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Essay On My Himachal Pradesh Board

Himachal Pradesh
State

Clockwise from top
Dashair and Dhankar Lake, Hidimba Devi Temple, Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lödrö College of Dialectics in Chauntra near Bir, Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh, Dalhousie


Seal

Location in India

State map
Coordinates (Shimla): 31°6′12″N77°10′20″E / 31.10333°N 77.17222°E / 31.10333; 77.17222Coordinates: 31°6′12″N77°10′20″E / 31.10333°N 77.17222°E / 31.10333; 77.17222
State India
Statehood25 January 1971
CapitalsShimla
Dharamshala (Second Capital in Winter)
Districts12
Government
 • GovernorAcharya Dev Vrat[1]
 • Chief JusticeJustice Sanjay Karol (Acting)
 • Chief MinisterJai Ram Thakur (BJP)
 • LegislatureUnicameral[2] (68 seats)
 • Parliamentary constituency4
Area
 • Total55,673 km2 (21,495 sq mi)
Area rank18th[3]
Population (2011)[4]
 • Total6,864,602
 • Rank21st
 • Density123/km2 (320/sq mi)
Language
 • OfficialHindi[5]
 • Additional officialEnglish[5]
Time zoneIST (UTC+05:30)
HDI 0.6701 (medium)
HDI rank3rd (2015)
Literacy82.80%[4]
Websitewww.himachal.nic.in
It was elevated to the status of state by the State of Himachal Pradesh Act, 1970

Himachal Pradesh ([ɦɪmaːtʃəl prəd̪eːʃ] ( listen); literally "snow-laden province") is a state of India located in North India. Situated in WesternHimalayas. It is bordered by Jammu and Kashmir on the north, Punjab on the west, Haryana on the southwest, Uttarakhand on the southeast, and the Tibet Autonomous Region on the east. At its southernmost point, it also touches the state of Uttar Pradesh. The name was coined from the Sanskrit—Him means 'snow' and achal means 'land' or 'abode'—by acharya Diwakar Datt Sharma, one of the state's eminent Sanskrit scholars.[6]

Himachal Pradesh is known for its natural environment, hill stations, and temples.[7] Himachal Pradesh had one of the highest per-capita incomes among Indian states and union territories for the year 2014-15.[8] Many perennial rivers flow in the state. Numerous plants produce surplus hydroelectricity that is sold to other states, such as Delhi, Punjab, and Rajasthan.[9] Tourism and agriculture are also important constituents of the state's economy.[9]

The state is spread across valleys.[10] About 90% of the population lives in rural areas.[11] Practically all houses have a toilet and 100% hygiene has been achieved in the state.[12] The villages have good connectivity with roads, public health centres, and high-speed broadband.

Shimla district has the largest urban population in the state at 25%. Notable government actions include a ban on polyethylene bags[13] and tobacco products. According to a survey of CMS - India Corruption Study 2017, Himachal Pradesh is India's least corrupt state.[14][15]

History[edit]

Main article: History of Himachal Pradesh

The history of the area that now constitutes Himachal Pradesh dates to the Indus valley civilisation that flourished between 2250 and 1750 BCE.[16] Tribes such as the Koili, Hali, Dagi, Dhaugri, Dasa, Khasa, Kinnar, and Kirat inhabited the region from the prehistoric era.[17]

During the Vedic period, several small republics known as Janapada existed which were later conquered by the Gupta Empire. After a brief period of supremacy by King Harshavardhana, the region was divided into several local powers headed by chieftains, including some Rajput principalities. These kingdoms enjoyed a large degree of independence and were invaded by Delhi Sultanate a number of times.[16]Mahmud Ghaznavi conquered Kangra at the beginning of the 10th century. Timur and Sikander Lodi also marched through the lower hills of the state and captured a number of forts and fought many battles.[16] Several hill states acknowledged Mughal suzerainty and paid regular tribute to the Mughals.

