The early history of Sirmaur is mingled in legend. Later the erstwhile local Rajas traced their origins to Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer royal family from where they came a thousand years ago. There are six Tehsils: these are Nahan, Renuka, Shillai, Rajgarh, Pachhad and Paonta Sahib.
Giri, a tributary of the Yamuna is Sirmaur’s biggest river and dominates the region. It enters Sirmaur at Mariog village and flows for 84 km in the district and meets the Yamuna at Rampur ghat.
Sirmaur is blessed with a varied and rich wildlife. Leopard, hyena, jackal, fox, sambar, chital, hog deer, barking deer, chausingha, ghoral, black bear, monal, koklas and chir pheasant. Also a variety of fish are found in Sirmaur’s rivers.
Locals worship deities (devtas) and varied hill customs and rituals are observed. Bishu fair is held in spring at many places. Thoda is a unique warrior dance performed by locals. It is performed in village fairs.This dance traces its origin to the Mahabharata. It is a subtle mix of dance, sports and folk theatre.
Language: Hindi, Punjabi, English are understood and spoken by the people engaged in tourism trade.
Temperature: In winter the temperature can hover around freezing point summers temperature is high.
Clothing: Cotton clothes in Summer and Heavy woolens in winter.
Where to stay: There are a number of private hotels & guest houses at Nahan.
By Rail: The nearest railway stations are Barara, Ambala, Chandigarh and Kalka, which are connected by a regular bus service. Yamunanagar is another railway station close to the town.
By Air: Nearest airport is at Chandigarh.
How To Get Around: Local buses operate regularly. Taxis are also available
|Places to visit||Km|
- Seek holy blessings at the Paonta Sahib Gurudwara
- Khodri Dak Patthar is a perfect picnic spot.
- Thrive in the beautiful valleys of Nahan.
- Visit Himachal’s research station of fruits and agriculture at Dhaula Kuan.
- Explore the hidden hamlets while trekking across Churdhar.
In the month of September, Nahan hosts the Bawan Dawadashi fair
During the Chaitra Navratra in March/April, large number of pilgrims visits the Balasundari Temple at Trilokpur, near Nahan to seek the holy blessings.
It takes place near the village of byas in tehsil Paonta, five days before the holi, in month of Chaitra.
Bisu festivals falls on the last two days of the solar month of Chaitra and the first of vaisakha.
|Tourist Information Centre, Shimla||0177-2654589, 2654589, 2832498|
|Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Shimla||0177-2625924, 2625864, 2625511|
|HPTDC’s Marketing Office, Shimla||0177-2652561/2658302|
Nahan (932 m) is the administrative headquarters of Sirmaur district. A quiet picturesque town perched on an isolated ridge in the Shiwalik hills. It enjoys pleasant weather for almost the entire year. The place commands grand views. The town has narrow cobbled pathways where once the Rajas elephants walked. The town was founded in 1621 by Raja Karma Prakash. The Delhi Gate (Lytton’s memorial) is a landmark monument. It was built to mark the occasion of visit of the viceroy Lord Lytton.
The town is known for its old palaces, graceful homes, pretty gardens and winding roads. Raja Shamsher Singh even built a house in the Italian style called Shamsher villa. Nahan stands out for its Rajasthani, Pahari and Colonial architecture.
Gunnu Ghat is the center of the town. Many short-cuts lead to most places from this center point. The town’s other attractions include lovely walks known as the Shamsher Villa round, the Military round and the Hospital round. These level walks are evocative of the city’s past. During the days of the Rajas a grand ceremony which involved an elephant procession used to take place here.
The Lakhdata Pir is a regular stopover for pilgrims in the area. Believed to have supernatural powers of intercession, people visit this in the hope that their wishes will be fulfilled. The Jori Bain, the Lakshmi Narayan and the Jagannath temples are the other well known shrines in the area.
Getting there: Nahan is at a distance of 38 km from Renuka and 45 km from Paonta Sahib. Nahan is 65 km from Ambala and Delhi is 288 km.
