The population of Himachal Pradesh consists of various hill tribes, all speaking their own languages. These tribes include the Gadis, Gujaris, Kinnauris, Lahulis, and Pangwalis. More than 95 percent of the people are Hindus, although the caste system of social groupings is less rigid than elsewhere in India. Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist, and Christian minorities total about five percent of the population. Himachalis lead a simple and quiet life, tending their orchards, fields and flocks. Hindi (the official state language) and Pahari are the principal languages.
Himachal Pradesh is the least urbanized state in India. Its urban population accounts for less than 10 percent of the total. There are about 55 towns, of which only the capital, Shimla, has a population exceeding 80,000. Other major towns are Bilaspur, Chamba, Dalhousie, Dharamshala, Hamirpur, Kangra, Kasauli, Kullu, Mandi, Nahan, Palampur, Solan, and Sundarnagar. Himachal also has a rich cultural heritage, and has a variety of dances, musical forms and architectural styles. The fairs and festivals of the hill people are occasions of joyful song and dance; they are a veritable riot of colours. Kullu Dussehra (October), Lavi fair (November), Minjar fair (August-September), Manimahesh fair, Shivaratri fair (February-March), and Navratri fair (April and October) are among the famous religious celebrations of Himachal.The 200 odd temples of Himachal Pradesh, diverse in style are dedicated mainly to Shiva, Durga and Buddha. Baijnath, Chintpurni, Jwalamukhi and the Laxmi Narayan temples are a few of these shrines. Exquisitely designed shawls of Kinnaur, the distinctive woolen caps of Kullu, and the embroidered handkerchiefs of Chamba accent their colourful, festive clothing. Himachal Pradesh is also known for its Kangra Valley School of paintings.
Except for the scenic, narrow-gauge rail line from Kalka (in Haryana) to Shimla and the narrow-gauge track connecting Pathankot (Punjab) and Jogindarnagar through the Kangra valley, there are no railways or waterways in the state. Roads are the communications lifeline of Himachal Pradesh. The state-owned transport system operates more than 140 bus routes in Himachal Pradesh.