Bilaspur district, Himachal Pradesh

Coordinates: 31°20′N 76°45′E / 31.33°N 76.75°E / 31.33; 76.75
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Bilaspur district
Top: Naina Deviji Temple
Bottom: Gobind Sagar, formed by the damming of the Sutlej
Location in Himachal Pradesh
Location in Himachal Pradesh
Map
Bilaspur district
Country India
State Himachal Pradesh
HeadquartersBilaspur
TehsilsGhumarwin,Naina devi,Jhandutta,
Area
 • Total1,167 km2 (451 sq mi)
Population
 (2011)
 • Total381,956
 • Density330/km2 (850/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+05:30 (IST)
Vehicle registrationHP-23, HP-24, HP-69, HP-89, HP-91
Websitehpbilaspur.nic.in

Bilaspur is a district of Himachal Pradesh, India. Its capital is in the town of Bilaspur. The district has an area of 1,167 km2, and a population of 381,956. As of 2011 it is the third least populous district of Himachal Pradesh (out of 12), after Lahul and Spiti and Kinnaur.[1]

The district has the famous Govind Sagar Lake on the Sutlej River which acts as the reservoir for the Bhakra and Nangal Dam project.

History[edit]

Princely flag of Bilaspur

The area that is now Bilaspur District was formerly known as Kahlur, a princely state of British India. The ruler acceded to the Government of India on 12 October 1948, and Bilaspur was made an Indian state under a chief commissioner. The state of Bilaspur was merged with Himachal Pradesh on 1 July 1954 and became Bilaspur District.

Bilaspur was the capital of a state founded in the 7th century, and known as Kahlur after its earlier capital, or as Bilaspur after its later capital. The ruling dynasty was Chandela Rajputs, who claimed descent from the rulers of Chanderi in present-day Madhya Pradesh. The town of Bilaspur was founded in 1663. The state later became a princely state of British India, and was under the authority of the British province of Punjab.

On 13 May 1665, Guru Tegh Bahadur went to Bilaspur to attend the mourning for Rajput Chandel King Raja Dip Chand of Bilaspur. There Rani Champa of Bilaspur gave the Guru a piece of land in her state. The land consisted of the villages of Lodhipur, Mianpur and Sahota. Here on the mound of Makhowal, Guru Tegh Bahadur raised a new habitation. The ground was broken on 19 June 1665, by Baba Gurditta Randhawa. The new village was named after the Guru's mother, Nanaki. Chakk Nanaki later became famous as Anandpur Sahib.

In 1932 state was made part of the newly created Punjab States Agency, and in 1936 the Punjab Hill States Agency was separated from the Punjab States Agency. India became independent in 1947, and on 12 October 1948 the ruler, HH Raja Sir Anand Chandel, the last ruler of the princely estate of Bilaspur acceded to the Government of India. Bilaspur became a separate state of India under a chief commissioner, and on 1 July 1954 Bilaspur state was made a district of Himachal Pradesh state by an act of the Indian Parliament. The historic town was submerged in 1954 when the Sutlej River was dammed to create the Govind Sagar, and a new town was built upslope of the old.

Most of the Rajputs in Bilaspur are Chandels, that is they belong to different branches of the ruling family. These families are numerous, and all enjoyed jagir pensions from state amounting in aggregate to Rs. 40,000 a year in 1933. They are called 'the Mian families', and the chief names are: Ajmerchandia, Kaliyanchandia, Tarahandia and Sultanchandia.[2]

Geography[edit]

The artificial Gobind Sagar lake, formed by the construction of the Bhakra Dam, is now one of the district's more prominent landforms.

Bilaspur district has a total area of 1,161 square kilometers, making it the smallest district in Himachal Pradesh. It covers the same territory as the princely state did in 1947, and there have been no changes in its boundaries since then.[3]

The district lies in the outer foothills of the Himalayas, at the point where they meet the Punjab plains. There are no major mountains in the district, and the overall elevation isn't especially high, but the terrain is very hilly. Flat land is restricted to narrow areas along rivers and streams. The main river in Bilaspur district is the Satluj, which flows through the middle of the district for about 90 km and divides it into two approximately equal parts. All the other streams in the district eventually flow to the Satluj.[3]

Since the construction of the Bhakra Dam, another major feature of the district is the Gobind Sagar lake. Its formation submerged about 30,000 acres of land belonging to 256 villages. 14 villages were completely submerged.[3]

Topography[edit]

The district's terrain is essentially a series of hills and valleys. There are no large plains, and flat land is mostly restricted to areas along streams. Elevation varies from 290 m above sea level at the lowest point to about 1,980 m at the highest point. In general, the lower areas are in the west, near the border with Punjab's Hoshiarpur district; while the higher areas are in the east, towards the border with Solan district.[3]

Hills[edit]

Hills surround Bilaspur district on all sides and dominate the local landscape. Combined with the Satluj river, these hills historically formed strong natural defenses. Seven main ranges of hills (known as dhars) stand out in particular, hence the region's historical nickname Sat-dhar-Kahlur — "Kahlur of the seven hills".[3]

Naina Devi hill[edit]
The hill below the town of Naina Devi

The Naina Devi range extends for 30 km and reaches a maximum altitude of about 1,100 m above sea level. Near Bhakra, the Satluj cuts through these hills in a gorge. A couple of old forts were built on these hills, including Kot Kahlur and Fatehpur (also known as "Satgarh", or "seven forts"). The area around Kot Kahlur features bamboo forest cover. Another landmark is the eponymous temple of Naina Devi.[3]

Kot hill[edit]

