THE GLORIOUS CHAMBA
Chamba is situated between north latitude 32° 11΄ 30″ and 33° 13΄ 6″, and east longitude 75°49΄and 77° 3΄ 30″ with J&K on the north-west and west; Lahaul and Bara Bhangal on the north-east and east; District of Kangra on the south-east; district of Gurdaspur (Punjab) on the south . The district is wholly mountainous with elevation ranging from 2000 to 21000 ft.The town stands on a plateau on the right bank of the Ravi river valley between Dhauladhar and Zanskar ranges south of the inner Himalayas. This town was founded by Raja Sahil Varman in the beginning of 10th Century. In the genealogical rolls of the Chamba Rajas, a reference occurs of place, which was adorned with highly fragrant Champaka trees and guarded by Goddess Champavati.
The temple was built by Sahil Varman in the honour of his daughter Champavati who is worshipped as a goddess in Chamba. This glorious journey of one thousand years is a rich repository a highly civilized, cultured and developed society which existed in the lap of Himalayas. The unique architect of houses and temples, splendid wood and metal craft, world fame Chamba Rumal and Chappal and of course the exquisite pahari paintings are some salient features of this one thousand years young town. The Chamba town has a number of temples, Palaces and stylised buildings. The striking objects of interest are the old temples which exhibit architectural beauty of design and execution. Laxmi Narayana Temple, which is the main temple of Chamba town, was built by Sahil Varman in the 10th century AD. There are several other temples within the complex.
The temple of Radha Krishna, Shiva Temple of Chandergupta and Gauri Shankar Temple are among these. The ancient temple of Vajreshwari is believed to be 1000 years old and is dedicated to Devi Vajreshwari-Goddess of lightning. The Sui Mata temple can be divided into three parts which can physically spread apart. The Hari Rai temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and dates back to 11th century. A yet another place of interest in Chamba town is the Bhuri Singh Museum at Chamba which came into existence on 14th September, 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 embroidered Chamba-Rumals are related in style since their drawings were made by pahari painters though the embroidery was done by the household ladies.
Reference of Chamba town would be incomplete without the majestic Chaugan. It is the heart and hub centre of all activities in Chamba. 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'. Initially the five Chaugan were a single patch of meadow. To mark the completion of 1000 years of this town, the Government of Himachal Pradesh is celebrating the millennium of this town from 14th to 20th April, 2006 in a most befitting way. The celebrations would provide the people the opportunity to have a first hand knowledge of the rich cultural and historical past of the Chamba town.No other district in Himachal Pradesh provides as good variety of people as Chamba does. The five Wazarats of erstwhile Chamba State namely Chamba, Bhattiyat, Churah, Pangi and Bharmour now form sub-divisions of Chamba district. The people are called Chambyals, Bhattiyals, Churahis, Pangwals and Bharmauries according to the area they live in. Religion wise population can be divided into Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.
Chamba has the distinction of having two tribal areas, Pangi and Bharmour. These areas have been declared as scheduled areas under the Constitution of India and as such the population living in these areas has acquired the status of Scheduled Tribes. Besides there is a sizeable population of the Bhots of Tibetan origin known as Bhatoris living in upper reaches of Pangi. Two nomadic tribes i.e. Gujjars and Gaddis inhabit some parts of the district. While Gaddis inhabit Bharmour and upper parts of Bhattiyat, the Gujjars are mainly found in Chamba, Churah and Salooni tehsils.