By: Sonia Pahwa, Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh : Everything you want to know – The word “Himachal” if we split the word from each other then it comes out to be three main words i.e. Him+ aa+ chal (chal chaley burf ke ghar or the abode of snow) and the other literal meaning it reflects is ( In the lap of Himalayas). Surrounded with the snow covered peaks & the scenic beauty in the Northern India the state came into existence in the year 1971, Jan 25. The capital of Himachal is Shimla which is also known as the queen of hills. The State has twelve districts namely – Sirmaur, Chamba, Lahaul & Spiti, Kinnaur, Kullu, Mandi, Kangra, Hamirpur, Shimla, Solan, Bilaspur & Una.
A district of Himachal Pradesh is an administrative geographical unit, headed by Deputy Commissioner or district magistrate an officer belonging to the Indian administrative services. Each district is subdivided into sub-divisions, governed by a sub-divisional magistrate, and Blocks which consists of Panchayats (village councils) and town municipalities. A superintendent of Police belonging to IPS section is endowed with the duty of maintaining law and order in the state. Each district is copious in its rituals, food articles & varied dialects. The British’s enslaved the state in the early to mid-eighteenth century. Himachal is a state blessed with flourishing beauty & known for its enthralling sites globally.
Himachal emerged as the 18th state of the Republic of India after the state of Himachal Pradesh State Act 1971. The word “Himachal Pradesh “was coined by the Sanskrit scholar of the state Acharya Diwakar Datt Sharma. The history of the area that now constitutes dates back to the time when the Indus valley civilization flourished between 2250 and 1750 BCE. Himachal Pradesh is governed through a parliamentary system of representative democracy, a feature the state shares with other Indian states. The judiciary is composed of the Himachal Pradesh High court and a system of lower courts. The Governor is the head of the state appointed by the President of India. The council of ministers are appointed by the governor on the advice of the President. The assembly is unicameral with 68 members of the Legislative assembly. The current chief minister of the state is Sh. Virbhadra Singh, the Governor is Acharya Dev Vrat and the Chief justice is Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir. Though it’s a small state but rich in its culture & customs.
Himachal has the third-fastest growing economy in India currently. The snow laden region has been announced fourth in the list of the highest per capita incomes of the nation. This has made it one of the wealthiest places in entire South Asia. The economy of the state is highly dependent on the three sources: Hydroelectric power, Tourism & Agriculture
The Hydro Power is one of the major sectors of the state in income generation and it is extremely rich in hydroelectric resources. The state has about 25% of the national potential in this respect. The state is also the first state in India to achieve the goal of having a bank account for every family. The people of the state basically depend on the agriculture and 93% of population is engaged in this occupation, out of which 45% contributes to the net state domestic product. The main cereals grown in the state are wheat, maize, barley and rice but Barley is mostly cultivated in Shimla. Seed potato is mostly grown in Shimla, Kullu and Lahaul areas. There are some special crops on which the additional efforts in the cultivation are being laid by the people of the state such as olives, figs, sarda melon, pistachio nuts, saffron and mushrooms. Solan is emerged as the largest vegetable producing district in the state.
Due to the presence of various historical temples & places here the state is named as “Dev Bhoomi” too. People from all over the world come here to captivate the flora and fauna of the state. The sweet language which is Pahari the native medium of instruction of the state fascinates the outsiders too. Apart from Pahari, Hindi is both the official language and the lingua franca of Himachal Pradesh.
Hinduism is the main religion in the state and 95% of the total population belongs to Hindu faith. Other religion that form a small percentage are Buddhism and Sikhism .Bountiful of perennial rivers in the state enables it to share or sell hydroelectricity to other states such as Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, U.P & Rajasthan. This kind of sharing empowers inter-state relations grow stronger. 90% of the population lives in villages and towns. The state has attained 100% hygiene and it has been recorded practically that now no single house is without a toilet.
The villages have full access to roads, public health centres etc. With the passage of time the state has developed a lot. Shimla has been the chief protagonist of the state Himachal since the time of British’s and the district has maximum urban population of 25%. The British gradually emerged as the paramount power. In the revolt of 1857, or first Indian war of independence, arising from a number of grievances against the British, the people of hill states were not as politically active as were those in other parts of the country. The state of Chamba, Mandi and Bilaspur made good progress in many fields during the British rule.
