Largest city :
109/km² (282/sq mi)
25 January 1971
Himachal Pradesh is a state in the north-west of India. Himachal Pradesh
is spread over 55,670 square kilometres (21,549 sq miles) and is bordered by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir on north, Punjab on west and south-west, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on south, Uttarakhand on south-east and by Tibet area of China on the east. The literal meaning of Himachal Pradesh is Land of snowy mountains.
Himachal Pradesh was also known as Deva Bhoomi (the land of the gods). The Aryan influence in the region dates back to the period before the Rigveda. After the Anglo Gorkha war, the British colonial government came into power. It was initially in Punjab, except Siba State of Punjab Hills, under the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh till 1857  In 1950 Himachal was declared as the union territory but after State of Himachal Pradesh Act 1971 Himchal emerged as the 18th state of Indian Union.
The state is located in altitudes ranging from 450 metres (1,476 ft) to 6,500 metres (21,325 ft) above sea level. The state capital is Shimla (formerly British India's summer capital under the name Simla); other major towns include Una, Solan, Dharamsala, Kangra, Mandi, Chamba, Hamirpur, Dalhousie and Manali.
The economy of Himachal Pradesh is currently the third fastest growing economy in Inida. Himachal Pradesh has one of the highest per capita incomes of any state in India. Due to the abundance of perennial rivers, Himachal also sells hydro electricity to other states such as Delhi, Punjab & Rajasthan. The economy of the state is highly dependent upon three sources i.e. Hydel power, tourism and agriculture. 95% of the state population constitutes of Hindus. The major communities are of Brahmins, Rajputs, Kannets, Rathis and Kolis. As per the survey conducted in 2005 by Transparency International Himachal Pradesh is ranked second least corrupt state in the country after Kerala.
The history of Himachal Pradesh dates back to the time when the Indus valley civilisation flourished i.e. between the time period of 2250 and 1750 B.C. From the pre historic time it was inhabited by tribes like the Koilis, Halis, Dagis, Dhaugris, Dasa, Khasas, Kinnars and Kirats. During the Vedic period, several small republics known as "Janapada" existed which were later conquered by the Gupta Empire. After a brief period of supremacy by King Harshvardhana, the region was once again divided into several local powers headed by chieftains, including some Rajput principalities. These kingdoms enjoyed a large degree of independence and were invaded by Delhi Sultanate a number of times.
Mahmud Ghaznavi conquered Kangra at the beginning of the 10th century. Timur and Sikander Lodi also marched through the lower hills of the state and captured a number of forts and fought many battles.
The Gorkhas, a martial tribe came to power in Nepal in the year 1768. They consolidated their military power and began to expand their territory. Gradually the Gorkhas annexed Sirmour and Shimla. With the leadership of Amar Singh Thapa, Gorkhas laid siege to Kangra. They managed to defeat Sansar Chand, the ruler of kangra, in 1806 with the help of many provincial chiefs. However Gorkhas could not capture Kangra fort which came under Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in 1809. After the defeat the Gorkhas began to expand towards the south of the state. However, Raja Ram Singh, Raja of Siba State re-captured the fort of Siba from the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Samvat 1846.
Raja Ram Sngh of Siba caprured the for of Siba during the Anglo-Sikh war. They came into direct conflict with the British along the tarai belt and were eventually expelled from the provinces of the Satluj by the british. Thus British gradually emerged as the paramount powers.The revolt of 1857 or first Indian war of independence resulted due to the increasing number of unattended political, social, economic, religious and military grievances against the British government. People of the hill states were not politically alive as the people in other parts of the country. They remained more or less inactive and so did their rulers with the exception of Bushahr. Some of them even rendered help to the British government during the revolt. Among them were the rulers of Chamba, Bilaspur, Bhagal and Dhami. The rulers of Bushars rather acted in a manner hostile to the interests of British.
The British territories in the hill came under British Crown after Queen Victoria's proclamation of 1858. The states of Chamba, Mandi and Bilaspur made good progress in many fields during the British rule. During the first world war, virtually all rulers of the hill states remained loyal and contributed to the British war effort both in the form of men and materials. Amongst these were the states of Kangra, Jaswan,Datarpur,Guler, Nurpur, Chamba, Suket, Mandi and Bilaspur.
After independence the Chief Commissioner's province of H.P. came into being on 15 April 1948. Himachal became a part C state on 26 January 1950 with the implementation of the Constitution of India. Himachal Pradesh became Union Territory on 1 November 1956. On 18 December 1970 the State of Himachal Pradesh Act was passed by Parliament and the new state came into being on 25 January 1971. Thus Himachal emerged as the eighteenth state of Indian Union.
