According to 2003 Forest Survey of India report, legally defined forest areas constitutes 66.52% of the area of Himachal Pradesh, although area under tree cover is only 25.78%. Vegetation in the state is dictated by elevation and precipitation.
The southern part of the state, at lower elevations than the north, has both tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests and tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests. These are represented by north western thorn scrub forests along the border with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and by Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests in the far southeast. Sal and shisham are found here.
Rising into the hills, we find a mosaic of western Himalayan broadleaf forests and Himalayan subtropical pine forests. Various deciduous and evergreen oaks live in the broadleaf forests, while Chir pine dominates the pine forests. Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests grow near treeline, with species that include East Himalayan Fir, West Himalayan Spruce, Deodar (State tree), and Blue pine.
The uppermost elevations have western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows in the northeast and north western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows in the northwest. Trees are sturdy with a vast network of roots. Alders, birches, rhododendrons and moist alpine shrubs are there as the regional vegetation. The rhododendrons can be seen along the hillsides around Shimla from March to May. The shrublands and meadows give way to rock and ice around the highest peaks.
Himachal is also said to be the fruit bowl of the country with orchards scattered all over the place. Meadows and pastures are also seen clinging to steep slopes. After the winter season, the hillsides and orchards bloom with wild flowers, while gladiolas, carnations, marigolds, roses, chrysanthemums, tulips and lilies are carefully cultivated. The state government is gearing up to make Himachal Pradesh as the flower basket of the world. Himachal Pradesh has around 1200 bird and 359 animal species, including the leopard, snow leopard (State animal), ghoral, musk deer and Western Tragopan. It has 2 major national parks and sanctuaries — the largest number in the Himalayan region. The Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu district was created to conserve the flora and fauna of the main Himalayan range, while the Pin Valley National Park to conserve the flora and fauna of the cold desert.
Maharana Pratap Sagar
Low Altitude Lakes
Mid Altitude Lakes
High Altitude Lakes
Prashar Lake (2730m)
Nako Lake (3662m)
Chandra Tal (4300m)
Suraj Tal (4883m)
Brighu Lake (4235m)
Manimahesh Lake (4080m)
Ghadhasaru Lake (3470m)
Mahakali Lake (4080m)
Lama Dal (3960m)
Chander Naun (4260m)
Kareri Lake (2934m)
Kamrunag lake (3334m) Mandi
In the Shimla area lie the small rain water fed lakes of Tani Jubbar, Kunihar and Karwali that lies of the Choti Shali Peak. There are several natural ponds in the area-one lies below New Shimla and there is another between Mashobra and Carignano.
Mountain passes of Himachal Pradesh
Pin Parvati Pass
Takling La (Pass)
Mountains of Himachal Pradesh
Kangla Tarbo 1
List of peaks in Himachal Pradesh
|Name of the peak||Altitude (meters)||Location|
|Manirang||6,597||Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti|
|Mulkila||6,520||Lahaul and Spiti|
|Gyephang||6,400||Lahaul and Spiti|
|Kangla Tarbo 1||6,315||Lahaul and Spiti|
|Shigrila||6,230||Lahaul and Spiti|
|Shikhar Beh||6,200||Lahaul and Spiti|
|Ramabang||6,135||Lahaul and Spiti|
|Mukar Beh||6,070||Lahaul and Spiti|
|Gepang Goh||6,050||Lahaul and Spiti|
|Saltu-Da-Par||5,650||Lahaul and Spiti|
|Lachalunga||5,060||Lahaul and Spiti|
|Murangla||5,060||Lahaul and Spiti|
|Shringla||4,999||Lahaul and Spiti|
|Gauri Devi Ka Tibba||4,030||Chamba|
|Hargaran||3,850||Lahaul and Spiti|
Manimahesh Kailash Peak
The Manimahesh Kailash Peak, also known as Chamba Kailash, which stands towering high over the Manimahesh Lake, is believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, the (Hindu deity). It is located in the Bharmour subdivision of the Chamba district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The peak is 26 kilometres from Bharmour in the Budhil valley. It is one of the major pilgrimage sites in Himachal Pradesh. The Manimahesh Lake is at the base of the Kailash peak at 5,653 metres (18,547 ft) and both are held in deep veneration by people of Himachal Pradesh, particularly the Gaddi tribes of the region, as the abode of Lord Shiva. In the month of Bhadon, on the eighth day of the new moon period a fair is held in the precincts of the lake that attracts thousands of pilgrims.
Manimahesh Kailash has not been successfully summitted by mountaineers and is thus a virgin peak. An attempt to climb the peak in 1968 by an Indo–Japanese team led by Nandini Patel was aborted. This failure is attributed to the divine prowess of the peak since it is revered as the holy mountain of Chamba according to the staunch devotees of the Manimahesh Lake and the peak. There are several mythical legends narrated on the sanctity of this peak and the lake at its base. In one popular legend, it is believed that Lord Shiva created Manimahesh after he married Goddess Parvati, who is worshipped as Mata Girja. There are many other legends narrated linking Lord Shiva and his show of displeasure through avalanches and blizzards that occur in the region. According to a local myth, Lord Shiva is believed to reside in Manimahesh Kailash. A rock formation in the form of a Shivling on this mountain is considered as the manifestation of Lord Shiva. The snow field at the base of the mountain is called by the local people as Shiva's Chaugan(play field).
