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Kullu Travel Guide

Kullu was once known as Kulanthpitha, which means the end of the habitable world. Beyond rose the forbidding heights of the Greater Himalayas, and by the banks of the shining river Beas, laid the fabled 'Silver Valley'. Here is the core of an intricate web of numerous valleys - each of which is a visual delight and seems more beautiful than the other. The mountain scapes remain spectacular whether in brilliant sunshine or in the haze of the mist. The 'Silver Valley' has nature's treasures that lie carelessly scattered as flowers on the high meadows. The town of Kullu has long been a centre of faith. In the 17th century, Raja Jagat Singh installed here an idol of Lord Raghunathji, which he brought from Ayodhya. As a mark of his penance, he placed the idol on his throne and it became the presiding deity of the valley.

Location: Himachal Pradesh
Altitude: 1,220m
Main Attractions: Kullu Dusshera, Bijli Mahadev Temple
Best Time To Visit: Mid-May To Mid-October.

NEARBY CITIES
Kasidhar: 15-km
Kasol: 42-km
Manikaran: 45-km
Shoja: 69-km
Raison: 13-km
Naggar: 23-km
Manali: 40-km

PRIME ATTRACTION
Raghunathji Temple:
In the 17th century, Raja Jagat Singh of Kullu committed a great wrong. To atone for the sin he sent a senior courtier to Ayodhya for a statue of Lord Raghunath - Lord Ram. This temple was built by Raja Jagat Singh to house the image and even today, is greatly revered. The shrine houses an image of Shri Raghunath in his chariot.

Bijli Mahadev Temple:

Set on a spur that offers some spectacular views, this temple is famous for its 20m high rod that periodically draws lightning, which shatters the 'Shivalinga' and scorches the building. Using only butter as adhesive, the 'linga' is then carefully pieced together by the temple pundit. Situated at an altitude of 2,438 metres one can reach this temple by a tough but rewarding climb through a 6-km long trek. From the temple site, a panoramic view of Kullu and Parvati valleys is available. Sixty-foot high staffs of Bijli Mahadev Temple glistens like a silver needle in the sun; this is a visible even from Kullu.

THE LEGEND OF BILJI MAHADEV:
The Rig-Veda has a prayer of Maharishi Vashishta to Lord Rudra to absorb the excessive electric current within him. It is said Lord Rudra acceded and absorbed the excessive electricity current and saved mankind. According to legend this episode took place at the 'Sangam' of Parvati and Beas rivers. This is one of the very popular stories in the mythological background of Beas basin, in Himachal Pradesh. As expected the devotees had set up a temple and the 'linga' in it, is named Bijleshwar Mahadev or Bijli Mahadev. There is a popular story too. After about 12 years regularly there is a frightful lightning and the 'linga' is reduced to pieces. It is said that Lord Shiva absorbs the energy discharged from the atmosphere and saves the world. The temple pujaris or priests collect pure cow's butter and the broken pieces of 'linga' are put in the butter, which works as an adhesive, and the 'linga' is reset. The work of resetting the 'linga' is carried out in secrecy by the pujaris and the Kardars or employees of the temple. Two Nandis or bulls face the door of the temple. The big wooden pole of deodar on the ground of the temple is said to receive the first brunt of the electric shock. The doorframes have a delicate and superb carving. The fair held in the month of 'Sravan' at this place attracts thousands of people.

HOW TO GET THERE:
Tapu cross bridge over Beas river from Akhara Bazar, take local bus up to Trambali get down at Kinza, almost mid-way to the temple-trek 6-km in thick jungles to reach Bijli Mahadev.

Basheshwar Mahadev Temple, Bajaura: This 9th century Shiva Temple is renowned for its intricate stone carvings.

The Vaishno Devi Temple:
4-km along the Kullu to Manali road is this temple with a small cave having an image of goddess Vaishno or Durga.

Jagannathi Devi Temple:
This temple is in Bhekhli village, 3-km from Kullu. It's a stiff climb but from the temple one can catch fine views of the town.

Sultanpur Palace:
It contains some fine examples of the Kullu style of miniature painting, characterized by simple rural scenes and the lack of human subjects.

Naggar:
For 1400 years Naggar remained the capital of Kullu. Its 16th century stone and wood castle is now a hotel run by Himachal Tourism. Here, a gallery houses the paintings of the Russian artist, Nicholas Roerich. Naggar also has three other old shrines. Taken, as an excursion from Kullu or Manali, Nagar also known as Naggar, is a very lovely village set on a hill surrounded by forests Naggar was the capital of Kullu valley in the 16th century and the monuments in the region are witnesses to the glory it had once lived in. Glaciers surround the upper Beas region from three sides, the highest peaks being 21,760 ft and 23,050 ft. The Chanderkhani pass at 12,200 ft. leading to the Malana valley is close by and over here, in summers; the vegetation grows up to a height of 10,000 ft. Raja Sidh Singh, who built the Naggar Castle, about 504 years ago, has been converted into a hotel. The gracefully built castle has a temple in the courtyard and also houses a small museum. The temples in this area are also worth a visit such as the Grey sandstone Gauri Shankar temple, the Chatar Bhuj temple, Tripura Sundri Devi temple and the Murlidhar temple.

