Lahaul & Spiti Travel Guide

Referred to as dev bhoomi or "Land of God", Himachal Pradesh is bordered by Jammu and Kashmir on the north, Punjab on the west, Uttar Pradesh on the south and Uttaranchal on the east. The word "Himachal" means the abode of snow. Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh and the total area of the state is 55,673 square km. The state is covered with immense natural beauty and is, undoubtedly, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. A majority of the area is mountainous with lofty ranges, deep valleys, swaying waterfalls and lush greenery. The climate varies extremely from one place to the other, providing heavy rainfalls to some area and no rainfall to others. Being high in altitude, snowfall is a common sight in most parts of the state. There are 12 districts in the state which are further subdivided into blocks and towns and villages for administrative convenience. Himachal Pradesh is known to be the second least corrupt state in the country. Owing to the huge production of apples, Himachal Pradesh is also known as the 'State of Apples'.

Himachal Pradesh has a rich history because it has been inhabited by several clans of people at different ages from the beginning of civilization. The earliest of all were the people from the Indus Valley civilization, during the second and third millennium BC, and they came here from Gangetic plains only to live life more peacefully. Soon, the Mongolians occupied the region and they were followed by the Aryans. According to the Indian epics, Himachal Pradesh was a conglomeration of several small republics or Janpadas, each constituting a state as well as a cultural unit. Then came the Mughals and kings like Mahmud Ghaznavi, Sikandar Lodi, Timur, etc had conquered many places of the state to establish their supremacy.

After their kingdom started declining, the Gorkhas captured the land but ended up losing the territory to the British in the Anglo-Gorkha war. The British were completely smitten by the sheer beauty of the area and continued with their supremacy over the place from 1858 to 1914. Post-Independence, 30 princely states of the area were brought together to form Himachal Pradesh in 1948. When Punjab got geographically reorganised, some parts were included in the latter. In 1971, Himachal Pradesh emerged as the 18th state of the Indian Union.

Himachal Pradesh is one state that has transformed itself from being the most backward state to one of the most advanced states in the country. Around 50 percent of the economy of the state comes from agriculture, which is also the primary source of income as well as employment among the inhabitants. Rice, wheat, barley and maize are a few crops that are mainly grown all across the state. Being situated in the lap of the Himalayas, Himachal has been blessed with acres of fertile lands suitable for the cultivation of fruits, which is a boon for the state. Apple is one of the fruits whose cultivation earns around Rs 300 crore for the state annually. Other fruits that can be cultivated here are figs, olives, hops, nuts, mushrooms, saffron and sarda melons. Ancillary Horticulture produces honey, and flowers for the state as well. Tourism is also a source of income for the localities which adds much to the economic growth of the state. The abundant availability of electricity has encouraged the establishment of several small scale industries. The pollution-free climate of the state has helped to develop several electronic complexes in the state which is also a reason why rapid economic growth of the state has become a reality today.

The state is divided into 12 districts, 75 tehsils, 52 subdivisions, 75 blocks and almost more than 20000 villages and 57 towns. Being a post-Independence creation, the legislative assembly of Himachal Pradesh doesn't have any pre-constitution. However, the unicameral legislature of the state has 68 seats with almost 14 house committee at the assembly. It has 4 Lok Sabha constituencies and for Rajya Sabha, there are 3 constituencies. Among political parties, only the Indian National Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have alternately been able to establish their respective governments in Himachal Pradesh. Like all other Indian states, the Chief Minister has the ultimate powers in the state, and controls all the major operations of the government.