1/26/12

The Land of Apples - Himalayas - (Himachal Pradesh)

Himachal Pradesh

Geographical Information About 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"
Physical Features:

The entire region of Himachal Pradesh is hilly with theAltitude ranging from 350 meters to 7000 meters abovesea 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 analtitude 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.

View of the radio tower - Summer Hill - Shimla
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 of the state include deodar (Cedar), 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.


View Of the High Court - Shimla

CHRIST CHURCH

As the Christ Church in Shimla turns 150 years old, in September 1993, the whole year is earmarked for celebrations-special services and seminars, lots of literature and an overall revival. What better time to visit this graceful and well-proportioned landmark?

We spent a whole day hanging about the Shimla ridge in the hope of getting a good shot of Christ Church. Not just an ordinary head and shoulders shot but a special one that would merit a delighted gasp of surprise from the viewer. It didn’t seem likely, though. Right through the day, banks of cloud were blocking out the sun and when the sky finally cleared, there was but half an hour to go before sunset. Let’s try a silhouette, suggested someone. As on cue, we skirted the church compound and bounded up the long flight of steps at the back till we came level with the base of the spire. With the setting sun behind the spire it could have been an impressive view but for the buildup of electric cables in the foreground. Disappointed, we walked back to the ridge and had all but left for out hotel when suddenly the western horizon burst into flame and for one brief, magic moment, Christ Church was plated in copper. We got our shot.

For generations now, the graceful, well proportioned Christ Church has been perhaps the best known landmark in Shimla. It has appeared again and again in books and brochures and on picture postcards. It needs no caption, even as Shimla needs no introduction. Down the years, Christ Church has been many things to many people, from the halcyon days of the Raj to the present time. Naturally it was designed as a place of worship and remains such to this day, despite the fact that the congregation has dwindled in number and no longer includes peers and dyed in the wool, five star generals, all very British and all very proper. With a young but highly motivated chaplain-Sunil Caleb, to lead them, the devout still worship at this church, not only on Sundays but on other days as well. The door is open right through the daylight hours, with an old caretaker from Kinnaur, Devi Ram by name, in regular attendance. Being the 150th year of its existence, 9th September 93 to 8th September 94 has been earmarked as a time for celebration and revival, with special services and seminars and the publication of relevant literature, all under the enthusiastic leadership of Chaplain Caleb.


Church services first began in Shimla in 1836 and the house of worship was no more than an old, thatched building on the Mall, just below the present GPO. But this church was in a sorry state, apart from being too small to hold ht e400-strong church going population of Shimla. In 1844 it was decided that a new church be built on a different site. A building Committee was formed and Major Boileau (after whom the locality of Boileaugunje has been named) designated architect. The cornerstone of Christ Church was laid on 9th September 1844 and the building opened for divine service two years later. But it constructed only in 1857, taking nearly thirteen years to build and coasting between Rs.40 and 50,000/-

From the very start the going was rough. The Building Committee applied to the Bishop of Calcutta for permission to build a new church accommodating about 500 people and asking for aid. But the Supreme Government was unwilling to help. A letter from Lord Ellenborough stated Shimla is the last place in India at which it is necessary for the government to be put at the expense of building a church. The amount that finally came through as aid was a meager Rs.5,000/-, the rest being raise through loans and voluntary funds.

The site of the new church was part of the old Ballyhack Estate, purchased for Rs.100/- by the Committee. The quarry on the state was expected to provide enough stone for the entire building but it is served only the foundations. With the need for bricks and mortar, the building costs were pushed up. To cut down expenses, some material from the old church was also used. For instance, the organ loft is really the gallery from the old church. Parison labour was used to clear and level the site.

Services started long before the church was complete and this raised a fresh crop of problems. The church was like a shell, without pews. People brought their own chairs or sat on benches. Crinolines were in vogue at the time. But one Sunday the chaplain commented on the room taken up by crinolines and lo and behold, the following Sunday all the ladies of the congregation turned up in riding habits! Indeed many people did ride to church and some of the ladies preferred to be carried in dandies or jhampanis as they were called. The church compound could boast of sheds for both horses and jhampanis.

The struggle for funds continued right through, as did the battle with snow and rain, of which Shimla has always received a fair share. Come bad weather and the construction was stopped forthwith. The attendance at church also dropped dismally. The elements seemed to have reigned supreme well into the 20th century. Within the church compound, towards the north lies a grave, the inscription on the headstone long since obliterated. But parish records say it is the final resting place of one Cecilia Winifred Soysa, who passed away on 4th January 1945 but could not be taken to the cemetery at Sanjauli because of a heavy snowfall. A week later, she had to be interred within the church compound.