Naggar Castle:
Now converted into a hotel since 1978 is an imposing structure. It was built by using a local stone, the layers of which are punctuated by long pieces of cut wood. It rises, to be topped by a Grey slate roof. Wooden brackets and carved windows are being restored to capture the originality of the castle. The style of construction ensured a lot of resilience in the structure, and it successfully withstood the mighty and disastrous earthquake of 1905. It is said that the stone for building the edifice was to be brought from the other side of river Naggar. Inside this castle is a small temple that could have passed unnoticed had it not been for the powerful legend associated with it. It is believed that it was decided to make Naggar the celestial seat of all the gods in the world.

Akhara Bazaar:
Known as one of the main bazaar, where Kullu caps, shawls, 'pattoos', gudmas, 'puhlas' and 'namdas' or rugs are sold in plenty.

Banjara Temple:
On the banks of the river Beas, about 200 m off the Kullu Mandi road at Hat or Hatta, is situated a massive pyramidal structure temple, decorated with images of Durga, Vishnu and Ganesh in the outer 3-sided shrines. Floriated scrollwork can be seen on the exterior walls. Inside this Shiva temple is a large yoni-lingam. It is 15-km from Kullu.

Parvati Valley/Manikaran:
At 1737 m, here am hot sulphur springs that bubble next to the by waters of the Penal river. The place is revered by both Hindus and Sikhs Treks from here lead to Pulga, Khirganga and Mantalai' a stretch of considerable natural beauty. The route finally reaches the Pin Parvati Pass (4802 m), which opens into the Sutlej valley. High up under the snowy peaks, of the Parvati Valley is situated the hot springs at Manikaran. The water from the steaming springs is noted for its healing properties. The springs in the area are hot enough to boil rice in it. Manikaran, a place of pilgrimage for Hindus and Sikhs, has a temple and a Gurudwara. It is also a good spot for trout fishing. Sri Ramchandra temple is located in the center of the town and one can have a very good look in and around this temple. The Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurudwara provides some extraordinary sights. One can enjoy a dip in the hot waters from the springs. There are altogether three baths, one is located under the Gurudwara itself and the other two are privately owned and located in guesthouses

THE LEGEND OF MANIKARAN:
While wandering of in the forests of the Himalayan ranges Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati came across a place now called Manikaran. The mountain-locked area, the lush green patches and the forests charmed them and they decided to stay there for sometime. For as long as eleven hundred years they remained at this place. At one time, when the Lord was relaxing with the Goddess, in the beautiful waters of a stream running by the side, the 'MANI' (Jewel) in an earring of the goddess dropped somewhere. Parvati was much distressed and there was a thorough search but efforts to find out the jewel failed. Lastly, the Lord ordered his attendants, to trace out the jewel, wherever it may be. That was also unsuccessful. Lord Shiva got enraged, as a result of which his third eye opened. With the opening of the third eye of the Lord Shiva, a very ominous event, there was a great commotion over the universe. The entire universe was very upset and apprehended a great calamity. 'Shesh Nag', the serpent god, was approached. In order to subside the anger of Lord Shiva, Shesh Nag hissed and hissed and there was a flow of boiling water, which passed over the area and out came a number of precious stones of the type, which were lost. Lord Shiva was pacified. The water still continues to be hot. Before the earthquake of 1905, which affected this area also, it is said, that this boiling water used to rise, to about ten-feet high. The visiting deities are given a ceremonial bath. The second chapter of 'Brahm Puran' recites the story of Manikaran as given above. The place is described as one of hot and cold waters and the divine pair had repaired there for water sports known as 'Jal-Krida'. Fragrant and attractive flowers graced the place and by a bath at the 'Sangam' one is eternally blessed. The Brahm-Puran enjoins the pilgrims pass a night awake at Manikaran and do puja or 'Raat-Jagran'. Thereby the pilgrims obtain the full virtue of the world. The story of the loss of the jewel and the frantic search and ultimate recovery is vividly described. The tract is Lord Shiva's own and a pilgrimage at this place is adequate and one need not visit Kashi and other places of pilgrimage.

Lord Ramchandra Temple:
There are several temples in the Mani Karan village. The most important is that of Lord Ramchandra. The Pandas or priests of the village claim that the idol of Rama was brought from Ayodhya and installed in this temple by the Raja of Kulu but this lacks a historic confirmation. There was also an idol of Lakshman the younger brother of Lord Rama Chandra, which has now disappeared. On the left hand side of the Lord is the idol of Goddess Sita. The temple is very old and on one of the stones in its wall, the history of the temple is written which is not legible.