After independence, the chief commissioner’s Province of H.P. came into being on 15 April, 1948. The state has reached to the heights of glory by the Transparency International Survey (2005) for having ranked the second least corrupt state in the country after Kerala. The state is not plentiful in its resources only but the people here leading a rustic life are known for their richness in simplicity & thoughts. The natives of hills are eminent for their benevolent temperament and attitude.
The government has taken so many initiatives or steps to empower the state in many ways. It has imposed environmental protection successfully, meeting European standards and is the only state in the nation to put ban on the use of tobacco and polyethylene goods. Various tribes are found here such as the kirats, Kinnars, Dhaugris, Dagis, Halis and the Khasas from the prehistoric era. During the Vedic period, several small republics known as “ janapada” existed which were later conquered by the Gupta Empire. After a brief supremacy by King Harshavardhan, the region was once again dividing 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. Mahmud Ghaznavi conquered kangra at the beginning of the 10th century. Timur and Sikandar Lodhi also marched through the lower hills of the state and captured a number of forts and fought many battles. The Gurkhas, a martial tribe, came to power in Nepal in the year 1768.
They consolidated their military power and began to expand their territory. Gradually, the Gorkhas annexed sirmour and Shimla. Along with the historical background of the state, Himachal has a wide geographical phenomenon. It is in the western Himalayas and the area occupied by the state is 55,673km2. Much area of the region lies on the foothills of the Dhauladhar ranges. Reo Purgyil in the Kinnaur district of the state is the highest mountain peak at 6,816 m in the southern end of Zanskar range. The ranges situated in the state makes the beauty more alluring & fascinating. The drainage system of the state is made up of both the rivers and glaciers. The drainage systems of the region are the Chandra Bhaga or the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, the Satluj, and the Yamuna. These all rivers are perennial and are fed by snow and and rainfall.
Due to extreme variation in elevation, great change can be felt in the climatic conditions of Himachal. The state has areas such as Dharamshala that receive heavy rainfall, as well those like Lahaul and Spiti that is cold and almost rainless. Broadly Himachal experiences three main 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 experience 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. The forest area of the state covers 66.52% according to 2003 Forest Survey of India. Vegetation in the state is defined by the constituents of precipitation and elevation. The hills contain western Himalayan broadleaf forests and Himalayan subtropical pine forests. The vegetation here varies according to the climatic conditions of different regions. Various deciduous and evergreen oaks live in the broadleaf forests while chir pine dominates the pine forests. Blue pine is another variety while Deodar is the state tree.
The uppermost elevations of the region are teemed with the western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows in the northeast and north-western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows in the northwest. Here the trees are generally found to be sturdy because of the favourable climatic conditions for the vegetation. The basic roots can be seen such as Alders, birches, rhododendrons and moist alpine shrubs are there as the regional vegetation. The pink rhododendron is the state flower and can be seen along the hillsides around Shimla from March to May. Himachal is also known as the fruit bowl of the country because of the richness in apple orchards here and the apple farming produces the maximum income.
Fruit growing in the state is fetching over $3 billion annually. The numerous variety of wild flowers grow here after the winter season while other flowers like gladiolas, marigold, roses, tulips and chrysanthemums are carefully cultivated. The state government is industriously taking initiatives to make Himachal as the flower basket of the world. Himachal Pradesh has around 463 bird and 359 animal species including the leopard, ghoral, musk deer and the snow leopard which is conferred as the state animal. The state has two main National parks and sanctuaries, one is The Great Himalayan National park in Kullu district and the other one is Pin valley National park in the district of Lahaul and Spiti which is to conserve the flora and fauna of the cold desert. Jujurana (western Tragopan) is the state bird. The recent years witnessed quick establishment of international entrepreneurship luxury hotels, food and franchisees of recognised brands e.g. Mc Donald’s, KFC and Pizza hut have rapidly spread.
Himachal has a rich heritage of handicrafts. These include woollen and pashmina shawls, carpets, silver and metal ware, embroidered chappals, gompa style paintings, grass shoes and various other household items. If we see the present scenario of the state we will find that the demand for handicrafts has increased within and outside the country.