The Kingdom of Gorkha conquered many kingdoms and came to power in Nepal in 1768.[16] They consolidated their military power and began to expand their territory.[16] Gradually, the Kingdom of Nepal annexed Sirmour and Shimla. Under the leadership of Amar Singh Thapa, the Nepali army laid siege to Kangra. They managed to defeat Sansar ChandKatoch, the ruler of Kangra, in 1806 with the help of many provincial chiefs. However, the Nepali army could not capture Kangra fort which came under Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in 1809. After the defeat, they began to expand towards the south of the state. However, Raja Ram Singh, Raja of Siba State, captured the fort of Siba from the remnants of Lahore Darbar in Samvat 1846,[16] during the First Anglo-Sikh War.

They came into direct conflict with the British along the tarai belt after which the British expelled them from the provinces of the Satluj.[16] The British gradually emerged as the paramount power in the region.[16] In the revolt of 1857, or first Indian war of independence, arising from a number of grievances against the British,[16] the people of the hill states were not as politically active as were those in other parts of the country.[16] They and their rulers, with the exception of Bushahr, remained more or less inactive.[16] Some, including the rulers of Chamba, Bilaspur, Bhagal and Dhami, rendered help to the British government during the revolt.

The British territories came under the British Crown after Queen Victoria's proclamation of 1858. The states of Chamba, Mandi and Bilaspur made good progress in many fields during the British rule.[16] During World War I, virtually all rulers of the hill states remained loyal and contributed to the British war effort, both in the form of men and materials. Among these were the states of Kangra, Jaswan, Datarpur, Guler, Rajgarh, Nurpur, Chamba, Suket, Mandi, and Bilaspur.[16]

After independence, the Chief Commissioner's Province of Himachal Pradesh. was organized on 15 April 1948 as a result of integration of 28 petty princely states (including feudal princes and zaildars) in the promontories of the western Himalaya. These were known as the Simla Hills States and four Punjab southern hill states under the Himachal Pradesh (Administration) Order, 1948 under Sections 3 and 4 of the Extra-Provincial Jurisdiction Act, 1947 (later renamed as the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947 vide A.O. of 1950). The State of Bilaspur was merged into Himachal Pradesh on 1 April 1954 by the Himachal Pradesh and Bilaspur (New State) Act, 1954.

Himachal became a part C state on 26 January 1951 with the implementation of the Constitution of India and the Lieutenant Governor was appointed. The Legislative Assembly was elected in 1952. Himachal Pradesh became a union territory on 1 November 1956.[16] Some areas of Punjab State—namely Simla, Kangra, Kulu and Lahul and Spiti Districts, Nalagarh tehsil of Ambala District, Lohara, Amb and Una kanungo circles, some area of Santokhgarh kanungo circle and some other specified area of Una tehsil of Hoshiarpur District, besides some parts of Dhar Kalan Kanungo circle of Pathankot tehsil of Gurdaspur District—were merged with Himachal Pradesh on 1 November 1966 on enactment by Parliament of Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966. On 18 December 1970, the State of Himachal Pradesh Act was passed by Parliament, and the new state came into being on 25 January 1971. Himachal became the 18th state of the Indian Union with Dr. Yashwant Singh Parmar as its first chief minister.[16]

Geography and climate[edit]

Himachal is in the western Himalayas. Covering an area of 55,673 square kilometres (21,495 sq mi),[3] it is a mountainous state. Most of the state lies on the foothills of the Dhauladhar Range. At 7,025 m Shilla is the highest mountain peak in the state of Himachal Pradesh.[19]

The drainage system of Himachal is composed both of rivers and glaciers. Himalayan rivers criss-cross the entire mountain chain. Himachal Pradesh provides water to both the Indus and Gangesbasins.[20] The drainage systems of the region are the Chandra Bhaga or the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej, and the Yamuna. These rivers are perennial and are fed by snow and rainfall. They are protected by an extensive cover of natural vegetation.[20]

Due to extreme variation in elevation, great variation occurs in the climatic conditions of Himachal . The climate varies from hot and subhumid tropical in the southern tracts to, with more elevation, cold, alpine, and glacial in the northern and eastern mountain ranges.[21] The state's winter capital, Dharamsala receives very heavy rainfall, while areas like Lahaul and Spiti are cold and almost rainless. Broadly, Himachal experiences three seasons: summer, winter, and rainy season. Summer lasts from mid-April till the end of June and most parts become very hot (except in the alpine zone which experiences a mild summer) with the average temperature ranging from 28 to 32 °C (82 to 90 °F). Winter lasts from late November till mid March. Snowfall is common in alpine tracts (generally above 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) i.e. in the higher and trans-Himalayan region).

