For good reason, the Kullu region is called the ‘Valley of the Gods’. Apart from its breathtaking natural beauty, there are some 350 local deities worshipped in and around Kullu. Tucked in the folds of the high Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar mountains, the Kullu valley has largely been carved out by the flow of the river Beas. Also called the ‘silver valley’, Kullu’s fertile fields, apple and other fruit orchards have made this one of India’s most popular leisure and adventure destinations. From the south, the high cliffs of the Largi gorge are the gateway to the valley. This fertile strand advances from Aut and eighty kilometres later, comes to a dramatic end at the Rohtang Pass. Kullu was once known as ‘Kulanthipitha’ – which loosely translates as ‘the end of the habitable world’. The origins of Kullu’s erstwhile ruling family lie in the story of Behangamani who came to the valley and was resting by a path when an old lady saw him. He helped the lady reach a fair that she wanted to attend – and there, she revealed herself as the goddess Hirma (Hadimba) and blessed him with a kingdom that is now defined as the tract to Kullu. In the 19th century, the armies of Punjab took control of the valley and later, Kullu passed under British dominion. Prosperous as far as the kingdoms of the hills went; Kullu also had a sizeable territory under its control. Today, the town of Kullu can be divided into two – the Sultanpur area has the administrative offices and the Akhara Bazaar has the markets.
Height: 1220 m
Climate: Temperatures in winters are low and heavy woollens are needed. Summers are pleasant and cottons are recommended.
Getting There & Away: How to reach Kullu
Road: Delhi is 530 kms from Kullu, Chandigarh is 280 kms and Shimla is 220 kms.
Rail: The nearest broad gauge railhead for Kullu is at Chandigarh, 280 kms away.
Air: Kullu airport at Bhunter is 10 kms from the main town.
Tourist Attractions in Kullu
Dusshera is the most popular festival of the valley and is good time to witness the local people exhibit their talent in dance, song and drama and also an opportunity to buy handicraft products of the valley. The week long festivities are enriched with cultural evenings at which national and international troupes put up cultural performances.
About a kilometre from Dhalpur ground at Raghunathpura also known as Sultanpur, is the main temple of Raghunath ji. In the 17th century, to atone for a sin, Raja Jagat Singh, had the statue of Lord Raghunath (Lord Ram) brought from Ayodhya and sanctified here. This temple is in focus during the Kullu Dusshera at which most of the village deities pay obeisances before festivities begin.
Bijli Mahadev Temple (14 kms, 2460 m height) is famous for its high wooden staff which periodically attracts lightning that shatters a Shivlinga in the temple complex and scorches the building. Using butter as an adhesive, the linga is then carefully pieced together by the temple pundit.
The intricate stone carvings at Basheshwar Mahadev Temple, Bajura (15 kms) is one of the best specimens of temple architecture and iconography of Kullu valley.
The Vaishno Devi Temple (4 kms), the Devi Jagannaathi Temple at Bekhli (5 kms) and the Vishnu Temple at Dayar (12 kms) are other important shrines.
Kaisdhar (15 kms) is a picturesque spot with a meadow fringed by majestic deodar trees.
Manikaran (1737 m) is at a distance of 45 kms. This spot along the river Parvati is held holy by both Hindus and Sikhs; the former connect it closely with Lord Shiva and the latter hold it sacred as it was visited by Guru Nanak. The place has hot sulphur springs that are believed to have curative powers.
The Great Himalayan National Park borders Kullu and is a nature and wildlife lovers’ paradise.
The Tirthan Valley is a narrow but picturesque valley and is accessed via Aut.