Helpful Information

Geographical Information Shimla; Himachal Pradesh.

Location:

Punjab on the west, Uttar Pradesh on the southeast, China on the east, Haryana on the southeast, and Jammu and Kashmir on North border the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It extends from the latitudes 30°22’40” North to 33°12’40” North and longitudes 75°45' 55" East to 79°04' 20" East.

Physical Features:

The entire region of Himachal Pradesh is hilly with the Altitude ranging from 350 meters to 7000 meters above sea level. Forming a part of the Punjab Himalayas, the altitude increases from west to east and from south to north. Geographically, Himachal Pradesh can be divided into three distinct regions, the Shivalik or Outer Himalayas, middle Himalayas or inner Himalayas, and Greater Himalayas or the Alpine zone. The Lower Himalayas include the districts of Hamirpur, Kangra, Una, Bilaspur, and the lower parts of Solan, Sirmaur, and Mandi commonly known as the Shivalik Hills. The altitude in this region ranges from 350 meters to 1,500 meters. The middle Himalayas comprise the region between the altitudes of 1,500 meters and 4,500 meters. The districts under this region are parts of Sirmaur, Mandi, and the upper parts of Kangra, Shimla, and Chamba. The Greater Himalayas or the alpine zone is at an altitude of 4,500 meters and above. The region is cut across by the river Sutlej and comprises the Kinnaur and Pangi tehsils of Chamba, and some part of Lahaul and Spiti.

Climate:

The climate of Himachal Pradesh, depending on the altitude, varies at different places from semi tropical to semi arctic. Winters (October to February) are very severe and heavy snowfall is recorded during this Season. April to June is delightful and comfortable at the higher altitudes, though on the lower hills, this season can have more humidity than usual. July to September is the time for rainfall and the entire region becomes green and fresh with streams swelling and Springs replenished.

Flora and Fauna:

Out of the total area of Himachal Pradesh, 63.8% is under forest cover. The major flora mushrooming the state include deodar, kail, chil, spur, oak, etc. Due to its unique geographical location and divergent climatic conditions, the state has a wide variety of fauna species available. According to some estimates, there are around 359 species of mammals, 1,200 species of birds, and more than 20,000 species of insects in the state. To save the unique wildlife of the state from extinction, the government has established two national parks and a few wildlife sanctuaries in the state.The earliest known inhabitants of the region were tribals called Dasas. Later, Aryans came and they assimilated in the tribes. In the later centuries, the hill chieftains accepted suzerainty of the Mauryan Empire, the Kushanas, the Guptas and Kanuaj rulers. During the Mughal period, the Rajas of the hill states made some mutually agreed arrangements which governed their relations. In the 19th century, Ranjit Singh annexed/subjugated many of the states. When the British came, they defeated Gorkhas and entered into treaties with some Rajas and annexed the kingdoms of others. The situation more or less remained unchanged till 1947. After Independence, 30 princely states of the area were united and Himachal Pradesh was formed on 15th April, 1948. With the recognition of Punjab on 1st November, 1966, certain areas belonging to it were also included in Himachal Pradesh. On 25th January, 1971, Himachal Pradesh was made a full-fledged State. The State is bordered by Jammu & Kashmir on North, Punjab on West and South-West, Haryana on South, Uttar Pradesh on South-East and China on the East.

General State Information:

Geographical Area [1991] 55,673 sq. km
Average Rainfall 1469 mm
State Animal Musk Deer
State Bird Monal
State Language Hindi & Local Dialects
Major Rivers Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Parbati
Major Lakes Renuka, Rewalsar, Khajjiar, Dal, Beas Kund, Dasaur, Brighu, Prashar, Mani Mahesh, Chander Tal, Suraj Tal, Kareri, Sreolsar, Gobind Sagar, Na
Shimla was once part of the Nepalese kingdom, and called Shyamala, another name for the goddess Kali, but Shimla never gained any fame until it was first 'discovered' by the British in 1819. Three years later, the first 'British' house was erected, and by 1864 Shimla had become the summer capital of India. After the construction of the Kalka to Shimla railway line in 1903, Shimla really boomed. Following independence, Shimla was initially the capital of the Punjab, then it became the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Today, Shimla is a lovely, sprawling town, set among spectacular, cool hills, with plenty of crumbling colonial charm. It has very good facilities, although accommodation, particularly in the high season, is expensive.