Flora and fauna[edit]

Main article: Protected areas of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh is one of the states that lies in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), one of the richest reservoirs of biological diversity in the world. The IHR is currently undergoing large scale irrational extraction of wild, medicinal herbs, thus endangering many of its high-value gene stock. To address this, a workshop on ‘Endangered Medicinal Plant Species in Himachal Pradesh’ was held in 2002 and the conference was attended by forty experts from diverse disciplines.[22]

According to 2003 Forest Survey of India report, legally defined forest areas constitute 66.52% of the area of Himachal Pradesh.[23] Vegetation in the state is dictated by elevation and precipitation. The state endows with a high diversity of medicinal and aromatic plants.[24] Lahaul-Spiti region of the state, being a cold desert, supports unique plants of medicinal value including Ferula jaeschkeana, Hyoscyamus niger, Lancea tibetica, and Saussurea bracteata.[25][26]

Himachal is also said to be the fruit bowl of the country,[27] with orchards being widespread. Meadows and pastures are also seen clinging to steep slopes. After the winter season, the hillsides and orchards bloom with wild flowers, while gladiolas, carnations, marigolds,[28]roses, chrysanthemums, tulips and lilies are carefully cultivated. The state government is gearing up to make Himachal Pradesh as the flower basket of the world.[citation needed] Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation Ltd. (HPMC) is a state body that markets fresh and processed fruits.[29]

Himachal Pradesh has around 463 bird[30] 77 mammalian, 44 reptile and 80 fish species.[31]Great Himalayan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Pin Valley National Park are the national Parks located in the state.[31][32] The state also has 30 wildlife sanctuaries and 3 conservation reserves.[32]

Government[edit]

Main articles: Government of Himachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly

The Legislative Assembly of Himachal Pradesh has no pre-Constitution history. The State itself is a post-Independence creation. It came into being as a centrally administered territory on 15 April 1948 from the integration of thirty erstwhile princely states.[33]

Himachal Pradesh is governed through a parliamentary system of representative democracy, a feature the state shares with other Indian states. Universal suffrage is granted to residents. The legislature consists of elected members and special office bearers such as the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker who are elected by the members. Assembly meetings are presided over by the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker in the Speaker's absence. The judiciary is composed of the Himachal Pradesh High Court and a system of lower courts. Executive authority is vested in the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister, although the titular head of government is the Governor. The Governor is the head of state appointed by the President of India. The leader of the party or coalition with a majority in the Legislative Assembly is appointed as the Chief Minister by the Governor, and the Council of Ministers are appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister. The Council of Ministers reports to the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly is unicameral with 68 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA).[34] Terms of office run for 5 years, unless the Assembly is dissolved prior to the completion of the term. Auxiliary authorities known as panchayats, for which local body elections are regularly held, govern local affairs.

In the assembly elections held in November 2017, the BJP secured an absolute majority. The BJP won 44 of the 68 seats while the Congress won only 21 of the 68 seats. Jai Ram Thakur[35] was sworn-in as Himachal Pradesh's Chief Minister for the first time[36] in Shimla on 27 December 2017.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Main article: List of districts of Himachal Pradesh

The state of Himachal Pradesh is divided into 12 districts[37] which are grouped into three divisions, Shimla, Kangra and Mandi.[38] The districts are further divided into 69 subdivisions, 78 blocks and 145 Tehsils.[37]

DivisionsDistricts[39]
KangraChamba, Kangra, Una
MandiBilaspur, Hamirpur, Kullu, Lahaul and Spiti, Mandi
ShimlaKinnaur, Shimla, Sirmaur, Solan
Administrative Structure
Divisions3
Districts12
Sub-Divisions62
Blocks78
Tehsils145
Urban Local Bodies49
Towns59
Gram Panchayats3226
Villages20690
Police Stations127
Lok Sabha Seats4
Rajya Sabha Seats3
Assembly Constituencies68

