Know Your District – Chamba

CHAMBA is mainly land of Lord Shiv

chamba
chamba

PROLOGUE

CHAMBA is mainly land of Lord Shiv……….

The Chamba district is Lying mostly astride the main Himalayas, and touching on the fringes at one corner of a bit of the Shivalik before plains commence on the other side of the border. The district touches the boundaries with Jammu and Kashmir’ on the North West and West. Ladakh area of J&K and Lahaul and Bara Bangahal on the North-East and East, Kangra on the South-East and Gurdaspur district of Punjab on the South.

  • The territory is wholly mountainous with altitudes varying from about 2,000 feet (610 meters) to about 21.000 feet (6,400 meters) above the mean sea level.
  • The greatest length from South-West to North-East is about seventy miles, and the greatest breadth from South-East to North-West about fifty miles.
  • The main natural divisions are the Ravi valley, which means the Chamba valley proper, including Bharmaur, the Churah area, and the part of the Bhattiyat tehsil, the Chenab Valley, which comprises Pangi, inclusive of Chamba.
  • Lahaul and the Beas region take in the rest of Bhattiyat.
  • 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)
  • Climatically March to June is said to be the best period to visit Chamba
  • The average annual rainfall in the town is 785.84 millimeters (30.939 in)
  • There have been a total of 67 rajas who have ruled Chamba district since the Principality of Bharmour was established in the 6th century, beginning with Raja Maru

C H A M B A

  • The total area of Chamba is 6522 sq. Km
  • North latitude  32 10′ and 33°13
  • East longitude  75°45′ and 77°33′
  • The total population of this district is 5,19,080
  • The Sex ratio is (per 1000)  986
  • Founded in: 920
  • Tehsils / Sub Tehsils: 13
  • Gram Panchayats 283
  • Scheduled Cast 111690
  • Scheduled Tribe 135500
  • Sub Division: 7
  • Literacy Rate: 323842
  • Vidhan Sabha Constituency: Kangra
  • Language: CHAMBYALI & HINDI
  • Main River: Ravi
  • Vehicle registration Kangra: HP-48, HP-46, HP-73

History

According to earlier history, the Chamba region was at the time inhabited by certain Kolian tribes, and Kolian were the earliest rulers.

  • In the 2nd century BC, the Khasas and Audumbaras were in power in the region.
  • The Audmabaras had a republican form of government and worshiped Shiva as their principal deity, and the Chamba region was under the control of Thakurs and Ranas who considered themselves superior to the low tribes of Kolis and Khasas.
  • In the 4th century AD during the Gupta period, the Thakurs and Ranas ruled
  • From the 7th century, the Gurjara Pratiharas of the Rajput dynasty came into power.
  • A Rajput ruler named Maru is said to have moved to northwest India from Kalpagrama, around 500 AD, and he founded his capital in the Budhal river valley at a place called Brahmaputra, which later became known as Bharmaur.
  • In the present day, Bharmaur is situated 75 kilometers (47 mi) to the east of Chamba town.
  • The kings of the Rajput Dynasty ruled from their capital in Bharmour for three hundred years
  • In 920, the king of Bharmour Raja Sahil Verman shifted his capital from Bharmor to the more centrally located plateau in the lower Ravi valley, named the city Champavati, after his beloved daughter.

Since Raja Sahil Verman, the dynasty ruled for around a millennium, until the British gained power. Later, Mughal emperors, Akbar and Aurangzeb did attempt to annex Chamba but were unsuccessful in subjugating this territory into their kingdoms. Raja Prithvi Singh (1641-1664 AD), who was on amicable terms with Emperor Shahjahan was instrumental in introducing the court lifestyles of the Mughals.

