Full of grandeur and tribal majesty is the land locked valley of Pangi, 173 km from Chamba via Sach Pass (4414 m). It is one of the sub-division of Chamba district surrounded by the Peer Panjal & Zanskar ranges. Killar is the sub-divisional headquarter of Pangi Valley. Beyond the reach of tropical monsoon rains, the valley is one of the off-beat challenging tourism destinations in the State. Approach to the Pangi valley is across the high mountain passes like Sach, Chehni and Rohtang Pass. The Valley is remained land locked for about six months due to heavy snow fall.
There are beautiful valleys within Pangi region like Sural, Saichu, Kumar-Parmar, Hundan and Sechu. All these valleys are connected with Zanskar. People of Pangi valley are mainly Hindu with a small population of Buddhist. Some people live in higher reaches of the valley called Bhatoris such as Sural Bhatori, Hundan Bhatori, Parmar Bhatori, Chasak Bhatori and Hilu-Twan. There are number of exciting treks from Pangi valley to Keylong (Lahaul valley), Manali (Kullu) and Kishtwar in Kashmir.
23 kms from Dalhousie by road and 13 kms from Kalatop is the mini Switzerland of India i.e. Khajjiar, at a height of 6400 ft. Hutchison writes, "Khajjiar is a forest glade of great beauty, 6400 feet above sea level". Khajjiar is often referred to as "Gulmarg of Himachal Pradesh". The lush green meadows are surrounded by thick pine and cedar forests. Grazing herds of sheep, goats and other milk cattle presents a perfect pastoral scenery. There is a small lake in the center of the saucer shaped meadow which has in it a floating island. Much of the lake has degenerated into slush because of heavy silting during rains. Still the landscape of Khajjiar is picturesque and a photographer's delight.
A little away from the lake is the temple of Khajji Nag belonging to 12th C. AD. In the mandapa of the temple one can see the images of the Pandavas and the defeated Kaurvas hanging from the roof of the circumambulatory path. The sanctum of the temple has been beautifully carved from wood.
There is a Tourism Hotel and some Tourism cottages at Khajjiar where the tourists can stay. Besides there are two rest houses one each of P.W.D. and Forest Deptt. A couple of private hotels have also come up, which do not match the above places in terms of location and amenities. Bus service to and from Khajjiar is limited and timings change according to local demands. There used to be a golf course in Khajjiar which is not maintained. The best entertainment in Khajjiar is to walk around the lake or to go for long walks in the thick pine forests. Children enjoy this place because of the freedom of movement and the sloppy terrain which permits them to roll down to the lake without getting hurt. Another attraction like any other hill station is horse riding.
On 07-07-1992, Mr. Willy t. Blazer, Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India brought Khajjiar on the world tourism map by christening it "Mini Switzerland". He also put a sign board of a yellow Swiss hiking footpath showing Khajjiar's distance from the Swiss capital Berne-6194 kms. Khajjiar is among the 160 locations in the world that bear topographical resemblance with Switzerland. The Counselor also took from Khajjiar a stone which will form part of a stone collage around the Swiss Parliament to remind the visitors of Khajjiar as Mini Switzerland of India.
Twenty kms from Chamba is the village of Saho on the right bank of Sal river. The village is situated on a high plateau of great beauty. Saho is famous for its temple dedicated to Lord Chandra Shekhra i.e. the moon-crowned God, Shiva. The temple is hidden behind the locality in a tree grove. Two magnificent images of Shiva can be seen at the entrance and a huge Shivaling is enshrined in the sanctum. Facing the temple is a life size Nandi bull carved with fine details.
According to Sarahan Prasasti, "The temple was constructed by Stayaki, a local Rana in order to establish friendship between his wife Somprabha and the daughter Parvati". It is believed that the temple belongs to a period earlier than transfer of seat of power from Bharmour to Chamba in 10th century. In the month of August/ September a mela is held in the compound of the temple. This mela coincides with Manimahesh Yatra.
During summer Saho wears a golden mantle of wheat crop and in August/September the fields are lush green with paddy crop. The spring water of Saho is supposed to have medicinal value. There is a Forest Rest House at Saho.
Bhuri Singh Museum
Bhuri Singh Museum at Chamba opened formally on 14-09-1908, it is named after Raja Bhuri Singh who ruled Chamba from 1904 to 1919. Bhuri Singh donated his family collection of paintings to the museum. The idea to open a public museum came from J. Ph. Vogel, an eminent Indologist who was serving A.S.I. and who through an intensive exploration had discovered, read and analyzed old inscriptions dispersed far and wide in the territory of Chamba state. These inscriptions mostly in Sarda script shed important light on the mediaeval history of Chamba. The prasastis of Sarahan, Devi-ri-kothi and mul Kihar are now preserved in the museum.
Paintings of Bhagwat Purana and Ramayana in peculiar style are inspired by Basohli idiom of painting whereas Krishna, Sudama, Rukmini vivah and Usha-Anirudh and portraits in prime Guler-Kangra style were executed by the artists who were patronized by the Chamba rulers. The embroidered Chamba-Rumals are related in style since their drawings were made by pahari painters though the embroidery was done by the household ladies.
Besides these major items of collections, there are coins, hill jewelry and costumes- both traditional and royal, arms and armour, musical instruments and various decorative objects.
The old museum building which merged well with the landscape of Chamba was pulled down and the present concrete monolith was inaugurated in 1975. The museum remains open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM throughout the year except on Monday and other gazetted holidays.