Temple of Lord Shiva:
There is another very old temple of Lord Shiva, which got tilted during the earthquake of 1905. The great prestige with which Manikaran is held is seen by the fact that the Devatas of Kulu valley pay regular visits to Manikaran. The followers of the individual deities at different places are carried ceremoniously in a procession to Manikaran on specified auspicious days.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurudwara:
The place is also held sacred by the Sikhs. The Janam Sakhi or the 'Twarikh Guru Khalsa' by Giani Gian Singh mentions about the visit of Guru Nanak Dev to this place. It has been mentioned that accompanied by his disciple Bhai Mardana, the Guru reached Jwalamukhi temple after visiting Kalanaur, Gurdaspur, Dasuya, Triloknath, Palampur and Kangra. The Guru then proceeded towards Mandi and after visiting Chamba and Kulu, he came to Bijli Mahadev. After preaching at all these places Guru Nanak Dev came to Mani Karan. The Janam Sakhi or the "Autobiography of Bhai Mardana" mentions the miracles did by the Guru. The Guru came to Mani Karan along with his Five 'Piaras' or followers.

Hot Springs:
By taking bath here and by drinking water of this place, people go to Heaven; this is said of the Manikaran tract since the times immemorial. It is just like 'Kashi Kshetra' and there is no doubt about it. On examination it is understood that the Manikaran hot spring is said to have got Uranium and other radioactive minerals.

Harinder Mountain & Parvati River:
On the northern side, there is a mountain, which is named as Harinder. Merely a look at this mountain will make a person free from all evils and on the south is the Parvati River.

Kulant Pith:
Out of all sectors 'Piths' of the country, this sector, which is called 'Kulant Pith', is the superior most. Here, the most sacred place of pilgrimage is Manikaran, and in it the 'Vishnu Kund' is the purest of all. Lord Shankara was mightily pleased to stay here and this is absolutely true. No other tank in the world could be more pure than these high rising tanks. Even a drop of water from the tanks will make one free of all evils. Narad, on account of the influence of the Shankara's eye, said that this sacred place causes the disappearance of anger and evils. One who eats the food cooked in this boiling water goes to the Vishnu Lok.

Kaisdhar:
A picturesque spot, situated across a steep hill known for its magnificient scenery and innumerable walks.

Kasol:
An open glade by the banks of the river Parvati, Kasol makes a good holiday destination. Clean white sand separates the lush green grass from the stone, this place is well known for trout fishing.

Shoja:
At 2692 m, this is a vantagepoint for a complete panorama of the Kullu area-snow peaks and valleys, meadows and forests, rivers and streams.

Raison:
By the banks of the Beas-and on the Kullu-Manali highway- Himachal Tourism runs a camping site here. This place is ideal for a taste of adventure and for spending a quiet holiday in solitary splendor.

Katrain:
At about midpoint on Kullu-Manali road, this is the home of lush orchards and famous for bee keeping and trout fishing. Khatrain is the widest point in Kullu Valley and is overlooked by the 3,325 m Baragarh peak.

Largi:
Largi is a small hamlet, 34-km south of Kullu via Aut, offers the best trout fishing and scenic beauty in the valley. The resthouse there is in a stunning location where two Himalayan torrents, the Sainj and Tirthan, meet. Fishing permits can be obtained from Kullu and Largi itself.

Jagatsukh:
Jagatsukh is the most ancient Kullu capital, situated on the left bank, between Nagar and Manali. Around the Jagatsukh secondary school playground there are two ancient temples - the small shrine of Gaurishankar and the larger chalet-roofed temple to the goddess Sandhya Devi, the stone base of which is much more ancient than the 19th-century wooden verandah and roof.

Deo Tibba:
Also known as Indralika, this 2,953 metres (9,687 ft.) high snow dove Jagatsukh, has a legend around it, with Arjuna. He started performing 'tapa' at this mountain, under the advice of Maharishi Vyas, in order to obtain the powerful Pasupata Astra from Indra.

Banjara:
It is about 58-km from Kullu at an altitude of 1,534m (5,000 ft.). Banjar is famous for its panoramic beauty and trout fishing in river Tirtham.

Nirmund:
Situated in outer Seraj of Kullu district, Nirmund is at present a block headquarters. Known as 'Chhoti Kashi', it was once a seat of great scholars and intellectuals.

Bathad:
A beautiful spot at a distance of 67-km can be approached by road from Kullu. It is recognized for adventurous games such as hunting, trout fishing and breathtakingly beautiful sites.

Malana:
30-km from Khatrain, near the beautiful Chandrakhani Pass, which offers striking views of Deo Tibba is the mysterious village of Malana. The village is basically famous for its temple of Jamlu and its distinct and fully reserved social and cultural set up.