The Kot hill range is also about 30 km long; it runs from the village of Naghiar to the Baghpal jungle along the bank of the Satluj. Bamboo and chir pine forests grow on this range; bamboo especially in the Baghpal area. The highest point in the Kot range is the peak known as Kakrer; it reaches a height of 1,430 m. The name "Kot" is a reference to the Bachhretu fort built on these hills; another old fort is at Dagoga Malhot.[3]

Jhanjiar hill[edit]

The Ser khad divides the Jhanjiar range into two parts known by different names: Jhanjiar technically refers the northern part, while the southern part is known as Badol. The summit, which is on the Jhanjiar side, reaches 1,100 m above sea level. Also on this side are the ruins of a fort built by a raja of Kangra, as well as the Badaghat pine forest. The Badol side has a couple of distinct forest areas: the Samoh pine forest and the Ghaneri bamboo forest. This side is also home to the Devi Badoli and Guga Gherwin temples, as well as an old limestone quarry.[3]

Tiun hill[edit]

The Tiun range is about 10 km long and is divided into two parts: Tiun proper is the western part, and Sariun is the eastern part. Prominent landmarks on the Sariun side are the Sariun and Naurangarh forts, the Pir Bhiyanu and Haramba Devi temples, and the Malya forest (which is known as a place for sport hunting). The range's highest point is on the Sariun side; it reaches a height of 1,350 m. As for the Tiun side, it is home to the Tiun fort, the Sidh Gurunath temple, the Phasseti hill, and some bamboo forests.[3]

Bandla hill[edit]

The Bandla range is bisected by the Ali khad and, like Jhanjiar and Tiun, is considered two parts. Strictly speaking, Bandla is the part south of the Ali khad, while the northern part is called Barmenas. This range of hills is about 17 km long and the district capital, Bilaspur town, is located on its western slope. The summit is some 1,375 m above sea level.[3]

Bahadurpur hill[edit]

As with Bandla, the Bahadurpur hills are divided in two by the Ali khad. The northern part is called Tatoh and the southern part is called Bahadurpur. With a height of 1,980 m, Bahadurpur proper is the highest point in Bilaspur district. It also contains a small but dense patch of oak forest, the only one in the district, which grows on the ridge's northeastern side. The deodar is not native to the area, but it was introduced to the Bahadurpur area in the 1920s and it now grows alongside the oak trees. Another landmark on this hill is the Bahadurpur fort.[3]

Ratanpur hill[edit]

The Ratanpur hill range is 11 km long and reaches 1,230 m tall. It is the site of the Ratanpur fort.[3]

Valleys[edit]

Valleys in the district are fairly small and mostly restricted to the immediate vicinity of streams. However, they are especially important from a human perspective because they have the best farmland, and they are by far more extensively cultivated and more densely populated than the hills themselves.[3]

The Satluj valley has never been wide in this area, but patches of flat land exist all along its course through the district. The area downstream from Bilaspur used to have the most extensive of these, but since the construction of the Bhakra Dam much of the valley is underwater. The Chaunta valley, which is now submerged under Gobind Sagar, was an especially large section of the Satluj valley. Another important valley is the Danwin valley, which is between the Bandla and Bahadurpur hills and is about 10 km long and 5 km wide. This area is an important producer of various agricultural goods, particularly maize, rice, sugarcane, ginger, and wheat.[3]

Hydrology[edit]

Rivers[edit]

Rivers supply about 40% of the irrigation used in the district; the other 60% comes from springs.[3]

Satluj river[edit]
The Satluj is the most important river in Bilaspur district.

The Satluj is the main river in Bilaspur district. It enters the district at the village of Kasol in the northeast and flows for 90 km before exiting the district at the village of Neila in the southwest and continuing into Punjab. There are several bends in its course below Bilaspur. Its main left-bank tributaries (coming from the southeast) in the district are the Ali, Ghamrola, and Ghamber streams; its main right-bank tributaries (coming from the northwest) are the Moni and Ser.[3]

The Satluj is a deep and fast-flowing river, typically flowing at a rate of about 8 km/h. Its water is cold, and it is home to many fish. Its average width in the district is about 45 m. During the winter, between October and March, the river's water level is lower. Beginning in April, it rises again as snowmelt in the mountains supplies it with more water. The water rises even more during the rainy season.[3]

There are no fords on the Satluj in this district, so it must be crossed by other means. Two bridges span the Satluj in Bilaspur district, one at Kandror and the other at Salapar. These bridges were built to replace ones at Bhajwani and Dehar, respectively, which were both submerged below Gobind Sagar when the Bhakra Dam was completed. There are also several ferries: Kashnu, Uttapar, Chonta, Bhakra, Ghamber, Ali khad, Jewari, Kachlur, Pangwana, Oal, and Nakrana. Another means of crossing the river is by using inflated animal skins. On Gobind Sagar, these have been replaced by boats since they only work on water moving fast enough. Ferries and inflated animal skins are especially used during the winter months, when the water level is low.[3]

Ali stream[edit]

The Ali stream rises in neighboring Solan district and enters Bilaspur district near the villages of Kothi Harrar and Manothi. It traverses the district for 35 km before joining the Satluj at a point known as the Beri Ghat. This is about 3 km north of Bilaspur, between the villages of Kherian and Talwar. The Ali is a perennial stream, but since its headwaters generally don't receive snowfall, the stream's water level is usually low, especially in the summer. During the rainy season, though, it gets much larger so as to be impassable. In these conditions, people cross it by using inflated animal skins, as with the Satluj. There is also a bridge at Ghaghas, 14 km from Bilaspur.[3]

Ghamber khad[edit]