But problems notwithstanding, the structure that emerged was charming, within and without. Pews in polished deodar and beautiful stained glass windows lent grace to the serene, well ordered interior. The window to the east was erected in 1890, in memory of Jilia Elizabeth Mathew, wife of Bishop Mathew, who was for many years organist of this church. The fresco on the sanctuary wall was copied from the original design by Lockwood Kipling (father of novelist Rudyard Kipling) by one of his most gifted pupils from the Mayco College of Art, Lahore.

At one time the choir used to emerge and vanish behind the curtain at the back of the organ. One morning, after a sermon in which there had been repeated references to God’s house, a child in the congregation asked his mother, What is God’s house? The church, dear came the answer. There was a pause and then came the next question, loud and clear, and is the bit behind the curtain God’s bathroom?

The choir continued to be select and well trained. After the construction of the church was complete, a balance of Rs.281/- was left over from the voluntary building fund and this amount was deposited in a post office savings bank. The interest annually received was spent on a prize for the best choir boy.

The church still has copies of the Bible dating back to British times. One in Roman Urdu, titled Kitab-e-Muqaddas (The Holy Book) is a vintage publication dated 1804. The hymn book goes back to 1906. There are several memorial tablets in brass along the walls. The floor plan of the church has remained unchanged. The pews are as they were, and in surprising good shape considering the years that have elapsed in between. During the Raj, the front pews were reserved for the Viceroy, the C-in-C and other dignitaries. Till the early years of the 20th century, it was considered a social and moral duty to attend mid-day service. But then there were some who went for reasons of their own. Sir. Edward Buck of Shimla Past and Present fame has an interesting story to release. One day a pretty young thing came to church with her mother. On the way she was heard gushing. Oh mother, wasn’t it a wonderful service? Why wonderful dear? It seemed to me just as usual. Oh mother, cried the girl, didn’t you notice? There were five ADCs!

Rudyard Kipling acted in a play A Scrap of Paper at the Gaiety Theatre to raise funds for the church. The Kiplings worshipped here, as did the Mountbattens. And novelist M.M.Kaye was baptized under this roof. Weddings at Christ Church used to be a grand affair with ushers in morning suits, lavender waistcoats and top hats, the porch and aisle gaily carpeted, floral decorations all over and soul stirring music flowing from the pipe organ…

British nationals still come to Shimla because someone near and deer was either baptized or married here. Donations still arrive from England. But the church is in need of restoration and the present congregation of 120 strong cannot raise enough funds for the purpose. Christ Church is an institution. To this day it holds services in both Hindi and English, along with Sunday School and special services to mark Christmas, Good Friday, Easter and Independence Day. The devout come from Chital Shimla, Totu, Sough and Sanjauli to spend an hour or two in an atmosphere of peace that passes all understanding.


  District Map of Shimla
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 

Location 
   
 Latitude 30o 22' 40" N to 33o 12' 40" N
 Longitude 75o 45' 55" E to 79o 04' 20" E
 Height (From mean sea Level) 350 meter to 6975 meter

Population [1991-Census] 5170877 persons
Urban 0.45 million persons
Rural 4.72 million persons

Geographical Area [1991] 55,673 sq. km
Density (per Sq. Km.) [1991] 93  Females per 1000 Males [1991] 976
Birth Rate (per 1000) [1996(P)] 23.0  Death Rate (per 1000) [1996(P)] 8.0
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
Simla 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 Simla railway line in 1903, Simla really boomed. Following independence, Simla was initially the capital of the Punjab, then it became the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Today, Simla 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.

Simla was first discovered by the British in 1819. It is located at an altitude of 2130 metres. It provides superb panoramic sights of the valleys, and the lofty peaks of the great Himalayan range, on both sides. Modern Simla is as enchanting as ever, with its trails and forest walks, its malls and hotels, skating rinks. The Mall is Simla's principal promenade and is best for leisurely walk.

Climate : Shimla is located on the slopes of lower Himalayas. The altitude of Shimla from the sea level makes it a very cool place. The temperature range is not very high and the maximum temperature rarely crosses 25 degrees during summers. The summers are marked by rainfalls. The nights of summers are cool and light warm cloths are required during this time. Winter are cold and chilly winds from the upper Himalayas makes the place really cold. Around Christmas or last week of December Shimla gets snow. The snowfall during this time attracts many tourists and accommodation can prove to be difficult. The Best season to visit Shimla is between April and August. But the main season is between December and January. It is better to avoid the rainy seasons.


Places To visit - Sights of Shimla

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 : Some great hiking, some sking, some beautiful scenes and a cool environment that's what Kufri is all about. In the winters Kufri attracts ski loving people.

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 Himchal 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.

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 (Figures stated are a decade old)

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 80% 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.





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