Suketi Fossil Park
Suketi is 21 km from Nahan and has a fossil park with life size fibre glass models of pre-historic animals whose fossils were found here. The park is spread over 5 km. The life-size models are of Stegodonganesa, Sivatherium, Hexaprotodon sivalensis, Colosschelys atlas, Paramachaerdus and Crocodilia, Mesozoic animals. These animals once thrived in the area.
The park has a fossil museum housing models showing the evolution of life size and pre-historic tools and artefacts.
The museum has skeletal remains of different groups of skulls and limbs of mammals, skulls of hippopotamuses, tortoises, gharials and crocodiles, tusks of 22 species of elephants, rocks and charts and paintings related to the several aspects of plant and animal life.
The stone items on display belong to the Early Palaeolithic Man. Also preserved in the museum are fossils of two extinct primates, Sivapithecus and Ramapithecus. The museum houses antiquities unearthed by Captain Cautley in the area. From this he dug out the remains of one of Asia’s oldest human ancestors. Exhibits also include an Indian postage stamp with images of two elephants and tusks, issued in 1951 on the occasion of the centenary of the Geological Survey of India.
The fossil park is the first of its kind in the country to be developed at the actual discovery site of fossils. Located on the left bank of the Markanda river it is approached by a link road, 4 km from highway. The park museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Renuka has a beautiful and sacred oval shaped lake. It is the largest natural lake in Himachal. It is named after Renuka. Fed by underwater springs the lake has a circumference of 2.5 km. The shape resembles the profile of a reclining woman. The lake rests in a long valley and the surrounding woods are covered by a dense forest. It is best viewed from the hill top above.
Places to stay: Himachal Tourism’s Hotel Renuka is available at Renuka. There is also a Forest Rest House, the Kubza pavilion serai and 2 km away at Dadahu is a PWD Rest House. Private hotels and guest houses are also available. Dadahu is on the confluence of the Giri and Jalal rivers. It is surrounded by mountains. Renuka is 38 km from Nahan.
Paonta Sahib (398 m)
Located on the Yamuna river Paonta Sahib is associated with Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru who lived here for about three years. In the closing years of the seventeenth century, the Sikh Guru came to the princely state of Sirmaur on the invitation of its ruler Maidni Prakash. After surveying the area he decided to camp by the river Yamuna and his stay here became the foundation for the town of Paonta Sahib.
‘Paonta’ means ‘a space (or place) for a foothold’ the foundations of the Gurudwara were set by Guru Gobind Singh. The Gurudwara overlooks the Yamuna which flows by rather quietly. Paonta commands fine views of the Doon valley and the nearby hills.
There are also two temples of Rama and Krishna. The ground is shaded by trees. It is the venue for the Hola and Baisakhi fairs held in March / April.
The Gurudwara has a palanquin of gold donated by a devotee. Shri Talab Asthan and Shri Dastar Asthan are two notable places inside the gurudwara. Kavi Darbar is near the Gurudwara. It is the venue for holding poetry competitions. The weapons and pens used by Guru Gobind Singh are displayed in the museum. The Gurudwara is visited by Sikh pilgrims from all over India and abroad.
Places to stay: Himachal Tourism’s hotel The Yamuna is available at Paonta Sahib. It is barely 100 m from the famous Gurudwara and overlooks the river. A spacious lawn bordered by tall trees adds to the charm.
At 2063 m Habban valley is a scenic village. It is surrounded by a deodar forest. There are orchards of peach and apple. You can trek from here to Churdhar. Habban is 51 km from Solan.
At a modest elevation of 3647 m, Churdhar is the highest peak outside the Himalayan range. Few know that it is from the top of this peak George Everest made his astronomical reading of the Himalayan Mountains. Chur-Dhar is also called Chur-Chandni Dhar (Bangles of snow ridge). Another name is Chur Chandni, which means a mountain dressed in moonlight.
This peak is visible from Shimla, Kasauli, Solan & Kufri and retains a streak of snow for nearly half the year. The approach to Churdhar top can be done from three sides. One can reach from Nauradhar 12 km, from Haripurdhar 12 km and from Chopal 8 km.