After arising in the Shimla hills, the Ghamber passes through the Sabathu and Bhagal regions before entering Bilaspur district at the village of Neri. It then traverses the district for 13 km before joining the Satluj near the villages of Dagran and Nerli. The Ghamber has a deep bed and is only sparingly used for irrigation. The Bilaspur-Nalagarh road crosses this stream. During the rainy season, the stream floods and becomes unfordable and traffic must be halted for hours at a time. Various fish live in the Ghamber, and it is a popular site for sport fishing. In general, the fish tend to be small (less than 10 lbs) for most of its course, but much larger ones can be caught closer to the confluence with the Satluj. At this end, the Ghamber is not fordable in any weather.[3]

Ser khad[edit]

Also known as the Sir or Seer khad, this stream is the largest right-bank tributary of the Satluj in the district. It originates in neighboring Mandi district and enters Bilaspur district at the village of Hatwar. Two other khads, the Sukar and Saryali, originate in Hamirpur district and drain part of western Bilaspur district before joining the Ser khad at Balghar. The Ser khad ultimately joins the Satluj between the villages of Seri and Matla, downstream from Bilaspur. It powers many water mills, but because of its deep bed it isn't useful for irrigation. In rainy weather, it runs so fast that it can't be forded.[3]

Lakes and tanks[edit]

A view of Gobind Sagar in the late afternoon

There are no natural lakes in Bilaspur district, but the artificial Gobind Sagar is one of the largest lakes in India. It stores a huge volume of water, which is used for both irrigation and electricity generation.[3] It is formed by the Bhakra Dam, which was completed in 1963. The lake is 90 km long and its total area is 168 km2. About 90% of this area belongs to Bilaspur district; the remainder belongs to Una district.[3] The lake's water level fluctuates. It is designated as a waterfowl refuge, and about 50 species of fish live in its waters. [4] Gobind Sagar is a popular tourist destination,[3] and it is also a site for various recreational activities like fishing, swimming, sailing, rowing, and water-skiing.[4]

Many tanks also exist in the district. In the local language, a tank is called a toba. Some of the more prominent tanks in the district are Riwalsar, near the village of Panol; the Jagat Khana tank, built in 1874 and with a capacity of 9,000 cubic meters; the Swarghat tank, also built in 1874 (which was a time of famine); the tanks at Naina Devi, Jamthal, and Kasol; and Toba Sanghwana ("the lion tank"), also called Toba Kolanwala ("the lotus tank") and with a capacity of 53,000 cubic meters.[3]

Springs[edit]

Various springs are scattered throughout the district. They provide an important source of water for drinking, irrigation, washing, and bathing. Some of them are considered sacred, or otherwise reputed to have medicinal properties. These include the Markand spring, near Bilaspur; the Luhnd spring, at the village of Dadrana near Swarghat; and the Bassi spring, at the village of Bassi. The Bassi spring, for example, draws pilgrims particularly during the summer and is the site of a fair.[3]

Ice and snow[edit]

Because of its relatively low elevation, Bilaspur district does not have any permanent snow fields or glaciers. Snow typically falls on the Bahadurpur range during the winter, but it usually melts in a week or less. Snowfall in Bilaspur town is rare, especially in recent decades due to human effects.[3]

Climate[edit]

The climate of Bilaspur district is generally somewhat milder than that of the Punjabi plains below. There are four seasons: summer, monsoon, post-monsoon, and winter. Summers are hot and last from March until the end of June. Temperatures rise throughout the summer and typically peak in June. The rainy season lasts from early July to mid-September.[5] With the coming of the monsoon rains, daytime temperatures drop significantly, although nighttime temperatures stay about the same until mid-September when they drop too. About 70% of the rainfall comes during the monsoon season. The post-monsoon season is the months of October and November, and winter lasts from December to February. Cold waves happen throughout the winter, and December is the coldest month. Also during the winter, there is fog along banks of the Satluj.[5]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Forests[edit]

Carissa spinarum is one of the predominant brushy plants in the district's scrub forests.

As of 1975, various types of subtropical forest occupy about 500 square kilometers in Bilaspur district, or about 42% of its total area. They are neither particularly rich or very large, and are mostly found on the rocky upper parts of ridges. The main forest types are scrub forests, bamboo forests, chir pine forests, and oak forests. Chir forests are mainly found in the northern and eastern parts of the district, while the south and west is occupied by scrub forest.[3]

Chir and bamboo forests mainly grow on soil overlying the Siwalik Formation. There are some patches growing on top of the Krol, Dagshai, and Sabathu series, but these forests are generally poorer. Similarly, the scrub forests that grow on the Siwalik Formation are richer than those that grow on other formations such as the Krols.[3]

Scrub forest[edit]

More than two-thirds of the district's total forest cover consists of scrub forest. These are mainly found in the southern and western parts of the district, as well as some in the eastern parts; they are especially on the Naina Devi, Kot, Tiun, and Sariun hills. These forests have extensive brush cover, along with a canopy formed by various broad-leafed trees. The main brushwood species are Carissa spinarum and Dodonaea viscosa; while the main overwood species are Anogeissus latifolia, Odina wodier, Acacia catechu, Stephegyne parvifolia, and Ziziphus jujuba. The overwood trees are scattered sparsely throughout the area in single-tree stands, except for A. latifolia and Bombax malabaricum which grow in groups in certain areas.[3]

The scrub forests generally exist on relatively poor soil — the more fertile areas have been made into farmland. Extensive grazing and lopping cause damage to the forests, reducing cover of larger trees. Through this process, the scrub forests become open Garna Mehndu forests dominated by the brushwood species Carissa spinarum and Dodonaea viscosa; further deforestation turns these into Thohar areas dominated by Euphorbia royleana. In some areas, deforestation has led to increased erosion.[3]

Bamboo forest[edit]
Dendrocalamus strictus is the predominant species of bamboo in the area.

