Himachal Pradesh – People
The beautiful hill state of Himachal Pradesh lies at the foothills of the Himalayas. The mon khmer (Kirat) and other tribes had sought shelter here when persecuted by the Aryan invaders. Shanwar was their brave and powerful leader. This proves that this tribe exited as far back as the Rig-Vedic (early vedic) period. In the second century B.C. this entire area was known as Kinnar, the land of Kiratas. Proofs for this are available In the famous stone edict (in the Sharda script) found in the Shiva temple at Baij Nath. The edict refers to the settlement as the ‘Kir’ village (Kirat Gram). These tribes have now settled in the Lahaul-Spiti, Chamba and Pangi areas. In the Malanga village in kulu, we have distinct proofs of the Kiratas having settled there.
In the tribal area of this region one still comes across prehistoric socio-cultural beliefs. The Kiratas, the Yakshas and Nagas here are among those important tribes to which we have parallel references in the Puranas and history. According to these the forerunner of man in the universe, “Manu lived in Manali (Manavalaya, the abode of Manu). The oldest temple of saint Manu is located here. Other rishis too performed Tapas here. Ashramas of some of them like Vashishtha, Vyasa asn Bhrigu are located here. All this proves tha this area has a long historical past and it has performed an important role in the rise and development of the human race.
From the topographical point of view, this area has been referred to as Trigarta, an area separated from the plains of the Punjab by its peculiar physical characteristics. It had six Janapadas known as Trigarta Shashtha or Jalandharayana. The present day districts of Chamba, Kulu, Mandi, Bilaspur and Kangra come within this Trigarta area, well known in the hill regions. It was also called the Ayuddha Sangha, a federation of six principalities.
There are also indications that the Aryan Rishis of yore preferred to live in cooler climates, in area lying between Kashmir in the west and the coastal regions of the Sutluj river in the east. The Rigveda calls the Vyasa river ‘Arjikiya’. In this area are also located the remains of the eight storied temple of the saint temple of the saint Shringi and Skirntila, the site where the king Dashrath is said to have performed the Putreshti Yagna (the fire sacrifice that helps produce a male heir). It is also said that the saint Bhrigu had brought the fire God Agni down from the heavens in this very area. Perhaps Parvati, the daughter of the Himalayas, also belonged to the area. There is a river called the Parvati in the Kullu region, after which the valley is known as the Parvati valley. This perhaps was also the domain the King Daksha, whose daughter Sati had burnt herself in the sacrified fire, and was consequently immortalized as Sati (the Truthful one). Lord Krishna’s grandson Pradyumna was married to Usha, the daughter of King Banasur of Shonitpura (now known as Sarain near Rampur). It is said that at the end of the Satyg, the rishi Jamdgni was born here and tales about his son. Parashuram and wife Renuka are well-known in the region. Nirmand, the place where the saint Parashar performed Tapas and the origins of the Beas (Vija Sa Srofa) are located here. All in all, the entire area has a very long and rich historical past.
The State of Himachal is surrounded by the States of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Punjab, HaRYANA AND Uttar Pradesh. Some of its principal cities are – Simla, Nahan. Solan, Rnuka, Paunta Sahib, Rampur, Dalhousie, Chamba, Bharmaur, Dharamshala, Kangra, Palampur, Hairpur, Sujanpur, Oona, Mandi, Kullu and Manali, Places like Khajiyar, Renuka, Mani Mahesh, Rivalsar, Bhagsu Nag, Mani Karna, Tatta Pani, Vyasa Kund, Govind Sagar, Pong Dam are well known for their natural lakes and waterfalls. Kufri, Chail and Narkanda are famous for winter sports. The state has tourist offices located in all the major towns to encourage tourism and to help assist the tourists. Some tourists’ bungalows are also under construction.The major rivers of the area are the Ravi, the Chenab, the Beas, the Sutlaj, the Giri, the Pawar and The Yamuna. All these rivers come out of the Himalayas and after winding through the hills and the valleys all of them come down to the plains. From the point of view of vegetation, the area is extremely rich and beautifull. Most of the foliage is of the evergreen variety and keeps the valleys looking lush and green all the year around. Kulu and Kangra valleys have terraced tea gardens. Fruits and walnuts are grown here in plenty and also medicinal herbs.
The state of Himachal has a natural beauty all its own. The towering Dhauladhar range stands at the head of the state. And the traveller finds a new view to admire round every bend. An Englishman Mr Varns writes in the Kangra gazetteer that he had never seen anything quite like this anywhere in the world. Another British traveler M.C. forbes writes in his book to ‘kulu and back’ that the area is a veritable heaven to every traveler whether he carries a camera or a paintbrush. As the traveler goes up the hills and down the valleys, the sounds of rivers and rivulets and the stray note of the shepherd’s flute, almost hypnotise him.
The state of Himachal came into being on 15th april, 1948 after the dissolution of 81 princely states of region. At that time its area was 10,600 sq miles and its population stood at 9,35,000. during the British period, the area was divided into two, the Punjab hill states and the Shimla hill states. On November 1st 1966, the states were reformed on the basis of the linquistic identity, and the hilly areas of Punjab, Kangra, Kulu, Lahaul, Spiti, Nalagarh and Oona, were added to it. This doubled both its area and population. Now its area measures 55,673 sq km, and its population (according to 1971 census reports) is 34,60,434. it has 36 cities and 16,916 villages. The number of city dwellers is 2,41,890 and of people living in the villages is 32,18,544. of these 7,69,572 belong to scheduled castes and 1,41,610 to the scheduled tribes. Nearly every district has colonies of the people belonging to the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes.
Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti. Kulu , Chamba-Pangi are tribal areas which are snow bound most of the year round. The hills In the area are barren and the people living here have to descend to the plains in the winters, in search for animal fodder. They lead a hard life but they are a tough and hardy lot. 96% of the people in the state live in the villages and depend upon farming for their livelihood. The climate here is cool, and healthy.