Economy[edit]

Main article: Economy of Himachal Pradesh

YearGross State Domestic Product
1980794
19851,372
19902,815
19956,698
200013,590
200523,024
200625,435
201057,452
201382,585
201492,589
2015101,108
2016110,511[40]
2017124,570[41]

The era of planning in Himachal Pradesh started in 1948 along with the rest of India. The first five-year plan allocated ₹52.7 million to Himachal. More than 50% of this expenditure was incurred on road construction since it was felt that without proper transport facilities, the process of planning and development could not be carried to the people, who mostly lived an isolated existence in faraway areas. Himachal now ranks fourth in per capita income among the states of the Indian Union.

Agriculture contributes about 9.4% to the net state domestic product.[42] It is the main source of income and employment in Himachal. About 90% of the population in Himachal depends directly upon agriculture, which provides direct employment to 62% of total workers of state.[42] The main cereals grown are wheat, maize, rice and barley.[43][better source needed] Apple is the principal cash crop of the state grown principally in the districts of Shimla, Kinnaur, Kullu, Mandi, Chamba and some parts of Sirmaur and Lahaul-Spiti with an average annual production of 5 lakh tonnes and per hectare production of 8 to 10 tonnes.[44] The apple cultivation constitute 49 per cent of the total area under fruit crops and 85% of total fruit production in the state with an estimated economy of ₹3500 crore.[44] Apples from Himachal are exported to other Indian states and even other countries.[45][46] In 2011-12, the total area under apple cultivation was 1.04 lakh hectares, increased from 90,347 hectares in 2000-01.[46]

Hydropower is also one of the major sources of income generation for the state.[47] The identified Hydroelectric Potential for the state is 27,436 MW in five river basins and annual hydroelectricity production is 8,418 MW.[9]

The total GDP for 2005-06 was estimated at ₹254 billion as against ₹230 billion in the year 2004–05, showing an increase of 10.5%.[48] The GDP for fiscal 2015-16 was estimated at ₹1.110 trillion recording an annual growth of 7.7%.[40] As per advance estimates for fiscal 2016-17, the state's GDP increased to ₹1.247 trillion.[41] The per capita income for fiscal years 2015-16 and 2016-17 were estimated at ₹130,067 and ₹147,277 respectively.[40][41]

Agriculture[edit]

Land husbandry initiatives such as the Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project, which includes the Himachal Pradesh Reforestation Project (HPRP), the world's largest clean development mechanism (CDM) undertaking, have improved agricultural yields and productivity, and raised rural household incomes.[49]

Heritage[edit]

Himachal has a rich heritage of handicrafts. These include woolen and pashmina shawls, carpets, silver and metal ware, embroidered chappals, grass shoes, Kangra and Gompa style paintings, wood work, horse-hair bangles, wooden and metal utensils and various other house hold items. These aesthetic and tasteful handicrafts declined under competition from machine made goods and also because of lack of marketing facilities. But now the demand for handicrafts has increased within and outside the country.

Tourism[edit]

Main article: Tourism in Himachal Pradesh

Tourism in Himachal Pradesh is a major contributor to the state's economy and growth. The mountainous state with its Himalayan landscapes attracts tourists from all over the world. Hill stations like Shimla, Manali, Dalhousie, Chamba, Dharamshala and Kullu are popular destinations for both domestic and foreign tourists.[50] The state has many important pilgrimage centres with prominent Hindu temples like Naina Devi Temple, Vajreshwari Devi Temple, Jwala Ji Temple, Chintpurni, Chamunda Devi Temple, Baijnath Temple, Bhimakali Temple, Bijli Mahadev, Manu Temple at Shenshar in Kullu district, Renuka Lake and Jakhoo Temple.[51] The state is also referred to as "Dev Bhoomi" (literally meaning Abode of Gods) due to its mention in ancient holy texts and occurrence of large number of historical temples in the state.[52]

It is also called the Land of the Gods on account of the Hindu belief that deities like Lord Shiva considered the Himalayas their home, and much of the state is located among the Himalayan mountains. Although modern pop-literature writers online have often also referred to Uttarakhand as the land of the gods because it also contains Himalayan mountains, officially it is Himachal Pradesh that has been considered the land of the gods since before the state of Uttarakhand existed (the UK as it is abbreviated on license plates for automobiles in the state, and the state was founded in the year 2000.).[53] A tourism department board on the road when entering Himachal Pradesh from the state of Punjab states "Welcome to the Land of the Gods."