Places To visit

Himachal State Museum& Library

This museum opens daily except on Mondays and public holidays. It is located 2.5 kms west of the scandal point. The entry is free. It has got a good collection of statues, coins, photos and other items from all over the state as well as outside it. It has also got a library which houses many historical books and manuscripts.

Viceregal Lodge & Botanical Gardens

On the Observatory Hills is located Viceregal Lodge which is called also called Rashtrapati Niwas. This magnificent building was the residence of the British Viceroy Lord Dufferin. The palatial building was the venue for many important decisions which changed fate of the sub-continent. This lodge was completed in 1888. It is said that every brick for the building was carried by mules. This is a six storey building and is surrounded by well maintained gardens and lawns. A cafe is also there. The lodge has now been converted into Institute of Advanced study. The lodge is further 2 kms from state museum.

Himalayan Aviary

Close to the Viceregal lodge is the Himalayan Aviary or the Himalayan Bird Park. This park has very good collection of birds found in Himachal such as Himalayan monal, pheasants, peafowl's and national bird of India, the peacock.

Christ Church & St. Michael's Cathedral

In 1846-1857 was built the second oldest church of Northern India. The Christ Church overlooks the ridge and is one of the landmarks of Shimla. The clocks on Christ Church were added later and none of them are functional now. The Church looks very beautiful with the stained glasses fitted on the windows. The other church of Shimla is just below the Central Telegraph Office and is Known as Michael's Cathedral.

Jakhu Temple

This temple is dedicated to the monkey God Hanuman. The temple is located at an height of 2455 m and is the highest point of Shimla Ridge.

The Bazaars

The lower Bazaar in Shimla is scene of Fanatic activities. Also known as the Subzi Mandi, the place is a maze of twisting roads and winding paths. Both sides of the steep lanes is covered by food stalls and other shops which include the dry fruit shops, the garments shops, imported goods shop one can get practically anything he can think of. Then comes the Mall one of the most famous places in Shimla. This place is again full of showrooms and some big names also have their showrooms here. A stroll in the evening on the mall has a pleasure of its own. The Mall is surprisingly clean. Just beyond the Ridge is the Lakkar Baazar. As the name indicates Lakkar baazar is market place for the wooden items. Here one can purchase souvenirs and many decorative items which are very tastefully carved.

Sarahan

Located in amidst Deodar forests is Sarahan which was the ancient capital of the mighty Brusher. The place provides some good opportunities for trekking and some spectacular view of the Ranwin Village and the Bashal peak.

Rampur

This place is not particularly important to spend a night but there are few things which must not be missed. In the ancient times Rampur was on the trade route to Tibet. It was also part of the Bushahr empire which spread till Kinnaur. This place has the Padam Palace built in 1925. One can not enter the palace but can roam around the well maintained lawns and gardens which are flanked by a Hindu temple. The trail along the river is a place to be. The whole area is a maze of lanes, shops and temple like Sri Sat Nahan temple. In the month of November a Fair called the Lavi Fair is organised at Rampur.

Tattapani

This small village is famous for the hot water sulphur springs. Unlike the springs in Manikaran or Manali, these springs are not properly 'developed'. But their setting is very beautiful. The village is very relaxed and peaceful.

Kufri

In the winters Kufri attracts ski loving people. Although it is still the primary sightseeing point in and around Shimla, the dirty roads, the haggling guides have found ill favor with the modern tourists.

Chail

Chail is hikers paradise. Chail was the summer capital of Maharaja of Patiala. The area is spread over three hills. One has the village of Chail, the other has the Snow View mansion and the third one has the Palace cum hotel of Chail.

Kasauli

In recent times Kasauli has developed as alternate accommodation for Shimla. It is 12 kms from Shimla on the way to Kalka. Kasauli has been coming up as a side trip from Shimla. It has some of the great walks. The walk to Sanawaris very pleasing and full of natural beauty. Sansar has the potential to become another hill station in the area. Nature has provided abundance of beauty and scenes.

Solan

Solan is the district headquarters and is the home to Meaken Brewery. Solan has been tried to develop as a hill station but it lacks the charm and grace of Shimla as the scenic beauty is totally absent.

Wild Flower Hall

This is the former residence of British Commander in Chief and was taken over by the Himachal Tourism to be converted into a hotel. This lovely building was burnt down in 1994. The White flower hall is located in Chharabra 13 kms from Shimla. Cedar Hill Lodge resides in this village called Chharabra

Narkanda

Narkanda is basically a transit point between Shimla and Rampur. This place is famous for Hiking and Skiing but not always only during season.

