According to the legends, Himavat or the King of the mountains was considered as the God of the Himalayas or rather, Himalayas were personified as God Himavat also called Himavaan or Himraj. He was the father of Ganga and Parvati (the wife of Lord Shiva). Lord Shiva is said to have been meditating in the Himalayas. According to the ancient Indian scriptures, the Himalayas are situated at the centre of the Earth. Being an abode of peace, sages and common masses meditated here. The history of migration of the people to the Himalayas has a base idea of penance.
The history of Himachal goes back to the dawn of human civilisation in the form of Indus Valley civilisation. When man was emerging from cave shelters in the other parts of the world, an awstrucking civilisation had already settled in the foothills of Himalayas. These were the cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Gradually people started migrating to the interiors. During the Rigvedic period, tribes such as Kolis, Hails and Doms of the Western Himalayan region and the Chhomangs and Domangs of the tribal Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti region were considered the masters of the hills.
Later, the Khashas, an offshoot of the Aryan race, entered the racial arena of Himachal Pradesh and became the new rulers of this hilly terrain. They organised themselves into groups, thereby dividing the whole region into small republics called the Janapadas. King Ashoka, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya annexed these Janapadas and also erected a stupa in Kullu. After the Mauryas, the Kushanas came to the throne and the local tribes submitted to them. After their dissolution in the 3rd century AD, the Guptas brought the Janapadas under their sway. For a short period, the local barons i.e. Thakurs and Ranas rose to power and became independent. But soon they were subdued to Harsha’s empire. Around 7th century AD upto 12th century AD, Rajputs ruled the region. Many places were embellished and beautified by them especially in the Kangra group of kingdoms. All these conquests brought about great cultural exchanges in the region. Later, in the 10th century AD, this area saw many Muslim invasions. They plundered the wealth of the Kangra kingdoms. This was followed by a failed attempt of the Gorkhas of Nepal to annex the area. Alongside, Maharaja Ranjit Singh came to power in Himachal. At this time, the Gorkhas were marching towards south to capture the area which led to the Anglo-Gorkha war. The British empire annexed Shimla in the 19th century after the Gorkha war ended. This brought about huge development in the region in various sectors.
After independence, Himachal Pradesh came to be known as the Chief Commissioner’s province in 1948. In 1951 it became a Union Territory and on 25th January, 1971, after the State of Himachal Pradesh Act was passed by the Parliament, this new state came into being. This is the day when the people of Himachal celebrate Himachal Day throughout the state.
Having a vast mythological and political history, this region has kept its heritage and culture alive and is still the abode of peace and serenity. It’s rich past can also be traced from the monuments, buildings and carved structures found all over the region.