Dalhousie, originally developed as a summer pull out for the British officials and dignitaries has still withheld its colonial appeal and its congenital old hat countenance . The grand Victorian manors and the antiquated pieces of British and Scottish architecture bestow a classical demeanor to the entire conurbation. This laid back and easy going lifestyle as well as the quarantine old world ambient of Dalhousie away from the hum drum of fast paced city life is what attracts the tourists to this placid and mellifluous township. The traditions and culture of the hilly people of Dalhousie have mostly remained uninterrupted from the foreign influences. Ancient Hindu tribes have been dwelling in this region since 7th century AD who have maintained and retained their conventions and customs all these years. The Hindu communities residing in this province of Himachal Pradesh mainly comprise of Brahmins, Rajputs, Rathis, Kannets and Kolis. The tribal population of Dalhousie chiefly includes Gaddhis, Pangwals, Gujjars, Kinnars, Lahaulis, and Bhots etc.
Gaddhis are wayfaring shepherds who immigrate to higher places in summer, while shift to lower lands in the winter. The Gaddhi women are heavily loaded with ethnic silver jewelry. The Pangwals reside in the Pangi Valley who are reckoned for their athletic and at the same time pretty appearance. The Bhots, also living in the Pangi Valley are the hybrid of Mongol and Aryan races and follow a mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism. Bhots are also noted for their traditional practice of Polyandry wherein several brothers share a common wife. The Gujjars are mainly Muslim by faith and earn out of dairy products. Apart from Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Tibetans are also found here. The most prominent occupations undertaken by the tribal people of Dalhousie include agriculture, animal husbandry, tourism industry and art and craft.
The inhabitants of Dalhousie are distinguished for their rich art and culture manifested in their day to day life, their strikingly colorful dresses, peculiar physical features, enchanting folk dances and music and their warm and hospitable nature. The traditional attire of the Brahmins of Dalhousie and Chamba Valley consists of dhoti, coat, waistcoat, kurta, turban and a hand dupatta whereas the Rajputs wear tight churidar, long coat and turban. The Rajput Ladies wear ghaghri (long skirt), choli (embroidered tops) and rahide (head bonnet) . However, one can spot a lot of modern influence on this traditional outfit today. The characteristic houses of Dalhousie and surrounding areas are made of clay bricks and slate while the Pahari houses are made of stone and timber. The tribal houses generally have two stories wherein the cattle are housed on the ground floor.
Dalhousie is greatly exalted for its Chamba School of Pahari Paintings. Even though Hindi is the state language, Pahari is widely spoken by the ethnic tribes of Dalhousie while English is mainly spoken by those in tourism industry and other modern professions. The folk music and dances of Himachal Pradesh predominantly revolve around religion. Some of the noteworthy dance forms of Himachal include Losar Shona Chuksam, Dangi, Gee Dance, Burah Dance, Naati, Ujagjama, Kharait, Chadhgebrikar, Shunto, etc. The music and folk songs of Dalhousie are chiefly based on the themes of romance, changing seasons, chivalry etc. The traditional musical instruments prominently used in this part are; Ektara, Flute, Jhanjh, Ghunghru, Karna, Ranasingha, Chimta, Turhi, Manjara, Kindari, Ghariyal, etc.
The most remarkable festivals of Himachal Pradesh are; Chait Festival, Phagli, Navratras, Baisakhi, Haryali, Rakhi, Chrewal, Jagra, Phulech, Sair, Sui Fair, Dhoogri Fair, Jidjed, Dushehra, Diwali, Lohri, Gochi, Lossar, Shivratri, Halda, Nawala, Christmas and many others. However, Dalhousie is most noted for its Minjar Fair and Dalhousie Summer Festival.
The Minjar Fair is a week long fair celebrated in Chamba Valley in the month of August. At the time of Minjar Fair, thousands of tribal people and tourists assemble in Chamba Chaugan, a grand procession is held and Minjar i.e. a coconut, a coin, a fruit and paddy tied to a piece of red cloth is offered to the Ravi River. Prevalent in Chamba Valley since 935 AD, the Minjar Fair commemorates the victory of the Raja of Chamba against the ruler of Kangra, then called ‘Trigarta’.
The Summer Festival of Dalhousie is organized at the GPO of Dalhousie wherein innumerable artists from different parts of the state and country participate in various programs and showcase the rich artistic and cultural tradition of Chamba Valley.