Every place in India comes with a unique history and legacy. Often known as the valley of milk and honey, Chamba also has the special Chaugan for curious travelers and tourists. If you want to take a holiday but don’t know where to go, Chamba should be your next holiday spot.
Located on the banks of Ravi, Chamba is in Chamba district. A valley town in Himachal Pradesh, Chamba has often been the town and place in Indian legends, stories, and myths. Its beauty, people, arts, crafts, and shopping has given it the aura and flavor that few other towns can boast of in India. Rumor has it that the valleys of Chamba are so thick and dense that tourists can often mistake day for night. Ravi, one of the 5 rivers from Punjab and reaching Pakistan flows thickly and loudly through Chamba, making it a sight for sore eyes. Jammu and Kashmir border Chamba to the north and the west while Ladakh lies to the northeast. Lahaul is situated east of Chamba and you can make a complete trip of Himachal with Chamba being a central point of rest and relaxation. Due to the extreme weather and the rough terrain, Chamba is accessible only between March-June every year. You can expect pleasant temperatures and cool winds in the valley once you visit. Tourists can travel by train, flight or road to Chamba. Flights are available from all major cities to Chandigarh, Jammu or Amritsar. You can even travel by train to Pathankot and then take a bus or cab to Chamba.
The town, valley, and district share the same name. A kingdom in its early days, Chamba remained a princely state till 1948 when it finally merged with India. The British style and architecture remain even today, dividing the town into an old city and new city. Palaces and temples built as early as 930 AD are a reminder of Chamba’s royal lineage and legacy. The 10th-century Champavati Temple (which gives the name to the town) is built with Kashmiri influence and intricate stone carvings. The terrain of the valley, the plains are often known as Chaugan provide a strong defense and cover to the monuments. Champavati is considered a holy place of pilgrimage for local tribes and Himachal citizens. Devoted to Goddess Durga, the temple has a large wheel on the rooftop making it unique and noteworthy among other monuments and structures.
Chaugan is a term used in Himachal for plains or four-sided ground in Sanskrit. Basically like a town centre, the Chaugan is a green ground surrounded by buildings, shops and the Akhand Chandi Palace on one side. The Chaugan in Chamba is considerably larger than other Chaugans as the British combined 5 grounds to make a single Chaugan! Designed to act like a promenade, with the river Ravi flowing closely, the Chaugan became the centre of Chamba. Tourists and travelers are entranced by the open, green space which is ideal to walk, hike or even enjoy a picnic. In summer when tourist season is at peak, the Chaugan sees flea markets and the Minjar Mela fair. The Minjar Mela fair is held to celebrate the win of the King of Chamba over a neighboring ruler. Often held in August, locals hold dances, ceremonies, celebrations, stalls and food carts to mark the day. You can buy local paintings known as Pahadi paintings that include miniatures and murals, traditional vegetarian footwear, clothing, metalware, beautifully embroidered shawls or handkerchiefs. The Chaugan in Chamba is also an excellent market for traditional jewelry made out of silver or gold. The Tibetan influence in Himachal can be seen in their arts and crafts sold at Chaugan.
The Chaugan in Chamba closes on the last day of Navratri, known as Dussehra. The maintenance and upkeep are performed from that month to April when it reopens to the public again.
Featured Photo by blackfog