The bamboo Dendrocalamus strictus grows gregariously throughout the district and is often mixed with scrub forests. It especially occurs at altitudes between 370 and 915 meters. Its widespread presence throughout the district indicates that it was once native to the whole area, but its range has gradually contracted. Bamboo forests are now primarily found on the Naina Devi and Kot hills. Some relatively large patches are found at Ghaniri, Pheti Dhar, Kasal, and Dadnal; and some scattered and less robust patches exist in the Sangan, Jamali, Ghan, and Jhanjiar forests. Severe deforestation is caused by lopping to provide food for livestock.[3]

Soil type, aspect, slope, and overwood cover all affect bamboo's growth. It does best either in the open or with, at most, light shade. In north-facing areas, sheltered depressions, and well-drained, moderately steep slopes (such as the eastern side of the Naina Devi hills), bamboo grows in large, dense groups "to the exclusion of all other species". In less favourable conditions, such as the west sides of Naina Devi and Kot, bamboo growth is sparser and less robust. In hot areas, or on poorly drained soils, it can't compete with the scrub plants and is generally replaced by them. It also fares poorly on very steep slopes, such as on the eastern crest of Naina Devi. As for soil type, it grows extensively on the loose Tertiary soils of the Siwalik formation, but more sparsely and "scrub-like" on the drier and rockier soils of the Krol series.[3]

Chir forest[edit]

The chir pine (Pinus longifolia) is economically the most important tree in Bilaspur district, both for its resin and as a source of timber. It is the district's main source of timber, both for local use as well as for export. Chir-predominant forests are found mainly in the central part of the district, with five main areas: Jhanjiar, Samoh, Seru Siasi, Fatehpur, and Rahan. They mainly grow on north- and northeast-facing slopes, at altitudes between 460 and 1,220 meters. The western and southern slopes are mostly covered by scrub forest with few chir trees. Besides the main areas, there are also various smaller patches of chir forest scattered throughout the district. It grows best on the Tertiary sandstones of the Siwalik and Kasauli formations; it grows less well on the Krols, Sabathus, and Dagshais.[3]

Oak forest[edit]

A single patch of oak forest (Quercus incana) exists in the district, on the northeastern side of Bahadurpur hill. The trees are dense, with the oldest (and largest) ones in the middle and younger ones toward the outside. The undergrowth is very thick. There are also some small pockets of oak growth on the western side of the hill, but these are less well developed because the slope is steep and the soil is shallow and rocky. A plantation of non-native deodar trees is also located in the middle of the main oak forest.[3]

Fauna[edit]

Among the mammals found in Bilaspur district are leopards, wolves, wild pigs, hares, monkeys, ghurals, kakars (also called "barking deer"), sehars (porcupines), barasinghas, and chitals (aka the spotted deer). Tigers were once native to the area but now they are virtually extinct. The district's birds include black and grey partridges, the blue hill pigeon, the common peafowl, the chil pheasant, the koklas pheasant, the white-crested kalij, and the chukar partridge. In terms of fish, the mahsir (Barbus tor) is numerous, particularly in the Satluj and lower Ghamber. Other native fish species include the Indian trout (Barilius bura), the gunch (Bagarius yarrelli), the Himalayan barbel, and the gid (Labeo diplostomus). The mirror carp, an introduced species, is now found here as well. In terms of reptiles, cobras and other snakes are common, particularly in stream valleys.[3]

Geology[edit]

Most of Bilaspur district's exposed terrain is relatively young on a geological time scale. Tertiary and Quaternary deposits predominate, and older layers are only exposed in the eastern part of the district. Tectonic uplift of the Himalayas has been accompanied by extensive folding, faulting, and thrusting that has disrupted the original order of various rock strata — in some places, older layers are next to or even on top of newer layers.[3]

Pre-Tertiary rocks[edit]

One of the oldest layers in the area is the pre-Tertiary Krol series, which is particularly exposed on the Bandla hills just east of Bilaspur. These rocks are significantly folded, and they actually overlie younger rocks from the Dagshai and Siwalik formations. In the Bandla area, the Krol series is mostly composed of cherty limestone, calcareous quartzite, and other quartzite with a whitish colour. Further east, the Krol series is exposed as a window in the later Dagshai series. Around the Chhabia-wan-ki-dhar, the Krols' composition shifts to pinkish limestone and quartzite, along with more calcareous quartzite. There are also some dolomite beds in the Satluj valley near Dehar.[3]

Tertiary rocks[edit]

The area's Tertiary rocks are distinguished from older ones by their relative lack of metamorphism. They consist of several formations, from youngest to oldest: the Sabathu, the Dagshai, the Kasauli, and finally the Siwalik system. These are mostly composed of sandstones, shales, and clays.[3]

The Sabathus[edit]

The Sabathu series primarily consists of "olive-green, oily looking splintery shales, some khaki coloured quartzites, and nummulitic limestones... exposed as thin veins on the anticlinal ridges formed by the Dagshais".[3]

The Dagshais[edit]

The Dagshais, which overlie the Sabathus, consist of alternating shale and sandstone. The shale is dark and purplish in colour and has a cindery or sandy texture. The sandstone is typically also dark and purplish, but there is also some quartzite that is more greyish or lighter purple in colour. These sandstones are generally hard and compact, and they exhibit current bedding and ripple marks.[3]

The Dagshais cover a large area in Bilaspur district and are heavily folded. Bahadurpur hill, the highest peak in the district, is primarily composed of Dagshai and Kasauli rocks. The Dagshais are also exposed as windows in the Ali khad's valley and around the Panjgain khala.[3]