The state is also known for its adventure tourism activities like ice skating in Shimla, paragliding in Bir-billing and Solang valley, rafting in Kullu, skiing in Manali boating in Bilaspur and trekking, horse riding and fishing in different parts in the state. Spiti Valley in Lahaul & Spiti District situated at an altitude of over 3000 metres with its picturesque landscapes is an important destination for adventure seekers. The region also has some of the oldest Buddhist Monasteries in Asia.[54]

The state is also a destination for film shooting. Movies like Roja, Henna, Jab We Met, Veer-Zaara, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Highway have been filmed in Himachal Pradesh.

Tattapani is a beautiful destination in the middle of himalayas near the river sutlej. Tattapani is famous for its natural hot sulphur springs on the bank of the lake. It is also famous for boating, rafting, camping and ayurvedic & naturaopahtic treatments offered there only.

Himachal hosted the first Paragliding World Cup in India from 24 October to 31 October in 2015.[55][56] Venue for paragliding world cup was Bir Billing, which is 70 km from the tourist town Macleod ganj, located in the heart of Himachal in Kangra District. Bir Billing is the centre for aero sports in Himachal and considered as best for paragliding.[55] Buddhist monasteries, trekking to tribal villages, mountain biking are other activities to do here.

Transportation[edit]

Main articles: Transport in Himachal Pradesh and Himachal Road Transport Corporation

Air transport

Himachal has three domestic airports in Kangra, Kullu and Shimla districts. The air routes connect the state with Delhi and Chandigarh.

  • Bhuntar Airport is in Kullu district, around 10 kilometres (6 mi) from district headquarters.
  • Gaggal Airport is in Kangra district, around 15 kilometres (9 mi) from district headquarters at Dharamshala, which is around 10 kilometres from Kangra
  • Shimla Airport is around 21 kilometres (13 mi) west of the city.
Railway transport

Himachal is known for its narrow-gauge railways. One is the Kalka-Shimla Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and another is the Pathankot-Jogindernagar line. The total length of these two tracks is 259 kilometres (161 mi). The Kalka-Shimla Railway passes through many tunnels, while the Pathankot–Jogindernagar meanders through a maze of hills and valleys. It also has broad-gauge railway track, which connects Amb (Una district) to Delhi. A survey is being conducted to extend this railway line to Kangra (via Nadaun). Other proposed railways in the state are Baddi-Bilaspur, Dharamsala-Palampur and Bilaspur-Manali-Leh.

Road transport

Roads are the major mode of transport in the hilly terrains. The state has road network of 28,208 kilometres (17,528 mi),[57] including eight National Highways (NH) that constitute 1,234 kilometres (767 mi) and 19 State Highways with a total length of 1,625 kilometres (1,010 mi).[57] Some roads get closed during winter and monsoon seasons due to snow and landslides. Hamirpur has the highest road density in the country.[58]

Demographics[edit]

Population[edit]

Population Growth 
CensusPop.
19512,386,000

19612,812,00017.9%
19713,460,00023.0%
19814,281,00023.7%
19915,171,00020.8%
20016,077,90017.5%
20116,864,60212.9%
Source:Census of India 2011
Literacy Rate 
CensusPop.
197131.96

198142.4832.9%
199163.8650.3%
200176.4819.8%
201182.808.3%
Source:[59]

Himachal Pradesh has a total population of 6,864,602 including 3,481,873 males and 3,382,729 females as per the final results of the Census of India 2011. This is only 0.57 per cent of India's total population, recording a growth of 12.81 per cent.[4][59] The total fertility rate (TFR) per woman is 1.8, one of lowest in India.

