Himachal Pradesh is a part of the Indian Himalayas. It has wide valleys imposing snow mountains, limpid lakes, rivers and gushing streams. After India became free in 1947, a number of princely hilly states were integrated into a single unit to be administered by the Government of India. Himachal Pradesh came into being as a state of the India Union on April 15, 1948, by integrating 31 big and small hill states of the region. In 1956, it was converted into a Union Territory. Subsequently, some more hill areas of the Punjab state were added to this Union Territory and it was made into a full-fledged state, the status that it continues to have now. Himachal Pradesh today is one of the most important tourist destinations in India. The high hills of Himalayas welcome the trekkers from all over the world. Referred to as dev bhoomi or "Land of God", Himachal Pradesh is bordered by Jammu and Kashmir on the north, Punjab on the west, Uttar Pradesh on the south and Uttaranchal on the east. The word "Himachal" means the abode of snow. Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh and the total area of the state is 55,673 square km. The state is covered with immense natural beauty and is, undoubtedly, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. A majority of the area is mountainous with lofty ranges, deep valleys, swaying waterfalls and lush greenery. The climate varies extremely from one place to the other, providing heavy rainfalls to some area and no rainfall to others. Being high in altitude, snowfall is a common sight in most parts of the state.