Chamba is situated in the north western side of Himachal Pradesh. Regarding the early history of the district it is believed that once upon a time this region was inhabited by certain Kolian tribes, which were later, subjugated by the Khasas. After the Khasas, Audumbaras came in 2nd century B.C. The Audmabaras had republican form of government and worshiped Lord Shiva. From the Gupta period (4th century A.D.), the Chamba region was under the control of Thakurs and Ranas who considered themselves superior to the low tribes like Kolis and Khasas. In 920, Raja Sahil Varman (or Raja Sahil Verma) shifted the capital of the kingdom to Chamba, following the specific request of his daughter Champavati (Chamba was named after her). In circa 500 A.D., a famous legendary hero named Maru entered into north-west from Kalpagrama, then founded Brahamputra in the valley of the Budhal river, located 75 km. to the east of present day’s Chamba town. His successors continued to rule over the country from that capital city for over three hundred years until Sahilla Varman shifted his capital from Brahamputra to the more centrally located plateau in the lower Ravi valley. After sometime he changed the name of the town to Champa, after his beloved daughter. The place was ruled by different rulers during different periods of time.
Vijay Sharma a notable person of the district was born on 12th September, 1962 at Mohalla Ramgarh, of the district. Till date he has got many prestigious awards-State Award 1980 (Govt. of Himachal Pradesh), National Award for Master crafts person for Basohli Painting in 1990 (bestowed by the President of India), National Kalidas Award (2011) and Padma Shri Award (2012). Musafir Ram Bhardwaj, a famous player of musical instrument Paun Mata, is another notable person of this district. Paun Mata is a traditional music instrument made of copper drum and lamb’s skin. He was born in 1930 to Deewana Ram at Sunchai village, Bharmour area in Chamba district. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2014. He is also recipient of two other important awards-Lifetime Achievement Award 2013 by Divya Himachal and Rashtrapati Award in 2009.
Geographically the district is located at 32°55'N latitude, 76°13'E longitude and 611 m Altitude. In the year 2021, there was a total 37.62% forest area of total geographical area. The district occupies a geographical area of 6,522 sq kms and it is bounded by Jammu and Kashmir to the north-west and west, Ladakh of Jammu and Kashmir and Lahaul and Bara Banghal to the north-east and east, Kangra to the south-east and Gurdaspur district of Punjab to the south. The Ravi River with its tributary and Sal River are the principal rivers of the district. Climatically, the maximum temperature recorded in summer is 39°C (102°F) and the minimum temperature in winter is -1°C (30°F). Most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 1274.4 mm in the year of 2021-22.
Administrative wise, the district is divided into six sub-divisions namely Chamba, Dalhousie, Tissa, Chowari, Bharmour and Pangi. To administer in a smooth way it is divided into seven tehsils-Chamba, Dalhousie, Tissa, Chowari, Bharmour, Pangi and Salooni. Moreover, the district comprises 5 towns and 1591 villages. The administrative language in the district is Hindi.
According to 2011 census, the district has a population of 5,19,080 including 2,61,320 are males and 2,57,760 are females. The district has a sex ratio of 986 (females for every 1000 males). During the year 2001-2011 the population growth of the district was 12.63% including 11.10% were males and 14.22% were females. As per 2011 census, the major religion in the district is Hindu with 92.43% of the total population. The population density in the district is 80 (persons per sq. km.). According to 2011 census the principal language in the district is Hindi with 92.83%. In the year 2020 the number of live births in the district was 6,799 out of which 3,451 were males and 3,348 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 2,333 out of which 1,342 were males and 991 were females.
In 2006, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj announced Chamba as one of the backward district. It is one of the two districts in Himachal Pradesh which currently receives funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF). The economy of the district is also based on beekeeping and horticulture. The major chunks of revenue in the district come from NHPC Chamera Hydroelectric project and Sago fruit industries. In the year 2015-2016 the gross domestic product in the district was Rs. 6,37,195 lakh at current price in the year 2011-2012. In the year 2015-16 the net domestic product in the district was Rs. 5,29,660 lakh at current price in the year 2011-2012. In the year 2015-2016 the Per Capita Income was in Rs. 98,006 at Current Price in the year 2011-2012.
The literacy rate of the district is 72.17% out of which 82.59% are males and 61.67% are females. The number of literates in the district is 3,23,842 including 1,86,064 are males and 1,37,778 are females. Some important colleges of Chamba are DAV College, Chamba Government College, Chamba Millennium Education College and Priyadarshini College of Education.
Harsh Mahajan, ex-Animal Husbandry minister of Himachal Praeesh, was born at Chamba on 12th December, 1955. Since 1972, he is a member of Indian National Congress. Another well-known name politician of the district is BK Chauhan. He was born on 11th April, 1947 at Chamba. He is a member of Bhartiya Janata Party and became a member of its State Executive Committee.
There are many places of interest of the district which attracts a huge number of travellers every year. Kailash Manimahesh, one of the major pilgrimage sites in Himachal Pradesh, is 28 km. from Bharmour. The natives of the district believe that the lake is blessed by goddess Kali and protected by Lord Shiva. Bhuri Singh Museum, one of the oldest museums in India, was established in September, 1908 by the Raja Bhuri Singh at Chamba. Laxmi Narayana Temple is the main temple of Chamba town was built by Sahil Varman in the 10th century A.D. Some other prominent temples of the district are Chamunda Devi Temple, Hari Rai Temple, Sui Mata Temple and Chaurasi Temples. Lama Dal Lake is ? high-altitude located of the district. It is held sacred to Lord Shiva and it lies amidst bare rock. Chamba Church and Chamba library are also centres of attraction of the district. Gandhi Gate of the district is the main gateway of Chamba. The Viceroy of British Government, Lord Curzon received a warm welcome by a bright orange gateway built in 1900, known as Gandhi gate.