  • In 1806 A.D., the combined forces of Gurkhas and local hills chiefs attacked the forces of Raja Sansar Chand in the battle and forced a crushing defeat on him along with his family took shelter in the Kangra fort.
  • The Gurkhas sieged the Kangra fort and ruthlessly looted the area between the fort of Kangra and Mahal Mohrian and virtually destroyed the villages. The siege of the fort continued for three years.
  • In 1809 A.D., at the request of Sansar Chand, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler of Lahore waged war against the Gurkhas and defeated them, but Sansar Chand had to pay a heavy price whereby he had to lose Kangra fort and 66 villages to the Sikhs.
  • In 1845, the Sikh army invaded British territory. The result was disastrous, with the British defeating the army, leaving Chamba in a poor position. Wazir Bagha of Chamba was important in negotiations in its aftermath, and the Rajas of Chamba, on the advice of Bagha, agreed to the British suzerainty as part of Jammu and Kashmir in favor of an annuity of Rs 12,000. The Treaty of Lahore was signed in 1846, in which the Rajas agreed to cede the territory of the Chamba district. From then on, relations with the British were cordial, and all of the Rajas of Chamba under the British rule, Sri Singh, Gopal Singh, Sham Singh, Bhuri Singh, Ram Singh, and Laxman Singh, were on good terms with the British army officers.

Many progressive reforms and developments were made in Chamba under the British. In 1863, the first Post office was established in Chamba and daily mail service and a primary school. In December 1866, a hospital was opened by Doctor Elmslie of the Kashmir Medical Mission. In the late 1860s, two new roads to Dalhousie via Kolri and Khajiar were built. Gopal Singh, who ruled from 1870 to 1873, after abdicating, was responsible for building the grand Jandarighat Palace as his summer residence.

After India became an independent nation in August 1947, the princely state of Chamba finally merged with India on 15 April 1948 along with the other princedoms of Mandi-Suket State, Sirmour State, and all of those in the Shimla hills.

Landmarks and cityscape

The city layout can be distinctly demarcated into two zones; namely the ‘Old Town’ before the British introduced their urban architectural styles and the British period of contemporary monuments, bridges, and buildings.

  • In a study of the architecture of Chamba, instituted by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), with the objective of conserving and restoring individual heritage buildings, it has been observed that the urban architecture of Chamba evolved under three distinct phases.
  • The first phase from 930, dating from the Rajput dynasty establishing the capital at Chamba until 1846, the second phase during the British period; and the third phase constituting the post-independent period after its merger with the Indian Union in April 1948

Monuments built prior to 1846

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.

  • 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.

Lakshmi Narayan temples

The Lakshmi Narayan temple 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 shikhara, 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 dwajastamba pillar at the main gate of the temple.
  • In 1678, Raja Chhatra Singh adorned the temple roof with gold-plated pinnacles, as a riposte to Aurangzeb, who had ordered the demolition of this temple.

Chamunda Devi Temple

Chamunda Devi Temple is located in a prominent position on the spur of Shah Madar’s range of hills, opposite Chamba town. It was built by Raja Umed Singh and was completed in 1762. It is the only wooden temple with a gabled roof (single storied) in Chamba, while all others in the town are built from stone in the north Indian Nagara architectural style.

n the past, the temple was accessed through a stone-paved steep path laid with 378 steps, but it is now approached by a 3 kilometers (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. Its exterior measures 9.22 meters (30.2 ft) x 6 meters (20 ft), the inner square sanctum measures 3.55 meters (11.6 ft) x 3.55 meters (11.6 ft) and has a parikrama path (circumambulatory path) of 1.67 meters (5.5 ft) around the perimeter.

Champavati Temple

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.

Bhuri Singh Museum

Bhuri Singh Museum was founded in 1908 to collect and preserve the scattered cultural heritage of the Chamba region. The Named of the museum “Bhuri Singh Museum” was after the erstwhile ruler of Chamba state, and the museum contains his inherited art collection. Bhuri Singh had gifted. He had gifted his all inherited art collection to Dr. Ph. Vogel who was a Dutch Sanskritist and epigraphist helped to establish this museum. Most of the inscriptions housed are about the history of Chamba and written in Sarda script. There are more than 8500 art objects and antiquities are in the museum that is related to art, crafts, culture, history, and archaeology of the Chamba region. This museum also has a number of unusual artifacts, including paintings of Bhagwat Purana and Ramayana that have been inspired by Basohil paintings. Here also can be seen a few portraits that were commissioned by the rulers of the region in Guler-Kangra style. Here we also can see gathered the artifacts of old Chamba like jewelry, old coins, traditional attire, armor, old musical instruments were used by the peoples of Chamba.