The Kasaulis[edit]

The Kasaulis, which are above the Dagshais, mostly consist of greenish to yellow-green sandstones along with some clays and shales. The sandstones vary in hardness, are highly jointed, and contain mica deposits.[3]

The Siwalik series[edit]

In general, rocks from the Siwalik series are heavily folded.[3]

The lower Siwaliks conformably overlie either the Dagshais or Kasaulis, depending on location. They generally occupy "the anticlinal ridges formed by the chain of hills running... roughly north-northwest" and consist of "soft to hard massive sandstones, brownish to greenish brown in colour; and hard concretionary clays, brick red, orange, or chocolate in colour". There are purplish streaks in both the sandstones and the clays. The sandstones feature jointing and coarse current bedding.[3]

The transition between the lower and middle Siwaliks is very smooth and almost imperceptible, and it can sometimes be hard to tell one from the other. In general, though, the middle Siwaliks' sandstone is less jointed and tends to be more brownish or greyish, and their clay is softer and less concretionary. The middle Siwaliks tend to occupy the hills' flanks.[3]

The upper Siwaliks are distinguished from the middle Siwaliks by a shift in colour, from brownish to greyish. They consist of sandstones, which typically occupy lower horizons, and boulder beds, which occupy the upper ones. The sandstones are loosely jointed and medium- to coarse-grained. The upper Siwaliks generally "occupy the low-lying flat areas representing the synclinal basins".[3]

Tertiary and Quaternary alluvial deposits[edit]

Older alluvial deposits, dating to the Pliocene, include boulder beds (embedded in a matrix of calcareous sandy material), loose sand beds (which contain a lot of mica), and gravel terraces (throughout th Satluj valley). Newer alluvial deposits, of geologically recent origin, consist of sand, gravel, and boulders in the valleys of streams. The boulders include a wide range of rock types, from Cambrian quartzites to Siwalik sandstones.[3]

Soils[edit]

In general, Bilaspur district's soil is somewhat sandy, with patches of stiff clay mixed in. This is especially true when the soil is overlying the soft rocks of the Siwalik system, particularly in the areas west of Bilaspur town. In other areas at higher levels, the soil is not sandy and is instead derived from quartzites or limestones. Throughout the district, there is a relatively thin layer of soil because of high erosion during rains.[3]

Earthquakes[edit]

Earthquakes are known to happen in Bilaspur district, but they are infrequent and usually fairly minor.[3]

Demographics[edit]

Religions in Bilaspur district (2011)[6]
Religion Percent
Hinduism
97.39%
Islam
1.83%
Sikhism
0.62%
Other or not stated
0.16%
Distribution of religions

According to the 2011 census Bilaspur district, Himachal Pradesh has a population of 381,956,[1] roughly equal to the nation of Maldives.[7] This gives it a ranking of 562 in India (out of a total of 640).[1] The district has a population density of 327 inhabitants per square kilometre (850/sq mi).[1] Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 12.08%. Bilaspur has a sex ratio of 981 females for every 1000 males,[1] and a literacy rate of 85.67%. 6.58% of the population lives in urban areas. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes make up 25.92% and 2.80% of the population respectively.[1]

Languages of Bilaspur district (2011)[8]

  Bilaspuri (76.37%)
  Pahari (8.56%)
  Hindi (5.80%)
  Punjabi (4.00%)
  'Other' Hindi (1.58%)
  Kangri (1.25%)
  Mandeali (0.96%)
  Others (1.48%)

At the 2011 Census, 76.37% of the population spoke Bilaspuri, 8.56% Pahari, 5.80% Hindi, 4.00% Punjabi, 1.25% Kangri and 0.96% Mandeali as their first language.[8]

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
190190,873—    
191193,107+0.24%
192198,000+0.51%
1931100,994+0.30%
1941110,336+0.89%
1951126,099+1.34%
1961158,806+2.33%
1971194,786+2.06%
1981247,368+2.42%
1991295,387+1.79%
2001340,885+1.44%
2011381,956+1.14%
source:[9]

Politics[edit]

No. Constituency Member Party Remarks Reference
46 Jhanduta (SC) Jeet Ram Katwal Bharatiya Janata Party
47 Ghumarwin Rajinder Garg Bhartiya Janata Party Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister
48 Bilaspur Subhash Thakur Bharatiya Janata Party
49 Sri Naina Deviji Ram Lal Thakur Indian National Congress

Populated places[edit]

Towns[edit]

Bilaspur[edit]

Bilaspur is the main town in the district.

The present town of Bilaspur was built as a planned town in the mid-20th century to replace the old one, which was going to be completely submerged once the Bhakra Dam was completed. It is located on the left (southeast) bank of the Satluj, about 93 km from Shimla, 64 km from Kiratpur, and 95 km from Ropar in Punjab. The Chandigarh-Manali highway passes through Bilaspur, as does another route connecting Shimla to Mandi by way of Bilaspur.[3]

The old town of Bilaspur was founded in the mid-1600s to serve as the new capital of Bilaspur State. It was located on the left (southeast) bank of the Satluj and was originally called "Biaspur" after the legendary sage Vyasa because, before the town's foundation, there was a cave here called Biasgufa (or Vyas Gufa) where Vyasa supposedly stayed during the winter.[3]

New Bilaspur was built on a hillside just above the old town. It was planned with six sectors covering a total of 8.8 km2. The major public buildings — including the town hall, hospital, college and school, and government offices — were grouped together in the Government Sector. Also in this sector was the main industrial estate. Various residential districts were also zoned. Old Bilaspur's temples were relocated to the new town and their idols were installed in a new structure near the bus stand.[3]

Bilaspur is the site of the Nalwari, an annual cattle fair held for 4 or 5 days in March and April. Cattle are brought from surrounding areas, including Nalagarh and neighbouring parts of Punjab, to be sold in Bilaspur. The fair also features racing, wrestling, and other entertainment.[3]

Ghamarwin[edit]

The second-most important town in the district, Ghamarwin, is located about 29 km from Bilaspur on the road to Hamirpur. Ghamarwin is the seat of a tehsil and a development block, and it has a town committee. Among the town's public buildings are a higher secondary school, a rest house, a police station, a primary health centre, and a post office.[3]

Naina Devi[edit]

The small town of Naina Devi is clustered beneath the namesake temple at the top of the hill.

