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Kulu, the broad open valley is the most delightful region in the western Himalayas. It is formed by the Beas river between Manali and Largi.
It is situated on the banks of the river Beas at an altitude of about 3,900ft (1,200mtrs). The valley is famous for its apple orchards, old wooden temples and folk music and dances, majestic hills and beautiful women. Kulu, the headquarters of the district, serves as a nerve centre of the valley and is the starting place for a number of treks. The name Kullu was derived from the word 'Kulantapith' (the end of the habitable word). The famous Chinese pilgrim monk Xuanzang visited the Kullu Valley in 634 or 635 CE.
The best time to visit the Kulu valley is October, when the Dussera festival is celebrated. Interestingly, when Dussehra celebrations come to an end in the rest of the country, they begin at Kullu. The statue of Raghunathji, the presiding deity of the valley, is ceremonially brought down to the valley from the mountains. About 200 local deities come to pay homage to Lord Raghunath.
The highlight of the fair is the dance competition held every evening, in the spring. Kulu is at its most colourful with pink blossoms and white flowers while the higher slopes are a glow with gorgeous rhododendrons during summer. In winter i.e, December and January, the valley observe lowest temperatures ranging from 4°C to 20°C and the hillsides are flanked in white.
Kullu is also known for its shopping especially Pashmina shawls. It has a made of many natural fibers such as pashmina, sheep-wool, angora etc. The markets in Kullu are quite local types and one can enjoy momos, Thukpa, Sidhuu etc.
Bijli Mahadeva temple
Located 10 km from Kullu, the temple is one of the most excellent forms of art in India. The temple is built of large blocks of stone without the use of cement and its 65ft (20mts) tall flagstaff is reputed to attract lightning which is an expression of divine blessing. Every time the flagstaff is struck by lightning, the Shiva lingam (phallic symbol) inside the temple is shattered. It is put back together each time by the priest and covered with sattoo (a paste of roasted gram and wheat powder) and butter. From here, a panoramic view of Kulu and Paravati valleys can be seen.
Bajeshwar Mahadev Temple
Located just 15 km from Kullu, it is situated in a plain between the main road and the Beas river. It is a pyramidical shaped temple belonging to the 8th century A.D. The temple is adorned with beautiful carvings of stone and sculpture in the Shikhara style.
Examples of Kulu style of miniature paintings are seen at the palace. This style is characterized by simple rural scenes and the lack of sophistication of the human subjects.
Maha Devi Tirth Temple
Popularly known as Vaishno Devi Mandir by locals it is situated about 2kms North from the Kullu valley on Kullu Manali road. The foundation of this temple was laid by Swami Sewak Das Ji.
Built by Raja Jagat Singh in the 17th century, the principal god of the temple is the god of the Dussera festival. Every year international fair Dussehra is celebrated with local deities in honour of lord Raghunath. The image of Shri Raghunath, which was brought here from Ayoddhya in 1657 was housed at the shrine in his chariot.
The temple is situated on the banks of the river Beas at Hat or Hatta. It is one of the ancient in origin and oldest in the valley. Its massive pyramidal structure magnificently decorated with images of Durga, Mahishasuramardini, Vishnu and Ganesh in the outer 3-sided shrines. Floriated scrollwork adorn the exterior walls. A large 'yoni-lingam' erected inside this Shiva temple.
Parvati Valley Manikaran
The well-known hot springs of Manikaran are just 30 miles (45km) from Kulu town, in the heart of the valley. The local legend describes how, while Goddess Parvati (consort of lord Shiva ) bathed in the river, Naga; the serpent god, stole her earrings (Manikaran). At Siva's command, he angrily blew them back from the underground causing a spring to flow. Manikaran is supposed to be the hottest in the world. The local people cook their food by the spring and there are separate baths for men and women.
The road from Kulu to Manali runs along the swift and rushing torrents of the River Beas. It is flanked by lofty mountains and spreading forests. On this road is Katrain, famous for its fruit orchards and its trout hatchery. Near Katrain, across the river, is a small town Naggar, which has been made famous by the late Russian painter, Nicholas Roerich, whose gallery can be seen there. Jagatsukh, the biggest village of the district on the Naggar-Manali road, is popular for its annual Chacholi Yatra. the quiet resort of Katrain is famous for trout fishing while Vasishth and Manikaran are known for hot springs.
Vaishno Devi Temple
This temple is 4 Km north on the Kullu-Manali road, where a small cave has an image of goddess Vaishno.
An ideal place for adventure, it is situated on the banks of the Beas and on the Kullu-Manali highway. The Himachal Tourism runs a camping site here.
Located close to the Great Himalayan National Park, the village serves as a vantage point for a breathtaking views of the Kullu area - snow peaks and valleys, meadows and forests, rivers and streams.
Located 42 km east of Kullu, it is an open glade by the banks of the river Parvati. It is a good spot for trout. Himachal Tourism runs a Tourist Hut here.
Lies on the left bank of the river Beas, this was the capital of Kullu for about 1400 years. A mixture of European and Himalayan architecture, the castle was built in AD 1460. Now a hotel run by Himachal Tourism, it is built of stone and wood. It houses a gallery which has paintings of the Russian artist, Nicholas Roerich. Naggar is also a base for undertaking treks to Chanderkhani Pass and to remote valley of Malana. 3 famous temples dedicated to Vishnu, Tripura Sundari and Lord Krishna are also located here.
Great Himalayan National Park
Officially known as the Jawaharlal Nehru Great Himalayan National Park, was established in1984 in Kulu district. Bounded by the towering peaks of the Himalayas on three sides with an entrance from the west, the park covers an area of 620sq.km.of the previously-established Tirthan Sanctuary. Read more...
Kullu Valley's green forests, rivers, alpine meadows, high snow covered mountains are ideal for skiing, mountaineering, trekking and fishing. The valley has numerous places for trout fishing which include Katrain, Raison, Kasol and Naggar, then along the river Tirthan near Larji, in the Sainj Valley and in the Hurla khud. Water rafting is popular on the Beas river. For trekking, Some major ones are over the Chanderkhani Pass to Malana, over the Jalori Pass or Bashleo Pass to Shimla, and over the Pin Parvati Pass to Sarahan.