The state is spread across valleys. About 90% of the state’s population lives in rural areas. Many perennial rivers flow in the state with numerous hydropower plants producing surplus electricity that is sold to other states, such as Delhi, Punjab and West Bengal. Tourism and agriculture are also important constituents of the state’s economy. The state has one of the highest per-capita incomes among the Indian states and union territories.
Shimla district has the largest urban population in the state at 25%. The villages have good connectivity with roads and public health centres. Practically all houses have a toilet and 100% hygiene has been achieved in the state. Notable actions by the state government include a ban on polyethylene bags and tobacco products. According to a survey of CMS – India Corruption Study 2017, Himachal Pradesh is India’s least corrupt state.
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Tourism in Himachal Pradesh is a major contributor to the state’s economy and growth. The mountainous state with its Himalayanlandscapes attracts tourists from all over the world. Hill stations like Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala, Dalhousie, Chamba, Khajjiar, Kullu and Kasauli are popular destinations for both domestic and foreign tourists. The state also has many important Hindu pilgrimage sites with prominent temples like Naina Devi Temple, Vajreshwari Devi Temple, Jwala Ji Temple, Chintpurni, Chamunda Devi Temple, Baijnath Temple, Bhimakali Temple, Bijli Mahadev and Jakhoo Temple. Manimahesh Lake situated in the Bharmour region of Chamba district is the venue of an annual Hindu pilgrimage trek held in the month of August which attracts lakhs of devotees. The state is also referred to as “Dev Bhoomi” (literally meaning Abode of Gods) due to its mention as such in ancient Hindu texts and occurrence of a large number of historical temples in the state.
It is also called the Land of the Gods on account of the Hindu belief that deities like Lord Shiva considered the Himalayas their abode, and much of the state is located among the Himalayan Mountains. Although modern pop-literature writers online have often also referred to Uttarakhand as the land of the gods because it also contains Himalayan mountains, officially it is Himachal Pradesh that has been considered the land of the gods since before the state of Uttarakhand existed (the UK as it is abbreviated on license plates for automobiles in the state, and the state was founded in the year 2000). A tourism department board on the road when entering Himachal Pradesh from the state of Punjab states “Welcome to the Land of the Gods.”
The state is also known for its adventure tourism activities like ice skating in Shimla, paragliding in Bir Billing and Solang valley, rafting in Kullu, skiing in Manali, boating in Bilaspur and trekking, horse riding and fishing in different parts in the state. Shimla, the state’s capital, is home to Asia’s only natural ice skating rink. Spiti Valley in Lahaul & Spiti District situated at an altitude of over 3000 metres with its picturesque landscapes is an important destination for adventure seekers. The region also has some of the oldest Buddhist Monasteries in Asia.
Himachal hosted the first Paragliding World Cup in India from 24 October to 31 October in 2015. Venue for paragliding world cup was Bir Billing, which is 70 km from the tourist town Macleod Ganj, located in the heart of Himachal in Kangra District. Bir Billing is the centre for aero sports in Himachal and considered as best for paragliding. Buddhist monasteries, trekking to tribal villages, mountain biking are other activities to do here.