Although not very large, Naina Devi has its own town council. The town is mainly known for its temple, which is the most important religious site in Bilaspur district. The temple is above the town — it crowns Naina Devi hill's summit — and a long flight of stone steps connects the two. At the base of the steps is a small bazar. The town also has a municipal rest house, a commercial inn, a middle school, and a Sanskrit pathshala.[3]

Villages[edit]

Deoli[edit]

Deoli, located 13 km from Bilaspur by the road to Mandi, first gained prominence in 1960, when a large mirror carp hatchery was built here on government land. The fish farm covers an area of 4.4 hectares and contains 2 large ponds and 14 smaller nursery ponds. It has an ample water supply from a stream on one side; the Ali khad flows past the farm on the other side. According to statistics from the 1970s, the Deoli fish farm was producing, on average, about 400,000 carp fingerlings annually. These carp fingerlings are used both for stocking Gobind Sagar and for sale to private fish farms. Besides mirror carp, goldfish are also bred here for sale as aquarium fish.[3][10][11]

Sunhani[edit]

Although now just a village, Sunhani is historically significant because it was the capital of Bilaspur State from about 1600 until about the 1650s, when the town of Bilaspur was founded. Sunhani is located about 25 km from Bilaspur, on the right bank of the Seer khad.[3]

The Chandel kings had a tradition that wherever they went & settled, they constructed a temple of Nahar Singh Ji (Nar Singh Devta) and worshiped the deity. Thus when they relocated to Sunhani, they built a thakurdwara where they made a Narsingh Devta (there Istdev) temple. On the doors of the thakurdwara, there is Gupta period architecture & drawing. There are many jharokhas on the backside of the thakurdwara featuring sculptures of various gods and goddesses. Today also, people of this area offer new harvest as Nasrawan. Buffalo milk ghee is firstly offered here newly married couple move around Ficus (pipal) tree. Nearby is a temple of Shitla Mata.[citation needed]

Namhol[edit]

Namhol is a small hamlet located about 25 km from Bilaspur on the road to Shimla. It has a small thakurdwara which was built by Raja Amar Chand in 1883 and which contains brass idols of Ram, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman. There are also various shops, a high school, two dispensaries (one veterinary and one civil), a police post, a branch post office, and a rest house perched atop a ridge with a dramatic descent on either side.[3]

Gherwin[edit]

Gherwin is a hamlet located in the Ghamarwin tehsil, about 28 km from Bilaspur. It is known for the Guga Naumi festival, held annually during the month of Bhadra and lasting for 8 days. There is a temple, a higher secondary school, a dispensary, and a branch post office.[3]

Other villages[edit]

Landmarks[edit]

Forts[edit]

Kahlur Fort[edit]

Kahlur Fort, or Kot Kahlur, is located on the Dhar Naina Devi, 3 km from Ganguwal across the border in Punjab. The fort's origins are unclear -- there are multiple traditional accounts of its foundation, and they disagree on who built it, when it was built, and where its name came from. One version attributes the fort to Raja Bir Chand, the legendary founder of the Kahlur principality who may have lived around the year 900. This account derives the name "Kahlur" from a Gujjar named Kahlu who was supposedly involved in the fort's construction. Another account attributes both the fort's construction and its name to Raja Kahal Chand, a 6th-generation descendant of Bir Chand. M.D. Mamgain considers this account "dubious" and suggests that, instead, Kahal Chand may have been involved in repairing or expanding the fort.[3]

Today, Kahlur Fort is relatively well-preserved. Its layout is square-shaped, about 30 m long on each side. Its walls are made of stone and are about 2 m thick and 30 m tall. There are two storeys, each about 15 m tall. On the second storey, about 12 m above the floor, there were a series of window-shaped features with small openings so that the garrison could look out and, if necessary, shoot at attackers. Most of these spaces have now been closed with cement or iron mesh. The second storey originally had just a single hall, but in recent decades it has been repurposed as a police armoury and 12 rooms have been built off to the sides to house police personnel. Also on the upper storey is a small temple to Naina Devi with a stone idol.[3]

Bahadurpur fort[edit]

Crowning Bahadurpur hill, the district's highest point, is the Bahadurpur fort. The fort, which the hill is named after, is located close to the village of Tepra and about 40 km from the town of Bilaspur. A mule path connects the fort to Namhol, 6 km below; this is how most traffic historically accessed the fort. The fort itself has a commanding view of the surrounding region: the mountains around Shimla, the plains around Ropar, the Naina Devi hill, the Ratanpur and Fatehpur forts, and Swarghat are all visible from this high vantage point.[3]

