Himachal Pradesh

Area :55,673 square kilometers.

Capital :Shimla

Population :60,70,305

Language :Hindi and Pahari (of various dialects).

Climate :There is great diversification in the climatic conditions of Himachal due to variation in elevation (450-6500mtrs). The year is divided into three seasons. Cold (October to February),hot (March to June) and rainy (July to September).

People :The Rajputs are in a majority in Himachal Pradesh. They are the descendants of immigrant Rajputs who came here to establish small princely states or who were driven to the hills by the Muslim invaders. The Brahmins,who were the priests of Rajputs are the second largest group. They have more influence in the lower hills than in the higher regions. The Ghirats are next in number. They are the descendants of Kirats according to some sources. They are farmers.

Mahajans and Soods,the business communities are sprinkled all over. Chahang and Saini are other castes where people are professional farmers. The Ahirs own windmills and catch fish. The Darai have settled along the river Beas. Their forefathers were boatmen. Lohar (ironsmiths),Tarkhan (carpenter),Nai (barbers),Dusali,Doomna,Chamar (cobblers) and Julahas (weavers) follow their paternal professions.

Economy :Himachal Pradesh is a state where agriculture contributes to about 45% to the net state domestic product. Agriculture is the main source of income and employment in Himachal. About 93% of the population in Himachal depend directly upon agriculture which provides direct employment to 71% of its people. The main cereals grown are wheat,maize,rice and barley.

Fruit cultivation is another field which has proved to be an economic boon to the farmers. Apples yield the maximum income.

Sericulture,handloom and tea are other industries that have lately been given particular attention. Silk industry is providing employment to a lot of people.

Culture :Dussehra is a festival that is celebrated in Himachal Pradesh with great fanfare at the temple of Raghunathji in the Kulu valley. During the 10 days celebration the traditional rituals,traditional Natti dances and folksongs are performed by the people of this region. Traders set up stalls at the fair held during this period,to sell woollen shawls and blankets and the traditional footwear,pullan,made from plant fibres and goats' hair.

Also a grand ice-skating carnival is held in Shimla around Christmas.
History : The early inhabitants of the Himachal region were nomadic tribes who eventually settled down to form tribal kingdoms ruled by chiefs or 'rajas' as they styled themselves. Later,more kingdoms were set up.

All these tiny states were constantly at war with each other never uniting even in the face of external aggression. As a result the various Himachal states were captured by other stronger Indian dynasties the Mauryas,the Kushans,the Guptas and the Mughals .

In the 19th century the British established their supremacy there. But when the British left in 1947,on 15 April 1948,31 princely states merged to form Himachal Pradesh.