Mashobra & Craignano and Naldehra

Mashobra is a small village just 11kms from Shimla which has a fair every May at Sipi. The lovely trail around takes to the Shiva temple. Nearby is Craignano which has some pleasant walk and trails. 15 Kms further North comes another small village Naldehra. This place is famous for one of the oldest and highest golf courses in India. Right in the middle of the Golf Course is the Mahunag temple. There are good accommodation and transport facilities at all these places.

HISTORY HIMACHAL PRADESH

After Indian Independence, a Union Territory of Hill states was created. It primarily constituted of hill states around Shimla. On November 1, 1966 Punjab Hill areas were merged into Himachal as part of reorganization of Punjab. Himachal Pradesh became a full fledged state of the Republic of India on January 25, 1971. Himachal Pradesh has been on the path of progress since Independence. The literacy rate of the state is 63% now and is improving every decade. The population has almost stabilized at about 5 million, thanks to high literacy and effective family planning programs. Every village in the state has electricity and drinking water now. Many young men from Himachal serve the Indian Army and have played significant role in the National defense. Dharamsala has a war memorial dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives for their country. Himachal has one state university at Shimla, namely, Himachal Pradesh University. There is a Regional Engineering College (REC) at Hamirpur that has students from all over India. In addition, there is a Medical College at Shimla.

Himachal is literally a power house when it comes to hydro-electricity. The state has many dams that harness the hilly rivers to generate electric power. The electricity is used by farmers in Punjab, Haryana and by the industries in the northern plains. The beautiful mountain state of Himachal Pradesh (HP) was originally formed as a centrally administered territory on April 15, 1948 by the integration of 30 odd Punjab hill provinces. In 1951, it became a Part C State under a Lieutenant Governor, with a Legislative Assembly of 36 members and a Cabinet of three ministers. Till October 1966, HP consisted of only six hill districts—Mahasu, Mandi, Chamba, Sirmaur, Bilaspur and Kinnaur. In November 1966, it was enlarged with the inclusion of some of the hilly areas of Punjab—Shimla, Kangra, Kullu, Lahaul, Spiti, Nalagarh tehsil of Ambala district, and areas of Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts. HP was organised into 10 districts and declared a state on January 25, 1971, with Shimla as its capital. In 1972-73, the state was re-organised into 12 districts—Bilaspur, Chamba, Hamirpur, Kangra, Kinnaur, Kulu, Lahaul & Spiti, Mandi, Shimla, Sirmaur, Solan and Una.

After Indian Independence, a Union Territory of Hill states was created. It primarily consituted of hill states around Shimla. On November 1, 1966 Punjab Hill areas were merged into Himachal as part of reorganization of Punjab. Himachal Pradesh became a full fledged state of the Republic of India on January 25, 1971. Himachal Pradesh has been on the path of progress since Independence. The literacy rate of the state is 63% now and is improving every decade. The population has almost stabilized at about 5 million, thanks to high literacy and effective family planning programs. Every village in the state has electricity and drinking water now. Many young men from Himachal serve the Indian Army and have played significant role in the National defense. Dharamsala has a war memorial dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives for their country. Himachal has one state university at Shimla, namely, Himachal Pradesh University. There is a Regional Engineering College (REC) at Hamirpur that has students from all over India. In addition, there is a Medical College at Shimla. Himachal is literally a power house when it comes to hydro-electricity. The state has many dams that harness the hilly rivers to generate electric power. The electricity is used by farmers in Punjab, Haryana and by the industries in the northern plains.

HIMACHAL PRADESH STATE -SANCTUARY

WILD LIFE: Himachal Pradesh is the most beautiful state having different type of terrain, climate and heights. Which has given birth to variety of vegetation, wild animals and birds at different places and levels. The mountain ranges in the state rise from 400 meters to 6800 meters which have variety of forests like sal, rhododendron, oak, fir, deodar, birch, and pines. These forests shelter for large number of wild animal and birds. Himachal has two national parks and 29 wild life sanctuaries. The state abounds in wildlife among which some rare species like the musk deer, ibex, thar, Himalayan brown bear and snow leopard are still found. The rivers offer ideal fishing grounds for trout and masheer. Many of these sanctuaries located at higher ranges ,though not easily accessible, having marvelous trekking routes and also have facilities for camping in the wild. The gushing streams fascinating alpine pasture and high snow covered peaks provide an eternal pleasure to the tourists.