Pulga, Khiranga and Mantalai: Almost level walk of two hours along Parvati River is Gattigarh, the rest place for trekkers. Around 4-km ahead on right side of river Parvati lays Pulga, which looks like the twin sister of Manali. Khiranga hot water fall is situated in beautiful natural setting and its water contains medicinal property. One thing has to be noted that taking bath in its water will put greasy touches to the body, unlike Manikaran, where one feels the touch of dryness. Covering another two kilometers from Khiranga lays Mantalai.

Chandra Khanni Pass:
The tough climbing trek-route of Chandra Khani Pass lies east of Khatrain. The whole area looks wonderfully striking and colorful when the flowers in various brilliant hues, are in blossom Kullu Dussehra when Dussehra celebrations come to an end in the rest of the country, they begin at Kullu. Over 600 local deities come to pay homage to Lord Raghunathji. Enthusiasm marks the festival, with every road leading to Dhaulpur Maiden thronged by gaily-dressed, good-humored crowds, folk dances, exhibitions, cultural programs are held to mark the festivities. At the end of April, a colorful 3-day Cattle fair attracts villagers from the surrounding areas. During the Hill Fruit Show, sponsored by Department of Horticulture, Himachal Pradesh, best Kullu fruits are on display. More traditionally, over two hundred deities converge on Kullu for its unusual Dussehra Celebrations. They pay homage to Lord Raghunathji while Music and colour fill the "Silver Valley". Dussehra at Kullu commences on the tenth day of the rising moon, i.e. on 'Vijay Dashmi' day itself and continues in seven days. A feast of Rhythm and Harmony: On the first day the idol of Lord Raghunathji saddle on a gaily attired chariot and attended by village gods mounted in colorful palanquins, is pulled from its fixed place in Dhalpur Maiden to another spot across the Maiden by Big ropes. The local people regard the pulling of ropes sacred. This forms a huge procession. All the gods of the valley has to visit Kullu on Dussehra in order to pay homage to Raghunathji.

On the following days in the mornings and in the evenings the gods are invoked and paraded. The people remain busy buying, selling, singing and dancing during all the seven days of the festival, which concluded with the burning of the Lanka. The chariot of Raghunathji is taken near the banks of Beas on the last day of the festival where a pile of wood grass is set on fire, which symbolizes the burning of Lanka and is followed by the sacrifice of chosen animals. The birth of Dussehra in Kullu lay in royal fads and it nourished on religious, social and economic factors and ultimately came to be well established, because of the inborn love of the hill-men for fun, frolic, displayed in community singing and dancing. Numerous stalls offer a verity of local wares. This is also the time when the International Folk Festival is celebrated.

DHOONGRI FAIR:
May gushes in with a whole series of river rafting festivals and water sports Regattas, throughout the state. Focused around the goddess Hadimba Devi, Kullu celebrates the Dhoongri fair.

WATER & ADVENTURE SPORTS :
The Kullu valley has numerous places for trout fishing. These include Katrain, Raison, Kasol and Naggar, then along the river Tirthan near Lad, in the Sainj Valley and in the Hurla kund. The river Beas offers excellent opportunities for white water rafting.

The valley is the nucleus of several trek routes. Some major ones are over the Chanderkhani Pass to Malana and Pin Parbati Pass to Sarahan. The Jalora Pass lies 5-km beyond Shoja and gives access to the outer Seraj region of the Kullu Valley. From Chamba to Udaipur (Lahaul) over Sach Pass, can be completed by trekkers within a day span of nine or ten days.

SHOPPING:
Kullu shawls occupy a place of pride in handicrafts of the district. These exquisite specimens of art adorning the fair damsels of this fairyland are popular among tourists as precious souvenirs. Other famous products of Kullu include caps, gadmas, rugs or'namdas', local tweeds, footwear or pullun', baskets and natural oils of almond and olive. The Himachal State weaving co-operative, Bhutti Weavers colony is 6 km south of Kullu, which has retail outlets, Bhuticco in many towns. There are also Govt. Handicrafts Emporium, Himachal Khadi Emporium and Khadi Gramudyog.

HOW TO GET THERE:
Air: The airport at Bhuntar is 10-km from Kullu, where taxis and buses are available.
Rail: The closest narrow gauge railhead is at Jogindernagar, 95-km from Kullu.
Road: By road, the distance from Delhi via Mandi is 530-km and from Shimla this is 240-km. From Delhi and Shimla, luxury buses ply to Kullu. There's a bus and taxi stand on the opposite side of maiden. The main bus stand is by river in the northern area of the town.

CLIMATE:
In winter, the temperature gets quite low when heavy woolens are required. It is pleasant in summer and cottons are recommended.

 
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