Himachal Pradesh is a state in Northern India. It is spread over 21,495 sq mi (55,670 km2), and is bordered by Jammu and Kashmir on the north, Punjab on the west and south-west, Haryana and Uttarakhand on the south-east and by the Tibet Autonomous Region on the east. Himachal Pradesh is famous for its abundant natural beauty.
After the war between Nepal and Britain also known as Anglo-Gorkha War, the British colonial government came into power. In 1950 Himachal was declared as a union territory but after the State of Himachal Pradesh Act 1971, Himachal emerged as the 18th state of the Republic of India. Hima means snow in Sanskrit, and the literal meaning of the state's name is In the lap of Himalayas. It was named by one of the great Sanskrit scholars of Himachal Pradesh, Acharya Diwakar Datt Sharma.
The state is well known for its handicrafts. The carpets, leather works, shawls, metalware, woodwork and paintings are worth appreciating. Pashmina shawls are a product that is highly in demand in Himachal and all over the country. Himachali caps are famous art work of the people. Extreme cold winters of Himachal necessitated wool weaving. Nearly every household in Himachal owns a pit-loom. Wool is considered as pure and is used as a ritual cloth. The well-known woven object is the shawl, ranging from fine pashmina to the coarse desar. Kullu is famous for its shawls with striking patterns and vibrant colours. Kangra and Dharamshala are famous for Kangra miniature paintings.
Local music and dance reflect the cultural identity of the state. Through their dance and music, they entreat their gods during local festivals and other special occasions. Apart from the fairs and festivals that are celebrated all over India, there are number of other fairs and festivals that are of great significance to Himachal Pradesh. Shimla, the state capital, is home to Asia's only natural ice skating rink.
Himachal Pradesh has one of the highest literacy rates in India next to Kerala.Hamirpur District is among the top districts in the country for literacy. Education rates among women are quite encouraging in the state. The standard of education in the state has reached a considerably high level as compared to other states in India with several reputed educational institutes for higher studies.
The Indian Institute of Technology Mandi, Himachal Pradesh University Shimla, Green Hills Engg College Kumarhatti Solan Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT, CSIR Lab), Palampur, the National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur, the Central University Dharamshala, the Baddi University of Emerging Sciences and Technologies Baddi, the Jaypee University of Information Technology Waknaghat, Eternal University, Sirmaur & Chitkara University Solan are some of the pioneer universities in the state.
Flora and fauna:
Himachal Pradesh is a well known habitat to a variety of animals. There are around 1200 bird and 359 animal species in the state. This includes the Leopard, Snow leopard (State animal), ghoral, musk deer and Western Tragopan. It has 12 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.
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.