Name of Sanctuary  District Animals
Shikari Devi Mandi                   Musk Deer, Barking Deer Goral, Black Bear ,Monal
Bandi Mandi                   Goral, Barking Deer, Black Bear ,Kalij
Nargu Mandi                   Serow, Musk Deer, Monal Black Bear, Barking Deer
Renuka Sirmour                 Goral,Sambhar, Red Jungle Fowl, Barking Deer
Talra Shimla                    Goral, Musk Deer, Panther Koklas, Black Bear
Lippa Asrang Kinnaur                  Brown Bear, Ibex, Chakor Black Bear, Tragopan
Chitkul, Rakcham Kinnaur                  Bharal, Musk Deer, Monal Black Bear
Rupi Bhaba Kinnaur                  Snow Leopard, Goral, Monal,Koklas, Musk Deer.
Kais                                     Kullu                       Musk Deer, Black Bear, Goral.
Khokhan                             Kullu                       Black Bear, Snow Partridge Musk Deer, Monal,Koklas
Kanawar                             Kullu                       Thar, Brown Bear ,Monal Snow Leopard, Musk deer         
Tundah                               Chamba                  Thar, Goral, Ibex, Brown Bear Monal, Black Bear
Daranghati                        Shimla                     Goral, Serow,Black Bear,Monal Chakor,Koklas
Simbalbara                       Sirmour                    Samber,Cheetal, Barking Deer, Leopard, Wild Boar, Partridge
Kugti                                  Chamba                   Ibex, Thar, Musk Deer, Monal Leopard, Brown Bear, Koklas
Sachutaun Nalah             Chamba                   Musk Deer, Brown Bear, Thar Snow Leopard, Black Bear
Nainadevi                         Bilaspur                    Samber, Wild Boar, Rhesus Barking Deer
Govind Sagar                   Bilaspur                    Water Birds like Ducks Egrets
Gamgul Siya                     Chamba                   Thar, Brown Bear, Goral, Black Beer, Koklas, Monal
 Kalatop Khajjiar              Chamba                   Serow, Goral, Leopard, Black Bear, Barking Deer

Kalatop National Forest Sanctuary

This Sanctuary which lies between Dalhousie and Chamba at the northwestern extremity Daula Dhar was recognized as a game sanctuary on July 1, 1949. Dalhousie-Chamba Road runs through the sanctuary, which contains about 15 villages. This reserve covers an area of 3069 hectares. Its altitude varies from 1185 meters to 2768 meters (3910 ft-9134 ft.) The terrain is steep and typical of the Outer Himalayas. It is drained by several tributaries of the Ravi River which lies just to the north.

Trekking & Mountaineering:

The trekking season in Himachal Pradesh runs from mid-May to mid-October. The Himachal Pradesh tourist office has a brochure on trekking which briefly details a number of treks in the state. They also have three excellent large scale maps of Himachal Pradesh, invaluable for trekkers. In Manali, there is a Department of Mountaineering & Allied Sports which can advise you on trekking possibilities in the states and also on the numerous unscaled peaks. No trekking permits are required. In the lower country in the Kullu or Kangra valleys, or around Shimla, there are many rest houses and villages. The trekking Guide published by the HPTDC (Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation) lists 136 and more over 5000 metre high. The majority of them are unclimbed. It's virgin territory for mountaineers. The Shimla-Kinnaur region offers some exciting trekking opportunities viz. a) Shimla to Kulu via Jaloni Pass (66 kms). b) Shimla to Kulu via Bashleo Pass (56 kms). c) Sarahen to Sangla (106 kms).

Shimla

Golfing : Nine hole Golf Course at Naldhera, 23 km from Shimla. Fishing : Trout fishing is available at Rohru 110 km from Shimla and at Seema 1 km from Rohru. Mahaseer fishing is available at Tattapani 43 km from Shimla. Licence fee Rs.10 per day per person. Licencing Authority :- Assistant Director-Fisheries, Khaline, Shimla (H.P.), Tel : 4732 & 6985. Skiing : HPTDC organises ski courses of 7 days and 15 days duration at Narkhanda (65 km) eve quipment It also has some of the most thrilling and challenging trekking and mountaineering opportunities in the world, along with Skiing, Kayaking, Para gliding and Hang-gliding.

