Himachal Pradesh has continued to be inhabited by man ever since the dawn of civilization. The rich and varied History of Himachal Pradesh can be divided into several distinct eras.
Evidences suggest the existence of man in the foothills of Himachal Pradesh, even during prehistoric times. The Bangana valley of Kangra, Sirsa valley of Nalagarh and Markanda valley of Sirmour are some of the areas where prehistoric men are believed to have lived.
The History of Himachal Pradesh suggests that large numbers of people from Central Asia and the Indian plains had migrated to this region from time to time. The first human race to have set foot in Himachal Pradesh is believed to be the Proto-Australoid, followed by the Mongoloid and the Aryan. As per the Rig Veda, the ancient races of Dasyus and Nishads also inhabited Himachal Pradesh and their powerful King Shambra had as many as 99 forts. The history of Himachal Pradesh also mentions that tribes like the Koilis, Halis, Dagis, Dhaugris, Dasa, Khasas, Kinnars and Kirats inhabited the land.
In earlier times, Himachal Pradesh was referred as 'Deva Bhoomi ' or the Land of the Gods. The Aryan influence over this land dates back to as far as the period before the Rig Veda. The history of Himachal Pradesh states that the Aryans defeated the local tribes and settled here permanently. During those times, Himachal was made up of a number of small republics, namely 'Janapadas' - each of which functioned as a provincial and cultural unit.
Himachal Pradesh enjoyed considerable independence until the Muslims invaded northern India. Mahmud of Ghazni conquered the region in 1009 AD. The History of Himachal Pradesh has it that this territory came to be ruled by the Rajputs in about 1043 AD. The land was again conquered by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1804 AD, whereby the Rajput power was crushed here. Therafter, the Gurkhas conquered the area and did much damage to the land.
The rich and checkered history of Himachal Pradesh also mentions that after the Gurkha War of 1815-16, the British annexed Himachal. They established several hill stations in the region in order to get respite from the scorching heat and dust of the plains in summers. They made Shimla the summer capital of India.
After India gained independence, Himachal Pradesh was made a centrally administered territory in 1948. With the implementation of the Constitution of India, Himachal became a part C state on 26th January, 1950. It gained the status of a Union Territory on 1st November, 1956, and later, on 25th January, 1971, Himachal Pradesh came into being as the eighteenth state of the Indian Union.