PLACES OF INTEREST
Chamba has a
number of temples, Palaces and stylised buildings. The striking objects of interest are
the old temples which exhibit architectural beauty of design and execution.
LAXMI NARAYAN TEMPLE: Laxmi
Narayana Temple, which is the main temple of Chamba town was built by Sahil Varman in the
10th century AD. The temple has been built in the Shikhara style. The temple consists of
Bimana i.e. Shikhara and GarbhGriha with a small antralya. Laxmi Narayana Temple has a
mandapa like structure also. The wooden Chhattries, the shell roof, atop the temple were
in response to the local climatic conditions as a protection against snowfall.
There are several other temples within the complex. The temple of Radha
krishna, Shiva Temple of Chandergupta and Gauri Shankar Temple are among these. The temple
of Laxmi Narayana continued to be embellished by the Rajas who succeeded to the throne of
Chamba. Raja Balabhadra Verma perched the metallic image of Garuda on a high pillar at the
main gate of the temple. Raja Chhatra Singh place gilded pinnacles on the temple tops in
1678 as a reaction against the orders of Aurangzeb to demolish the temple. Later Rajas
also added a shrine or two, thus enriching the complex.
CHAMPAVATI TEMPLE: This
temple is located behind the City Police Post and Treasury building. As mentioned earlier
the temple was built by Raja Sahil Varman in memory of his daughter Champavati who is
believed to have influenced her father to set-up Chamba at its present location. The
temple is in the Shikhara style with elaborate stone carving and the wheel roof. The size
of this temple is equivalent to the largest of the Laxmi Narayana Temple.
VAJRESHWARI TEMPLE: This ancient temple is
believed to be 1000 years old and is dedicated to Devi Vajreshwari-Goddess of lightning.
The temple is situated on the northern most corner of the town at the end of Jansali
Bazar. No historical record of the temple is available. The temple is built in the
Shikhara style with wooden Chhattries and stands on the platform. The Shikhara of the
temple is elaborately carved. There are two other minor temples on either side of the main
SUI MATA TEMPLE:
This temple can be divided into three parts which can physically spread apart. The temple
of Sui Mata is on an elevation of Shah Madar Hill. A steep flight of steps comes
down to a small pavilion just above the Saho road. From the Saho road the flight of steps
continues down to the main town a little to the east of Chauntra Mohalla. At the end of
the flight of steps there is another small pavilion with gargoyles with running water. The
flight of stone steps to the aqueduct from the Sarota stream was built by Sarda, the Rani
of Raja Jeet Singh (1794-1808). According to the legend when Raja Sahil Varman founded the
town and made this aqueduct for water supply to the town the water refused to flow. It was
ascribed to supernatural causes. It was prophasised that the spirit of the stream must be
propitiated, and the Brahmins, on being consulted replied that the victim must either be
the Rani or her son. Another tradition runs that the Raja himself had a dream in which he
was directed to offer up his son, where upon the Rani pleaded to be accepted as a
substitute. Thus on a appointed day the Rani along with her maidens was buried alive in a
grave. The legend goes on to say that when the grave was filled in the water began to
CHAMUNDA DEVI TEMPLE: This temple is located on
the spur of the Shah Madar Hill overlooking the town to its south east. The temple stands
on a raised platform. The temple has artistic carvings on its lintel, pillars and the
ceiling. Behind the main temple is a small shrine of Lord Shiva in the Shikhara style.
There is another platform in front of this temple where two very old peepul trees provide
shelter to the visitors. From this platform a bird's eye view of most of the land marks in
the town including Chaugan, Circuit House, most of the temples and river Ravi can be had.
The temple is being looked after by Archaeological Survey of India.
This temple can be approached by road from Chamba (3 kms). It lies on the
right hand side of the Chamba-Jhamwar road. School going children and pilgrims prefer to
take the flight of steps from Sapri to this temple. There steps were got constructed by
Raja Raj Singh (1764-1794 AD).
The temple is an ideal picnic spot throughout the year because it has an
easy approach and a commanding view.
