Ram Temple, Bansi Gopal temple, Kharura Mohalla and Hari Rai temple, the 11th century Sui Mata Temple and Chamunda Devi Temple, and the Akhand Chandi palace, overlooking the Chaugan, which has since been converted into a college.Additions were made to the palace in the form of the Zenana Mahal and the Rang Mahal in the 18th century. The temples built in Chamba demonstrate a strong Kashmiri influence with their stone temple architecture and temple iconography.Given their age however, only their unicellular layout with fluted pillars has been retained.
This temple was built by Raja Sahil Varman in memory of his daughter Champavati. The temple, located near the Police Post and the Treasury building, is built in the Shikhara style, with intricate stone carvings. It has a wheel roof and is large as the Laxmi Narayan Temple. An idol of the goddess Mahishasuramardini (Durga) is worshipped in the temple. The walls of the temple are full of exquisite stone sculptures. On account of its historical and archaeological importance, the temple is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.Champavati Temple, located in the heart of the city of Chamba, is a pilgrim destination for many Hindus. It is named after Champavati, the daughter of King Sahil Varman, the founder of the temple. The temple holds great historical and religious relevance for many Hindus. Champavati Temple enshrines an idol of Goddess Mahisasuramardini, the avatar of Goddess Durga. According to the legend, the daughter of King Sahil Varman Champavati was a religious person and used to visit temples and sadhu’s ashrams regularly.
The king, after getting suspicious of her actions, once followed her to a sadhu’s place, with a dagger in his cloak. Once he reached the ashram, he found that there was no one inside. To his surprise, both the sadhu and his daughter Champavati had vanished. When he was about to return, he heard a voice saying that his daughter had been taken away as a punishment of his suspicion. The voice also asked him to build a temple, on the name of his daughter Champavati, if he wanted to avoid further familial calamities.
The king ordered the construction of the Champavati Temple. Now, the temple is under the Archaeological Survey of India, for its historical and archaeological importance. The major attraction of the temple is its Shikhara style architecture. Stone carved walls, full with sculptures, make the temple an attractive tourist spot. The temple has a large wheel on the rooftop, which adores it and makes it a distinguished temple in North India. The Champavati Temple is often compared with Laxmi Narayan Temple, in its grandeur.
Banni Mata Temple
Lakshmi Narayan temples
The Lakshmi Narayan temples complex, devoted to the Vaishnavite sect, includes the main Lakshmi Narayan temple, built in the 10th century by Raja Sahil Verman. It has been built to suit the local climatic conditions with wooden chatries and has a shikara, and a sanctum sanctorum (Garbhagriha), with an antarala and a mantapa. A metallic image of Garuda, the vahana (mount) of Vishnu is installed on the dwajastambapillar at the main gate of the temple. In 1678, Raja Chhatra Singh adorned the temple roof with gold plated pinnacles, as a riposte to Auranagzeb, who had ordered demolition of this temple.
Chamunda Devi Temple
Chamunda Devi Temple is located in a prominent position on the spur of Shah Madar range of hills, opposite to the Chamba town. It was built by Raja Umed Singh, and was completed in 1762.It is the only wooden temple with gabled roof (single storied) in Chamba, while all others in the town are built from stone in the north Indian Nagara architectural style.
In the past, the temple was accessed through a stone paved steep path laid with 378 steps, but it is now approached by a 3 kilometres (9,800 ft) motorable road.The temple, a trabeated structure, is built on a high raised plinth, buttressed on all four sides, and has a rectangular layout on the outside. It exterior measures 9.22 metres (30.2 ft) x 6 metres (20 ft), the inner square sanctum measures 3.55 metres (11.6 ft) x 3.55 metres (11.6 ft) and has a parikrama path (circumambulatory path) of 1.67 metres (5.5 ft) around the perimeter
There is a mandap in the foreground of the temple of 5.1 metres (17 ft) x 6 metres (20 ft) size with an agni-kund or fire pit in the centre and a gable roof covered with slates. The mandapa has carvings in wood in its multi paneled ceiling with reliefs of human figures on the pillars and brackets. Votive bells are provided in the mandap entrance and it has a Nagari inscription, which records it as the offering from Pandit Vidhadhara to the goddess Chamunda deified in the temple on 2 April 1762, the date when the temple was consecrated.