In the census, the state is placed 21st on the population chart, followed by Tripura at 22nd place. Kangra district was top ranked with a population strength of 1,507,223 (21.98%), Mandi district 999,518 (14.58%), Shimla district 813,384 (11.86%), Solan district 576,670 (8.41%), Sirmaur district 530,164 (7.73%), Una district 521,057 (7.60%), Chamba district 518,844 (7.57%), Hamirpur district 454,293 (6.63%), Kullu district 437,474 (6.38%), Bilaspur district 382,056 (5.57%), Kinnaur district 84,298 (1.23%) and Lahaul Spiti 31,528 (0.46%).

The life expectancy at birth in Himachal Pradesh is 62.8 years (higher than the national average of 57.7 years) for 1986–1990. The infant mortality rate stood at 40 in 2010, and the crude birth rate has declined from 37.3 in 1971 to 16.9 in 2010, below the national average of 26.5 in 1998. The crude death rate was 6.9 in 2010.[60] Himachal Pradesh's literacy rate almost doubled between 1981 and 2011 (see table to right).

Languages[edit]

Hindi is the official language of Himachal Pradesh and is spoken by the majority of the population as a lingua franca. English is given the status of an additional official language.[5] Most of the languages spoken natively belong to the group of the Himachali languages.

Religion[edit]

Asian paradise flycatcher in Kullu
Himalayan monal at Birds Park in Shimla
Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus). Solan (Himachal Pradesh). 28-July-2013
Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Shimla Montage - Clockwise from top: Skyline at Shimla Southern Side, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies formerly(Viceregal Lodge, Rashtrapati Niwas), Town hall, Night view of Shimla and Christ Church.
Bir Billing (One of the best spots for Paragliding in the world)
Triund is a campsite for travellers and trekkers on the way to Indrahar Pass, Dhauladhar Mountain Range.
A Train stationed at Joginder Nagar Railway Station. This Railway station was inaugurated by Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1928.

Himachal Pradesh, state of India, in the extreme northern part of the Asian subcontinent. It is bounded by the state of Jammu and Kashmir to the north, by the TibetAutonomous Region of China to the east, and by the states of Uttarakhand to the southeast, Haryana to the south, and Punjab to the west. Himachal Pradesh occupies a region of scenic splendour in the western Himalayas, offering a multitextured display of lofty snow-clad mountains, deep gorges, thickly forested valleys, large lakes, terraced fields, and cascading streams. Indeed, the name of the state is a reference to its setting; Himachal means “snowy slopes” (Sanskrit: hima, “snow”; acal, “slopes”), and Pradesh means “state.”

The city of Shimla was the summer headquarters of preindependence British viceroys; it is now the state capital and, at an elevation of about 7,100 feet (2,200 metres), one of the largest and most popular mountain resorts in the country. Formerly a union territory, Himachal Pradesh became a state of India on January 25, 1971. Area 21,495 square miles (55,673 square km). Pop. (2011) 6,856,509.

Land

Relief and drainage

Within the diverse terrain of Himachal Pradesh are several parallel physiographic regions corresponding to the northwest-southeast-trending ranges of the Himalayan mountain system. The region adjacent to the plains of Punjab and Haryana consists of two stretches of the Siwalik (Shiwalik) Range (the Outer Himalayas) separated by long, narrow valleys. Elevations in the southern tract of the region average about 1,600 feet (500 metres), while in the northern tract they range between 3,000 and 5,000 feet (900 and 1,500 metres). To the north of the Siwaliks are the Lesser (or Lower) Himalayas, which rise to about 15,000 feet (4,500 metres). Within this region are the spectacular snow-capped Dhaola Dhar and Pir Panjal ranges. To the north again is the Zaskar Range, which reaches elevations of more than 22,000 feet (6,700 metres), towering over the other ranges in the region. Many active mountain glaciers originate in this area.

Himachal Pradesh has many perennial snow-fed rivers and streams, in addition to four major watercourses. The eastern portion of the state is drained primarily by the Sutlej River, which rises in Tibet. Draining the western part of Himachal Pradesh are the Chenab (Chandra-Bhaga), Ravi, and Beas rivers, which have their source in the Great Himalayas.

