Himachal Pradesh houses a number of historical monuments that have brought glory to the state. Most of them belong to the British era and were constructed by them. Himachal has preserved them quite impressively to showcase them to its visitors. The most famous monuments possessed by Himachal Pradesh include the following.
The Vice-Regal Lodge:
One of the finest and one of the most important heritage building is Vice regal lodge located on the observatory hill, Summer Hill. This building is also known as Rashtrapati Niwas and was the house of British Viceroy Lord Dufferin. Very important decisions were taken in this building which changed the course of the Indian sub-continent. This is the magnificent Scottish Baronial architecture designed by Henry Irvin. It used to have electricity in 1888 when no house in Shimla had that time. After independence the the building became the property of President of India. And in early 60s, then President of India Dr. S.Radhakrishnan and Prime Minister Nehru decided to make it available for the scholars so that the best minds get the ideal retreat. That when Indian Institute of Advanced studies moved to The Vice Regal Lodge in 1965.
Gaiety theatre is located in the heart of Shimla town. This is a fine example of Gothic architecture evolved in the middle ages in Europe. It was designed by Henry Irvin, then superintendent of works in 1881. Gaiety theatre holds a significant place in the heart of state cultural history. Gaiety Theatre saw no. of legendary artists Rudyard Kipling, Baten Powel, K.L. Sehgal, Prithvi Raj Kapoor, the Kendall’s, Balraj Sahani, Pran, Manohar Singh, Shashi Kapoor, Raj Babbar, Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher perform in the historic theatre since its inception.
Christ Church, Shimla
Christ Church, located at the Ridge, was built in 1846. It is reputed to be second oldest church of Northern India. This religious monument is of great importance since the British times. The coloured glass windows in the eastern part of this Church are beautiful marvels of delicate architecture. They are five in all which represents the virtue of faith, fortitude, hope,charity,patience and humility. It is quite delightful to visit the Church in the evening when it is completely illuminated and looks as fascinating as it looked when it was newly built.
Woodville is one of the finest and oldest houses of Shimla. Built during the British rule in 1865, this building was the residence of the then Commander-in-Chief. It was later on converted into a Summer Palace by the ruler of Jubbal. Today, this extremely beautiful architectural building is a renowned and most visited heritage hotel of Shimla. Woodville is the ideal place for the people who wants to live in serenity away from the noise and pollution to enjoy the inner peace.
The Town Hall :
The town hall is an iconic building located near the scandal point, which was made by the British in 1910, where the city’s water supply ,sanitation , roads and others things were administered. Now this complex is housing municipal office, Ball and Supper rooms, Library and reading rooms.
Lord Eligin’s Tomb, Dharamshala
The churchyard of the Anglican Church dedicated to Lord Eligin is his final resting place. A tomb has been erected over his grave in the wilderness of Saint John. This Church is located in the middle of the road connecting Mcleodganj and Dharamshala. Lord Eligin was the Governor General of India in 1861 and he died in 1863 in Dharamshala. This tomb is a quite place to be visited by the ones seeking peace in the woods.
Kangra Fort, Kangra
The Kangra Fort lies in the outskirts of district Kangra. This fort dates back to the Trigarta Kingdom, mentioned in the Mahabharata and was built by the Rajputs of the Katoch Dynasty. At the entrance of the fort there is a courtyard with two gates. This fort contains the shrines of many Gods and Goddesses. The Kangra Fort was under the influence of a lot of rulers belonging to different sects and therefore, the different architectural scheme is evident in its appearance.
Nurpur fort is a massive structure, in Nurpur of Distt. Kangra. The beautiful fort built in the 10th century in the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh is named after Queen Noorjahan, the wife of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. The Nurpur fort now lies in ruins but is resplendent in history and time stops still as soon as you enter its gates. The famous Brij Maharaj Temple is also inside the Fort complex. This temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, a beautiful black stone idol of Lord Krishna and Meera bai, both are worshiped here together.
Rang Mahal, Chamba
The Rang Mahal is located in the beautiful town of Chamba. It was built by Raja Umed Singh in the mid 18th century. The Rang Mahal is exquisitely decorated with Punjab Hills style paintings, depicting the life and times of Lord Krishna. The architecture of the palace is marked by Mughal influences. This heritage monument is now open for all to glance upon and also possesses an emporium where one can purchase the traditional craft of the women of Chamba.
