The town of Chamba was founded in 920 CE by Raja Sahil Varman. Bound by the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges and fed by the Ravi River, Chamba was a mighty Himalayan kingdom till the British empire brought it
under the colonial administration of undivided Punjab. This town is known for the artistic traditions of its people and the architectural marvels that were built between the 8th and 10th centuries CE.
Things to See & Do
Chaugan is the public promenade that was used for state durbars and sports till 1890, when the British levelled it and converted it into a cricket field. Of Chamba’s many temples, the Lakshmi Narayan Temple Complex is the largest and the oldest, dating back to the 11th century. The Bajreshwari Devi Temple is quite ancient, and the deity inside could be a Vajrayana Buddhist one. Another interesting shrine is the Bansi Gopal Temple. It houses several stone panels from excavations conducted in and around Chamba.
The famous Champavati Temple, with its ornate stone carvings, was built by Raja Sahil Varman in memory of his daughter. The Chamunda Devi Temple, with its intricately carved pillars, roof and beams, offers an amazing view of the entire town. The much-touted, red-coloured Rang Mahal houses the local employment exchange and handicrafts centre. Akhand Chandi Palace (locally also referred to as Raj Mahal) doubles up as a college.
The Bhuri Singh Museum has a collection of miniatures along with murals, Chamba rumaals, weapons, and a coin collection. Chamba has many remnants of the Colonial era, including the Post Office which opened in 1863, a Residency (now the Circuit House) which was built for the British Superintendent in 1865, a hospital built in 1891, a courthouse and the Church of Scotland, both built in the 1890s. Chamba is famous for its rumaals, chappals, and shawls, along with stone and metal work. You can also pick up chukh, a mashed chilli pickle that is a speciality of this region.
Where to Stay & Eat
HPTDC’s Hotel Iravati (Tel: 01899- 222671 Tariff: â‚¹1,300—2,500) faces the Chaugan, has large rooms and Chamban cuisine can be ordered in advance. HPTDC also has a budget wing, Hotel Champak (Tel: 222774; Tariff: â‚¹1,400—1,600). Hotel Aroma Palace (Tel: 225577, 225677, 225177; Cell: 09418022710; Tariff: â‚¹1,200—4,000) offers a comfortable stay and great views. Chaugan has quite a few dhabas. HPTDC runs CafÃ© Ravi View in Chaugan. Some restaurants offer Chamba madhra (a combination of rajma, dahi and ghee served with rice).