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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What is the history and culture of Chamba?

Aloke Bajpai DEC 10 2012
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes


The dreamy landscape of Chamba in Himachal Pradesh is bound on North West by Kashmir, on the Northeast and East by Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir state andLahaul and Bara-Bangal area of Himachal Pradesh, on the south-east and south by the District Kangra of Himachal Pradesh and Gurdaspur District of the Punjab. This explains its picture perfect beauty for which Chamba is quite famous.

Chamba has a well preserved and documented history since 500 A.D. The majestic Himalayan mountains have nestled and preserved it in its lap. As far as the earliest recorded history can be traced back, it is found that Chamba was ruled by the Kolian tribes. However, with the decline of their rule over a period of time, the dynasty of Chamba was taken over by Khasas and Audumbaras in the 2nd century B.C. The wheels of power turned again and the town went under the rule of Thakurs and Ranas in the 4th century. The efficient administration and the renaming of the place was done in 920 A.D by Raja Sahil Varman, who named the valley Chamba after his daughter Champavati.
Since Raja Sahil Varman, Chamba was ruled for many successive generation without any invasion due to the rugged terrain and the isolation in the time. The tows also escaped the clutches of invasion from the Mughal emperors like Akbar and Aurangzeb. Raja Prithvi Singh (1641-1664 AD) was in good terms with Shah Jahan and he introduced Mughal style of architecture in Chamba.

However, by the 18th century, the Sikhs under Maharaja Ranjit Singh, controlled the hill state and even forced them to pay taxes. After Ranjit Singh's death, Chamba became unprotected and was drawn into the vortex of the disintegration of the Sikh Kingdom.

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

Chamba has had the privilege of being isolated, hence its art and culture grew manifold. The patronage given by subsequent rulers of the kingdom made it prosperous and culturally rich. Chamba is well renowned for its miniature Pahari painting. Along with Pahari style of painting, Basohli style of painting also grew roots in the region. Raja Udai Singh and Raja Jai Singh patronized this school of painting. Distinguished artists of Chamba who have painted in this art form include Lehru, Durga and Miyan Jara Singh. The paintings were generally painted with Hindu religious themes, particularly the legends of Hindu mythology such as Radha Krishna, Shiva-Parvati, Rama Darbar, Yashoda and Krishna, Gopis, love scenes, deer, birds and women, Daya Saptashati and Krishna - Sudama.
Apart from the unique places to visit in Chamba, the place is also noted for its wood carvings, which, like the metal ware 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.
Similarly colorful is the fairs and festivals of Chamba. Whole town bears the look of a new bride during the two Jatras or the fairs. Among the many festivities, Suhi Mata Mela and Minjar mela are the most famous ones, which apart from the religious aspect, has a lot to do with promoting and keeping their culture alive.

Chamba has been like a fortress, fiercely guarding its beauty, its rich throbbing and pulsating culture and a magical allure of the land that has drawn people from all walks of life. Chamba has preserved its past with as much diligence as much as it has embraced the present and future with open arms. Check out various hill station packages available in India and plan out your vacation in the serenity of hills.

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