The most charming and beautiful Kulu valley spreads out its charm on either side of river Beas. The valley runs north to south of this river and is 80kms. long and about 2kms. at its broadest. Yet with awe inspiring glens and mossy meadows encircled by the rushing streams and meandering brooks, flung east & west, a fairly wide area is open to the tourists, the trekkers, the mountaineers, the artists and to anyone who wishes to escape the heat & dust of the plains to breathe the exhilarating air of the Himalaya and enjoy the spectacle of the variegated mountain scenery. The valley is also famous for its exquisitely woven colourful hand made shawls and kullu caps.Located in Himachal Pradesh, the Himalayan Jewel. Kullu was once known as Kulanthpitha-’the end of the habitatable world’. Beyond rise the forbidding heights of the Greater Himalaya, and by the banks of the shining river Beas, lies the fabled ‘Silver Valley’. The town of Kullu is famous for its colourful Dussehra festival. Decorated palanquins and processions convey gods and goddesses from temples all over the valley to Kullu, to pay homage to the reigning deity, Raghunathji. A mela springs up during the festival which is celebrated with a great deal of singing, dancing and festivity.
CULTURE AND LIFE STYLE
The fairs, customs, food habits, beliefs, attire and occupation explicate the hard-earned lifestyle of the aborigines. The people of Kullu believe in simple living and perseverance.
The fairs and festivals celebrated in the valley are an indispensable part of the native ethos. These vibrant fairs carry great religious and economic importance for the people here.
The customs and rituals practiced in the valley depict the simple lifestyle of the natives, living close to Nature. The people here worship deities who are sages, snake gods and other powerful gods and goddesses mentioned in ancient Indian scriptures. Every village has beautiful temples dedicated to these deities.
The people of Kullu are primarily farmers, but now the population has also scattered into emerging occupations as tourism, handloom industry and other skillful fields like computer applications. More than 70% of the people here are literate. This includes an equal ratio of men and women. Govt. sector is one of the most favoured source of employment.
There is a rich tradition of folk arts in Kullu. The excellent temple carvings, vibrant handicrafts , spectacular folk dances and melodious songs show the sensitivity of the people. The exquisitely build temples, castles, and forts are the monuments of an advanced form of architecture and sculpture that flourished in the valley in past.
The Oldest Republic
Malana, a remote village, situated at a height of 2520 m, is believed to be one of the oldest existing Republics. The villagers strictly follow their ancient beliefs, culture, customs and religion. Jamlu devta (chief deity of the village) governs the administration, judiciary and politics of the village through the ‘gur’ (the deity’s spokesperson).
The artisans of Kullu valley preserve a rich heritage of handlooms and handicrafts. There is an amazing range of beautiful handloom and handicraft products in Kullu.
The traditional brilliant colours of the Handlooms probably manifest people’s zest for life and creation.
The famous Kullu Shawls are admired for their elegant look. Kullu Caps are widely worn by the local people and are also equally popular among tourists.
Warm local Tweeds, Pattus, Muflars etc. are the other handloom products largely produced in Kullu.
After months of hardwork in the fields and orchards, there comes the month of Phalgun (mid
February to mid March) that marks the beginning of fairs and festivals in the valley. These fairs and festivals are mostly held to celebrate the victory of good over the evil or recall any episode related to the deities. They celebrate the rich cultural and traditional inheritance of the people, which they have been maintaining since epochs.
Dusshera is a unique fair held every year in October. It is a beautiful amalgam of history, rich culture and customs. Unlike other regions of India here effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhakarana are not burnt. This is how victory of good over evil is depicted. Kullu Dusshera starts usually on the day it ends in the rest of the country.
It all started back in 1637 A. D. when Raja Jagat Singh was the ruler of the Valley. One day he came to know that a peasant Durga Dutt of village Tipri owned beautiful pearls, which the Raja wanted to obtain. Durga Dutt tried to convince the Raja by all means that the information was wrong and that he owned no pearls, but all his pleas were in vain.
The Raja gave him a last chance. Durga Dutt got so scared that he burnt down his own family and house and cursed the Raja for his cruelty. His curse resulted in Raja’s leprosy and as he realized the fact he felt guilty.
Kishan Das known as Fuhari Baba advised him to install the famous idol of Lord Raghunathji to get rid of the curse of the peasant. He sent Damodar Dass to steal the idol from Tret Nath Temple of Ayodhya who finally brought it from there in July 1651 A. D. After installing the idol he drank Charnamrit of the idol for several days and was in due course cured. He devoted his kingdom and life for the lord and from then onwards Dusshera started being celebrated with great splendor. Thus on the first fortnight of Ashwin month (mid September to mid October), the Raja invites all the 365 Gods and Goddesses of the Valley to Dhalpur to perform a Yagna in Raghunathji’s honor.
On the first day of Dusshera Goddess Hadimba of Manali comes down to Kullu. She is the Goddess of the royal family of Kullu. At the entrance of Kullu the Royal Stick welcomes her and escorts her to the Palace where the royal family awaits her at the entrance of the Palace. Thereafter they enter the Palace only when goddess Hadimba calls them inside. After blessing the royal family she comes to Dhalpur.
The idol of Raghunathji is saddled around Hadimba and placed in a Ratha (chariot) adorned beautifully. Then they wait for the signal from Mata Bhekhli, which is given from top of the hill. Next the Ratha is pulled with the help of ropes from its original place to another spot where it stays for the next six days. The male members of the royal family leave the palace and stay in the Dusshera ground.
More than one hundred gods and goddesses mounted on colorful palanquins participate in this procession. The ceremony feels as if the doors of heaven have been opened and the gods have come down to the earth to rejoice.
On the sixth day of the festival, the assembly of Gods takes place, which is called ‘Mohalla’. It is an impressive and a rare sight to see the multihued palanquins of Gods around the camp of Raghunathji. People usually dance the whole night through. On the last day the Ratha is again pulled to the banks of river Beas where a pile of thorn bushes is set on fire to depict the burning of Lanka. Some animals are sacrificed and the Ratha is brought back to its original place. Raghunathji is taken back to the temple in Raghunathpur. Thus world famous Dusshera comes to an end in a dignified way, full of festivities and grandeur.
The Dhalpur grounds are full of vendors who come from different parts of the country to sell their goods. Various government organizations and private agencies also set up various exhibitions concerning their line of work. At night thousands of people witness the International Cultural Festival in Kala Kendra (an open-air theatre).
Kullu Dusshera ends all the fairs and festivals celebrated in the valley.
Attractions in and Around
(1760 m)Once the capital of erstwhile Kulu state, Naggar is delightfully situated on a wooded slope. One finds a large number of famous temples of Vishnu, Tripura Sundari & Lord Krishana. Roerich art gallery houses the paintings and sculptures of Nice……
Camping Sight Raison
(1433 m)16kms. away from Kulu, the sight is ideal for spending a quiet holiday and for holding youth camps. There are a large number of orchards in this part of the valley. HPTDC has log cabins for comfortable stay.
How to reach
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 Kulu. There’s a bus and taxi stand on the opposite side of maidan. The main bus stand is by river in the northern area of the town.