Himalaya Indian - Himachal Peaks :

Gaya : Height 6794 meters in Lingti valley spiti
Leo-Pargial : Height 6791 meters in Kinnaur district
Mount-Parbati: Height 6633 in Lahaul- spiti
Mani rang : Height 6554 meters in Kinnaur district
Mulkila : Height 6517 meters in Lahaul
Indrasan : Height 6220 meters in Lahaul
Sikarveh : Height 6200 meters in Lauhal district
Mukarbeh : Height 6060 meters in Kullu District
Kinnar Kailash : Height 6050 meters in Kinnaur District
Deo Tibba : Height 6001 meters in Kullu District
Hanuman Tibba : Height 5932 meters in Kullu District
Jeopango : Height 5870 meters in Lauhal District
Sarchu peak : Height 5741 meters in Lauhal
Kailash peak : Height 5656 meters in Chamba
Shri Khand Mahadev: Height 5227 meters in Kinnaur
Churdhar peak : Height 3647 meters in Shimla District Hatu peak : Height 3631 meters in Shimla District.

Important Rivers :

Ravi : Passes through Chamba
Satluj : passes through parts of Kinnaur,Rampur,Tatapani(shimla)
Beas : Passes through parts of Manali,kullu,sujjanpur,Dehra
Spiti : passes through parts of Kaza,Tabo and chango
Chandra: Passes through parts of Batal,Chhatru,Gramphooand Tandi
Bhaga : Passes through the part of Dharcha and Keylong
Chenav: Passes through Killar and Udaypur
Parvati : passes through the parts of Manikaran
Giri : Passes through Renuka
Pabbar : Passes through Rohru and Hatkoti
Yamuna : Passes through Ponta Sahib.

Most of the people in Himachal depend on agriculture for livelihood. Many people derive their income from sheep, goats, and other cattle. Ninety percent of the people live in villages and small towns. Villages usually have terraced fileds and small two storey houses with sloping roof. The villages are mostly self-contained with a few shops to take care of basic necessities of life. Most villages have a temple, where people congregate for worship. In many parts of the Himachal the village Gods are carried on palanquins to village fairs. On Dussehra the largest congregation of village Gods takes place at Kullu. The folk songs of Himachal Pradesh are full of charm. They are usually based on a religious or a romantic theme. People gather in a circle in village fairs and dance to the tune of these songs. The dancing is usually spontaneous during a village fair and is symbolic of the peace and joy of the people. In general people of Himachal Pradesh are honest, truthful, gentle, and good humored. Most of the children study at government run public schools. There are many private schools at Shimla and other parts of Himachal. top Religion Most of the people in Himachal are Hindus. There is a sizable number of Buddhists who live in Himachal. Hinduism practiced in the areas of Himachal that are closer to the northern plains is very similar to the Hinduism practiced in the plains. Upper hill areas have their own distinct flavor of Hinduism. Their practice of religion combines the local legends and beliefs with the larger Hindu beliefs. The temple architecture has also been influenced by local constraints such as availability or lack of availability of certain construction materials. Most of the upper hill temples are made of wood and more similar to Pagodas in design. Most of the people of Himachal who live in the areas that border with China are Buddhist. There are many beautiful Buddhist temples and pagodas in Himachal.

Roerich Gallery (Kullu)

One km past the castle is the Roerich Gallery, a fine old house displaying the artwork of both the eccentric Professor Nicholas Roerich, who died in Naggar in 1947, and his son, Svetostav Roerich, who died in Bangalore in 1993. Its location is delightful and the views over the valley are great. It's open daily from 9am to 1pm, and from 2 to 5pm.

Tibetan Monastry (Manali)

The colourful pleasant Tibetian Monastry has a carpet making operation. One can buy carpets and other Tibetian handicrafts.

Himachal State Museum (Shimla)

A rich display of the states cultural, artistic and archeological heritage.This is a pleasant little museum that has precious little to show in the real sense, but whatever little there is, is rather nice to spend a chilly afternoon ducking the cold outside.Visiting hours: 1000 Hrs. to 1700 Hrs. (Monday Closed).

Bhuri Singh Museum (Chamba)

Named after Raja Bhuri Singh of Chamba, this is a treasure house of Chamba's ruling family . Much of the original craftsmanship can still be seen .

Shimla State Museum (Shimla)

The Museum was opened in 1974. Preserved and displayed here are over 2000 art objects, a rich collection of Pahari paintings, antiques borrowed from the museums in Delhi and other parts of the country, besides bronzes, woodcraft, sculpture, etc.

