Palampur

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Palampur
पालमपुर
Town
View of Dhauladhar Mountains from Palampur
View of Dhauladhar Mountains from Palampur
Nickname(s): Tea Capital of North India
Palampur is located in Himachal Pradesh
Palampur
Palampur
Location in Himachal Pradesh, India
Coordinates: 32°07′00″N 76°32′00″E / 32.1167°N 76.5333°E / 32.1167; 76.5333Coordinates: 32°07′00″N 76°32′00″E / 32.1167°N 76.5333°E / 32.1167; 76.5333
Country  India
State Himachal Pradesh
Region North India
District Kangra
Elevation 1,472 m (4,829 ft)
Population [1]
 • Total 3,543
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 176061
Telephone code 91-1894
Vehicle registration HP 37
Literacy 78%%
Climate ETh (Köppen)
Avg. summer temperature 34 °C (93 °F)
Avg. winter temperature −4 °C (25 °F)

Palampur is a green hill station and a municipal council in the Kangra Valley in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, surrounded by tea gardens and pine forests before they merge with the Dhauladhar ranges. Palampur is the tea capital of northwest India but tea is just one aspect that makes Palampur a special interest place. Abundance of water and proximity to the mountains has endowed it with mild climate.

The town has derived its name from the local word palum, meaning lots of water. There are numerous streams flowing from the mountains to the plains from Palampur. The combination of greenery and water gives Palampur a distinctive look. Palampur is at the confluence of the plains and the hills and so the scenery shows the contrast: plains on one side and the majestic snow-covered hills on the other side. In the backdrop of this beautiful town stands the Dhauladhar mountain range, which remains snow-covered for most part of the year.

History[edit]

Palampur is an important town located in Kangra Valley. It was one of the leading hill stations and was once a part of the Jalandhar kingdom. Countless streams and brooks crisscross the landscape and in their intricate mesh, hold tea gardens and rice paddies. The town of Palampur came into being when Dr. Jameson, Superintendent of Botanical Gardens, introduced the tea bush from Almora in 1849. The bush thrived and so did the town which became a focus of the European tea estate owners. Since then, the Kangra tea of Palampur has been known internationally.

The first prime minister of independent India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru visited Palampur in 1941 when it was still British India. There is a Nehru Chowk in Palampur to commemorate this event.

Palampur, also known as the 'Tea Capital of North India', is a popular hill station because it is not only known for its scenic beauty but also for the beautiful temples and buildings built in the Colonial period. Here, a nature lover can enjoy a quiet stroll while feasting his eyes on the natural beauty and an outdoor lover with a taste for adventure can enjoy hand gliding and trekking during the holidays. It has something for people of all tastes, which makes it an ideal holiday resort for many.

Evolution[edit]

Pre-Independence[edit]

During the second half of 18th Century, with success of tea estates in Palampur area, the original settlement started developing. In 1888, it was made tehsil headquarters, by shifting the same from Bhawarna. The tea estate owners impressed upon the administration to bring infrastructure like St. Paul's School, colleges and hospital. It also became a centre of labourers engaged in plucking of tea leaves and packing, transportation and marketing thereof. The earthquake of 1905 left a trail of destruction. Therefore, building style, projections and building material had to be modified. The tehsil complex, school and church towards T-Bud Hotel were built during British Period. Consequent upon laying of railway line for hydro-electric project at Joginder Nagar in 1927 and thereby installation of railway station and staff quarters, construction activity grew fast. Increase in the employment, led to investment in the area, whereby multifarious development including roads took place.

Post Independence[edit]

In 1947, Sobha Singh, a well known contemporary painter moved from Punjab to Andretta and developed his art gallery. He painted world famous art pieces related to Punjabi culture and shot into prominence as an artist and as a director. After 1946, the regional linkages of town started improving. A military station was established at Holta, a strategic location of the town. CSK Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University was established, besides the establishment of Indian Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) Complex (Institute of Himalyan Bioresource Technology).[2] Many offices at the level of sub division pertaining to Electricity, Housing Board, Public health and PWD (B&R) were located. Tourist accommodation like T-Bud Hotel by Himachal Tourism Development Corporation and other leisure hotels were constructed.[3]

Market[edit]

The Market in Palampur is one of the most upscale markets in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. Numerous shopping complexes have mushroomed during the last decade and showrooms of internationally renowned brands have come up. Besides this, ancient co-operatives like Bhuttico, which are hallmarked for their quality in woolens, have also set up shops. The tea gardens in the back drop of the Dhauladhar mountain range add to the attraction of this tourist town.

