Unlike many of the other great mountains of the world which have been treated as the homes of demons and evil spirits, the Himachal have always been considered as benign and life-giving. With just the woods and snow and icy winds for company, to these heights retreated the great sages of yore and their wisdom gave India the spine of much of its identity.
Culturally and geographically, the state has three fairly well-defined zones. The 'tribal belt' that holds the districts of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti is largely Buddhist and the language belongs to the Himalayan belt of Tibeto- Burmese.
The mid-belt hugs this close and is characterized by forested hills and cultivated valleys — with hamlets, farms and orchards interspersed over the slopes.
In Himachal, the freshest of leaves are nurtured by roots that go centuries deep – and the nourishment has come from scores of different strands.
South of the Greater Himalaya, the presence of Hinduism is strong. In the mid-hills, pastoral presences appear in the worship or numerous local ‘devtas’ and ‘devis’.
In the Trans Himalaya, Buddhism has thrived for over a thousand years.
The presence of Christianity came with the arrival of the British and the state has over a dozen churches spread over its area.
Similarly, there are several places across the state that are held sacred by the Sikhs.
Islam registers its presence in and around Nahan and in some of the larger towns.