CHAMBA MOUNAIN SYSTEMS
HathiDhar (Snowless range) –The highest point of this range is 5256 feet (1615 meters) and is really the inner ridge of the Shivalik area and maintains nearly unbroken course from the Rihlu area in Kangra almost close to the Ravi.
Chamba is the North-Western most district of Himachal Pradesh. The surviving ancient inscriptions in this small area are so large that in the whole of the Himalayas, Chamba is reckoned to be as important as Kashmir and Nepal for the antiquarian studies. Chamba was always vulnerable to political interference, both from the South and South – East, i.e. Gurdaspur and Kangra. The district is more or less rough, oblong in shape contracted towards the North. There are three big valleys, i.e. (1) Beas valley, (2) Ravi valley or Chamba valley, and (3) Chenab valley or Pangi – Chamba Lahaul valleys. The valleys on the South – West of the district are fertile. The Ravi valley as a whole is open and presents many delightful contrasts. In the lower area of the valley, vegetation is semitropical and at the higher elevation, the tress belong to Pinus – longifolia, oak and chestnut and above these are birch and juniper. In this valley, in the villages upto an altitude of 2,100 meters, two crops are grown, while in the villages above 2,100 meters only one crop is grown.
The area between the Pangi and Zangi and Zanskar ranges comprises the valley of Chenab, called ‘Chandrabhaga’ in the higher hills. The whole area appears to be a great boon of nature. The area is sparsely populated. He winter is very severy and communication with the outside world remains cut off from October to March-April. The tract between the Hathidhar and the Dhauladhar ranges falls in the Beas Valley and with addition of a small portion of the lower Ravi valley forms the Bhattiyat tehsil and Shiunta sub-tehsil. It is the most populous and fertile valley of the district. The vegetation found in the valley is the ‘bamboo, Pipal, mango, fir ‘barberry’ and he ‘oak, Two crops are grown in a year.
There are three well defined snowy ranges of the Himalayas in the Chamba district. The one nearest to the plains is the Dhauladhar (outer Himalaya) separate the basin of thee Beas from the Ravi. Dhauladhar represents a lofty mountain barrier with peaks from 4,300 meters to 5,200 meters. The passes are from 2,400 meters to 4,600 meters. The inner Himalaya (Zanskar range) sparates Chamba and Lahaul from Zanskar and farther West forms the Northern boundary of the Kashmir valley. The altitude of this range varies from 5,500 meters to 5,500 meters high and are more difficult due to the size of the permanent glaciers. The low range of hills called, the Hathidhar, runs parallel to the South of Dhauladhar. The highest point of this range is 1,615 meters above the mean-sea level.
The Pangi Range- This range of the Himachal in the Mid-Himalaya is called Pir-Panjal by geologist and Pangi Range by common people. It is the direct continuation of the main Himalayan axis entering the Himachal on the East of Bushahr. After dividing Kullu from Lahaul and Spiti, it enters Chamba territory on the Western border of Bara Bangahal and traverses the district for more than sixty miles. This range divides Chamba into two unequal sections and separaes these from each other to such an extent that even in summer there is comparatively little inter communications. The Northern or smaller section is called Pangi and Chamba-Lahaul is then completely isolated from the outer world. Pangi was formerly used as a place of banishment for political offenders.
The DaganiDhar - This is a small range which shoots off from the Pangi Range from the point where the latter enters Jammu territory. The DaganiDhar forms the boundary between ‘Chamba’ and ‘Bhadarwah’ in Jammu. At its Western extremity this branch is connected with the ‘ChatarDhar’ by a short ridge, in which there are ‘the Padri’ and ‘ChatarDhar’ passes. Both the Pangi Range and the DaganiDhar are composed of Silurian rocks, chiefly schists, slates and Blaini conglomerate.
The Zanskar Range - Towards the Northern portion of the Himachal lie the Inner Himalaya, or the Zanskar Range, which is the most direct continuation of the main Himalayan axis. After leaving the Satluj in the North-Eastern corner of the Himachal it runs in a North Western direction, dividing Ladakh from Spiti and Lahaul. It then touches the Chamba district for a short distance, along its Northern border, separating Chamba-Lahaul from Zanskar and farther West forms the Northern boundary of the Kashmir valley. This magnificent mountain chain is masked by lofty ranges in front. The mean altitude is about 18,000 feet and some of the peaks rise to about 20,000 feet. The passes in Pangi and Poddar are 17,000 to 18,000 feet and are thus higher than those of the Pangi Range and are also more difficult owing to the size of the permanent glacier. Those in Kullu-Lahaul are easy and practicable for laden animals. The range is chiefly composed of gneissose granite. The boundary between Chamba-Lahaul and Kullu-Lahaul is formed by a spur from the Zanskar Range, separating the Miyar and the Kado-Tokpo streams and ending at the ‘Tirot’ (Thirkoe) Nala on the Chandra Bhaga; whence the line ascends to the crest of the Pangi Range.
District Chamba has two main rivers, i.e. the Chenab or Chandrabhaga and the Ravi.
The Chandrabhaga, as it is called in this part of the country, rises near the top of theBaralacha pass in Lahaul, from two streams, the Chandra and Bhaga. These two unite at Tandi and forms the Chenab. At Thirot, it enters Chambaand forms the boundary between Chamba and Lahaul and follows a Westerly course to Tandi, after which it turns to the North. At Shaor and Purthi, there are villages on the right bank. From Mindhal and Sach, the river is more open. It flows on a North-Westerly direction through picturesque scenery, past Kilar and Dharwas to the Ganaur or SansariNala where it leaves the territory. Then it continues its course through Poddar, Kishtwar and the outer hills in Jammu territory to the plains. Gold is found in this river in a small quantity. The main tributaries of the Chenab are MiyarNala, meeting at Udaipur and SaichuNala joining at Sach. On the left bank, some ice-streams from snowy passes which join Chenab are the Chobia and Kalicho streams at Trilokinath, Haser, Drati and Marhu streams near Tandi and Cheni and Sach streams near Mindhal and Kilar.
The ravi is the main river, which drains the whole of the Chamba valley between Dhauladhar and Pangi ranges. In the upper reaches, it is called Rauti or Irawati, it rises in the mid-Himalaya and Bara Bhanghal ranges. This range separates it from the Beas in the upper Kullu. It flows through Bara Bansu, Tretha and Chanota to Ulansa. Budhil and Tundah are the two main tributaries. After passing Piur, Rakh and Mehta the river courses to the North-West and reaches Chamba town where the Saho or Sal from the Saho ranges merges with the river. The longest tributary Siul and Seawa (from North) fall into it at a point where it touches Jammu territory. It leaves the district at Kheri to the plains at Shahpur. During the rainy season, its flow is maximum.
There are two well known lakes in the district at Manimahesh in Bharmaur tehsil and another at Khajjiar, he world famous tourists spot. On the occasion of RadhaAstmi falling in the month of September, a fair is held at Manimahesh. It is situated at an altitude of 3,950 meters.