Staff Correspondent

Union Tourism Minister Ambika Soni inaugurates weeklong celebrations

SHIMLA: Union Tourism Minister Ambika Soni on Friday inaugurated weeklong celebrations of the birth of Himachal Pradesh's historic hill town Chamba that has now completed 1,000 years of its existence.

The town stands on a plateau on the right bank of the Ravi valley and between Dhauladhar and Zanskar ranges south of the inner Himalayas. It was founded at the beginning of the 10th century by King Sahil Verman and a temple on the name of his daughter Champavati was made who attained the status of a goddess later and is worshiped to this day.

The culturally rich Chamba is also an important hill district of Himachal Pradesh comprising Pangi and Bharmaur tribal areas. It has attained international importance for its various art forms and brand items like "Chamba Rumal", "Chamba Paintings" and "Chamba Chappals", involving lots of local skill and handicrafts. It is famous for its other ancient temples including the Laxmi Narayan temple. The place is also well-known for its culinary proficiency in Himachal and outside.

The main town has a century-old Bhuri Singh Museum which came into existence on September 14, 1908, and was named after King Bhuri Singh who ruled this erstwhile independent princely State from 1904 to 1919. He donated his family collection of paintings to the museum. The embroidered Chamba-Rumals are related in style since their drawings were made by Pahari (Hill) painters and the embroidery was done by the household ladies.

The town has a big ground, "Chaugan", of the size of a football field in the middle which is the hub of all activities here. The millennium celebrations are also going on here.

Ms. Ambika Soni in her address said that new taxi services to the State would be started to boost tourism and the Archeological Survey of India would come forward to preserve the heritage monuments of Himachal.