Rang Mahal

Rand Mahal was founded in the 18th century by Raja Umed Singh. The Rang Mahal showcases a scenic amalgam of British and Mughal architecture

It’s one of the largest monuments, which is located in Chamba. It’s a striking building designed with high fort-like walls and the architecture has an unparalleled combination of British and Mughal styles. During that time, the monument of the western part was used as a royal treasury and the southern part of the monument was later built by the Raj Sri Singh in the year 1860.

After the State Handicrafts Department took control of Rang Mahal, many changes were done to the historical building, and some of the artifacts are preserved in Bhuri Singh Museum.

But now, the Rang Mahal has become government property. All the artifacts and things related to Rang Mahal have now been taken out and keep them in the different museums all over India, and the handicrafts department use this mahal as the workshop for shoe, slippers, etc.

Akhand Chandi Palace

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.

Church of Scotland

The foundation stone of this church was laid on 17th February 1899 A.D., and the work was completed in 1905 A.D. It was built in the presence of the Scottish monk Dr. M’Clymont, who had come from Scotland. Built-in dressed-stone structure with lancet windows, the Chamba Church steals the attention of millions of tourists. Situated in the main Chamba market, this church was made by Raja Sham Singh and honored to the Church of Scotland mission for the use of the community of Christian in Chamba.

Culture and Art

The native people of this small hamlet have yet not been much influenced by modernization and are stuck to their traditional culture and customs. The nomadic shepherds of the region are known as Gaddhis and Bharmour is the center of the culture of the people. However, the local tradesmen or other people living in Chamba are very helpful and simple-hearted.

Chamba is noted for its succinct Pahari paintings, where the Basohli style of Pahari paintings took roots with Nikku, the artist of Basohli migrating from Guler to Chamba in the eighteenth century. Raja Udai Singh and Raja Jai Singh patronized this school of painting. During the reign of Raja Charhat Singh, folk art developed and had a lasting influence on local artists. The paintings of Chamba encompass both miniatures and murals and the Mughal influence is clearly discerned in these paintings. Distinguished artists of Chamba who have painted in this art form include Lehru, Durga, and Miyan Jara Singh. The romantic ambiance of the monsoon season in Chamba has also been painted by the artists of Pahari miniature art, in various moods and styles in Basholi colors.

Handicrafts and musical instruments

Chamba is an important center for the making of traditional handicrafts, and the town has numerous small workshops maintained by the artisans. Many of the items produced are exquisite and lavish, a testament to the towns’ aristocratic heritage. Casting metalware in Chamba is an ancient tradition, dating back to the Bronze Age period, with items typically made out of copper or brass, and also iron, especially in the traditional making of implements and weapons by blacksmiths. Of particular note in this trade are the large plaques with reliefs, commonly used for wall decoration. The temple cupolas in the Chamba district are often furnished with copper and brass items made in Chamba and often the golden kalasha or vessel crowning them is produced here.

Chamba has its own unique traditional system of men’s and women’s footwear. Traditional footwear was originally made from locally produced leather but is today transported to Chamba from the south of India. Women’s footwear is embroidered as is “vegetarian” footwear which is purposefully made without leather for use in places where leather is prohibited for religious reasons. Handkerchiefs and shawls are also made in abundance in Chamba. Traditionally hand-spun, they are designed in such a way as to make both sides of the cloth look identical, and are beautifully embroidered.

Traditional jewellery is made in gold and silver in Chamba as its pottery, typically kitchenware, utensils, and earthen pots. Given Chamba’s history of new immigration from other parts of the country and Tibet, a variety of influences can be seen in the pieces of jewellery that are produced in Chamba.

