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Forts and Palaces of Himachal Pradesh

Usha Bande (Author) Him Chatterjee (Author)

Himachal Pradesh is a small hill state nestling in the lap of the Western Himalaya . Geographically it is a mountainous State with high ranges, snow clad peaks, unfathomable valleys, powerful rivers and gurgling streams. The topography is difficult and defies easy access. Yet, there have been adventurers who came to the Himalayan terrain, conquered the local chiefs and established kingdoms. When there is kingdom, there is bound to be fortification to secure the boundaries, and palaces to live in style befitting the ruler. Culturally, Himachal Pradesh has a pleasant amalgam of mainstream Hindu, Buddhist and tribal art, architecture, and folk practices. Some of its forts and palaces have rich treasures of temple architecture, heritage buildings, paintings, sculpture and wood carvings fit to leave the tourists wonderstruck at the beauty and depth of the culture.
When one thinks of the forts of Himachal Pradesh, the first to come to mind is Kangra fort followed by the huge Nurpur Fort, the Forts of Sujanpur Tira, Haripur-Guler and Kotla.  These are testimonials to the splendid defense strategies, stupendous grandiosity of style and the great legacy in building art. On the other hand, the structure of the palaces in the upper regions of Himachal is usually tower-like. The idea was to combine fort and palace because of lack of space. The forts and palaces of this tiny hill state may not vie with those of Rajasthan or some other states considering the topography of the Pradesh, but they still have a charm of their own and rich potential to attract a large number of tourists. The forts are built on inaccessible hills and open out to awe-inspiring valleys. The scenic grandeur of these palaces and forts is to be seen to be believed.

When the majestic Dhauladhar forms the backdrop to Jhitangiri palace (non-existent today), or to the majestic Kot Kangra, how can one describe the feeling of awe and wonder? When suddenly a fort is seen jutting its little stony head from among the thick deodars on some isolated peak, who can really resist the charm of climbing up to see what it holds? And when you see magnificent Rajasthani art on the façade of some dilapidated palace you feel sad at the ravages of time. This book gives visual impressions coupled with brief history of the forts. It also focuses on art and architecture including woodcarvings, stone work, specificities of the architecture, like the Naggar palace of Kullu/Manali area which has typical architecture with horizontal wooden slabs and mud walls that are quake-resistant; temples and temple art associated with the palaces; treks to these palaces and forts through thick pinewoods and steep slopes; the atmosphere of awe and wonder; local customs and culture.

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About the authors

Usha Bande

Usha Bande, till recently Fellow, Indian Institute of advanced Study, Shimla, was on the faculty of English Literature in Government College for Women, Shimla.  She retired as Principal, Government College, Arki.  Dr. Bande worked for her doctorate on the novels of Anita Desai, interpreting Desai's characters from the angle of Horneyan psychology.  This is an innovative approach and has been widely acclaimed by US scholars in the field.  She completed a major UGC project on the Indian Short Stories in 1998, and has also worked in the field of Women's Studies at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla.  She is a prolific writer and has numerous research papers and more than a dozen books to her credit.

Him Chatterjee

Him Chatterjee, an artist of repute, is also the Chairman of the Department of Visual Arts, Himachal Pradesh University , Shimla. Known as much for his murals as for his paintings, Him Chatterjee’s important assignments include the murals in CAG office, New Delhi, NSG, HQ, New Delhi, the Mall, Solan and at many other places. His abstracted landscapes on canvases and pen drawings of several historical buildings of India display high quality. His exhibits feature in many Art galleries, Indian Institute for Advance Study, Shimla and the world famous Peace Museum, Puttapathi. Among his several awards are the recognitions given for his contribution in the field of art by the NGO “Sanchetna” in 2009. He has participated in more than 40 National and International Seminars and Workshops, and held 3 Solo shows. His Art Gallery (SAF) is one of the known visiting places in Shimla.

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Bibliographic information

Title Forts and Palaces of Himachal Pradesh
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2011
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher Literary Circle
Language: English
isbn 8181820630, 9788181820631
length 180p., Col. Illustrations; Col. Maps; Bibliography; 29cm.