Manimahesh Temple, Bharmour
The temple was built by Sahil Verman in the 9th century. It depicts the architectural wonders of the Pratihara style. It is the larget shikhar-style temple of Bharmour and is enthralled by visitors during the peak season. It is of enormous religious importance and is said to contain the shrine of Lord hiva over a raised platform. There are images of other Gods and Goddesses possessed by this temple.
Lakshmi Narayan Temple
Laxmi Narayana Temple, which is the main temple of Chamba town was built by Sahil Varman in the 10th century AD. The temple has been built in the Shikhara style. The temple consists of Bimana i.e. Shikhara and GarbhGriha with a small antralya.. The wooden Chhattries, the shell roof, atop the temple were in response to the local climatic conditions as a protection against snowfall. There are several other temples within the complex. The temple of Radha krishna, Shiva Temple of Chandergupta and Gauri Shankar Temple are among these
Tabo Monastery, Spiti
Also known as the ‘Tabo Chos-Khor’, meaning the ‘doctrine enclave’, the Tabo Monastery houses nine temples and 23 chortens. It also possesses a monks’ chamber and a nuns’ chamber. This is the largest monastery of Spiti and was constructed by Rinchensang Po in 996 A.D. The cliff- face of the monastery contains caves which were supposed to be the dwellings of the monks. Along with this there is also an assembly hall. It is a must visit for the travellers of the trans- Himalayas.
Dhankar Monastery, Spiti
This monastery lies on a cliff. Dhankar itself means ‘fort on a cliff’. This monastery is located between the valleys of Tabo and Kaza. The elevation is around 3,894 metres. This monument is among the 100 most endangered monuments of the world. Facing the beautiful Spiti River, this monument is a mark of beauty amidst the trans- Himalayas. Due to its religious importance among the Buddhists, you may find many people dedicated to this monastery.
Barsela Monuments, Mandi
Barsela Monuments are actually a symbol of the burial of the Rajas and Ranas of Mandi. The first stone at erected at this site was in 1637 A.D. by Raja Hari Sen. It was a royal privilege for a Raja or Rana to erect a memorial stone. These monuments are also known as Sati Pillars because they were erected for the erstwhile Rajas, their Ranis, Khawasis and other royal women of the empire. Though, the Barsela Monuments are a symbol of despair, yet, they are visited by innumerable people throughout the year.
The wife of Raja Ajber Sen, Rani Sultan Devi, built this temple in 1520 A.D. THIS TEMPLE TRULY DEPICS THE ‘Chhoti Kashi’ image of Mandi. A spacious opillar mandap is housed within the Garbhagriha. The image of a temple guard is also seen on the outside. The temple is beautifully carved out of rock and is a historical marvel in itself.
Panchvaktra temple is the most important temple of Mandi district In terms of archeological excellence. It is a monument famous for its archeological wonder which involved the unique Shikara style architecture. The unique appearance of Lord Shiva with five faces is worshipped in the temple. The faces represent five eternal powers: enlightenment, consciousness, action , desire and supreme bliss. This temple was built in 15th century and is located on the confluence of River Beas and its tributary Suketi Khad.
Maharaja Palace, Chail, Solan
Built by Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala in 1891, this Palace is a peaceful delight amidst the tall and thick deodars. Just a little away from the palace is the famous Sidh Baba Ka Mandir. The Maharaja’s Palace is now a heritage hotel with a number of cottages which are easily rented for tourists. It is indeed one of the majestic monuments of Himachal Pradesh.
Diwan-i-Khas located in Arki is a majestic hall, enhanced with marble columns which are decorated with pietra dura embellishments. At the end of the hall, on the patio, one can find two marble thrones lying authoritatively in the hall. It is a great place to visit and experience the magnificence of the old times. It is one of the greatest monuments around the low hills of Himachal Pradesh.
Sultanpur Palace, Kullu
Sultanpur Palace is the most sought after tourist attraction in Kullu. It is also famous as Rupi Palace. The most beautiful thing about this Palace is the miniature painting made in Kullu style. These painting displays the simple rural life of Kullu people. This palace has been rebuild near the old palace when the other was destroyed in a massive earthquake. This palace is a residence of the formal ruling family hence their permission is required to visit the palace.
