Chamba – Himachal Pradesh

Chamba, 55km from Dalhousie, is known for its ancient temples dating from the 10th century. Chamba is in a valley at 925m. It is a scenic bus ride from Dalhousie to Chamba. The week-long Minjar Festival, which celebrates the harvest of maize with singing and dancing, is in late July or early August. There is a parade where the gods are taken in procession headed by Sri Raghuvir.

The Tourist Office is in the Hotel Iravati, Court Rd. Mani Mahesh Travels, near the Lakshmi Narayan Temple, can arrange treks in the Chamba area.

Bhuri Singh Museum
This interesting museum has a good collection of Kangra and Basohli miniature paintings, murals that used to be in the Rang Mahal, sculptures and rumals. Rumals are silk embroidery cloth done by the women of Chamba. Common scenes on them are Radha and Krishna and Gaddi shepherds.

Rang Mahal
Inside the 18th century Rang Mahal (Old Palace) there are some impressive wall paintings. Inside the palace is the Himachal Emporium, which has rumals. You can also get Chamba shawls and other items. Open Mon to Sat 10 am to 5 pm.

Lakshmi Narayan Temple Complex
There are six temples built in the Shikhara style in this complex. Three are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and three to Lord Siva. The oldest and largest temple is dedicated to Lakshmi Narayan (Lord Vishnu). It was built around the 10th century and renovated in the 16th century. There are good sculptures on the temples including ones of Krishna with the gopis, Narasimha (Lord Vishnu as a half-lion), Vishnu and Lakshmi. There are carving of pastimes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Open daily 6 am to 12.30 pm and 3 to 8.30 pm.

Bajreswari Devi Temple
This temple, built in the Sikhara style, is dedicated to the goddess Bajreswari, who is a form of Durga. There are intricate carvings all over the temple. There is a deity of Undavi, the goddess of food, on the west side of the temple. There is a sculpture of Durga killing Mahishasura, the buffalo demon, in the back of the temple. You get to this temple by taking the path to the right, just before the end of the village.

Chamunda Devi Temple
This intricately carved wooden temple is dedicated to Durga in the form of Chamunda who rides on a lion. This temple is decorated with hundreds of brass bells and has some great views from it. On the ceiling are carvings of Siva with four arms and Krishna stealing butter. At the bottom of the steps leading to the temple there is a pillar that has the footprints of Chamunda enshrined. Behind this temple is an old temple dedicated to Lord Siva. It is a half-hour climb from the bus stand to reach the temple.

Sui Mata Temple
This small modern temple is dedicated to Sui Mata. There are paintings in the temple telling the story of how Sui Mata sacrificed her life for the residents of Chamba.

Harirai Temple
This 11th century stone Shikara-style temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There is a three-headed deity of Vishnu, which is made of eight different substances. This deity was stolen from the temple in April 1971, and was found by Interpol on a ship, moments before it was set to depart destined for the USA.

There are buses to Dalhousie (2½ hr, 6 am & 6 pm), Pathankot (6 hr, several daily), Brahmaur (3 hr, several daily), Khajiar (1 hr, 3 daily) and Dharamsala (10 hr, 3 daily).