Chamba, Himachal Pradesh: Chamba is located in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. It is located at an altitude of 996 meters (3,268 feet) above sea level and its geographical coordinates are 32°34′12″N 76°7′48″E.
The town is situated on the banks of the Ravi River (a major tributary of the Trans-Himalayan Indus River), at its union with the Sal River. Chamba comes in the Dhauldhar circuit of Himachal. The Dhauldhar Circuit derives its name from the Dhauldhar peaks of Western Himalayas.
Chamba is bordered by Jammu and Kashmir to the north-west and west, the Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir and Lahaul and Bara Banghal to the north-east and east, Kangra to the south-east and Gurdaspur district of Punjab to the south.
Chamba derives its name from the princess of the area Champavati. Over a period of time the name became Chamba.
Chamba is a city and the district headquarters of Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. Chamba is also known as the land of lord Shiva is famous for its unharmed natural beauty. Chamba has loads to explore. It is also known for its milk and honey. The place has gained a lot of importance for its handicrafts and art.
Fairs in Chamba:
Suhi Mata Mela
The Suhi Mata Mela is an important festival held in Chambaannually in March-April for four days. This fair is held to honor and pay tribute to the queen of Chamba who sacrificed her life to get water to the town. The royal priest said that water would pour out of the pipe dug only if the queen (wife of Raja Sahil Varman) or the prince sacrificed his life. The queen willingly agreed to get buried alive and the town was blessed with water. To salute the Rani, women and children take a lead role in the festival. An image of Princess Champavati, with banners having the Rajput solar emblem, is carried by them in a procession. They dance and sing through the Chaugan to the Sui Mata temple.
The Minjar Mela is another popular fair of Chamba held on the second Sunday of the Shravana month (August - September). The festival marks the victory of the Raja of Chamba over the ruler of Trigarta (now called as Kangra), in 935 AD. It also celebrates the harvest of paddy and maize crops. To begin the festival, 'Minjar' (a bunch of paddy plant and golden silk wrapped in red fabric including a rupee, a seasonal fruit, and a coconut) is offered to the God. A flag hoisting ceremony is held at the Chaugan that announces a week of cultural and social programs.
The image of Lord Raghuvira and more than 200 other Gods are carried in a procession, on a chariot pulled by ropes. Folk dances and music performances known as 'Kunjari Malhar' are a part of the festival. A parade starts at Akhand Chandi Palace and goes upto to Ravi River, on the first day, where offerings are made to the river. This parade depicts the legendary scene when Raja Sahil Verman changed the course of the river, to make the Hari Rai temple reachableby all devotees.
Chamba has a variety of traditional dresses from varied regions. The most prominent traditional dress worn by women is the Pashwaj (is a gown with a short blouse covering up to the waist. The shirt is long and falls in many folds). The typical casual dress is a Pairahan (a chadar or a Dupatta that is worn over the head). A Pyjama is worn below which is known as a Suthan.
Muslim women dress up in the same manner as the Hindu women. The only difference is that the skirt is slightly shorter. They wear a small vest called Angi worn as a skirt. A small shirt or Kurta is also commonly worn. The men wear an Angrakha (long tunic touching the knees). A cloth waist-band, tight fitting pajama and a small Pagri (hat) compliments the attire.
The nearest big town is Dalhousie which is about 50 km away. Dalhousie is a heritage place and a major tourist destination.