Popularly known as the Devbhumi – "Land of the Gods", Himachal Pradesh is a beautiful hill state in India, nestles in north-west region of western Himalayas. The state is landlocked with the Tibetan plateau to the east, Jammu and Kashmir to the north, and the Punjab to the west. However, the state stands apart from its neighbours in terms of its sheer topographic diversity and breathtaking pristine natural beauty. From vast tracts of high-altitude Trans-Himalayan desert to dense green deodar forests, from apple orchards to cultivated terraces, from snow capped high Himalayan mountain ranges to snow fed lakes and gushing rivers.
Himachal Pradesh is situated in the northern region in the heart of the western Himalayas. The word Himachal means the land of the snows. This state is bordered by Jammu and Kashmir in the north, Uttar Pradesh in the south-east, China in the east, Haryana in the south and Punjab in the west and south-west. Shimla, a beautiful hill station is the state capital of the Himachal Pradesh and was the summer capital of the British Empire in India. It is veiled from the plains by the Shivalik range of mountains. The physiographic divisions from south to north are the outer Himalayas or the Shivaliks, the lesser Himalayas or the central zone and the great Himalayan and Zanskar or the northern zone. The state of Himachal Pradesh is divided into twelve districts, which are Bilaspur, Chamba, Hamirpur, Kangra, Kinnaur, Kullu, Lahual Spiti, Mandi, Shimla, Sirmaur, Solan and Una. It abounds in exotic valleys, green hill slopes, snow-capped peaks and gushing rivers and streams
About 2 million years ago some of the people lived in the foothills of Himachal Pradesh, mainly in the Bangana valley of Kangra, Sirsa valley of Nalagarh and Markanda valley of Sirmour. These people belonged to the Indus valley civilization and pushed the Kolorians towards north. They moved to the hills of Himachal Pradesh where they could live peacefully and preserve their way of life. In the Vedas they have been referred to as Dasas. Later on the Aryans laid the base of history and culture of Himachal Pradesh. In the later period, the hill chieftains accepted the rule under the Mauryan empire, the Kaushans, the Guptas and Kanauj rulers. During the Mughal period, the Rajas of the hill states made some mutually agreed arrangements which governed their relations. In the 19th century, Ranjit Singh dominated some of the states. When the British came, they defeated Gorkhas and entered into treaties with some Rajas and captured the kingdoms of others. This situation remained unchanged till 1947. After Independence, 30 princely states of the area were united and Himachal Pradesh was formed on 15th April, 1948. With the recognition of Punjab on 1st November, 1966, certain areas belonging to it were also included in Himachal Pradesh. On 25th January, 1971, Himachal Pradesh was made a full-fledged state.
The state of Himachal Pradesh is situated in the western Himalayas and well surrounded by the several high mountains, many of which have still not been scaled, streams and glaciers. The various streams race through deep boulder-strewn gorges and valleys of considerable beauty. The state can be broadly divided by its valleys that hold most of the existing tourist destinations. Some of these valleys are the Kangra valley, Chamba valley, Pangi valley, the Lahaul and Spiti valleys in the Trans
Himalaya, Kinnaur valley, Parvati valley, Giri valley and the Kullu valley. Some of the rivers which flow through these valleys are Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Parbati. Some of the major lakes are Renuka, Rewalsar, Khajjiar, Dal, Beas Kund, Dasaur, Brighu, Prashar, Mani Mahesh, Chander Tal, Suraj Tal, Kareri, Sreolsar, Gobind Sagar, Nako.
The rich culture, tradition, warm and hospitable people, diverse climate and topography offers a variety of fairs, festivals and celebrations in Himachal. About 2000 deities are worshipped in Himachal and different fairs and festivals are held in their honour. Some of the fairs and festivals which are celebrated in Himachal are Baisakhi, Lohri, Himachal's Winter Carnival, Holi, Gugga fair, Fullaich Festival and Dussehra
Himachal Pradesh has a different type of topography, climate and forest cover due to which it has been gifted with a vast variety of flora and fauna. Out of the total geographical area of 55,670 square km, the forest area as per legal classification is 37691 square km. The state Animal is Snow Leopard. The state Bird is Western Tragopan (Jujurana) and the State Flower is Pink Rhododendron. There are about 32 wildlife sanctuaries, 2 national parks and 3 game reserves in Himachal Pradesh. Some of these wildlife sanctuaries are Simbalbara Sanctuary, Renuka Sanctuary, Maharana Pratap Sagar Sanctuary, Great Himalayan National Park