Spread across an area of 55,673 sq km, Himachal Pradesh shares its borders with Jammu and Kashmir in the north, Punjab in the west and south-west, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana in the south, Uttaranchal on south-east and China-occupied Tibet on the east. The geography of Himachal Pradesh is characterized by an uneven elevation, which ranges from 450 metres to 6500 metres above sea level. Thus it is no wonder that the state has huge climatic variations, ranging from hot and sub-humid tropical to cold glacial and alpine. In physiographic terms, the state can be demarcated into Outer Himalayas or Shivaliks, the Lesser Himalayas or the Central Zone and the Great Himalayan or the Northern Zone. The geography of Himachal Pradesh offers an awesome variety, everything from 'doab' land to snowcapped peaks and high altitude deserts. The state has 38 percent of its area under forest cover. Himachal Pradesh is known for the natural beauty of its forests, rivers, valleys, hills, apple orchards and dales, and has a rich flora and a wide variety of wildlife too.
Despite its paucity of mineral resources, Himachal Pradesh has a thriving economy. Though the fulcrum of the business and economy of Himachal Pradesh is agriculture, which employs more than 70 percent of its labour force, and contributes 45 percent to its net domestic product, its industrial sector is also far from being passive. Handicrafts and electronics are the principal industries of the state, which is very rich in hydel resources, and doesn't face any electricity problems. In terms of per capita income, Himachal Pradesh ranks fourth among the states of the Indian union.
The history of Himachal Pradesh reflects a varied and culturally rich past. It has been subjected to various invasions, and consequently cultural influences, which has in turn imbued the culture of Himachal Pradesh with a pluralistic character. The region of Himachal Pradesh, at one point of time, comprised of a number of small kingdoms and states whose rulers were responsible for the construction of a number of palaces and temples, each one distinct in its own way and offering an insight into the art and architecture of that particular region. In the middle of the 19th century, Himachal Pradesh came under the British control and remained there till India's attainment of independence in 1947. Himachal Pradesh became a centrally administered territory on 15 April 1948, with the integration of 31 hilly states, which acceded to the Government of India. It graduated to a union territory in 1956, and attained statehood in 1971.
Today Himachal Pradesh as a state is a pot pouri of different cultural and ethnic groups. Be it their handicrafts, dresses, music, language or cuisine, every valley and region of the state displays some unique trait about the vibrant society of Himachal Pradesh, which is a fascinating cultural mosaic waiting to be explored. The handicrafts of Himachal Pradesh are simply exquisite and comprise wonderful exports of the cultural legacy of this hilly state, whereas the assorted cuisines of HImachal Pradesh tastes truly great along with the warmth and helpings of hospitality of Himachal people. The Himachal Pradesh cuisine shows Punjabi and Tibetan influence.
The state of Himachal Pradesh has many colourful fairs and festivals to celebrate throughout the year. The festivities and dances of Himachal Pradesh are tourist attractions in themselves, which infuse exuberant hues to the wonderful experience of tourism of Himachal Pradesh, that otherwise should normally be characterized by a celebration of nature, and indulging in the myriad options of adventure sports of Himachal Pradesh. The dance and music of Himachal Pradesh is mainly religion-oriented where Gods are invoked during the festivals by singing and dancing.
The best time to visit the state is during the summer months, basically from April to July and again from September to November. A lot of people visit Himachal in the winters too, for exploring the numerous opportunities the state offers for winter sports.
Last Updated On: 2011/07/06