The peak is surrounded by a forest sanctuary, which makes trekking a delightful affair. While trekking up you could come across the Monal and Khaleej pheasants among other wildlife. The trek to the top can be done from May til November. It is a steep hike inside a dense deodar forest, terraced fields and gujjar pasture lands.
The last one hour of the climb is a moraine walk as you leave the tree cover behind. At the summit, the views are outstanding. On a clear day you can see ranges as far as Badrinath and Kedarnath, the Gangetic basin, Sutlej river, Shimla, Chail, Kufri, Kasauli and Chakrata.
Below the summit is a deodar-roofed temple of Shirgul housing a lingam dedicated to Lord Shiva (Chureshwar Mahadev). On the top is a recently built concrete temple of Shiva the other name for Shirgul.
There is the temple of Bhangyani Devi. Haripurdhar (2687m) is 83 km from Nahan, 61 km from Rajgarh and 35 km from Nauradhar. There are rest houses at Shillai, Kafota and Ronhat. You can also visit Nauradhar, Sataun, Kamrau and Rajban.
Spread over 400 acres and located amidst the sylvan surroundings, Baru Sahib has come up in recent years. It can be reached from Solan, Rajgarh route 63 km.
Trilokpur is 23 km from Nahan and has a temple of Balasundri. It stands on an isolated hillock. A fair takes place twice a year during the Navratras. The temple has 84 bells hanging at the entrance. The temple was built in 1573 by Raja Dip Prakash.
Giri -Bata a Power House
Nearby is the 60 MW Giri Bata power house constructed after diverting the Giri river through a 6 km long tunnel. The place is situated on the Giri river and is named Giri Nagar.
Dhaulakuan is on the road to Paonta Sahib 27 km from Nahan. There are kinnu and mango orchards.
The Jaitka Fort
This fort is 15 km from Nahan. It crowns a steep ridge of slate stone. Built by the Sirmaur Kings and restored by the Gorkha leader Ranzor Thapa who fought an important battle here with the British. The Jaitka Fort fell to Ranzore Thapa in 1809 and was conquered by the British in 1814.
The fort is believed to have been built using the material recovered from the destroyed Nahan Fort.
Simbalwara Wildlife Sanctuary
Simbalbara is a wildlife sanctuary in Paonta valley. It is a peaceful and isolated wildlife getaway located in the lower reaches of the Shiwalik hill ranges. The sanctuary is off the main Nahan- Paonta Sahib road and is a thick scrub and Sal forest known for a variety of bird life and deer. The sanctuary is managed by the state forest department. The main wildlife attractions are Ghoral, Sambhar and Chittal.
Katasan Devi Temple
Close to Dhaula Kuan is Katasan Devi temple of Durga where Raja Jagat Singh defeated the advancing army of Rustam Qadir Rohilla. Victory was commemorated by building this temple. Situated in a dense forest on the Shimla-Nahan-Paonta road, it is19 km from Nahan and 30 km from Paonta.
Sirmauri Tal is on the southern bank of the Giri river and was once the seat of the Sirmaur Kings. The story is that it was destroyed in a flood after being cursed by a court dancing girl when the ruler went back on an oath to give half of his kingdom if she crossed a narrow gorge on a rope. This, she did but the wily ruler offered her the entire kingdom if she could dance her way back. She started back but as she was half way across, he cut the rope hurling the helpless girl into the stream. It is said floods followed which swept away the town. It is 16 km from Paonta Sahib and 25 km from Nahan.
At 1668 m it is located on a hill top and commands a panoramic view of the plains including Chandigarh by night. There are also views of the Churdhar mountain.
Pleasent morning and evening breeze blows. Sarahan is 42 km from Nahan, Dagshai is 34 km and Solan 52 km.
It is a quiet place amidst pine, forest, apple and stone fruit orchards. Rajgarh is particularly known for its peach orchards. The Rajgarh fort was demolished by the Gorkhas in 1814, but was later restored. It is 40 km from Solan. There are Rest houses and lodges available.