Geography department in the Himachal Pradesh University came into existence in the year 1989. Two new departments viz. those in the subjects of geography and sociology were started in the university in the year 1989. Admissions were done in the months of July/ August 1989 and teaching for the Masters degree courses in these subjects was started in the semester starting in the month of August 1989. In each of these departments, two teachers (one in the rank of Reader and one as Lecturer were recruited. Dr. V. K. Sharma from the Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra joined the department of geography as Reader and headed the department and Dr.Bhupinder Singh Marh from the University of Jammu came in as lecturer. One clerk and one peon were provided to both the departments altogether as office staff. As no building was available for these departments, these were provided some cubicles in the library building of the university that functioned as the department office and the office of the chairman. A hall in the ground floor of the library building was provided to the department of geography for conducting classes. This arrangement continued for a few months and then the two departments were provided separate office staff. After about a year the department of geography was shifted to the Old P.G. Centre (the temporary sheds) and it continues to be housed in the same premises till date. Dr. V. K. Sharma remained with the department for about six months and then left for his parent university.
Three persons were recruited into the teaching faculty within two years of the existence of the department. Dr. D. S. Rawat joined the department as Reader, Dr. J. C. Sharma joined as lecturer and Dr. P. D. Bhardwaj came in as cartographer. Dr.Rawat left the department after one year. Three more teachers joined the department’s teaching faculty, two as lecturers and one as professor, after another year. These were Dr.Anurag Sharma and Dr. Krishna Mohan as lectures and Dr. H. N. Mishra as Professor. Dr. B. S. Marh, in the meantime, was promoted to the post of reader. Sh. Krishna Mohan served the department for about eight years. Professor Mishra served the department for about five years and then went back to his parent university (i.e. University of Allahabad). Dr. B. S. Marh and J. C. Sharma were promoted to professorship in the year 2001-2002 and one more lecturer was inducted into the department. The post has gone to Dr. Dev Dutt Sharma a Ph.D. from this department. On 23 February, 2010, Dr. B R Thakur, a PhD from Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra joined Department of Geography as Assistant Professor. Dr. P.D.Bhardwaj retired on 30th June, 2014 and Prof. BS Marh on after rendering about 25 years of dedicated services to the Department also retired on 30th June, 2015. Dr. Seema Chaudhary an alumnus of Himachal Pradesh University joined Department of Geography as Assistant Professor on 23rd September, 2016. On May 5th, 2021, Dr. Ram Lal, a PhD from Himachal Pradesh University joined services at the Department of Geography as Assistant Professor.
At present, the department teaching faculty comprises the following regular staff:
1. Dr. D. D.Sharma Professor & Chairman
2. Dr. B.R. Thakur Associate Professor
3. Dr. Seema Chaudhary Assistant Professor
4. Dr. Ram Lal Assistant Professor
These faculty members have specializations in different branches of physical, human and environmental geography.
The Post Graduate department of Geography holds a prestigious position as it is lone department in the state offering MA/M.Sc, M.Phil and PhD in Geography. However, about more than two dozens colleges are offering the subject of geography at the undergraduate level. A large number of students are getting bachelor’s degree with geography as one of the subject (be major or minor) every year. Given this brief background, the primary mission of department is to provide to the students of the Himachal Pradesh and adjoining state an opportunity to receive master’s level education in the subject of geography. This mission is being pursued by the department and a sizable number of students have already received their Master’s degrees as well as M.Phil and doctoral degrees from this department. Another mission of the department is to spread geographic literacy among the young generation. Many alumni of the department are already teaching in schools and colleges within and outside the state of Himachal Pradesh. They are spreading the message of the department among the younger generation, the would-be global citizens. As the department and the university are located in the Himalayan region which is a very important landscape topography both in the national as well as continental and global geography, it becomes a rather very important responsibility of the department to make special effort to develop understanding of the features of the physical, ecological, social, and economic set up of the Himalaya in general and that of the state of Himachal Pradesh in particular. This provides another mission to the department: to develop a thorough understanding of the Himalayan region with a special emphasis on the state of Himachal Pradesh. This is a special challenge for this department. Mountain areas present a peculiar set of specific characteristics that call for special ways of handling and management. These mountain specificities are:
1. Inaccessibility-The primary attributes of inaccessibility are isolation, high cost of supply system, limited access and invisibility of problems.
2. Fragility-The primary attribute of fragility is the highly vulnerable nature of natural resource base (especially due to rapid deforestation), making the areas highly prone to rapid degradation (landslides, floods, erosion etc.).
3. Marginality- Mountain areas are marginal in physical terms. Soils and lands are marginal in their production and their bearing capacity. People of mountains generally are not in the decision-making mainstream, resulting in general neglect of their interests.
4. Diversity-The mountain areas, by virtue of their altitudinal and topographic variations, display a great diversity of their physical and cultural characteristics. They have ecological, biological, cultural and institutional diversity.
5. Opportunities-Mountain areas have a comparative advantage in terms of development opportunities in some aspects. Examples of some such aspects are hydropower, tourism, horticulture, vegetable seeds, off-season vegetables, medicinal plans, and other high value products which are found only in high-altitude mountain areas.
6. Adaptation Experience-The mountain-specific environments have led to the development of mountain-specific adaptation mechanisms and technologies by the people of these regions.
The department has a mission to develop a complete understanding of the total environment of the Himalaya in general and that of the state of Himachal Pradesh in particular. Included in this mission also is an understanding of the geo-political and global-environmental significance of the Himalaya. The nuances of the mountain environment need to be understood at local, regional, and continental / global scales. The department is trying to make some headway in the direction through teaching relevant courses, undertaking research on related topics at M.Phil and Ph.D. levels, tailored research projects and conducting seminars and bringing out publications etc.