Climate

The Siwalik region has hot summers (March to June), with temperatures rising above 100 °F (38 °C), cool and dry winters (October to February), and a wet season (July to September), with rains brought by the southwestern monsoon. As elevations increase farther north, the climate becomes wetter and cooler. In the Great Himalayas, winters are bitterly cold and snowy, with temperatures dropping below 0 °F (–18 °C).

People

Population composition

The population of Himachal Pradesh is composed of a variety of distinct ethnolinguistic groups and social castes. Among the most prominent communities are the Gaddi (Gaddi), Gujari, Kinnauri, Lahuli, and Pangwali. Many Punjabi immigrants have settled in the major towns and cities since Indian independence in 1947.

The vast majority of the population is Hindu, although Buddhists form the dominant group in the sparsely populated districts of Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur, both of which share a border with Tibet. The state also has small minorities of Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians.

Although every former princely state within Himachal Pradesh has a local dialect named after it, Hindi (the official state language) and Pahari are the principal languages. Both are Indo-Aryan languages. In Lahaul and Spiti and in Kinnaur, however, the most widely spoken languages belong to the Sino-Tibetan family.

Settlement patterns

Himachal Pradesh is one of the least-urbanized states in India. In the early 21st century its urban population accounted for less than 10 percent of the total. There are more than 50 towns, and the capital, Shimla, constitutes a city of reasonable size. The capitals of the former princely states, including Bilaspur, Mandi, Chamba, and Kullu, are now district headquarters. Dalhousie, Kasauli, and Sabathu are hill resorts of British origin. Kangra, Palampur, Solan, and Dharmshala are other notable towns in the state.

Economy

Agriculture and manufacturing

Most people in Himachal Pradesh depend for their livelihood on agriculture, pastoralism, transhumance (seasonal herding), horticulture, and forestry. However, the government of Himachal Pradesh has encouraged the development and dispersal of manufacturing, with different towns—mostly in the southern part of the state—often specializing in the manufacture of particular goods. The town of Nahan, for instance, is known for its production of agricultural implements, turpentine, and resin, while television sets, fertilizer, beer, and liquor have been among the major manufactures of Solan. Meanwhile, Rajban is identified with cement production, and Parwanoo is recognized for its processed fruits, tractor parts, and electronics. Shimla is also known for its manufacture of electrical goods, while paper and hardboard products generally have come from Baddi and Barotiwala. Alongside the growth of heavier industry, thousands of artisan-based small-scale manufacturing units have remained in operation across the state.

Resources and power

The state has implemented a series of development plans based on the utilization of its abundant hydropower potential and mineral and forest resources. Himachal Pradesh produces a significant portion of India’s hydroelectric power. Existing hydropower plants include a station on the Ulh River at Jogindarnagar, the massive Bhakra Dam on the Sutlej River, the Pong Dam on the Beas River, and the Giri Dam on the Giri River. Himachal Pradesh also has embarked on joint-venture hydropower projects with the central government, such as the large Nathpa Jhakri project in Shimla district. To combat a serious soil-erosion problem in the Siwaliks and to protect the fragile Himalayan ecosystem, the state has launched a reforestation program. It also has instituted stricter enforcement of environmental laws.

Transportation

Despite its remote location, Himachal Pradesh has a reasonably well-developed infrastructure that not only has aided domestic mobility but also has helped in the promotion of tourism. Scenic narrow-gauge rail lines run from Kalka to Shimla and from Pathankot (in Punjab) to Jogindarnagar. There also is a railhead in Una. Roads, however, crisscrossing through the ranges and valleys, serve as the communications lifeline of Himachal Pradesh; the state operates many bus routes throughout the network. Regular domestic air service is available in Shimla and Kullu.

Government and society

Constitutional framework

The basic governmental structure of Himachal Pradesh, like that of most other Indian states, is determined by the national constitution of 1950. The state government is led by a governor, appointed by the president of India. The Council of Ministers, headed by a chief minister and responsible to the directly elected Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha), assists and advises the governor.

The state is divided into a number of districts, each of which is headed by a deputy commissioner. The districts, in turn, comprise several subdivisions, which embrace several more levels of local administration. The smallest (and most numerous) administrative unit is the village.