Kangra Art Museum (Dharamsala)

A gallery of miniature paintings from Kangra, a representative collection of sculptures, pottery and anthropological items and many more such things are there in the Kangra Art museum.

Sujanpur Tira (Dharamsala)

This place is famous for the wall paintings and the temples.

Kullu

The Valley of Gods, as the Kullu Valley has come to be known, if perhaps the most delightful region in the Western Himalayas. Situated on the banks of the river Beas, Kullu, the headquarters of the district, serves as a nerve centre of the valley and is the starting place for a number of treks. Kullu is famous for it's shawls, caps, gudmas, puhla, namdas,patoos and Handicrafts. Akhara bazaar is the best to shop out there.Kullu is best to visit during it's festival of Dussehra.Every year in October, tourists and Indians come for Dussehra, a massive, vibrant festival celebrating the gods of this glorious valley.

Shimla

Shimla or the "Queen of hill stations", as it is often called is one of India's most popular holiday resorts. The capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla is named after its patron, Shamla Devi and was a tiny village until it was popularized as a hill resort by the British who established their summer capital here in 1864. Shimla is situated in the north-west Himalayas, Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Spread across 12 kms along a ridge that overlooks terraced hillsides and cultivations, Shimla is magnificently robed in dense forests of oak and pine, fur and rhododendron, and it is best to travel here on the slow train from Kalka. Shimla also is a convenient base for variety of adventure sports such as Skiing, Trekking, Fishing and Golfing etc.

Manali

For a lavish display of natural scenery, it is one of the principal snow places of the Kullu region. And Manali is at an altitude of beauty and gateway to Dhauli and Spiti. Rhotang Pass is a common sightseeing point amongst Indian tourists searching for snow.

Chamba

Perched on a flat mountain shelf, the town of Chamba is known for its ancient temples and Chaugan - a public promenade. It is one of the oldest princely state and dates back to the sixth century . It is well known for its splendid and beautiful architecture and also has a district headquarters .

Mandi

Mandi, which means 'market', is quite a good place to break the journey between Shimla and the Kullu Valley - a far better option to stay than Bilaspur. In Mandi, there are some cheap hotels, you will stumble across some of the 81 Hindu temples in the area, and can take a day trip to a nearby lake or two. At less than 800m above sea level,Mandi is considerably hotter than other regional areas.

Dalhousie

Dalhousie, nestling in the outer slopes of Dhaulandhar range, is a excellence hill station. It is known for its bracing climate and picturesque scenery.

Dharamshala

Dharamshala stands on a spur of the Dhauladhar range amidst magnificient deodar and pine forests, tea gardens and beautiful hills. It is also known as 'The Lhasa in India'.

Kinnaur, Spiti and Lahaul

Located in the dizzy heights of the Himalayas, with passes that remain closed for six months, Kinnaur, Spiti and Lahaul were till now, a forbidden land. Now this area has been opened for the daring and adventurous who can discover what had been hidden from the world for centuries. From the riotous green of the Sangla Valley- filled with orchards of apricots, peaches, apples and Chilgoza pine forests, to the magnificent desolation of the Hangrang Valley, Mother Nature's portrait is everchanging in Kinnaur. This land lying on the ancient trade route between India and Tibet, ringed by the majestic mountains of the Himalayan and Dhauladhar range is a land of plenty.

RELIGION - HINDUISM

It is the third largest and the oldest religion of the World. No one is actually certain how old is Hinduism but it can be said with certainty that Indus valley civilization contributed some ideas to Hindu religion. The earliest known Hindu scriptures are the "Vedas". Vedas describe the religion of Aryans, who invaded India around 1500 B.C. The Vedic religion was not Hinduism although Hindus consider Vedas as their scriptures. Of the Hindu "Trinity" Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Mahesh (Shiva) the destroyer only Vishnu's name appears in the oldest Vedas. The concept of Trinity dates back to 500 A.D. Around the same time, the importance of goddess began which appears in many forms of Shakti (Shiva's consort). However, Upanishads which were written several hundreds years later have characteristic Hindu ideas of unity of soul with Brahman, karma, reincarnation, and salvation (Moksha- escape from reincarnation). The notion of class and caste which was absent in Vedas starting appearing during this period. Hindus are mainly divided into three groups i) Shivites, who are devoted to Shiva, whom they consider as their creator and preserver of the universe ii) Vaishnavas, who assign the above roles to Vishnu and iii) Shaktas, who worship Shakti. These divisions of Hinduism are not very rigid as in other faiths and it is not strange for people of one belief to mix with others. The Hindus do not form congergations and mostly worship at home. They worship other God and Goddesses as well as these are considered as another reincarnation of main Hindu Gods. As a result, the major Gods and Goddesses are worshiped in many names and forms. Hindus have little missionary feeling because they believe that the proper way to become a Hindu is to born one. Hindu rituals cover all areas of a person's life. Hindu society has a high standard of conduct, with little immorality, crime, or violence.