Chamba is also noted for its wood carvings, which, like the metalware is often used for iconography in temples, such as Chamunda Devi.  A “Nagara”, a form of kettle drum is produced in Chamba as are cymbals, bells and “Singa” or “Ransinga” (horns) produced in both straight and curved styles. Other instruments include Shankh, Nad, Beiunsuli, Saihna, Nag Pheni, Thali Ghada, Bhana, Karnal, Pohol, Dhons, Kahal, Kansi, Hasat Ghanta and Drugg.

Religion and Language

People of various religions inhabit the region, though most of them belong to the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. The Muslim tribes from central Asia have also moved to the higher mountain ranges in Chamba. The major languages to be spoken here are Hindi, Pahari, and Himachali.

Festivals, fairs, and dances

Chamba is a colorful land of a wide array of fairs and festivals. Chamba is one of those places where Basohli effect actually reached. Two melas or fairs, also known as Jatras, are of particular note in Chamba; “Suhi Mata Mela” and “Minjar Mela”. A notable event of such fairs is when the ‘chela’. a subordinate of the deity who is being worshipped goes into a trance and answers the queries and prayers of the devotees.

Minjar Mela is a harvest festival (celebrates the paddy and maize crops grown at this time of the year) that lasts for 7 days held on the second Sunday of the Shravana month. Some of the other famous festivals of the region are Sui Mela (it is held annually in March–April for four days to commemorate the sacrifice made by the queen of Chamba with her life, to bring water to the town. Sui Mata temple, built-in memory of the queen (wife of Raja Sahil Varman)), Pathoru, Lishoo, Nawala, etc. All these fairs and festivals are celebrated with great pomp and show by the people of the region and reflect the multi-hued culture of Himachal Pradesh.

A solo dance or a dance of two people such as the Pharati or Khad-dumbi is commonly performed during the Nuwala ceremony and other important occasions, such as marriages, etc., and the Dangri and Sikri are said to be of note. Notable male dances include the Gaddi and Gujjar dances, Dandaras, Nat, Ghorda, Nachan, Dharumsde, the Khad-dumbi and the Chhinjhati. Notable female dances include the Ghurei, Dangi, and Kikli, whilst dances such as the Shain, Dhamal, Sohal, Sal Kukdi Nachan, Ratege, and Til-Chauti are performed by both sexes. Several forms of masked dance are also performed in Chamba, such as the Chhatradhi Jatar.

Traditional Attire

Ancient people of Chamba were known to have worn a fine woolen blanket or chadar around the waist, to keep warm in the cold climate. It was often tied or girdled with a band or patka, as evidenced by some archaeological discoveries in the area depicting this fashion. The Gaddi people have traditionally worn white embroidered caps and loose-fitting white woolen garments known as a chola, tied around the waist with a black wool rope, This was generally accompanied by a white embroidered cap. Gujjars on the other hand preferred red, blue, and black.

The women too wore full-length dresses made of wool. The traditional dresses worn by women in Chamba consist of a pajama known as ‘suthan’ and a ‘pairahan’ which covers the upper part of the body. She also has a chaddar or dupatta covering her head. However, the ceremonial dresses are more elaborate. In such time, women wear a full length gown accompanied by a blouse that covers the upper part of the body up to the waist. It is known as Pashwaj. The traditional dresses worn by men consist of tight-fitting pajama and a knee-length tunic known as ‘angrakha’.

Traditional ornaments

Women in Chamba wear different types of ornaments made out of silver and gold. They come in gorgeous designs and look truly pretty. The head ornaments come in different varieties. Following are a few of them:

  • Shangli is a long silver chain worn around the head.
  • Chudamoni is worn at the parting of the hair and comes in the shape of a lotus.
  • Chiri Tikka is another gorgeous piece of jewelry worn by the women of Chamba.  Chiri means bird.
  • Shirka Chamkui is mainly used by the Gujjar women and worn in pair at the two sides of the head
  • Chak is mainly used by Gaddi women and comes in different varieties. For example, chak-boron-wala consists of several rounds of beads hung at the edge from a silver chain. Then, there are chak-meena-wala where meena work has been done on them. The chak-phul has two domes at the side of the head interlinked to the main chak

Food

In the eatery, Chamba is famous for chukh, a spicy red chili sauce that contains green and red peppers, salt, lime juice, and mustard oil. The basic Himachali cuisine includes various vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties with all kinds of meat, cereals, spices, and lentils.