Education

Since the late 20th century, Himachal Pradesh has made great efforts to expand education. Consequently, there has been a remarkable rise in the number of primary, secondary, and postsecondary institutions and a corresponding increase in enrollment at all levels.

Himachal Pradesh University, founded in 1970 in Shimla, was the state’s first institution of higher education; it now has dozens of affiliated or associated colleges. Other major tertiary institutions include a medical college in Shimla, an agricultural university in Palanpur, an engineering college in Hamirpur, a university of horticulture and forestry near Solan, and a university of information technology, also in Solan district. In addition to its universities and colleges, Himachal Pradesh has some important research centres, most notably the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla and the Central Research Institute in Kasauli.

Cultural life

The fairs and festivals of the rural communities provide many occasions for song, dance, and the display of colourful garments. The Kullu valley, known as the valley of the gods, provides the setting for the Dussehra festival held each autumn to celebrate the defeat of the demon king, Ravana, by the prince Rama (as recounted in the ancient Hindu epic the Ramayana). During the festival, the various temple gods are carried in procession in covered palanquins, accompanied by bands of singers and dancers. Participants in this and other such celebrations are typically decked in vibrant attire, often accented with exquisitely designed shawls from Kinnaur district, finely embroidered handkerchiefs from Chamba, or distinctive woolen caps from Kullu.

Pilgrims from neighbouring states and from within Himachal Pradesh itself converge in large numbers to worship at shrines of legendary antiquity. The town of Dharmshala has more recently emerged as a sacred site, particularly for Tibetan Buddhists; it was in Dharmshala that the Dalai Lama settled after he fled from Tibet in 1959 in the wake of China’s occupation of Lhasa.

Aside from their festivals and sacred sites, the Shimla hills, the Kullu valley (including the town of Manali), and Dalhousie are popular tourist destinations, especially for outdoor recreation. Indeed, skiing, golfing, fishing, trekking, and mountaineering are among the activities for which Himachal Pradesh is ideally suited.

History

The history of this mountainous state is complex and fragmented. It is known that a number of so-called Aryan groups filtered into the more productive valleys during the Vedic period (c. 1500 to 500 bce) and assimilated the pre-Aryan population. Later, successive Indian empires—such as the Mauryan (c. 321–185 bce), the Gupta (c. 320–540 ce), and the Mughal (1526–1761), all emerging in the Indo-Gangetic Plain—sought to exercise varying degrees of control over trade and pilgrimage routes into the area and between India and Tibet across the Himalayas.

The remote, predominantly Buddhist area that is now the district of Lahaul and Spiti was controlled by Ladakh from the decline of the Mughal Empire (about the mid-18th century) until the early 1840s, when it briefly came under Sikh rule. Also during this period, warring semiautonomous petty rulers controlled the trade routes, as well as desirable segments of agricultural and pastoral land, in the other areas of present-day Himachal Pradesh. British domination of this region followed the Sikh Wars of the 1840s and continued, directly or indirectly, for the next 100 years.

Around the time of Indian independence in 1947, there was a popular movement to end feudalism in the region, and the princely state of Suket virtually surrendered to peaceful demonstrators. Subsequently, Himachal Pradesh was constituted as a province in 1948. It consisted of 30 princely states and was administered by a chief commissioner, who represented the government of India.

Between 1948 and its achievement of statehood in 1971, Himachal Pradesh went through various changes in size and administrative form. It became a substate under the Indian constitution of 1950. In 1954 it joined with Bilaspur (a former Indian state and then a chief commissioner’s province), and in 1956 it became a union territory. Himachal Pradesh was enlarged in 1966 by the merger and absorption of numerous Punjab hill areas, including the regions surrounding Shimla, Kangra, and Kullu; the district of Lahaul and Spiti; and parts of the districts centred at Ambala, Hoshiarpur, and Gurdaspur. Early in 1971, Himachal Pradesh became the 18th state of India; Y.S. Parmar, who since the 1940s had been a leader in the quest for self-government in Himachal Pradesh, became the state’s first chief minister.

Chakravarthi RaghavanSurinder M. Bhardwaj