HARI RAI TEMPLE: This temple is dedicated to
Lord Vishnu and dates back to 11th century. It was probably built by Salabahana. This
temple lies in the north-west corner of the main Chaugan, which had became the official
entrance to the town by the end of 19th C. A steep path leads to the old Shitla bridge,
which was constructed in the year 1894. The temple is built in Shikhara style and stands
on a stone platform. The Shikhara of the temple is finely carved. This is one of the major
old temples, which is away from the old township and the only one near the Chaugan.
CHAUGAN: The Chaugan is the heart and hub centre
of all activities in Chamba. Tradition is silent as to its use as a polo ground and the
name is etymologically distinct from Chaugan, the Persian name of Polo, being of Sanskrit
origin and meaning 'four-sided'. Initially the five Chaugan were a single patch of meadow.
In 1890s the leveling of the Chaugan was done. It became a public promenade and Cricket
ground for the British. Annual Minjar Mela is held in the Chaugan. Local people can be
seen promenading in the Chaugan till late night. Gaddies with their deras can also be seen
camping on the outskirts of this beautiful public promenade. Because of great pressure on
Chaugan the quality of its turf is fast deteriorating. Chaugan is closed for public after
Dusshera till April for maintenance.
AKHAND CHANDI PALACE:
Construction of this residential building of the Chamba family was started by Raja Umed
Singh sometimes between 1748-1764 AD. The place was rebuilt and renovated during the reign
of Raja Sham Singh with the help of British engineers. The Darbar Hall (Marshal Hall) was
built in 1879 by Capt. Marshal and the Zanana Mehal was added in the reign of Raja Bhuri
Singh. The subsequent additions and alterations clearly betray the Mughal and the British
influence. In 1958 the Palace building was sold by the descendants of the royal family to
the Himachal Government. The latter handed it over to the Education Department for the
purpose of starting a Government College and District Library. The beautiful structure of
the palace with its painted walls and glass work, ceiling, intricate woodwork are fast
deteriorating, since sufficient funds are not available for the maintenance of this
monument. The palace has a commanding view of the Chaugan, Laxmi Narayana Temple, Sui
Mata, Chamunda Devi Temple, Rang Mehal, Hari Rai Temple and Bansi Gopal Temple.
RANG MAHAL: One of the largest monuments, Rang
Mahal is located in Surara Mohalla. The foundation of Rang Mahal was laid by Raja Umed
Sing (1748-1764). The super structure of RangMahal, which is in brick belongs to a later
date with its southern portion built around 1860 by Raj Sri Singh. The architecture of
Rang Mahal is an amalgam of Mughal and British styles. This palace was the residence for a
branch of the ruling family. Its fort like looks justify its use as royal granary and
treasury which is on its western side. Once the palace must have hummed with activity of
busy servant and the frolics of the royal blood but now under the aegis of Handicrafts
Department of the State Government, most of the rooms of this palace are being used as
work-shops for making shoes, chapples and rumals. A number of decorative and colorful wall
painting have been removed and taken to National Museum of Delhi. Some of the wall
paintings and richly painted doors of the palace can be seen preserved in the Bhuri Singh
Museum of Chamba.
BHURI SINGH MUSEUM: Bhuri
Singh Museum at Chamba opened formally on 14-09-1908, it is named after Raja Bhuri Singh
who ruled Chamba from 1904 to 1919. Bhuri Singh donated his family collection of paintings
to the museum. The idea to open a public museum came from J. Ph. Vogel, an eminent
Indologist who was serving A.S.I. and who through an intensive exploration had discovered,
read and analyzed old inscriptions dispersed far and wide in the territory of Chamba
state. These inscriptions mostly in Sarda script shed important light on the mediaeval
history of Chamba. The prasastis of Sarahan, Devi-ri-kothi and mul Kihar are now preserved
in the museum.
SAHO: Twenty kms from Chamba is the village of
Saho on the right bank of Sal river. The village is situated on a high plateau of great
beauty. Saho is famous for its temple dedicated to Lord Chandra Shekhra i.e. the
moon-crowned God, Shiva. The temple is hidden behind the locality in a tree grove. Two
magnificent images of Shiva can be seen at the entrance and a huge Shivaling is enshrined
in the sanctum. Facing the temple is a life size Nandi bull carved with fine details.