IMPORTANT HINDU PLACES

Four Math

  • Jyotirmath (Garhwal-Himalaya)
  • Goverdhan (Jagannath puri)
  • Shengari (Karnataka)
  • Sharda (Dawarika-Gujarat)

Four Kumbhasthal

  • Haridwar (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Prayag (Allahbad-U.P.)
  • Avantika (Ujjain-Madhya Pradesh)
  • Nasik (Maharashtra)

Four dham

  • Badrinath (Himalaya)
  • Jagannathpuri (Orissa)
  • Rameshwar (Tamilnadu)
  • Dwarika (Gujarat)

THE BIRTH OF THE HIMALAYAS

Formation – Himalayas

The Himalayas are known to be young fold mountains. Young, because these have been formed relatively recently in the earth's history, compared to older mountain ranges like the Aravallis in India, and the Appalachian in the USA. They are known as fold mountains because the mountains extend for 2500 km in length in a series of parallel ridges or folds. The accepted theory about the formation of the Himalayas started to take shape in the year 1912 when German meteorologist Alfred Wegener developed his Theory of Continental Drift. According to Wegener, the earth was composed of several giant plates called tectonic plates. On these plates lie the continents and the oceans of the earth. The continents were said to have formed a single mass at one point in time. From this single mass, today's continents have "drifted" apart from each other over a period of millions of years. We pick up the story about 250 million years ago. During this time, all the earth's land was a single super continent called Pangea, which was surrounded by a large ocean. The continents, 180 Million years ago. Around 200 million years ago (also known as the Middle Permian Period), an extensive sea stretched along the latitudinal area presently occupied by the Himalayas. This sea was named the Tethys. Around this period, the super continent Pangea began to gradually split into different land masses and move apart in different directions.

As a result, rivers from both the northern Eurasian land mass (called Angara) and the southern Indian land mass (called Gondwana) started depositing large amounts of sediments into the shallow sea that was the Tethys. There were marine animals called ammonites living in the sea at the time. The two land masses, the Eurasian and the Indian sub-continent, moved closer and closer. Indian plate was moving north about at the rate of about 15 cm per year (6 inches per year). The initial mountain building process started about seventy million years ago (or the Upper Cretaceous period) when the two land masses (or plates) began to collide with each other. As a result, the already shallow seabed rapidly folded and was raised into longitudinal ridges and valleys. Soon afterwards, about 65 million years ago (Upper Eocene Period), came the second phase of mountain building. The bed of the Tethys started rising again. The sea retreated, and the seabed was elevated into high mountain ranges.

Later, about 25 million years ago (Middle Miocene Period) came another mountain building period, which led to the formation of the low Shivalik ranges. After this, periodic mountain building phases occurred as the Indian plate pushed against the Eurasian plates, which led to the Himalayan ranges rising further. The last major phase occurred 600,000 years ago. Although the phase of major upheaval of the Himalayas has passed, the Himalayas are still rising, albeit at a much slower rate. The Indian plate is continuously moving north at the rate of about 2 cms every year. Because of this reason the Himalayas are rising at the rate of about 5 millimeter per year. This means that the Himalayas are still geologically active and structurally unstable. For this reason, earthquakes are a frequent occurrence in the entire Himalayan region. It has to be understood that it is impossible to detect the movement of the plates and uplifting of the Himalayas by casual observation. However, a modern technology called Global Positioning System (GPS) has made it possible to measure even such a slow movement of the plates. The Alps in Europe are another example of a mountain chain that formed due to the collision of tectonic plates.

Birth of the Himalayas---The Continental Shuffle

Over two hundred fifty million years ago, India, Africa, Australia, and South America were all one continent called Pangea. Over the next several million years, this giant southern continent proceeded to break up, forming the continents we know today. Pangea essentially turned inside out, the edges of the old continent becoming the collision zones of new continents. Africa, South America, and Antarctica began to fragment. What ultimately formed Mt. Everest, about 60 million years ago, was the rapid movement of India northward toward the continent of Euro Asia; India charged across the equator at rates of up to 15 cm/year, in the process closing an ocean named Tethys that had separated fragments of Pangea. This ocean is entirely gone today, although the sedimentary rocks that settled on its ocean floor and the volcanoes that fringed its edges remain to tell the tale of its existence.