Gauri Shankar Temple
This is one of the oldest temples of Himachal which was built in 9th or 10th century. This temple has two idols Durga Mata and Lord Shiva. There are sculpture of Lord Ganesha,peacocks, musicians and dances on the walls of the temple. The temples is fine variety of Shikara style of the architecture which is found very rarely in this part of the country.
Basheswar Mahadev Temple, Kullu
Built during the rule of Gujjars and Pratiharas in the middle of the 8th and 9th century A.D., this temple is one of the finest structures that Himachal owns. The pillars are sculptured with Purana Kumbh and Ardharatna motifs. The temple has Shiva Lingam as the main deity while there are also many other deities who are offered prayers in the temple premises.
Built in the 15th century A.D. by Raja Sidh Singh, the Naggar Castle is a beautiful heritage monument. This castle, made up of stone and wood, truly depicts the architecture of the western Himalayas.
Roerich Heritage Museum
Originally the residence of Nicholas Roerich, a renowned Russian painter, the Roerich Heritage Museum is considered to be a part of the Castle. There are innumerable inspiring paintings of this genius showcased all over the museum. It is a must visit for art- lovers.
Katoch Palace, Tira Sujanpur
The ruler of Kangra, Sansar Chand who belonged to the Katoch dynasty carried out his activities from this place. This palace was originally built by Abhay Chand, the ruler of Katoch dynasty in 1758 A.D. It consists of huge walls and twenty two doors to its interiors. Built with the help of bricks and lime mortar, the entrance of this palace is magnificent, thereby making it worth of being called an incredible monument.
Narbadeshwar Temple, Tira Sujanpur
Rani Parasani, the wife of Maharaja Sansar Chand, built this temple in 1823 A.D. there are beautiful paintings on the walls of these temples, stunningly decorated with gold. The shrines include the ones depicting the love of Radha- Krishna and Shiva- Parvati. One can witness a blend of Mughal and Rajput architecture in this monument.
Fort of Bachhretu, Bachhretu
Located amidst the peaceful areas of Bachhretu, lies the fort of Bachhretu. This fort was built by the ruler of Bilaspur, Raja Ratan Chand in the 14th century A.D. The fort is mostly into ruins now but it still houses a beautiful small temple. The site at the fort of Bachhetru also provides a mesmerising view of the Gobind Sagar lake and sets up a very peaceful atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.
Thakurdwara of Sunhani, Ghumarwin
3 kms away from Ghumarwin road lay the Thakurdwara of Sunhani. The Chandel kings built the Thakurdwara of Sunhani. They also made a Narsingh Devta Temple inside it which was considered a tradition at that time. The architecture and sculptures depict the influence of the Gupta period. Sculptures of various Gods and Goddesses are beautifully carved out in the vicinity of this area.
Old Fort, Una
The Katoch dynasty built this fort in 1170 A.D. Raja Purab Chand was the one to lay its foundation. It depicts stone craftsmanship very exquisitely. Though this fort is not easily accessible due to inadequate pathways, yet a climb to the same is worth. The fort is almost in its ruins yet we can clearly witness the royalty showcased by it.
Fort of Solah Singhi Dhar, Una
The sub- Himalayan hills known as Solah Singhi possess this fort built by the Katoch dynasty. This fort has geographical boundations on all sides as the range itself covers parts of Satluj and Beas. The link road diverting from Una-Hamirpur highway, takes us to the fort of Solah Singhi Dhar which is also ruined to an extent but the remains can still be witnessed.
Kamru Fort, Sangla
One of the oldest forts in Himachal Pradesh, the Kamru Fort is located 2kms away from the Sangla Valley. Presenting the look of a tower, this fort is quite a marvel at such a high altitude. The unique Tibetan architecture, influencing this fort is excellently beautiful. A number of tourists flock during peak season to have a look at this mysterious fort in the upper Himalayas.
The Durga Temple
Commonly called Chandika Temple, this exclusive temple is located in Ropa in Kinnaur. The traditional cultural heritage is adequately depicted by the interiors as well as exteriors of this temple. The place is of high religious importance for both Hindus and Buddhists of the region. While visiting Kinnaur one should not miss a walk up to this temple.
Shiva Temple, Mangarh
Dating back to the 9th and 10th century A.D., this temple is believed to be built by the Pandavas. There is a mandap in the middle of the temple and Shiva is worshipped religiously within the same. The door of the temple is beautifully carved out. The temple also consists of carved images of Gandharva. Projecting a classic architecture, this white temple is a peaceful delight for its visitors.