The market has numerous shops where you can buy grocery, fresh fruit and vegetables, stationery, electrical appliances and almost anything that you may require. There are numerous restaurants serving a myriad of fare including Chinese, Continental, Indian and so on. There are a few places where you can taste authentic local food too.

Demographics[edit]

Palampur has a population of approximately 70,000. According to the counting of votes, the Palampur tehsil consists of approximately 70,000 people. It is among the 10 big cities of Himachal Pradesh and biggest city of district Kangra ranges in himachal pradesh. Female Sex Ratio is of 953 against state average of 972. Child Sex Ratio in Palampur is around 854 compared to Himachal Pradesh state average of 909. Literacy rate of Palampur city is 91.33% higher than state average of 82.80%. In Palampur, Male literacy is around 92.96% while female literacy rate is 89.64%.

Geography[edit]

Palampur is located at 32°07′N 76°32′E / 32.12°N 76.53°E / 32.12; 76.53,[4] at a height of 1,220 meters above sea level, and the highest point, Birni Mata temple is at a height of 2,170 meters. It is close to the Dhauladhar Range. It is in the northwestern region of Himachal Pradesh, in north India and is only 30 km from the popular hill station of Dharamshala. Palampur, at a height of 1219 m, is a main spot in the beautiful valley surrounded by tea gardens and pine trees.

Behind the town stands high ranges of Dhauladhar mountains (white hill of snow), whose tops remain covered for most part of the year. This place is being developed as large tourist centre. A ropeway and an amusement park is also on the way to be established here. An Agricultural University is already functioning nearby one Ayurvedic hospital is situated, also one Ayurvedic medical college is there in Paprola is about 10 km from here. Some tea factories are also in operation. Kangra valley is also known as tea capital of India this tea was quite famous among the British.

On the outskirts of Palampur, Neugal stream is a thin streak running over stony ground far below the cliff. It offers great scenic beauty with snow-covered peaks. There is a trek to Bundla Falls which cascade from a height of 100 meters. A recreational spot, called Saurabh Van Vihar, is also located in Bundla, which gets its name from Capt. Saurabh Kalia who hails from Palampur.

Several trek routes lead out of Palampur, particularly over the Dhauladhar Mountains towards the districts of Chamba and Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. Some important treks are over the Sanghar pass to Bharmaur via Holi, the Thamsar Pass (4,747 metres above MSL) from Billing to Manali via Bara Bhangal, over the Jalsu pass from Baijnath to Bharmaur, and the forest trek from Mcleodganj to Triund . A four-day trek will lead the traveler to Holi, via Waru La. Twenty-eight kilometers from Palampur is Billing, near Bir, Himachal Pradesh|Bir, an important centre for the adventure sport of paragliding. Paraglider pilots often land near Palampur after cross-country flights starting from Billing. Palampur also has numerous Buddhist monasteries and is famous for its Tibetian people as they have helped in making things extra beautiful. .

Politics[edit]

Palampur is a state legislative constituency in Himachal Pradesh. Lala Kanhiya Lal Butail, was the first representative of Palampur. Palampur is the home city of senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar. The town politics is mostly dominated between ruling Congress and the Bhartiya Janta Party. BJP leaders from Palampur include Ch. Sarvan Kumar, Praveen Sharma and Shiv Kumar. For Congress, the politics has been dominated by Butail family. His nephew Kunj Behari Lal Butail served as an MLA for over a decade and also the first Pradesh Congress Committee President. The seat is now occupied by Brij Behari Lal Butail, who is also the Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly. He is also the richest legislator of Himachal Pradesh.[5]

Connectivity[edit]

Spice Jet and Air India is running daily flights from New Delhi to Kangra Airport (Gaggal Airport) which is just 40 km from Palampur. Flights are prone to climatic conditions and can be cancelled due to low visibility in the winters- plan your trip accordingly.