Mechanics of Mountain Formation

To understand the fascinating mechanics of the collision of India with Asia we must first look beneath the Earth's surface. The Earth’s tectonic plates, like people on an escalator, carry the continents. There are currently 7 giant plates sliding across the Earth's surface, and a handful of smaller ones. There may have been more or fewer plates in the past. Currently they slide, collide, and recede from one another at rates of 1-20 cm/year. They are driven by internal heat deep in the earth that is able to escape efficiently only by convection. Convection is the process that drives hot currents of gas or liquid upwards because they are less dense, and cold currents of liquid downwards because they are denser.

Continental Plates

In some ways, the continents are like giant accumulations of rock debris lying atop the tectonic plates. Continents are the "scum of the Earth," consisting mostly of light minerals like quartz, which can't sink into the Earth's dense mantle. As the plates collided, the sinking ocean floor generated volcanoes in southern Tibet because the rock at the top of the descending plate melted, from friction and the huge pressures of collision. However, by 25 million years ago the fast moving Indian continent had almost entirely closed over the intervening ocean, squeezing the sediments on the ocean floor. Since the sediments were lightweight, instead of sinking along with the plate, they crumpled into mountain ranges -- the Himalayas. By 10 million years ago the two continents were in direct collision and the Indian continent, because of its enormous quantity of light quartz-rich rocks, was unable to descend along with the rest of the Indian plate. It was at about this time that the anchor chain must have broken; the descending Indian plate may have fallen off and foundered deep into the mantle.

Although we don't fully understand the mechanism of what happened next, it's clear that the Indian continent began to be driven horizontally beneath Tibet like a giant wedge, forcing Tibet upwards. Tibet, meanwhile, is behaving like a giant roadblock that prevents the Himalaya from moving northward. Under the peaks and under most of Tibet the Indian plate is apparently gliding along almost frictionless.

Future of the Himalayas

Over periods of 5-10 million years, the plates will continue to move at the same rate, which allows us to forecast fairly reliably how the Himalaya will develop. In 10 million years India will plow into Tibet a further 180km. This is about the width of Nepal. Because Nepal's boundaries are marks on the Himalayan peaks and on the plains of India whose convergence we are measuring, Nepal will technically cease to exist. But the mountain range we know as the Himalaya will not go away. This is because the Himalaya will probably look much the same in profile then as it does now. There will be tall mountains in the north, smaller ones in the south, and the north/south width of the Himalaya will be the same. What will happen is that the Himalaya will have advanced across the Indian plate and the Tibetan plateau will have grown by accretion. One of the few clues about the rate of collision between India and Tibet before the GPS measurements were made was the rate of advance of Himalayan sediments across the Ganges plain. There is an orderly progression of sediments in front of the foothills. Larger boulders appear first, followed by pebbles, and further south, sand-grains, silts, and finally very fine muds. This is what you see when you drive from the last hills of the Himalaya southward 100 km. The present is obvious, but the historical record cannot be seen on the surface because the sediments bury all former traces of earlier sediments. However, in drill holes in the Ganges plain, the coarser rocks are always on the top and the finer pebbles and mud’s are on the bottom, showing that the Himalaya are relentlessly advancing on India.

Shimla - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Shimla /ˈʃɪmlə/ (Hindi: शिमला [ˈʃɪmlaː] ( listen)), formerly known as Simla, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. In 1864, Shimla was declared the summer capital of the British Raj in India. A popular tourist destination, Shimla is often referred to as the "Queen of Hills," a term coined by the British. Located in the north-west Himalayas at an average altitude of 2,205 metres (7,234 ft), the city of Shimla, draped in forests of pine, rhododendron, and oak, experiences pleasant summers and cold, snowy winters. The city is famous for its buildings styled in tudorbethan and neo-gothic architecture dating from the colonial era. Shimla is connected to the city of Kalka by one of the longest narrow gauge railway routes still operating in India,[2] the Kalka-Shimla Railway. Shimla is approximately 145 km (90 mi) from Mandi, 100 km (62 mi) from Chandigarh, the nearest major city, and 365 km (227 mi) from New Delhi, the national capital. The city is named after the goddess Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Kali.[3]

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