Folk Songs and Dances

The people of Chamba sing different types of songs to suit different occasions, during marriage ceremony they sing ‘Charlai’. Through these songs, the relatives of the bride and the groom seek the blessings of God.

Ainchali is one of the most popular folk songs of Chamba. These are not simple wedding songs. They are actually devotional songs sung to gratify the Lord and are mostly sung during the Naula ceremony, which is a sort of thanks giving ritual to Lord Shiva. these songs are generally sung by women in the house of unmarried girls and by men in the house of the married couples.  Ainchali song is divided into three parts:

  • Brahmakhara :
    • The first part, which is sung in a very slow rhythm
    • Generally involves the praise  of different gods and goddesses.
    • Sometimes, different mythological tales are also told in this part
  • Bharath:
    • The second part of the Ainchali
    • Sung in a fast rhythm
  • Varis:
    • The third part of the Ainchali
    • Beat become even faster
    • It includes different mythological  as well as historical tales(like the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati,  birth of Lord Krishna, and Radha Krishna Leela, etc.)

Folk Dances

  • Ghurei
    • Folk dance for women
    • generally performed within the confined of the home
    • Dancers stand in a circle (ghera in local parlance) and dance to the tune of hand clapping
  • Dangi
    • another popular dance form for the women
    • begins with a slow tempo, but gathers speed as the dance proceed.
    • songs that are sung with this dance come in the form of conversation between two parties
  • Sikri
    • the third most popular dance for women
    • mainly performed at the time of Sui Mata mela/fair
    • songs in this dance depict the beauty of the season and the flowers that bloom during this period
  • Dandaras
    • Most popular folk dance for men
    • symbolizes the Tandava Nritya of Lord Shiva
    • no song is sung during the dance
    • dancers stand in semi-circle and dance to the beats of the drums
    • rhythm in this dance form picks up slowly and towards end it becomes very fast.
  • Following are some more popular folk dances in Chamba:
    • Pharati or Khad-dumbi is a common dance form that is performed during important ceremonies such as wedding.
    • Chhatradhi Jatar is a form of mask dance.
    • Dandaras, Nat, Nachan, Ghorda, Dharumsde, Khad-dumbi, Chhinjhat are some of the notable dances performed by male members only.
    • Dance form like Ghurei/Dhurei, Dhamal, Dangi, Sikri and Kikl are mainly performed by female dancers.
    • Sohal, Shain, Sal Kukdi, Ratege, Til-Chauti dances can be performed by both men and women

KEY HIGHLIGHT

  • The Chandrabhaga or Chenab (Vedic name Askni), the largest river (in terms of volume of water) is formed after the meeting of two streams namely, Chandra and Bhaga at Tandi, in Lahaul. It flows 122 kilometres (76 mi) and covers an area of 7,500 square kilometres (2,900 sq mi)
  • Languages Spoken: English and Hindi are spoken by people engaged in tourism and professional trades. The locals mainly use Chambyali, a dialect
  • Chamba State was one of the oldest princely states in present-day Republic of India, having been founded during the late 6th century.
  • The first king of Chamba Raju Maru
  • Last king of Chamba LAKSHMAN SINGH: He was the last ruler of the kingdom . On 15 April 1948 , Chamba became district of Himachal and new district Himachal Pradesh came into existence.
  • Minjar Mela is celebrated in the Chamba valley of Himachal Pradesh, as a commemoration of the victory of the Raja of Chamba over the ruler of Trigarta (now known as Kangra), in 935 AD.

 

 

Crafts of Himachal Pradesh 

Know Your District – Hamirpur

About pankaj 853 Articles
Pankaj is passionate about his work. Because he loves what he does. He is a full time blogger and also has experience in Computer as well as in Teaching Field. DHGK is the dream Project of his own Mind to help aspirants.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.