The state is tremendously resulting as one of the most beautiful places on this earth. Day by day there is a dire change in the number of tourists from other countries who happen to come here and relish the heavenly sites present in the region. On the other hand, Tourism is a boon for the Himachal government in its growth and economy. The state is prepossessed with the range of landscapes and vivid topographic features which allures the tourists to peep once into its serenity.
The centre of location in the state is places such as Bir Billing (eminent for paragliding at International level), Rock Temple or Masroor temple (Monolithic temple made by Pandavas and internationally acclaimed) Shimla (the princely state), Chamba (famous for its paintings) Khazziar (in Chamba enriched with scenic beauty also known as mini Switzerland) and the most special thing is the Dhaam which is the talk of the town. Dhaam is a traditional food of the state which is now globally recognised. Some of the specialties of the Himachali cuisines include Madrah, Maahni, Batt, Mithaa saloona,Bhujju, Saag, Redhu, Khatti dal , Siddu etc. The tourist basically pays their visit from European countries in the region.
The state has three domestic airports in Shimla, kullu (Bhuntar airport) and Kangra district (Gaggal airport) for the convenience of the people. Himachal is also blessed with good transportation facility. Himachal is famous for its narrow gauge railway tracks and Kalka-Shimla railway track has been announced as a world heritage site by UNESCO and another one is Pathankot- Jogindernagar railway line in the region. It also has standard gauge railway track which connect Amb in Una district to Delhi. The journey through this toy train becomes more enthralling and eye soothing for the travelers because of the astonishing sites or landscape on its way. The bus service is also available from various spots in the region and special buses too run from some certain places which are a great relief to the natives as well as to the outsiders in the state. Roads are the major mode of transport in the hilly terrains. The state has road network of 28,208 kilometers and 19 state highways.
The needs with the increase in the population are also increasing in the state. Himachal has a total population of 6,856,509 including 3,473,892 males and 3,382,617 females as per the provisional results of the census of India 2011.Total fertility rate per woman is 1.8 which is one of lowest in India. Himachal Pradesh has a literacy rate of 83.78 percent and gender ratio at 974/1000, according to the 2011 census figures. The state has seven operators such as Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel, Tata, Bsnl, Reliance communication and now Jio infocomm is about to launch its 4G LTE services. The main communities in the state are Rajputs, Rathis, Brahmins and Ghirth. The ghirth community is found mainly in Kangra district.
Prominent People from Himachal Pradesh
- Captain Vikram Batra PVC (9 September 1974-7 July 1999) posthumously awarded with the Param Vir Chakra.
- Captain Saurabh Kalia (1976-1999) Posthumously awarded with the Maha Vir Chakra
- Naib Subedar Sanjay Kumar, PVC ( 3 March 1976) is an Indian Army soldier, a Junior commissioned officer and recipient of the Param vir Chakra, India’s highest military award.
- Major Somnath Sharma, PVC (1923-1947) was the first recipient of the Param Vir Chakra.
- Vijay Kumar won silver medal in 25m shooting in 2012 Olympic Games.
- Pretty Zinta and Kangna Ranaut, Bollywood actresses
- Mohit Chauhan, an Indian singer
- Shayam Saran Negi, named as the first voter of independent India.
- Anand Sharma (member of Rajya Sabha and former Union Cabinet Minister for commerce and industry of the Government of India)
The state is endowed with various educational institutions too. Hamirpur district has the highest literacy state among all other districts in the state. The standard of education is being provided to the students here.
The methodology adopted by the mentors here is duly qualitative in its approach. The state has many eminent colleges such as Indira Gandhi Medical College in Shimla, IIT Mandi, HPU Shimla, Agricultural University Palampur, the National institute of Technology Hamirpur and many more institutions of high reputation are available in the region. The state has active involvement of journalists and publishers. Amar Ujala, Divya Himachal, Himachal Dastak are read widely by the localities. In a nutshell, with the passing days the growth and development in all the sectors of the state can be observed because of the persistent efforts of the government for its people.
So in the whole we can say and conclude that Himachal Pradesh is a paradise to live-in, Heaven to spend holidays and a beautiful place with peace for better education.