It is also believed that Manimahesh Kailash is invincible as no one has so far scaled it, in spite of claims to the contrary and the fact that much taller peaks have been scaled, including Mount Everest. According to one legend, a local tribe, a Gaddi, tried to climb along with a herd of sheep and is believed to have been turned into stone along with his sheep. The series of minor peaks around the principal peak are believed to be the remnants of the shepherd and his sheep. Another legend narrated is that a snake also attempted to climb the mountain but failed and was converted into stone. Devotees believe that that they can view the peak only if the Lord wishes so. Bad weather covering the peak with clouds is also explained as displeasure of the Lord.
Manimahesh Kailash or Mountain Kailash is in the watershed of the Budhil valley, which forms part the mid-Himalayan range of hills near Kugti pass and at Harsar. The perpetually snow-covered glacial peak, at the head of its own range, is the source of the sacred lake of Manimahesh situated beneath it. Manimahesh Ganga River originates in a cascade from the lake and joins the Budhil River on its left bank. This hill range is a contiguous spur that conjoins the main range near the Bara Banghal pass of the Pir Panjal range. After the Budhal River rises from the slopes of the Kukti (Kugati) pass and Bada Bangal pass, the watershed formed by the Budhil and Ravi rivers takes the form of an inverted triangle with its base at Khadamukh. Budhil itself is formed by several streams which rise from different faces of the Manimahesh Kailas peak. The streams which rise from the peak are: the 'Bhujla' (derived from Bhuja meaning the arm) from the left flank of the peak, which meets Bhudil (also spelt Budhal) below Kukti village; the Dhancho nala, rising from the snowy ranges of the southern flank of the peak, flows in northward direction; Androl stream carrying holy waters of the Manimahesh Lake flowing to the north of the peak and through the Barachundi Meadow, the Siv Karotar stream rises from the foot of the peak and joins Androl; and the Gauri stream from the Gauri Kund joins Androl. All these streams constitute the Dhancho nala those confluences with Budhil at Hadsar. In view of so many streams originating from the Manimhesah Peak and the Manimhaesh Lake, and all of which are also linked to legends and the annual yatra pilgrimage, the Budhal or Budhil River is also highly venerated by the Gaddi elders and is nicknamed as 'Bhujl' Pir Pinjal lies in the lesser Himalayan Zone, which forms the central part of the state of Himachal Pradesh. The peak lies along the water shed between the Chenab River on the one side and Ravi and Beas on the other side. A research study has been carried out on the glacial status of this peak and its range by the Geological Survey of India. It indicated that the Manimahesh Kailash peak is part of the range, which is 4.6 kilometres (2.9 mi) long. The average elevation of the studied peaks is 4,960 metres (16,270 ft). The glacial melt from this range flows towards the north and extends over an area of 4.58 square kilometres (1.77 sq mi). The ice content of the glacier has been assessed as 0.137 cubic km.
Possibilities of climbing the Manimahesh peak, an important peak in the Chamba region, has been examined vis-a-vis the past failed attempts. It is assessed that the ascent and descent of the peak could be achieved in 3 days along a traverse of the N ridge and E flank into the Nainoni Valley and down to Kugti village. However, the rock conditions are assessed to be poor at higher elevations of the peak. The reported past attempts of an Indo-Japanese women's team in 1965, the Italian POW escape in 1945 and an ascent said to have been achieved in 1990 are all inferred as "fanciful.
Rivers in Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh provides water to both the Indus and Ganges basins. The drainage systems of the region are the Chandra Bhaga or the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej and the Yamuna. These rivers are perennial and are fed by snow and rainfall. They are protected by an extensive cover of natural vegetation.
The Beas rises in the Pir Panjal range near the Rohtang Pass and flows about 256 km in Himachal Pradesh. The river is formed by a numerous of tributaries; the major tributaries are the Parbati, the Hurla, the Sainj, theUhl, the Suheti, the Luni, the Banganga and the Chaki. The northern and eastern tributaries of the river are snow fed and perennial, while the southern ones are seasonal. During the month of August, increase in the inflow sometimes results in floods.
The Chandrabhaga or Chenab (Vedic name Askni), the largest river (in terms of volume of water) is formed after the meeting of two streams namely, Chandra and Bhaga at Tundi, in Lahul. It flows 122 km and covers an area of 7,500 km². in Himachal, before entering Kashmir. The Chandra passes through the barren tribal land.
The Ravi is born in Bara Banghal, Kangra district as a joint stream formed by the glacier fead Bhadal andTantgari. The river is of about 158 km in length and has a catchment area of nearly 5,451 km². Chamba lies on its right bank. The Sutlej originates in distant Tibet. The river cuts through both the great Himalayan and the Zaskar ranges and crosses the Indo-Tibetan border (near Shipkila). Then the river Spiti joins Sutlej from the north. Passing through gorges it emerges from the mountains at Bhakra. The catchment area of Sutlej in Himachal Pradesh is about 20,000 km².
The Yamuna has its origin in Yamunotri in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand. Its total catchment area in Himachal Pradesh is 2,320 km². Its tributaries are the Tons, the Giri and the Bata.
Rivers of Himachal Pradesh
Parvati River (Himachal Pradesh)
Valleys of Himachal Pradesh
Ecosphere (social enterprise)
Har Ki Doon valley
Joginder Nagar Valley
Pin Valley National Park