Laxmi Narayan Temple, Chamba
Built in the 10th century by Raja Sahil Verman, Laxmi Narayana Temple is the main shrine in Chamba that includes Bimana i.e. Shikhara and Garbhgriha with a small antarala and a mantapa. The temple has wooden chattries and a shell roof at the top to protect against snowfall. There is a wheel shaped roof that helps to protect from cold. It houses a metallic image of Garuda, the mount of Lord Vishnu. It's a beautiful place of great historical implication and architectural marvel. It has a mandapa like structure too. The entire area includes six temples in a row from north to south and is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Vishnu.
Laxmi Narayan Temple is one of the most popular temples of Chamba that is known for its great historical significance and architectural marvel. There are also other temples in the complex like Radha Krishna Temple- built by Rani Sarda (wife of Raja Jit Singh in 1825), Shiva Temple of Chandragupta- built by Sahil Varman and the Gauri Shankar Temple- built by Yugkar Varman (the son of Sahil Varman). There is a Garuda statue in metal watches over the main gate, which is placed by Raja Balabhadra Verma. The latest addition to the shrine in historical periods was in answer to the Mughal terror. Then Aurangzeb the emperor order to demolish the temple and the Raja Chhatra Singh included gilded elevations to the temple in the year 1678.
Chamunda Devi Temple, Chamba
Chamunda Devi Temple is nestled in a spectacular position on the spur of Shah Madar range of hills and opposite to the Chamba town. It is a major holy place for pilgrims that sits on the bank of river Baner and just 15 km away from Dharmshala. It was built by Raja Umed Singh in the year 1762. It's the only wooden temple with gabled roof in Chamba. Earlier, the temple was accessed through a stone paved steep path that take 378 steps, but now travelers can reach by road as it is easily accessible and only 3 km away. Once you are here, you'll find the thick forests of Pathiar and Lahla that make it a perfect tourist attraction in Himachal Pradesh. The temple overlooks an enchanting view of the beautiful township, down the hill. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali, who is known as the Goddess of War.
The interior of the sanctum is embellished with carved silver sheets. The temple complex includes handicrafts centre that has various items like woodcarvings, wooden toys, honey, black pottery, Kangra tea and world popular Kangra Paintings. The architecture of the shrine is quite simple and sober but the religious influence is simply overwhelming. It has beautiful carvings rendering floral themes and different idol, overlooks enchanting views of the Chamba Valley and Himalayan range. During Navratras, people from all over the India visit in swarms and get the blessings of Chamunda Devi.
Champavati Temple, Chamba
Built by Raja Sahil Varman in the memory of his daughter Champavati in Chamba, this temple is a pilgrim destination for many tourists. The temple, which holds great religious and historical significance, is located nearby Treasury building and Police Post in Chamba. It can be discerned by its Shikhara style and several ornate stone carvings that make it unique from other temples in this region. The Shikhara style of this temple reminds travelers of the architectural wonders of Nepal that features cylindrical structures categorized into 5 to 9 parts.
It has a large wheel on the rooftop that distinguished it from other temples in North India. Due to the magnificence and grandeur of the temple, it is always compared with Laxmi Narayan Temple. Many pilgrims visit here to worship and pay their respects to the shrines of Vasuki Naga and Wazir. This temple holds great historical and archeological value, and is looked after by the officials of Archeological Survey of India. Tourists may plan their visit to this temple from March to June as the climate remains pleasant.
Vajreshwari Temple, Chamba
Dedicated to Devi Vajreshwari, this temple is 10000 years old and depicts the Shikhara style of architecture. It is also known as Bajreshwari temple. Located at the end of Jansali Bazaar in Chamba, thisTemple is an ideal combination of beautiful carvings and delicate stonework. The pillars of the temple are broadly woven with scrupulous carvings depicting various Hindu idols. The temple has 18 short inscriptions on the outer walls and tiny inscriptions on one of the two pillars in front of the temple's doorway.
The main entrance of the gate has a Nagarkhana or drum house that is similar to Bassein fort entrance. There is a huge fair organized in honour of Goddess Vajreshwari, held on Amavasya in the month of March. The fair begins on the 14th day of fortnight of waning moon of the month with ritual worship of the Goddess. The temple also celebrates Navaratri that starts from the first day of waxing moon of the month of March to the ninth day of Ram Navami and then from the first day of the bright half of the October month to the 10th day Vijayadashmi.
Akhand Chandi Palace Chamba
Made by Raja Umedh Singh during 1747-1765, Akhand Chandi Palace is a reflection of the lavishness of art and architecture of that period. The temple overlooks the Sui Mata Temple, Chamunda Devi Temple, Rang Mahal, Bansi Gopal Temple and Laxmi Narayan Temple. It was later renovated and rebuilt by Raja Sham Singh under the guidance of British engineers. In 1879, a Marshall Hall or Darbar Hall was made by Captain Marshal. Under the rule of Raja Bhuri Singh, Zanana Mehal was also included in the palace. Later in 1958, the royal family of Chamba sold the palace to the Government of Himachal Pradesh who has converted it into a Government College and District Library.
This historical edifice depicts the influence of Mughal architecture; additional rooms were later added to the palace. The palace is however a combination of British ad Mughal creativity. It includes a distinguished green roof that represents the other houses at Chamba with its conical roof. Moreover, this palace has been designed in three parts, forming an unfinished square. If you want to enjoy a fascinating view of all temples and palaces, you must visit this historical place while vacationing in Chamba.
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