The Chamba Chowgan
The Chaugan is the heart and hub center of all activity in Chamba. According to Dr. J. Hutchison, “ The town is built on two terraces. On the lower is the Chaugan a fine grassy sward, about a half a mile long by eighty yards broad. Tradition is silent as to its use as a polo ground and the name is etymologically distinct from Chaugan, the Persian name of Polo, being of Sanskrit origin and meaning ‘four-sided; Besides being a public promenade and recreation-ground, the Chaugan was utilized for State Darbars and sports”.
These large spaces are unique of their vastness in a hill station. Initially the five Chaugans were a single patch of meadow which was used for purpose mentioned above. In the 1890 the leveling of chaugan was done. It become a public promenade and Cricket ground for the British. Annual Minjar Mela is held in the Chaugan when most of it is converted into a Bazaar. Local people including men, women and children can be seen promenading in the chaugan till late night. During summer many families bring food from home to chaugan and dine in open air. A large number of people can also be seen sleeping during night in the chaugan. Gaddies with their dears can also be seen camping on the outsidrats of this beautiful public promenade. Chaugan is closed for public after Dushera to April to carryout maintenance.
Laxmi Narayan Temple
Laxmi Narayan Temple, which is the main temple of Chamba town was built by Sahil Verman in the 10th century A.D. The temple has been built in the Shikhara style.
The temple consist of Bimana i.e. Shikhara and Garbhgriha with a small antralya. Laxmi Narayan Temple has a Mandapa like structure also. The wooden Chhattries, the wheel roof, atop the temple were in response to the local climatic conditions as a protection against snow-fall.
There are several other temples within this complex. The temple know as Radha Krishan was erected as late as 1825 A.D. by Rani sarda, queen of Raja Jeet Singh. The Shiva temple of Chandergupta was also believed to have been built by Sahil Verman while the construction of Gauri Shankar Temple is ascribed to his son and successor Yugkar Varman.
The temple of Lakshmi Narayana continued to be embellished by the Rajas who succeeded to the throne of Chamba. Raja Balabhadra Verma perched the metallic image of Garuda on a high pillar at the main gate of the temple. Raja chhatra Singh placed gilded pinnacles on the temple tops in 1678 as a reaction against the orders of Aurangzeb to demolish the temple. Later Rajas also added a shrine or two thus enriching the complex.
Sui Mata Temple
This temple can be divided into three parts which can physically spread apart. The temple of Sui Mata is on an elevation of Shah Madar Hill. A steep flight of steps comes down to a small pavilion just above the Saho road. From the Saho road the flight of steps continues down to the main town a little to the east of Chauntra Mohalla. At the end of the flight of steps there is another small pavilion with gargoyles with running water. The flight of stone steps to the aqueduct from the Sarota stream was built by Sarda, the Rani of Raja Jeet Singh (1794-1808). According to the legend when Raja Sahil Varman founded the town and made this aqueduct for water supply to the town the water refused to flow. It was ascribed to supernatural causes. It was prophasised that the spirit of the stream must be propitiated, and the Brahmins, on being consulted replied that the victim must either be the Rani or her son. Another tradition runs that the Raja himself had a dream in which he was directed to offer up his son, where upon the Rani pleaded to be accepted as a substitute. Thus on a appointed day the Rani along with her maidens was buried alive in a grave. The legend goes on to say that when the grave was filled in the water began to flow.
In memory of her devotion a small shrine was erected at that spot and mela called Sui Mata Ka Mela was also appointed to be held annually from 15th of Chait to the first of Baisakh. This fair is attended by women and children who in their best attire sing praises of the Rani and offer homage to the Rani for her singular sacrifice.
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 parasites 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.
Rock Garden At Devi Dehra
The proposed site is located on main road from Banikhet to Chamba at a distance of 10 kms from Banikhet. It is just near the Devi Dehhra temple and is located on both sides of the main road. In one site the Tourism Department have built 3 grasses lawns for use of the tourists. Besides this small picnic spots with green grass have been built up for use of the tourists. Not only this a small water fall by diverting a water kul has been constructed to attract more and more tourists. It has been noticed that the passing tourists are enjoying these picnic spot and water falls.
Located almost midway between Dalhousie and Khajjiar, Kalatope is a beautiful forested area. A very thick and dark forest crowns the hilltop and perhaps that is why the place has derived its name as Kalatop which literally means a black cap. The spot really commands a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. One can see the hills, snow-capped mountains, the valleys,the hamlets, the greenery and the ruggedness standing from the place. The forest mainly comprises of the deodar, kail, spruce,ban trees and various bushes providing a safe habitat for wild animals. The place has already been declared a wild life sanctuary by the government. Pheasants and Monal and various other birds can be frequently seen in the place. Leopards, black bear are also found by a traveller occasionally.
Dalhousie is a hill station full of colonial charm that holds lingering echoes of the Raj. Spread out over five hills (Kathlog Potreys, Tehra, Bakrota & Bolun) the town is named after the 19th century British governor general Lord Dalhousie. The town’s varying altitude shades it with a variety of vegetation that includes stately grooves of pines, deodars, oaks and flowering rhododendrons. Rich in colonial architecture, the town preserves some beautiful churches. Its marvelous forest trails overlook vistas of wooded hills, water falls, springs and rivulets. Like a silver snake finding its way out of the mountains, the twists and turns of river Ravi are a treat to watch from many vantage points. There are also magnificent views of Chamba valley and the mighty Dhauladhar range with its awe-inspiring snow covered peaks filling an entire horizon. A veneer of Tibetan culture has added a touch of the exotic to this serene resort and along road sides are huge rocks carved in low relief painted in the Tibetan style. By road Dalhousie is 555 Km from Delhi, 45 KM from Chamba and the closest railhead at Pathankot is 85 KM away
A small picturesque saucer-shaped plateau surrounded by dense pine and deodar forests, is one of the 160 places throughout the world to have been designated “Mini Switzerland”. Yes, this is Khajjiar, a tiny tourist resort in Chamba about 24 kms from Dalhousie; at an altitude of 6,500 ft. above sea level. The moment one enters the picturesque Khajjiar, one is welcomed by a yellow Swiss sign for ‘hiking path’ which reads “Mini Switzerland”.
Set against the backdrop of dense pines, deodars and lush green meadow, Khajjiar is exquisitely nestled down in the foothills of the imposing Dhauladhar ranges of the Western Himalayas. The dish-shaped Khajjiar provides a panoramic and breathtaking perspective to visitors.
Khajjiar was officially baptized by the Swiss Ambassador on July 7, 1992 and as per records, a stone was taken here and forms part of the stone sculpture erected in Berne, capital of Switzerland.
The journey from Chamba to Dalhousie to this idyllic scenic spot may be undertaken either by buses run by the HP Tourism Development Corporation or by one’s own vehicle. Khajjiar is about 95kms from Pathankot Railway Station and 130 kms from the Gaggal Airport in the district Kangra.
Khajjiar is famous for the popular Khajji Naga shrine dedicated to the serpent god from which the name is believed to have been derived. The temple dates back to the 10th century and is interspaced with different patterns and images on the ceiling and wooden posts. A curious blend of Hindu and Mughal styles of architecture is reflected in the wooden carvings on the ceilings and wooden posts. The image carvings are said to represent the Kauravas who were tied up here in the hideout by the Pandavas. The temple consists of a spacious congregation hall sufficiently enclosed by wooden supports. The dome-shaped shrine is made of slates locally extracted from limestone quarries. Adjoining are other shrines of Shiva and Hadimba goddess also.