By Rail[edit]

Palampur is connected by the narrow gauge Kangra Valley Railway from Pathankot. Approximate distance from Pathankot to Palampur is 112 km. The journey takes about 6–8 hours covering two tunnels, one of which is only 250 feet and the other 1,000 feet in length. There is no reservation system in the train but you can buy a current ticket from the ticketing counter and search for a seat. There are chances that the train may breakdown in the middle. Also the journey may take 8–12 hours.

By Road[edit]

Palampur is well connected by road to all major cities and towns in and around the state. Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) is the best way to travel plying Air conditioned, Deluxe and Semi Deluxe buses from major cities like Delhi and Chandigarh. Distances to the major cities are Delhi (530 km), Chandigarh (254 km), Shimla (259 km), Manali (205 km), Dharamshala (35 km), Kangra (38 km), Sandhole (60 km) etc. Tickets can be booked online from HRTC website.

View of clouds at Palampur

Attractions[edit]

Visitor attractions in Palampur include:

  • Neugal Cafe is the most famous eating joint in Palampur. It is owned and run by Himachal Tourism. It is one of the those attractions in town from where one can have an endearing view of the Dhauladhar mountains as well as the Neugal stream. Food, beverages and snacks are also available here.
View from Neugal Cafe
  • Famous Devi Latti Jakhni's temple situated at the top of Chandpur village is a place to feel the beauty of Dhauladhar from very close.
  • There is a trek to the Birni Mata temple from Bundla which takes you through thick oak and rhododendron forests.
  • Old Vindhyavasini temple near the Kingerchhoo (Bundla) falls, 328 ft is another place that one must visit during his stay at Palampur. Construction work for a power house has also begun.
  • Mata Bandla Devi's temple, situated around 1.5 km from Neugal Cafe, is an important spiritual place visited by local people and tourists alike.
  • The country’s first ‘bamboo museum’ is set in Institute of Himalayan Bio-resource Technology (IHBT). The museum has a workshop and a laboratory. It also displays bamboo products. The total floor area is 3600 feet and is largest of its kind in the country. It was built at a cost of Rs 65 lakh by the Uttarakhand Bamboo Board in 11 months, a total of 50,000 bamboo poles were used to complete the structure.[6]
  • Palampur is just 32 km far from paragliding site Bir Billing.[7] Bir Billing is going to host 1st paragliding world cup in India in the month of October 2015. Paragliding takeoff site is Billing which is at the altitude of 2400 mt from sea level. Flight from Billing make us Land at Bir, Chougan area at the altitude of 1400 mt from sea level. This flight varies from 15 to 75 mins. This one of the best option to do near Palampur.

Festivals[edit]

  • Sair is a local festival of Kangra district and is celebrated with great zeal by the people in Palampur. This festival is celebrated on first 'tithi' of 'chaitra mass 'चैत्र मास' every year. Palampur is a place of rivers and rain and in the old days when there were no bridges and less roads people used to die in the river floods. So this festival signifies the offset of rainy season and the black month. On this day people worship the Shair deity. They offer new crop, fruits and vegetables to there deity, they cook many local foods and delicacies and invite their friends and relatives. Newly wed brides return to their in-laws' house after a full month's break at their parents' home. Children celebrate this festival in their own style by playing game with walnuts.
  • There is greater sobriety, but no less joy, when Lohri or Maghi comes along in mid January. This is the traditionally mid winter day and also commemorates the last sowing of the Rabi crops. Community bonfires, folk songs and dancing, mark the festival. Local folk songs known as 'lukdiyan' are sung by children, door to door. A special type of sacrament is being made from roasted rice, sugar and peanuts called as 'tilcholi'.
  • Palampur Holi Fair, held at Capt. Vikram Batra Stadium is also very famous. On these days many cultural activities are held. Many singers visit Palampur fair on these days, and beautiful tableux representing different gods are made.

Hospitals[edit]

Palampur has a large number of private and trust-owned hospitals. The four major hospitals are :

  • Govt. Civil Hospital
  • Vivekanand Medical Institute
  • Dattal Hospital Thakurdwara
  • Kapila Nursing Home

Adventure Sports[edit]

Palampur has been named the best Paragliding site in the world. It is an ideal hill resort for enjoying trekking and paragliding. There are several routes that one can trek on,one being over Sanghar Pass to Bharmour via Holi.

