Chamba, The valley of milk and honey is known for its streams, meadows, temples and paintings, rumal and beautiful lakes. Chamba has few rivals for its scenic beauty. To quote Dr. Vogel, the author of ‘Antiquities of Chamba state” And truly delightful has been the task of revealing the antiquarian treasures hidden in that glorious mountain region, which a popular adage so rightfully describes as Chamba ‘A Chamba’ [Chamba the charming] Chamba is situated at an altitude of 926 meters (2,778 feet), spreads in the area of 24 km. Tradition goes that the town Chamba was named by its founder Raja sahil varman (920 A.D.) after his daughter Champavat. There are three well defined ranges in the district, the Dhauladhar, the pangi or the Pier Pan jar and the Zanskar range. Located on the banks of the Ravi river the township resembles an Italian village fortress. Chamba’s temples are mostly dedicated to Lord Shiva and Vishnu and are built of richly engraved stone. The town is also the base for Gaddi shepherds who, though nomadic in their way of life, return to Chamba periodically to stock supplies. Chamba is so sheltered by snow-clad mountain barriers, that its monuments escapted destruction at the hands of invaders, that is why it still remains one of the best preserved heartlands of the Himalayan art.
The river Ravi, along with the Yamuna, Satluj, Beas and the Chandrabhaga is one the five major rivers of Himachal and since times immemorial these have figured prominently in the lore of the land. From the moment the Himalaya Mountains came into being, these rivers have been responsible for the rich greenery and for nurturing the land they pass through.
The Ravi first appears as the river ‘Parushni’ in the Rigveda. In Hindi, the word ‘Parusha’ is regarded to mean the Ravi and this river is also called the ‘Iravati’. Writers on Chamba region also mention its other names Ravdi, Ravti and Rava. But it is by the name Ravi that this river is popularly known as it flows through Himachal, the Punjab and into Pakistan.
The role of the mountains been significant in forming overall character of Himachal. The northern reaches of the Dhauladhars merge in a series of garlands with the slopes of the Pier Pan jar mountains in the Bara Bhangal area. This is where the Ravi has its source, southeast of the Pir Pajar Mountains in the Pangi Bara Bhangal pocket. As it flows down, it gathers the waters of several large and small streams of pure melting snow. Banso aria and thee pockets of Dehol, kuleth, Holi, Sutkar Lamu and chota khas. When the Ravi is practically face-to-face with Bharmaur, two large tributaries, the Budhil and the tundah contribute their share to the river. From this moment on, the Ravi also alters its character and suddenly turns aggressive. Through a narrow gorge it now races like a serpent till Chatrari where the valley opens out and the Ravi also spreads its water wider and becomes calmer. The river then skirts the large villages of Rakh and Mehla till it reaches the town of Chamba. Pouring down from the heights, the saho stream, also adds its might to the Ravi. The point of confluence is a dramatic sight with the ancient town of Chamba in the background.
After a while, the largest tributary, the Seol joins the Ravi and continues flowing west as it skirts the border of the adjoining state of Jammu and Kashmir. Andrew’s church is a place of pilgrimage for believers and a place of awe and wonder for heritage lover. Raja Sham Singh, at that time, had ordered for a large bell for the belfry of the imposing bell tower of the church. This bell resembles the one hung at the Bhagwati Chamunda temple installed by Raja Shri Singh in 1867.
Nearest airports are Jammu, Amritsar and Gaggal (kangra). Railhead to link Chamba with outside world is Pathankot, 120 km. On state highway 33/35, Chamba is linked to all parts of the country by all-weather metalled Mandi 334 km., Manali 470 km., Kangra 180 km., Delhi 640 km., Jammu 245 km., Amritsar 245 km., and Haridwar 610 km.