Costumes of Himachal Pradesh

The state of Himachal Pradesh is nestled in the Western Himalayas. It is a very popular tourist destination and the main tourist hubs are Dalhousie, Shimla, Manali, Kullu, Kangra and Chamba. The state has both lush green forests and trans-Himalayan desert. The entire state is well connected by roadways and railways. It is often referred to as ‘Devbhumi’ or the Land of the Gods.

Ethnic Wear Of Himachal Pradesh
The demography of Himachal Pradesh is extremely diverse and has multiple communities, tribes and castes. The major Hindu communities residing in the state include Rajputs, Kolis, Rathis, Brahmins and Kanets. The major tribes residing in the state are Pangawals, Gujjars, Gaddis, Kinnars and Lahaulis.

Owing to this diverse demography in the state, the costumes of Himachal Pradesh are diverse and very colorful. The attire and costumes change from community to community and from tribe to tribe. The cold weather conditions prevalent throughout the state encourage sheep and goat husbandry, as it provides for the demand of woolen products. The local people are engaged in the process of weaving and their effort is directed to meet both the local and national demands. The major woolen products of Himachal Pradesh which are very popular are Loi/Chaddars, Himachali Shawls, Gudma, Numdha, Pattoo, Kullu caps etc.

Attire Of The Brahmins

The Brahmin priests dress up in the traditional Kurta, waist coat, turban or Pagri, hand towel and a copy of Panchang or the astrological yearbook of the Hindus. The women wear Kurtas, Ghagris, Cholis, Rahide and Salwars.

Attire Of The Rajputs

The Rajputs of Himachal Pradesh usually wear body-hugging Churidars, Pyjamas, starch-stiffened turbans, long coats and point edged shoes. The men also boast and showcase thick handle bar moustaches and a dignified frown on their foreheads. Previously, there was the prevalence of the Purdah or Veil system. The conventional attires of the women are Ghagri, Salwar, Kurta, Rahide and Cholis.

Worker Class

The farmers and other working classes wear a loincloth, Kurta and cap. Pajamas and other richly embellished dresses are worn on festive occasions such as marriages etc.


The main tribe of Himachal Pradesh is the Gaddis. They also dwell in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and belong to various castes such as Rajputs, Brahmins, Thakur, Rana and Dhangar/Gaderiya. They are shepherds by profession and thus have to bear the full brunt of the harsh weather conditions. To protect themselves from the weather, they wear special coats known as Cholas. The Cholas are woven from special handspun variety of wools. The Cholas are tightened around the waist area with the help of a waistband also known as Dor. The Dor is usually made of sheep wool and are sometimes 60m in length. The portion above the Dor is loose and is used by the shepherd to stow stuffs such as lambs. The legs are covered with Pajamas made from Patti material, also known as Unali Suthan.

The Gaddis also wear a special type of headgear known as Topi, which are made from sheep wool, with a peak like projection and flaps on the sides. The projection represents the Mount Kailash and the flaps protect the ears of the shepherds during the harsh climatic conditions. The front of the cap is adorned with dried flowers, decorative beads and bird feathers. The Gaddis also sport a special type of leather show, known as Mocharu. They are very heavily built and thus correspond to durability and longevity.

During marriages and other festive occasions, the Gaddis wear cotton frocks which are red or maroon colored. The frocks are further decorated with frills, mirrors and pippins and are popularly known as Luancha or Kadds. They are tied around the waist area with yellow or white cotton strands, known as Patlka. Maroon or red colored shawl is worn over the frock and an intricate Sehra or veiled headgear is also worn as per customs.

The Gaddi women wear Luanchari with Dor and accompanied with long Dupattas. The Luancharis are very elaborate in make and requires around 20 meters of fabric. The Dors are usually black colored and it also serves the purpose of carrying loads on the back. The Luanchari of the young girls are more brightly colored. During the winter season, the women also wear white colored woolen Cholas, to escape the harsh weather.

Himachali Shawls

During the summer months, the goats shed the fleece in the high mountains. During the winter, the local people spin and weave high quality fabric. The most notable and famous is the Pashmina Shawl, which is made from the hair of Pashmina Goat. Different shades of blue, grey, mustard and white are blended to create exquisite varieties of shawls. The Dhoobroo and Pattu are the favorite varieties of shawls.

Motifs Used In Shawls

The Bushehari craftsmen of Rampur district introduced the trend of patterns and colors. The Himachali shawls have predominant floral and geometrical designs. The designs depict the episodes of Krishna stealing butter, or flirting with Radha or a scene from a local fair etc. The embroiderers from Chamba district further incorporated murals into the designs of the shawls. Slowly and steadily the bright colors are being replaced by pastel colors.

Himachali Caps

The headgears of Himachal Pradesh, also known as Kullu Topi, are very significant and integral aspect of Himachal culture. The design of the cap vary from area to area. Colorful bands with exquisite and beautiful colors are the major features of a Himachali or Topi. Instead of bright colors, vegetable colors are steadily gaining popularity. The caps are sold in a variety of sizes such as small, large and medium.


The traditional dress of the local women of Kullu, Pattoo is variety of shawl, which is longer, heavier and thicker. Pattoos are usually worn over clothes and are draped like sarees. They are pinned below the shoulders with silver pins and broaches, which are also known as Boomani. The unique feature of the Pattoo is that it is both manufactured as well as purchased locally. The Pattoos are usually named in accordance to its designs and patterns. Some of the most popular Pattoos are Daba, Chitra, Chhiyan, Teen Phoolwala, Plain, Dhari etc. The more decorative and elaborate Pattoos are usually worn on special festive occasions.


Mufflers are a variety of woolen products, which are worn around the neck. The exquisite varieties of mufflers are made from angora, merino and pashmina wools. The mufflers are also named in accordance to the designs or patterns they bear. The gents’ mufflers are usually shorter than the ladies mufflers. The craftsmen of the region are very skilled and talented and thus are able to create the best of the designs in the mufflers.

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