Major Characteristics of the District Chamba – Himachal Pradesh

By | July 1, 2020

Chamba district is full of interest to Archaeologists, Sociologists, Anthropologists and Scholars.

Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Husbandry plays an important role in the economic condition of the majority of population in the district.

Chamba is famous for the magnificence of its scenery, sparkling streams, lakes, meadows and lush green forest of deodar.

The district is rich in wildlife.

A splendid artistic heritage of the district includes fine temple architecture, beautiful miniature paintings and exquisite embroided Chamba rumals.

Chamba’s scenic beauty makes it an ideal holiday retreat for tourists.

Chamba district is full of fairs and festivals.

Another attraction is the Bhuri singh Museum, which is a rich-store of Chamba’s cultural heritage and house an excellent collection of paintings.

Manimahesh lake is the famous religious place in the district.

Dalhousie, Chamba, Khajiar are important tourist places.

Chamba is known for Chamba footwears.

All the important places are linked with motorable road.

The commonly spoken language is Chambeali and western Pahari.

In urban areas, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi are commonly spoken by all.

Of all the fairs of Chamba district, Minjar fair is the most popular.

Several dishes are prepared during the festival season.

Maize and wheat are the staple food of the people.

In the construction of the houses, timber and dressed stones are used in great quantity due to its easy availability.


  • The population of Chamba district is predominantly Hindus and next come the Mohammadans followed by the Sikhs.
  • The Jains and the Christians constitute a negligible proportion of the district population.
  • Some portion of the original inhabitants has come from the plains of Punjab.
  • Among the Hindus, mention may be made of Rajputs, Kanets, and Brahmins etc.
  • Many of the Rajputs are most probably the descendants of the invaders from the plains.
  • Numerically they constitute a small community.
  • Rajputs occupied a prominent position in the state before its integration with Himachal Pradesh in 1948.
  • They are known as Mian’s, Thakur’s, Jagirdar’s, Rathi’s and Rana’s.
  • Brahmins mostly migrated to the area in the early period of the history as priests and religious devotees.
  • The Gaddi Brahmins profess that their ancestors came from Delhi to Brahmaur during the time of Raja Ajay Varman A.D. 780-800.
  • Rajputs and Kanets though originally two distinct communities, but, with the passage of time have become one through common customs, habits and marital relations.
  • Besides, Scheduled Castes which are mainly Koli’s, Dumna’s, Lohar’s, Badhi’s are also found all over the district.
  • In addition, the Scheduled Tribes mainly consisting of Gujjar’s and Gaddi’s are also found in the district.


  • The Gaddis are a separate community.
  • The term Gaddi is a generic name.
  • Brahmins, Rajputs, Khatris, Thakurs and Rathis are covered under this term.
  • They are found mostly in Brahmaur, Pangi Tahsils, Holi and Sihunta sub-Tahsils of the district.
  • It is believed that Gaddi community originally belonged to the plains.
  • Due to religious atrocities during the regime of Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor, they migrated to Brahmaur.
  • There is a local saying “Ujjaria Lahore te basiya Brahmaur” which means that Brahmaur was populated by persons who ran away form Lahore.


  • A limited number of Gujjar families residing in the district are permanent inhabitants and are found in Chaurah, Chamba and Bhattiyat Tahsils and Saluni sub-Tehsil.
  • Some of the Gujjars also migrated to the district who come during summer to graze their cattle on high pastures and move down to the plains before winter.
  • Their main occupation is rearing of cattle.
  • The marriages are restricted within their own community and they are mostly uneducated.


  • They also fall under the category of Scheduled Tribes.
  • They generally live within Pangi Tahsil in the parganas of Kilar, Sach and Dharwas and are mainly engaged in agricultural activities. Bhots, another Scheduled Tribes community, are also found in Pangi Tahsil and are mainly residing in the upper reaches of the Tehsil.


  • The language commonly spoken in the district is western Pahari in 5 distinct dialects.
  • Of these, Chambeali is spoken in Chamba town and its neighbourhood over a considerable area extending to the whole of Chamba Tahsil.
  • Gaddi or Brahmauri is being spoken in the upper Ravi valley comprising of Brahmaur Tahsil.
  • Bhattiyali is the dialect of Bhattiyat Tahsil and Sihunta sub-Tahsil and Chaurahi is being spoken in Chaurah Tahsil and Saluni sub-Tahsil and some villages of Chamba Tahsil.
  • Pangwali is being spoken in the Pangi Tahsil except for a few villages where the inhabitants are Bhots, who speak a language which is overwhelmingly akin to Tibetans.
  • Chambeali, in modified form, is the only dialect used in writing, but, is less in use now.
  • During the state period, all the official business with the parganas used to be conducted in Tankri script using Chambeali.
  • But with the spread of modern education, techniques and electronic gagets, the use of Tankri has totally been extinguished. English and Hindi has become the official as well as a business language. Use of computers, lap-tops and inter-net services is spreading rapidly.
  • In the urban areas, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi is commonly spoken by all.
  • The persons displaced from Parachinar now in Pakistan speak Pashto which is confined to their own community.
  • During the regime of Rajas the Tankri script which is believed to have been derived from the Sharada script was much in use.
  • For a number of years, Urdu in the Arabic script was the court language in Chamba.
  • But after the independence, English and Hindi have become the official languages.

