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State of India - Himachal Pradesh
QUICK FACTS Climate (Degree C.): Summer Max: 33. Min: 14. Winter Max: 15 Min: 0 | Best Season: April to October | Languages Spoken: Pahari, Hindi and English | Capital: Shimla

Few places in the world are as richly endowed as Himachal Pradesh in terms of geographical diversity. Low rolling hills climbing on to touch the core of the Himalaya Mountains, peaks that are several thousands metres high and never lose their perennial snows, rivers in deep gorges and placid mountain, lakes, thick forests, green Alpine Meadows, all form a part of this immense spectrum. A tour to Himachal Pradesh offers the visitors plenty of opportunities to explore breathtaking locales and enjoy wonderful sightseeing. Visit the numerous hill resorts, wildlife destinations and pilgrim sites on your tour to Himachal Pradesh.

Geography of Himachal Pradesh:
Himachal Pradesh has an area of more than 55,673 sq.kms. Located in altitudes ranging from 450 meters to 6500 meters above sea level, Himachal Pradesh is veiled from the plains by the Shivalik range of mountains. There is a gradual increase in elevation from west to east and from south to north. The state is geographically divided as (1) The outer Himalayas or the Shivaliks (2) The lesser Himalayas or the central zone (3) The great Himalayan and Zaskar or the northern zone. Himachal Pradesh is bordered by Jammu and Kashmir on north, Haryana on south, Punjab on west and south-west, Uttaranchal on south -east and Tibet on the east.

History of Himachal Pradesh:
Known as 'Deva Bhoomi ' or the Land of the Gods, the history of Himachal Pradesh dates back to the pre historic times. Its evidence is found in the Bangana valley of Kangra, Sirsa valley of Nalagarh, and Markanda valley of Sirmour. Large portion of the Himachal was inhabited by tribes like the Koilis, Halis, Dagis, Dhaugris, Dasa, Khasas, Kinnars and Kirats. In 1009 AD Himachal Pradesh was witness to the invasion of Mahmud Ghazni, who looted the wealth from the temples. From 1043 AD to 1804 AD it was under the rule of the Rajputs, till the attack by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1804 AD, which put an end to the Rajput reign. During the late 1760s, the Gorkhas came to power in Nepal and eventually began their conquest in Himachal. They conquered Himachal and ravaged it. The Anglo Gorkha War in 1815-16, led to conquer by the British Empire in most parts of the Himachal. And Shimla became the summer capital of the British. In 1956 after India gained its independence, Himachal Pradesh became a union territory, and it was elevated to the status of statehood in the year 1971.

Tourist Places of Himachal Pradesh:
Endowed with abundant natural beauty, pilgrimage sites and options for adventure sports there is no doubt that Himachal has emerged as one of the most popular destinations of India. With a number of hill stations offering panoramic views, Himachal is the perfect getaway from your boring and hectic schedules. Shimla and Manali top the charts of the most famous hill stations of not only Himachal but also the rest of India. Other must visit destinations in Himachal include Dalhousie, Dharamshala, Mc ledogunj, Chail, Chamba and Kinnaur.

Fairs and Festivals of Himachal Pradesh:
The land of Gods, Himachal Pradesh has an astonishing number of 2000 local deities. No doubt fairs and festivals form an integral part of the lives of the people here. These festivals symbolize the peace and joy of the people and also are a true reflection of their traditions. People gather in large groups and dance to the tune of the folk songs of the Himachal. Most of the fairs and festivals are connected with the various seasonal changes. Some of the famous and widely celebrated fairs and festivals of Himachal include: Baisakhi, Lohri, Himachal's Winter Carnival, Nalwari fair, Holi, Shimla's Summer Festival, Gugga fair, Fullaich Festival, Kullu Dussehra, Doongri Fair, Minjar Fair, Sajo Festival, Pori Festival, Ladarcha Utsav-Spiti.

Cuisine in Himachal:
Being a cold state, the cuisine of the Himachal is prepared in a manner so as to maximize heat and energy in its people. Here, more emphasis is put on non vegetarian food. Green vegetables until recently rarely found it's entry in the Himachal dishes. Some of the festive dishes of Himachal include: Sidu, a kind of bread made from wheat flour with a stuffing of fat. Dham - Made of Rice, Moong Dal and a dish of Rajma Cooked in Yoghurt. Ankalos made of rice flour. Indra - A dish specially prepared in the Shimla district using Urad dal and Bada. Aktori and Patande (a sort of pancake) are some of the other local Himachali dishes.

Shopping in Himachal:
Due to its topographical distinction from the rest of India, the art and craft of Himachal is quite unique and interesting. Having abundant pine, deodar, walnut, horse chestnut and wild black mulberry, Himachal Pradesh is the hot spot for wood work and wood carving. For the ladies you have the artistic and elaborate Pahari jewellery sold on the various bazaars of Himachal. Being a hilly and cold state, Wool is considered to be a pious accessory in Himachal. You can chose from a beautiful variety of woolen garments right from the popular Himachali caps to shawls, sweater, carpets and rugs. Leather craft, embroidery, paintings, metal work, pottery are some other famous handicrafts items that you can purchase during your tour to Himachal Pradesh.