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A mere 56 kms from Dalhousie, lies the little town of Chamba, perched on a plateau overhanging the river Ravi. The town has a rich cultural heritage as it was left untouched due to its isolation by the high mountains surrounding it.
Chamba was allowed to develop its own rich style of Pahari art and architecture over the centuries. Much of this heritage has effectively repulsed the onslaught of natural and man-made calamities and has thus made Chamba famous for its exquisite temples and handicrafts. A group of six ancient stone temples with tall vimanas, dedicated to both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, that are still intact date back to the 8th century AD. The richly carved Lakshminarayan temple is the oldest structure in this group.
Places to see
The Chaugan, a grassy meadow in the heart of the town is the centre of the cultural activities of Chamba. Each year in July/August, the Minjar fair is held here, when villagers dance to the sound of drums to invoke Gods and Goddesses. The Minjar fair is a weeklong harvest fair. The Hari Rai temple near the Chaugan dates back to the 11th century and is noted for its exquisite bronze image of Chaturmurti - the four armed Vishnu. The Chamunda Devi Temple, located at a distance of 1km from Chaugan, is known for its wooden carvings.
Katasan Devi Temple (30 kms)
A popular place of pilgrimage, the temple is situated at a distance of 30Kms from the tow and has a beautiful view of the Chamba Valley.
Sarol (11 km)
Known for its lovely landscaped gardens, an apiary and a sheep breeding centre, Sarol is a mere 11 Kms from Chamba and an interesting picnic spot.
Jhamwar (10 kms)
Located amid dense forests at a distance of 10 Kms from Chamba, Jhamwar is noted for its apple orchards (10 kms).
Salooni (56 kms)
Salooni has some breathtaking views of the snow-capped ranges. Just 56 km from Chamba.
Bhandal Valley (22 kms)
Bhandal Valley has a wealth of wildlife. It is just 22 km from Salooni- an ideal retreat.
Pangi Valley (137 kms)
If you are in the need for some adventure and willing to travel another 137 km north-east of Chamba, the wild & beautiful Pangi valley is the place for you. Noted for its beautiful people and colourful folk dances, the Pangi Valley lies amidst dense forests. From Killar, located in the deep gorge of the Chenab, there are exciting treks to Keylong, Mandi and to Kishtwar in Kashmir.
Bharmaur (56 kms)
Bharmaur is the base for the famed Manimahesh Yatra and for various marvelous treks in the region. It is situated at a distance of 56 Kms from Chamba valley. The road to Bharmaur has a spectacular view of the river for much its route. Capital of the Chamba Valley for over 400 years, Bharmaur is a fascinating little town surrounded by high ranges and houses many ancient temples. The region is home to the seminomadic Gaddis - the shepherds of this area.
Other important and interesting places around Bharmaur are Chhatrari (40 Kms), and Kugti.
Spring (May/June)- You would get lots of snow but roads are at worst, lots and lots of tourists and obviously a costly trip with escalated price.
Monsoon (July/Aug) - Ladakh/Lahaul/Spiti is historically there is no rain but traffic is high.
Autumn (Sep/Oct) - Roads are at the best but almost no snow enroute. Weatherwise I like this season personally the most, the weather after monsoon recedes remain crystal clear with least haze/dust/mist and gives excellent visibility for watching peaks.
Winter (Nov-April) - At your own risk without any tourists, excellent bargain and budget trip is likely. Also for special interest tours like say Chaddar trek of Zanskar, this is the time to go.