Shielded on all sides by high mountains, Chamba was ruled for an entire millennium by kings descended from Raja Sahil Verma, who founded it in 920 AD and named it after his daughter Champavati. Unlike Himachal states further south, it was never formally under Mughal rule and its distinct Hindu culture remained intact until the first roads were built to Dalhousie in 1870. When the state of Himachal Pradesh was formed in 1948, Chamba became the capital. Today, few foreign visitors make it out here, passing through before or after trekking, or stopping off to see the unique temples.

The chaugan, a large green used for sports, evening strolls and festive celebrations, marks the centre of town, overlooked by the imposing old Rang Mahal palace, now a government building.

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