The paragliding site at Bir-Billing in Kangra district near Baijnath is regarded as among the best in the world for Paragliding. Billing (2290  m) is the take-off site and Bir (1400  m) is the village at the landing site. The road distance between the two is 14 km. Bir is sheltered by the Dhauladhar mountains and the ridges behind keep rising to 3000 mtrs, 4000 metres, 5000 mtrs and one after the other so as pilot can fly at 4000 mtrs and still watch the mountains tower above. Bir is a beautiful village surrounded by tea gardens and spectacular scenery, whereas Billing offers unique opportunities for high altitude and cross country flying and flights of 180  km have been achieved from here.

All along the bottom of the ridges runs a parallel road from Mandi to Dharamshala and beyond which assures easy recovery for pilots after landing. The most important feature of this region is its weather. On bad weather days one can still fly 20–30  km and on good days 100  km is not difficult. October & November are the ideal months for flying in autumn and March to May i.e. spring is also flyable but conditions are very strong in spring with thermals of 6-12 mtrs/sec and cloudbase of 4000 to 6000 meters.

The small towns of Taragarh, Baijnath and Jogindernagar are close to Bir- Billing and large town of Palampur is 29 km from Bir. Himachal Pradesh is conducting International Paragliding competitions at Bir-Billing every year since 2002.

The Paragliding World Cup 2015 will be organised from October 24–31 under the aegis of Para-gliding World Cup Association, France. India bid to host the World Cup and won because of the sound infrastructure that was set up at Bir-Billing (at 2290 mts in Himachal Pradesh) for the paragliding pre-World Cup-2013. 2 years after successfully hosting the paragliding pre-World Cup amidst the mountains of Himachal Pradesh, the mega tournament will now be held in the country for the first time.

Tourism[edit]

Palampur is a rapidly developing city of Himachal Pradesh with plenty of accommodations. The upper areas of Palampur experience heavy snowfall and thereby providing plenty of opportunity for tourists to get themselves indulged in winter sports activities or enjoy a stroll through the beautiful tea gardens. Palampur has emereged as one of the favourite places for movie shooting lately. Famous directors like Imtiaz Ali and Lawrence D'Souza have shot movies here. A ropeway has been proposed across the Neugal river which will further attract tourists.

Palampur is at the center of all major tourist attractions, with Dharamshala on one side and Baijnath and Manali on the other. One can easily find good and affordable places to stay in the town. You can find hotels, home stays, villas and cottages at very competitive prices. There are also a good number of restaurants in the main market serving a variety of cuisines.

Some famous places worth visiting around Palampur are :

Chamunda Devi Temple (20 km. from Palampur): This is a very important Hindu shrine with the temple of Goddess Chamunda. Thousands of devotees from all over India visit the temple and offer prayers.

Bir and Billing (35 km. from Palampur): This village is famous for its Buddhist monasteries. Hand gliding pilots use it as their landing site. Bir, surrounded by tea gardens and an amphitheater of low hills, is an ideal landing around for paragliders. Bir has Buddhist monasteries that are worth visiting. Fine Tibetan handicrafts are also produced here. Billing, up in the hills and 14 km. from Bir with an arena of 200 km for high altitude and cross country flying, is one of the best aerosports sites in the country.

Baijnath (16 km. from Palampur): The Shiva temple at Baijnath is one of the most remarkable monuments of the Kangra valley. Ancient name of this town was 'Kirgrama'. Baijnath got its name from Shiva Vaidyanatha. The temple consists of an 'Adytum' surrounded by a spire of the usual conical shape with a 'Mandap' covered with a low pyramid shaped roof. The 'Adytum' contains the Lingam. There is fine sculpture work associated with Ravana, who worshipped Shiva at this spot and gained immortality. Shivratri of Baijnath is a well attended fair.

Famous Shiv Temple Baijnath

Neugal Khad (2 km from Palampur): Neugal Khad provides a fine view of the Dhauladhar range. It is roaring in the rainy season and gurgling all the year round. Himachal Tourism cafe provides food and a fine view from its restaurant. It is a famous picnic spot and ideal for a day escape from busy life.