Himachal is situated in the interiors of western Himalayas. The state covers an area of 55,780 kilometres (34,660 mi). It is a mountainous state with elevation ranging from about 350 metres (1,148 ft) to 6,000 metres (19,685 ft) above the sea level. Shimla is the state capital. There is great variation in the climatic conditions of Himachal due to extreme variation in elevation i.e. 450 metres (1,476 ft) to 6,500 metres (21,325 ft). The climate varies from hot and sub-humid tropical (450 metres (1,476 ft) to 900 metres (2,953 ft) in the southern tracts, warm and temperate (900 metres (2,953 ft) to 1,800 metres (5,906 ft)), cool and temperate (1,900 metres (6,234 ft) to 2,400 metres (7,874 ft) and cold alpine and glacial (2,400 metres (7,874 ft) to 4,800 metres (15,748 ft)) in the northern and eastern mountain ranges with more elevation. The state has areas like Dharamsala that receive very heavy rainfall, as well as those like Lahaul and Spiti that are cold and almost rainless. Broadly Himachal experience three seasons; hot weather season, cold weather season and rainy season. Summer lasts from mid April till the end of June and most parts become very hot (except in alpine zone which experience mild summer) with the average temperature ranging from 28 °C (82 °F) to 32 °C (90 °F). Winter lasts from late November till mid March. Snowfall is common in alpine tracts (generally above 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) i.e. in the Higher and Trans-Himalayan region).
The drainage system of Himachal is composed both of rivers and glaciers. Himalayan rivers criss-cross the entire mountain chain. In fact the rivers are older than the mountain system. Himachal Pradesh provides water to both the Indus and Ganges basins. The drainage systems of the region are the Chandra Bhaga or the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej and the Yamuna. These rivers are perennial and are fed by snow and rainfall. They are protected by an extensive cover of natural vegetation.
Flora and fauna
Kasauli Hill Station
Himachal Pradesh has a very rich variety of flora and fauna due to abundant and comfortable environment. It has been estimated that 68% of the land area is covered with forests. The southern tracts are dominated by sal, sisham, chir pine, dry deciduous and moist broad-leafed forests. The temperate region grows oaks, deodar, blue pine, fir and spruce. In the uppermost region, trees are sturdy with a vast network of roots. Alders, birches, rhododendrons and moist alpine scrubs are there as the regional vegetation. The rhododendrons can be seen along the hillsides around Shimla from March to May.
Himachal is also said to be the fruit bowl of the country with orchards scattered all over the place. Meadows and pastures are also seen clinging to steep slopes. After the winter season, the hillsides and orchards bloom with wild flowers, while gladiolas, carnations, marigolds, roses, chrysanthemums, tulips and lilies are carefully cultivated. The state government is gearing up to make Himachal Pradesh as the flower basket of the world.
Himachal Pradesh is a well known habitat to a variety of animals. There are around 1200 bird and 359 animal species in the state. This includes the leopards, ghoral, musk deer (the state animal) and monal, (the state bird). It has 12 major national parks and sanctuaries – the largest number in the Himalayan region. The Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu district was created to conserve the flora and fauna of the main Himalayan range, while the Pin Valley National Park to conserve the flora and fauna of the cold desert.
Himachal was one of the few states that had remained largely untouched by external customs, largely due to its difficult terrain. With the technological advancements the state has changed very rapidly.
Himachal Pradesh is also a multireligional, multicultural as well as multilingual state like any other Indian states. Some of the most commonly spoken languages includes Hindi, Punjabi, Pahari, Dogri, Kangri and Kinnauri. The Hindu caste communities residing in Himachal include the Brahmins, Rajputs, Kannets, Rathis and Kolis. There are also tribal population in the state which mainly comprise Gaddis, Kinnars, Gujjars, Pangawals and Lahaulis.
Himachal is well known for its handicrafts. The carpets, leather works, shawls, paintings, metalware, woodwork and paintings are worth appreciating. Pashmina shawl is one of the product which is highly in demand not only in Himachal but all over the country. Himachali caps are also famous art work of the people.
Lahaul & Spiti
Local music and dance reflects the cultural identity of the state. Through their dance and music, they entreat their gods during local festivals and other special occasions.
Apart from the fairs and festivals that are celebrated all over India, there are number of other fairs and festivals also that are of great significance to Himachal Pradesh.
Shimla, the state capital is home to Asia's only natural Ice skating rink.
The day to day food of Himachalis is very similar to the rest of the north India. They too have lentil, broth, rice, vegetables and bread. As compared to other states in north India non vegetarian is more preferred. Some of the specialities of Himachal include Pateer, Chouck, Bhagjery, Patrode, Beduan and chutney of Til.
Famous people associated with Himachal include English author Rudyard Kipling, Satyananda Stokes who introduced apple in the region, Indian film personalities Dalip Singh Rana, Anupam Kher, Preity Zinta, Amrish Puri (who studied here), and Prem Chopra (brought up here), economist and former vice-president of World Bank Shahid Javed Burki, Sufi teacher and sage Idries Shah, ornithologist Allan Octavian Hume (had his home here), and former general of Pakistan Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who studied here.