The Bahadurpur fort is said to have been built by Raja Keshab Chand around the year 1620. Its ruins are still visible -- the basic layout was a circle, which is now marked by a 1 m-tall stone wall. In one 6 m-long section, a much taller portion of the wall is preserved, reaching some 15 meters. Within the walled area is a 3x3x6 m tank, which was probably used to store water for the garrison. Also in the vicinity are the ruins of several buildings constructed under Raja Bijai Chand in the late 1800s or early 1900s to serve as a summer home. These buildings were torn down in 1947 and the building material was sold off. Some piles of stone still exist on the sites where the old buildings stood.[3]

Sariun Fort[edit]

The now-ruined Sariun fort is on the Sariun range, east of Tiun and about 58 km from Bilaspur. According to tradition, it was built by a ruler of Suket State and only later conquered by the rulers of Bilaspur. Around 1800, when the Bilaspur raja Mahan Chand was young and under a regency, Sariun fort (along with Tiun) was captured by the raja of Kangra. The fort's basic design was rectangular and built out of stone, with walls 12 metres tall and 1 metre thick. As with other forts in the district, the walls have openings for the garrison to shoot out at attackers. The main gate faces west. Part of the area inside the walls contains traces of about 15 rooms.[3]

Tiun fort[edit]

The Tiun fort is on the Tiun range, some 55 km from Bilaspur and 110 km from Ghumarwin. The fort's age is unknown, and no traditional account exists to attribute it to a ruler. A possible, but highly speculative, date for its construction may be 1142 Vikrami, or about 1085 CE: a short inscription in the fort's inner wall appears to contain the numbers 1142, which M.D. Mamgain suggests may be the year when the fort was built.[3]

In any case, the fort is old and now in ruins. It consists of a large rectangular structure about 400 m wide and 200 m deep. No roof survives. The walls range from 2 to 10 metres tall. The 2-metre walls are at the rear of the fort, where the ground is naturally higher; the builders just added a short wall on top. The walls taper from about a metre thick at the base to half a metre at the top. Like the Kahlur fort, the walls of Tiun fort have holes for the garrison to see and shoot through. The entrance gate is on the fort's west side; it measures about 3 m tall and 5½ m wide. The interior of the fort was probably divided into a series of rooms, but their walls have collapsed and no trace remains of them.[3]

A square structure, about 2 metres on all sides and about 10 metres tall, probably served as a prison. According to legend, an uncle of Raja Kharak Chand was imprisoned in the Tiun fort, although not necessarily in this structure. There are also two large pits carved into the rock, now almost completely buried, that probably served as a granary for the garrison. Each pit has enough room to store 3000 kg of grain, giving it a total storage capacity of 6000 kg. There are also two large tanks designed to store rainwater. Finally, there are also two temples within the fort complex. One is dedicated to a goddess and is still in use. The other, dedicated to Shiva, is now in ruins.[3]

Bachhretu fort[edit]

The now-ruined Bachhretu fort is on the Kot Dhar range, which is named after the fort. It crowns a hill near the village of Bachhretu, 3 km above Changar Talai and 34 km from the town of Ghamarwin. This spot has a sweeping view of Gobind Sagar and the surrounding hills. According to Achhar Singh, the Bachhretu fort was built under Ratan Chand, who was raja of Kahlur from 1355 to 1406. Ony scattered remains still exist. From them, the fort's basic layout appears to have been a rectangle, about 100 m by 50 m. The outer walls, which still exist in some places, were made of hammer-dressed stone. They were perhaps 20 m tall and about 1 m thick, tapering towards the top. The space inside was divided into various rooms, of which about 15 can still be traced. One room has especially high walls, reaching 10 to 12 metres. Doorways are marked by long stone slabs. There are also two underground chambers, now almost completely buried under the rubble, which were probably used to store grain for the garrison. A water tank is also said to have existed. There is also a small temple with two busts of the goddess Ashta Bhuja ("eight-armed") as well as some images of other deities. A pipal tree (Ficus religiosa) has now also grown within the fort.[3]

Baseh fort[edit]

The Baseh fort is located on the Kot Dhar, about 6 km north of the Bachhretu fort. Like Bachhretu, the Baseh fort is attributed to Raja Ratan Chand. It consists of a rectangular area, about 200x45 m in size, which is divided into three distinct enclosures by high walls that are about a metre thick. One of the enclosures has traces of walls dividing it into rooms. Like other Bilaspuri forts, the Baseh fort contains a tank, which was used to store rainwater for use by the garrison.[3]

Fatehpur fort[edit]

The Fatehpur fort is built on a hill some 45 km from Bilaspur and 3 km from Swarghat. This is near the boundary of the old Bilaspuri principality, and the fort was built to command a strategic position on the frontier. According to local tradition, it was also historically used as a refuge castle where the local population could take shelter. When the fort was built is unknown. It is now heavily dilapidated and its ruins largely consist of scattered piles of stone. The fort's shape may have been a square, about 60 m long on each side. A small part of its walls, about 6 m long, survives; from this, it seems that the fort's walls were about 25 m tall and 2 m thick. As with other forts in the area, this wall has peepholes that defenders could see out of and shoot at attackers. There was also likely a tank, but it is now buried under debris. Local tradition holds that there were 7 fortified outposts outside the main fort; all that remains of these are piles of stones marking their location.[3]

Ratanpur fort[edit]

The Ratanpur fort, also called Ratangarh (or "Ruttungurh"), is about 27 km from Bilaspur, near the Bilaspur-Kiratpur road. It sits atop a peak near the villages of Khui and Jamli. Historically, it was part of the Ratanpur pargana. When it was built is unknown. It saw some action during the Anglo-Nepalese War in the 1810s and was later repaired under Raja Amar Chand in the 1880s, but it is now in poor condition.[3]

Chanjiar (aka Jhanjiar) fort[edit]

