Himachal Pradesh, situated in the heart of western Himalayas, is one of the most beautiful states in India. It became an independent state of India in 1971 with
Shimla as the capital. The state shares boundary with Jammu and Kashmir in the north, Uttaranchal in the south-east, Haryana in the south, Punjab in the west and China in the east. This tiny hill state ranges in elevation between 350 and 7,000 m above sea level. The climate varies from semi tropical to semi arctic and during winter there is heavy snowfall.
Majority of the people believe in
Hinduism. People living in areas that border China are Buddhists. There are many beautiful Buddhist temples and pagodas in Himachal. At the time of
Dussehra a large congregation of village Gods takes place at Kullu. Major festivals are
Baisakhi, Nag Panchami,
Bhojri, Rath Rathni, Panj Bhikhami Ekadashi, Khaul Mela and
Jukaroo Mela of Pangi. The folk songs are based on religious and romantic themes and people gather at village fairs and dance to the tunes of these songs.
The people of Himachal depend on agriculture and also on sheep, goats and other cattle for their livelihood. Ninety percent of the people live in villages and small towns. The villages are terraced fields and houses are small two storied buildings with sloping roofs. Himachal has a high literacy percentage. All the villages have electricity and drinking water. There are many dams and hydro-electric projects.