Himachal Pradesh is bound between 30°22’ to 33°12’ North latitude and 75°47’ to 79°40’ East longitude. To the East, it forms India’s border with Tibet, to the North lies state of Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand in the South-East, Haryana in the South and Punjab in the West. The entire territory of Himachal Pradesh is mountainous with altitude varying from 350 to 7000 metres above the mean sea level.
Topographically, Himachal’s territory from South to North can be divided into three zones – ‘The Shivaliks’ or outer Himalayas, Inner Himalayas or ‘Mid-mountains’ and ‘Alpine Zone’ or the Greater Himalayas.
The Shivaliks or Outer Himalayas (Zone 1) :In ancient times, Shivalik hills were known as ‘Manak Parbat’. Shivalik literally means “tresses of the Shiva”. The lower hills of district Kangra, Hamirpur, Una, Bilaspur and lower parts of Mandi, Solan and Sirmaur are part of Shivalik Hills. The altitude of this zone varies from 300 metres to 1500 metres above sea level. Annual rainfall in this zone varies from 1500mm to 1800mm. The famous places covered in this zone are – Paonta valley, Nahan tehsil, Pechhad and Renuka tehsils of Sirmour district, Balh valley and Joginder Nagar area of Mandi District, Kangra, Nurpur, Dehra, Jwali and Palampur tehsils of Kangra district, Dalhousie, Churah and Chamba district.
The Mid-mountains or Inner Himalayas (Zone 2) : The altitude of this zone varies from 1500 metres to 4500 metres above sea level. In this zone falls all areas like the upper areas of the tehsils of Pachhad and Renuka in Sirmour district, Chachiot and Karsog tehsils of Mandi district, upper parts of Kangra and Palampur tehsil and Dalhousie, Bhattiyat and Church areas of Chamba district. To the south of Shimla is high peak of Choordhar (3,647 m) also known as Choorah Chandani. The two famous ranges of lesser Himalayas are ‘Pir Panjal’ (in Chamba district) and ‘Dhauladhar’ (Kangra, Chamba and Mandi district).
The Alpine zone or Greater Himalayas (Zone3) : The altitude of this zone varies from 4500 metres and above from mean sea level. The Great Himalayan range runs along the Eastern boundary and is cut across by the Satluj. The range separates the drainage of the Spiti from that of the Beas. This comprises Kinnaur district, Pangi – tehsil of Chamba district and some area of Lahaul and Spiti. The rainfall is very scanty in this zone. Soil is of high texture and with variable fertility. Climate is temperate in summer and semi-arctic in winter.