One of the major attractions of Bilaspur is the Nalwari or annual cattle fair which is held for a period of 4 to 5 days in the months of March or April. The occasion is marked by various games like wrestling and other amusements. Cattle are brought in this fair from Nalagarh and neighbouring parts of Punjab.
History of Bilaspur
Founded in 1663, Bilaspur was previously called Kahlur and was ruled by the Chandela Rajputs, the descendents Chanderis of Madhya Pradesh. Afterwards, it came under the authority of British province of Punjab and became a princely state of British India. Bilaspur was included in Punjab States Agency in the year 1932. Post independence, on 1st of July 1954, by an act of the Indian Parliament, Bilaspur was enlisted among the districts of Himachal Pradesh. However, the ancient town of Bilaspur got submerged after the creation of Gobind Sagar dam on Sutlej River in 1954 and the new town was formed upslope of the old one.
Demographics of Bilaspur
As per the Census Report of 2011, the total population of Bilaspur was 13,654 and is marked to in number 13 as per the 2011 list of urban agglomerations or cities in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The Hindus contribute 92 percent of the total population and are the largest religious community in the area followed by Muslims which contribute 7 percent of the total population. The official languages spoken here are Hindi and Pahari.
Tourism in Bilaspur
The city of Bilaspur houses a number of exquisite destinations, including pilgrimage, historical and other sites, which attracts numerous tourists from far off places. Listed below are some of the places that facilitate tourism in Bilaspur:
It is located on the top of a hill known as Bahadurpur, standing at an elevation of 1980 m in the district near Tepra village in Paragana Bahadurpur, at distance of about 40 km from Bilaspur. The range is embellished by a beautiful wood of deodar and ban trees. This fort was built prior to 1835 and is in ruins now.
To the eastern side of the Tiun range, on the peak of Sariun, the Sariun fort is situated. It is located at about 58 km from Bilaspur. Tradition holds that the fort was originally built by Raja of the erstwhile Suket state and was subsequently wrested by the ruler of Bilaspur. The local people entertain a superstition according to which the stones once forming part of the fort are not used in any residential building.
Relics of Tiun fort, on the top of a hill known as Tiun range, at distance of about 55 km from Bilaspur, still serves to remind of the ancient turbulent times when wars in this area were perhaps a routine feature.
The name of sage Vyas is well known in these parts and the Vyas cave is situated at the foot of the new township. People believe that Vyas Rishi of Mahabharata meditated in this cave. It lies on the left bank of Sutlej River and is a place of pilgrimage.
Swarghat is ideally situated about 40 km of Bilaspur, perched at an elevation of about 1220 m from sea level. Naina Devi temple and Bhakra Dam are also approachable from here. There is a temple dedicated to Lakshmi Narain. It is an ideal spot for a quiet overnight's stay for the tourists.
Markandeya is a famous shrine about 20 km from Bilaspur. It is named after renowned Rishi Markandeya who lived and worshiped there. According to a legend, a tunnel connected Markand and Vyas caves and the 2 saints, Vyas and Markandeya used to visit each other through this sub-terrain path. In addition to the shrine there is also a water spring of ancient fame where a night fair is held annually on the occasion of "Baisakhi".
In addition to these, other notable tourist places in Bilaspur are Gobind Sagar Lake, Dholra Temple, Jama Masjid and Bandla Hills.
Visiting Information on Bilaspur
Bilaspur is approachable by road from Shimla and Chandigarh. The nearest broad gauge railway station is at Kiratpur Sahib and nearest narrow gauge railway station is at Shimla, at a distance of about 100 km and 124 km respectively. And the Shimla Airport is the closest at a distance of 123 km from the town of Bilaspur.