DHALPUR, KULLU, HIMACHAL PRADESH, INDIA.

Prior to 1971, there was no Himachal Pradesh.

Torrential rain that on any day makes for an effective crowd dispersal weapon proves hopelessly ineffective as a crowd of onlookers huddled under umbrellas and makeshift tents stand on a mosaic of slippery mud, puddles and footprints to watch minister for multi-purpose projects, power and agriculture Sujan Singh Pathania unfurl the tricolour during a momentary dry spell at the Dhalpur grounds in the town of Kullu.

Twenty four years after the tricolour replaced the union jack in a historic event that announced the Independence of India, this remote region of the Himalayas (once part of the Sikh Empire till the British beat them in a series of wars and yoked it to the British Jalandhar division of undivided Punjab) for the first time in its history was granted the autonomous power to decide its own destiny.

In 1971 the centre declared it the 18th state of the country and recognized the suggested name Himachal Pradesh, literally meaning in the lap of the Himalayas.

Presently the state has a population, few digits short of seven million as per a 2011 census living scattered across rural towns and villages and less than a handful of cities. Tourism, one of its main breadwinners.

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