Chamba, one of the oldest Indian states, before it became a district of Himachal Pradesh, was founded in the middle of the 6th century A. D. The rulers were Rajput’s of the solar race. The first Raja was Maruth, a descendent of Kus, the younger son of Rama, and the original capital was at Brahmaur (ancient Bramhapura) in the upper Ravi valley.About A. D. 900, Raja Sahil Varman conquered the lower Ravi valley from the petty hill barons called Ranas and Thakurs, who were the original rulers of the hills, and changed his capital from Brahmaur to Chamba, originally called Champa, named after his daughter Champavati.
Thus, the state derived its name from the principal town i.e. Chamba which was in the days of the rajas, the seat of the Darbar, and is, now the headquarters of the district administration.
Sahil Varma was the most famous and dynamic raja of this period that not only extended the boundaries of the state, but also built a new capital at Chamba and created Chamapavati temple, Laxmi Narayan Temple and Chamba palace.
The modern period began with the reign of Raja Charat Singh who ruled from 1808-1844. Charat Singh was succeeded by his eldest son Sri Singh who was a minor at the time he was made the Raja. He was not only a man of letters but ran the state efficiently. Raja Sri Singh died on September 22, 1870 after a short illness. During his reign many steps were taken for ameliorating the condition of his people. Since Raja Sri Singh’s son died in infancy his younger brother, Gopal Singh succeeded him who ruled for a period of three years from 1870-1873. Raja got predilection for the cares of the government and difficulties began to rise. These reached a climax in the soring of 1873 when raja found himself incapable of governing the country and in April of that year he abdicated in favor of his eldest son Sham Singh who was then a boy of seven.
Raja Sham Singh was a connoisseur of the arts, and was a man of vision who envisaged embellishing his state capital, the Chamba town. For this, he initiated extensive building activities. Besides a large part of the main bazaar, the other main buildings were Court, Post Office, Kotwali and Jail. For the beautification of the town, he laid a garden below his palace overlooking the Chaugan ground. This spacious green ground, which is considered as a pride of the town, was broadened by the Raja. For this, not only he shifted the haphazardly built houses of locales from the Chaugan but he also transplanted a temple once existing near the Residency (also known as the Circuit House). Besides, a ring road around it and an open air pavilion overlooking the river Ravi were also built near Chaugan.Apart from the construction of the buildings in the town, Raja Sham Singh also built the suspension bridge over Ravi River replacing the old one, which had been damaged by heavy floods in 1894. For all this Raja Sham Singh became very popular and was venerated with the term the architect of Chamba
Raja Sham Singh died at the age of 45 at Lahore on 7th December 1935. His son, Raja Lakshman Singh succeeded him.