About 6 km from Barthin and 20 km from Bilaspur, is the site of a former fort. Originally called Chhatipur (i.e. the fort on the "chest" of Bilaspur), it was built in 1795 by the raja of Kangra when he invaded the Bilaspur principality. The fort no longer exists, and no trace of it is visible today.[3]

Other places[edit]

  • Thakurdwara of Auhar, (In the middle of the district Bilaspur). It was an important town of the princely state Bilaspur. Due to its importance Rani Naggar Dei built the Thakurdwara of Auhar. She also constructed on water tank with roof known as chhatwain and an inn for the stay of the travelers. In the Thakurdwara idols of 'Shaligram' and 'Narsingha' were installed. The walls of the temple have several mural paintings. The Language and Culture department has given financial assistance for the repair of the Thakurdwara. edit
  • Bhakra Dam, (In Naina Devi Sub-Tehsil about 14 km from Nangal town). The highest straight gravity dam in the world occupies the predominant position amongst the places of tourist interest. The idea for the construction of this dam was conceived by Sir Louis Dane the then Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, who travelled from Sunni to Bilaspur and then onward to Ropar. The project could not make headway due to prohibitive cost of construction. In the year 1938-39 the districts of Rohtak and Hissar of the then Punjab State experienced severe drought resulting in great loss of human life and cattle. The scheme was again mooted out but was not executed due to second world war. It was only after independence in March, 1948 that the work was taken in hand for execution. On the historic day of 17 November 1955 later Prime Minister Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru placed the first bucket of concrete at the foundation. The construction of dam was completed in October, 1962. The height of the dam is 226 metres, length at the top is 518 metres and width 9 metres. It has a length of 99 metres at the bottom and width 402 metres. The project derives its name from two villages Bhakhra and Nangal situated on the foothills of the low Himalayan ranges.
  • Kandrour Bridge, (8 kilometres from Bilaspur on National Highway No. 88) Construction for this bridge across the Satluj river was started in April, 1959 and was completed in 1965. The total cost of construction was ₹28,12,998. The span of the bridge is about 280 meters with a breadth of about seven meters and the height above the lowest river bed is about 80 meters. It was once the tallest bridge of Asia. It has provided a link between Ghumarwin town of Bilaspur and Hamirpur district and is a marvellous engineering feat. The pillars supporting the bridge are hollowed. The bridge was opened by the then Minister of Transport, Shri Raj Bahadur in 1965.[citation needed]

Labour organisations[edit]

Several labour organisations have their head offices in Bilaspur town, such as the Bilaspur Mazdoor Union, the Himachal Government Transport Workers Union, and the Rosin and Turpentine Factory Workers Union. The Bilaspur Mazdoor Union, the Himachal Government Transport Workers Union, and the Nangal Bhakra Mazoor Sangh are three organisations dealing with labour related to the Bhakra Dam. It was also noted in 1975 that construction workers involved in road building in the district had unofficially formed a sort of loose, informal union.[3]

Notable individuals[edit]

  • Gambhari Devi, folk artist
  • Suresh Chandel, politician
  • J. P. Nadda, National president of the Bharatiya Janata Party
  • Suram Singh Chandel, 1st Tahsildar of Bilaspur HP
  • Rattan Chand, bureaucrat
  • Sanjay Kumar, Param Vir Chakra
  • Bhandari Ram, Victoria Cross
  • Meena Kumari, International shooter
  • Yami Gautam, Bollywood actress
  • Nina Chandel : An International Shooter and Medalist. who won the Bronze Medal in 30th World University Games 2019 held at Napoli, Italy. She os from Salnoo.
  • Daleep Singh Chandel is a Coach of Indian Shooting Team since 1999. Mr. Chandel belongs to Village Salnoo, Tehsil Sadar.Bilaspur.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "District Census Handbook: Bilaspur" (PDF). censusindia.gov.in. Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India. 2011.
  2. ^ History of the PUNJAB Hill States,Volume 2, J. Hutchinson and J.Ph. Vogel, P - 513, 1933, by Superintendent, Government Printing, Lahore, Punjab
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv Mamgain, M.D. (1975). Himachal Pradesh District Gazetteers: Bilaspur. p. 1. Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  4. ^ a b "Gobind Sagar Lake Bilaspur Himachal Pradesh". www.tourmyindia.com. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Bilaspur Climate, Weather By Month, Average Temperature (India) - Weather Spark". weatherspark.com. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  6. ^ "Table C-01 Population by Religion: Himachal Pradesh". censusindia.gov.in. Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India. 2011.
  7. ^ US Directorate of Intelligence. "Country Comparison: Population". Archived from the original on 13 June 2007. Retrieved 1 October 2011. Maldives 394,999 July 2011 est.
  8. ^ a b "Table C-16 Population by Mother Tongue: Himachal Pradesh". www.censusindia.gov.in. Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India.
  9. ^ Decadal Variation In Population Since 1901
  10. ^ Trout, Carp, & Mahseer fish farms in Himachal Pradesh (PDF). Government of Himachal Pradesh. p. 8. Retrieved 1 May 2023.
  11. ^ Srivastava, Uma Kant; Desai, D.K.; Gupta, G.S.; Gupta, V.K.; Raghavachari, M.; Sreenivas Rao, S.; Vathsala, S.; Singh, Amar Jeet; Bharathi, V. Ravinthra; Martin Santhakumar, J.; Suryachandra Rao, S. (1985). Inland Fish Marketing in India, Volume 4-B. New Delhi: Concept Publishing. pp. 435–6. Retrieved 1 May 2023.

External links[edit]

31°20′N 76°45′E / 31.33°N 76.75°E / 31.33; 76.75