Akhand Chandi Palace
The Akhand Chandi Palace, noted for its distinct green roof, was built by Raja Umed Singh between 1747 and 1765 and used as his residence.[ Later, Raja Sham Singh refurbished it with the assistance of British engineers. In 1879, the Darbar Hall (also named ‘Marshal Hall’ after the builder) was built. Raja Bhuri Singh added the Zenana Mahal (residence of Royal ladies). The building was exemplary of the fusion of Mughal and British architectural influences. In 1973, the Royal family of Chamba sold the palace to the Government of Himachal Pradesh, who in turn converted it into a Government College and District Library.Maintenance of the attractive palace, however, which has painted walls and glass work and intricate woodwork, has not been satisfactory, due to the lack of funds allocated to refurbish it. The palace provides scenic views of the Chaugan, Laxmi Narayana Temple, Sui Mata, Chamunda Devi Temple, Rang Mehal, Hari Rai Temple and Bansi Gopal Temple.
Monuments built after 1846
In the second half of the nineteenth century, the British administration drew up an urban plan for the development of Chamba. They laid emphasis on the building of civic buildings around the Chaugan to conceal the unorthodox structural layout of the residential complexes. The western oriented development programme grew particularly active after the arrival of Major Blair Reid in January 1863, during the reign of Raja Shri Singh.The next fourteen years in particular, until his retirement in March 1877, were characterised by large-scale building projects in Chamba, with Reid fully revising the administrative and revenue departments of Chamba and reorganizing the state machinery to make development more efficient.
Orderly new building complexes with “simple visual discipline with white plastered walls, lancer arch windows, cornices, sloping sheet roofs, wooden eaves and deep verandahs were planned and built”. Road communications were dramatically improved, with the approach road to the town being diverted, to provide a way for vehicular traffic to enter from the western end of the chaugan. A cabled suspension bridge was built across the Ravi River in the lower outskirts of the town, and many important public welfare projects were started, and well as many temples, gates, gardens and churches between 1863 and 1910. Notable works built during the colonial period include the temples in the Jansali Bazar, Gandhi Gate (Curzon Gate), Shiva Temple, the Chaugans, the Police Lines, the Church of Scotland, the Shyam Singh Hospital (built in 1891), Chamba Library, the Post Office building, Bhuri Singh Museum, the State Forces barracks, and the administrative buildings of the British period. Today, architectural materials have evolved considerably since ancient times and reinforced concrete structures are rapidly changing the skyline of the town.
The Chaugan (a Sanskrit word meaning: “four sided”) is the nucleus of all activity in Chamba, surrounded by impressive administrative buildings and a shopping arcade built during the British period, with the old Akhand Chandi palace standing nearby. It has a terraced grass green, and is exceptionally large for a hill station, measuring 800 metres (2,600 ft) length and 80 metres (260 ft) width. In 1890, the British converted five small chaugans into a single chaugan for use as an esplanade and sports complex, and today it is commonly used for cricket matches, picnics and promenades during the mid summer months During the annual ‘Minjar Mela’ fair, the entire ground becomes a flea market. After the Dussera festival, the grounds are closed to the public until April, for maintenance purposes.
Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian Church, known as ‘St. Andrew’s Church’, was established by the first missionary in Chamba, the Reverend William Ferguson, who served there between 1863 and 1873. The foundation stone for building the new church was laid by the Raja of Chamba on 17 February 1899, in the presence of the Scottish reverend Dr. M’Clymont who had come from Scotland. The Raja had contributed a generous grant to build the church and ensured that it was exquisitely built in fine stone masonry. The walls are supported by buttresses, and lancer arch windows provide the light and ventilation. Several schools are run by the Mission located within the church precincts.
Bhuri Singh Museum
The Bhuri Singh Museum at Chamba was established on 14 September 1908 in honour of the raja at the time, Raja Bhuri Singh, who ruled Chamba from 1904 to 1919. J. Ph. Vogel, an eminent indologist, and expert on the history of Chamba state, proposed the museum to preserve a number of valuable inscriptions, mostly in Sarda script, which contained some rare information about the medieval history of Chamba; the prashastis (inscriptions) of Sarahan, Devi-ri-kothi and mul Kihar (fountain inscription) are still preserved in the museum. Bhuri Singh donated his family collection of paintings to the museum, including royal portraits which ranged from Basohli to Guler-Kangra in style, and embroidered Pahari miniatures. Numerous artifacts, important to the heritage of Chamba were added, including coins, hill jewelry and royal and traditional costumes, arms and armour, musical instruments and other items.The current museum was built in 1975 in concrete