Food & Dress:

  • Maize and wheat are the staple food of the people.
  • They also take rice occasionally. It is also being commonly used in Chamba and Bhattiyat Tahsils, where it is grown in abundance.
  • In Brahmaur and Pangi Tahsils, Cheena and inferior types of millets are used.
  • Villagers take butter, milk and are very fond of curry.
  • Mustard oil is used for the preparation of vegetables but on ceremonial occasions ghee is used.
  • In Pangi and Brahmaur Tehsils which remain under snow for about 6 months, people consume liquor locally distilled.
  • Many women also drink though not in the public as a rule.
  • The common man can not afford but include meat in his diet except on special occasions.
  • With the passage of time Desi Ghee is being replaced by hydrogenated vegetable oils and use of tea is also becoming popular.
  • The food is generally taken four times a day i.e. Nawari which corresponds to the breakfast and consists of chapatti taken with sag or chhach. Kalwar is akin to lunch and consists of maize or wheat chapattis taken with vegetable or lassi.
  • Arehni which is taken in the afternoon resembles with kalwar. Biali corresponds to the dinner and consists of rice or wheat/maize chapattis taken with dal or vegetable.
  • With the opening of free-market packed food items, the latest varieties of readymade clothes and garments and footwears are easily available in urban as well as predominant rural markets of the district.
  • Mostly woollen garments are worn. Cotton turban, home spun and locally woven patti pyjama and coat is the typical dress of the Chamba people.
  • A change in the traditional dress has been noticed both in the rural and urban areas.
  • ‘Patti pyjamas’ and coats are being replaced by trousers and bushirts.
  • Women wear ‘kurta’ or Panjabi ‘kameez’ and ‘salwar’.
  • They put on nylon or other synthetic cloth ‘dupatta’ called ‘chadru’.
  • In the areas of Brahmaur, Chaurah Tahsils and Saluni sub-Tehsil, people mostly wear woollen coats.
  • Men use the chola and the ‘dora’.
  • The common head dress of the Chaurah and Pangi women is ‘joji’.
  • Cotton or synthetic colourful shirts and woollen ‘pattu’ tied with a cotton piece around the waist are the important items of dress for Chaurah women.
  • In Pangi Tehsil, women put on black woollen ‘churidar pyjama cholan’, ‘ kameri’, a full size shirt, ‘joji’ or ‘chadru’.
  • On festive occasions people put on new clothes and are heavily loaded with ornaments.

Contribution of the District

  • Tourism is the single largest important industry in Himachal Pradesh and Chamba is one of the districts which by and large attract tourists from varied places of the country as well as of foreign lands.
  • Chamba with its sparkling streams, meadows and lush green forests of deodar, is considered as one of the most beautiful valleys in Himachal Pradesh.
  • Chamba has allowed over centuries to develop its own rich style of Pahari art and architecture, metal craft, wood and stone carving.
  • Its folk dances (Dandaras and Ghurai), it’s folk songs, miniature paintings, embroidered Rumal, its Chukh (a chilly pickle) and its Chappals (footwear) all contain special appeal.
  • Chamba is also known for the splendour of its temples and its exquisite handicrafts.
  • It is a common sight to see the Tribal Gaddi people sitting beside log-fires with friends and relatives in winter evening around Chowgan of Chamba town which take one back into vintage era.
  • An iota of its cultural heritage is displayed in Bhuri Singh Museum for the sake of help and information to tourist.
  • Chamba has also made its name in the list of hydro power producing districts of the state.
  • Chamba has also produced many distinguished personalities who have brought laurels to the state with excellent performance in their respective fields.
  • In the field of sports, district too has made significant contribution by producing national and international players. Sh. Virender Singh Thapa is an eminent boxer who participated in Olympic games of 1980, Asian and Common Wealth Games. He won gold medal in boxing in Asiad Games held in 1980.
  • Another sports personality is Sh. Rajiv Nair who immensely contributed for development of the cricket in the State and participated in many league matches in India and outside the country.
  • Number of craftspersons has received National Awards in the field of handicrafts. Smt.
  • Maheshi Devi, Smt. Kamla Nayyar and Smt. Lalita Waqil have achieved a National Award in the field of embroidery work (Chamba Rumal), S/Sh. Parkash Chand, Sohan Singh and Hakam Singh in the field of metal craft, Sh. Vijay Sharma in the field of painting and Sh. Mohamd Latif Malik in the field of wood carving.

Read more: History of District Chamba

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