A valley is a low area between hills or mountains typically with a river running through it. In geology, a valley or dale is a depression that is longer than it is wide. The terms U-shaped and V-shaped are descriptive terms of geography to characterize the form of valleys. Himachal is endowed with many magnificent valleys. The most prominent valleys are as mentioned below:
Chamba Valley or Ravi Valley (District Chamba):
- This valley is also known as the valley of Honey and Milk.
- It is famous for its medicinal herbs and varieties of flowers.
- Important settlements in this valley are Chamba, Dalhousie, Khajjiar, and Bharmaur.
- The people, who inhabit this valley, are called Chambial.
Pangi Valley (District Chamba):
- This valley is adjoining to the Chamba valley extending along with the Chenab river cuts through the Pir Panjal and offshoots of the main Himalayan range.
- This is one of the remotest and the most beautiful tracts of the western Himalayas.
Monkey Valley (District Chamba):
- This valley is in the Bharmaur area of district Chamba.
- In the past pilgrims used to cross this valley to reach Manimahesh Kailash.
- It was so tough to cross that people used to crawl like a monkey in this stretch and hence came to be known as ‘Bandar Ghati or Monkey valley’.
Chandra Valley (District Lahaul-Spiti):
- This valley is also known as Rangoli which is formed by river Chandra.
- Khoksar is the first village in this valley.
Bhaga Valley (District Lahaul-Spiti):
- This valley is also known as Gara or Punam which is formed by river Bhaga.
Chandra-Bhaga Valley or Pattan Valley (District Lahaul-Spiti):
- This valley is also called as Orchards and Granary of Lahaul-Spiti formed by the union of Chandra and Bhaga River.
Lahaul Valley (District Lahaul-Spiti):
- It lies to the north of the Pir Panjal and main Himalayan ranges
- It is made up of rivers Chandra and Bhaga till Tandi and Chenab from Tandi to Udaipur.
Spiti Valley (District Lahaul-Spiti):
- This valley is formed by river Spiti and is situated between the main Himalayan and Zaskar ranges.
- Kaza town is situated in this valley.
- Rudyard Kipling in his novel “Kim” described Spiti as “a world within a world” and a “place where the god lives”.
Lingti Valley (District Lahaul-Spiti):
- It is situated in eastern Spiti and is a living geological museum and is the longest (60km) and largest side valley of Spiti.
- It is famous for shale and fossils in a geological history dating back 250 million years.
Mulang Valley (District Lahaul-Spiti):
- This valley lies to the east of Baralacha Pass between the Chandra and Spiti rivers drainage basins.
Pin Valley (District Lahaul-Spiti):
- This valley is formed by river Pin, a tributary of river Spiti.
- It has jagged rocks and fossil-rich gravel bars make it a unique geological lab.
- The highest and lowest points in this valley are Pin Parvati Jot (5490 mts) and Mud Pharka (3355 mts) respectively.
Baspa or Sangla Valley (District Kinnaur):
- This is the most beautiful and romantic valley formed by river Baspa.
- ‘Chitkul’ (3437 mts) is the highest village in this valley.
- Chung Shakhago Pass lies at the head of this valley.
- Prominent vegetation in the upper parts of this valley is deodars, blue pines, firs and silver birch.
- Kamru and Sangla villages are situated on the right bank of river Baspa.
Other Valleys in Kinnaur District: Hangrang Valley, Rupa Valley, Mulgan or Mulgaon Valley.
Balh Valley or Sundernagar Valley (District Mandi):
- It is open broad dun type valley between an offshoot of the Shimla ridge in the North and Shivalik hills in the south.
- It stretches from Gutkar (North) to Sundernagar (south) and Baggi (east) to Galma (west).
- Suketi Khad separates this valley roughly into two parts.
- Indo-German agriculture project was started in this valley in November 1962 to promote mixed farming, dairying, horticulture, animal husbandry, manuring, and soil conservation.
Other Valleys in Mandi District: Chauntra valley (Jogindernagar), Chuhar valley, and Sandhol valley.
Kullu Valley (District Kullu):
- This valley is called as ‘Valley of the Gods’ formed by river Beas.
- This is a broad open valley sandwiched between the Pir Panjal, lowers Himalaya and great Himalayan ranges
- It is 75 km long and two to four km wide and ends near Rohtang Pass.
- This valley is believed to be a ‘vast lake’ once.
- Main attractions of this valley are Naggar Castle, Nehru Kund, Roerich Art Gallery, Hidimba Temple, Manu Temple, and the hot water springs.
Other Valleys in Kullu District: Seraj valley, and Parvati valley.
Pabbar Valley or Rohru Valley (District Shimla):
- This valley is drained by river Pabbar which originates from Chandra Nahan Lake.
- The valley stretches from Hatkoti to Tikri at the base of Chanshal.
- Andhra Khad, Pejore, and Shikri streams pass through this valley.
- Pabbar River is famous for Trout Fish, which was introduced in the river by Glover a British Chief Conservator of Forests in 1938-39.
Kiardadun or Paonta Valley (District Sirmaur):
- This valley is located in the Markanda and Dharthi ranges.
- River Yamuna separates it from Dehradun.
- A very large part (mostly plain) of this valley lies in Cis–Giri
- This valley is watered by Giri and Bata
- Till a century back this valley was a dense forest inhabited by wild animals. It was only during the time of Raja Shamsher Prakash that people settled in it.
- Two famous religious places in this valley are Sikh Gurudwara at Paonta Sahib and a Ram Temple.
Kunihar Valley (District Solan):
- This valley begins from Kuni Khad and extends up to Tukardia
- Before the formation of Himachal as a state, the valley was a part of Kunihar State with its headquarters at Hat-Kot.
Other Valleys in Solan District: Dun Valley, and Saproon Valley (famous for cereals and seasonal vegetables).
Kangra Valley (District Kangra):
- This is a dun type valley located between Dhauladhar range in the north and Shivalik range in the south.
- It starts near Mandi and extends up to Shahpur near Pathankot.
- C. Barnes wrote about this valley; No scenery, in my opinion, presents such sublime and delightful repose.
- This valley was once the abode of the Ice Age man as has been evidenced by the discovery of several Paleolithic hand tools in the area.
- Important towns in this valley are Baijnath, Palampur, Dharamshala, Kangra, Nurpur, Shahpur et al.
Bara Banghal Valley (District Kangra):
- It lies between the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges adjoining to Kangra valley.
- River Ravi rises from the slopes of this valley.
Dami Valley (District Bilaspur): It is situated between Bandla and Bahadurpur ranges at an elevation of 2500 feet.
Swan Valley (District Una): It is also known as Jaswan dun valley formed by River Swan (River of Sorrow) ranges from seven to fourteen kilometers long.