Bundla Stream (2 km from Palampur): Bundla stream with wide chasm of more than 100 metres, swells up and rises madly in monsoons taking stones and boulders along with it making a loud noise like that of continuous thunder. The walk from Palampur to Bundla should not be missed as you can visit the tea gardens too.

Bundla Tea Estate (2 km from Palampur): This is one of the most beautiful tea estates of Palampur, which covers Bundla, Aima and Lohna panchayats. The tea estate falls on the road between Neugal Cafe and main Palampur town. The lush green tea gardens are at its best in the monsoon. People can be seen plucking tea from April till October. The old Bundla Tea Estate complex, which is over 200 years old can be seen from the road.

Andretta (13 km from Palampur): It is the home of the famous artist, late Sardar Sobha Singh and late playwright Norah Richards. Sobha Singh's Art Gallery is also situated in Andretta.

Saurabh Van Vihar (4 km from Palampur): Named after the valiant Army officer, Captain Saurabh Kalia, Saurabh Van Vihar is on the banks of Neugal stream. Managed by the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department, the Van Vihar was set up with the purpose of providing information to the tourists about the nature and environment. The Vihar sprawls over an area of 35 acres and there is a green park located here. The area is surrounded by the Dhauladhar mountains and offers a scenic view.

Mata Ashapuri(Maa Ashapuri) Temple : Mata Asahpuri temple is very famous temple in Distt Kangra. It is located at the top of hill. My village Suan is very small town surrounded by hills and located right down the Hill of Mata Ashapuri Temple. On-Foot it takes around 1 hour and by bus it takes around 3 hours to reach Mata Ashapuri Temple from my village. On-Foot there is shortcut way to reach the temple. Suan town comes under Tehsil Jaisinghpur. Its populations is approximately 500 people. Bus service is available for Mata Ashapuri Temple from Palampur and Panchrukhi Bus stations. It is approximately 2–3 hours run by bus from Palampur to Mata Ashapuri temple. Bus service is available on specific times. You can consult at Palampur Bus Stand Counter regarding bus service queries and timings.There is another village called Khera which has its own legacy. It is situated on the opposite hill.The residents of this village worship Maata Saniyaari. According to legend Saniyaari wanted to commit Sati after her husband's death. She was tried to save by a Katoch couple who didn't have any issue. Saniyaari Maata gave him a boon of 2 sons and one daughter and asked the couple to make a temple in her name and to organise Mela every year. The Katoch family has now reached its 8 generation.

Gopalpur Zoo (14 km from Palampur): This zoological park, officially known as Dhauladhar Nature Park, developed by H.P government, is a good place for animal lovers and children. The park has a wide range of animals such as lion, leopard, bear, porcupine. It is a perfect place for picnics, weekend getaways and for spending your time exploring the natural and scenic beauty of the Dhauladhar mountains.

Education and Research[edit]

SCHOOLS

  • St. Paul's Sr. Sec. School, Palampur
  • DAV Public Sr. Sec. School, Palampur
  • Mount Carmel School, Thakurdwara, Palampur
  • Kendriya Vidyalaya, Holta Cantt., Palampur
  • Kendriya Vidyalaya, Alhilal Cantt., Palampur

Recent Issues[edit]

Palampur has seen exponential growth since the liberalization in India. It has grown from a decrepit and quite British hill station into a buzzing town. One can estimate the revenue generated by this town from the fact that around nineteen banks are present here, e.g. IDBI, BOI, PNB, SBI, etc. There has been widespread growth in and around Palampur. This has threatened the fragile ecology of the town. The pollution level of the town has shot up exponentially in past decade, as well as due to rampant concrete and construction work, the heat index and temperature has increased sharply. Earlier, it was frequent to see snowfall occurring in the town itself, which has now receded drastically to the upper hill areas due to pollution, poor forest conservation and rampant construction. A place where the highest temperature would hardly cross 28-30 degrees today witnesses temperature rising to as much as 35 degrees in summer, while the level of water resources has dipped. Palampur is the only hill station in India where Deodar trees grow within heights of 3000 feet to 4000 feet from Mean Sea Level. Recently, the Deodar trees in Palampur have started drying up abnormally fast.

See also[edit]

References[edit]