Brief Geography of District Kullu – Himachal Pradesh

By | June 9, 2020

Location and size

  • Kullu district is located in the eastern part of central Himachal Pradesh.
  • The district lies between 31020′ 25” to 320 25′ 0″ north latitude and 760 56′ 30″ to 770 52′ 20″ east longitude.
  • It is bounded on the north and east by Lahaul & Spiti district, on the south-east by Kinnaur district, on the south by Shimla district, on the south-west and west by Mandi district and on the north-west by Kangra district.
  • The headquarters of the district is situated at an altitude of 1,200 metres above the mean sea level on the confluence of Sarvary rivulet and Beas river.
  • The total area of the district is 5,503 Sq. kms.
  • The district ranks 5th in order of area and 9th in order of population among the districts of the state.
  • The area of district constitutes 9.88 per cent of the total area of the state while it contains 6.38 per cent of the total population.


  • Kullu district forms a transitional zone between the Lesser and the Greater Himalayas and presents a typical rugged mountainous terrain with moderate to high relief.
  • The altitude varies between 1,089 metres to over 6,632 metres from the mean sea level.
  • The high reaches are bestowed with magnificent snow peaks and glaciers.
  • The important glaciers in this district are Kalihen, Beas Kund, Saraomaga, Trichu, Parvati, Dibbi and Mantalai.
  • These vary in length from 3 to 16 Kms. and from 500 to 800 metres in width.


  • The rock types found in the district are phyllite, slate, quartzite limestone, schists and granites and have been classified on the basis of their physical characters, mode and period of formation.
  • These are named either on rock types or after local names where these were first studied.
  • These groups are central gneiss, Kullu formation, Banjar formation and tourmaline granites.
  • Central gneiss presumably the oldest rocks made over 1,500 million years comprised various types of gneissic rocks within layers of quartzite, granites and pegmatites.
  • The large formation contains thick layers of grey dolomite and pink limestone besides slate phyllite and quartzite.
  • The tourmaline granites are inferred to occur as intrusive and are the probable source of high radioactivity in the area where many hot water springs have occurred in this area.

On the basis of physiography, climate, soil cover, geology and natural vegetation, the district has been divided into 5 sub-micro regions which are given as below:

1. Kullu Valley:

  • The valley mainly spreads on both banks of Beas river and also on the lower parts of its major tributaries like Parvati and Tirthan rivers.
  • It covers maximum parts of Manali, Kullu tahsils and Sainj sub-tahsil and a small part of Banjar tahsil.
  • This region is surrounded by Kullu forests from almost all corners.
  • Mandi district forms its south-western limit.
  • This valley is mainly formed by Beas river and is narrow in the north and becomes more wider in Kullu and in the central and southern parts of Manali tehsils whereas the parts of this valley falling in Sainj sub-tahsil and Banjar tahsil are undulating.
  • This region in the district is comparatively plain and fertile and the elevation varies from 1,089 metres and 2,980 metres above the mean sea level.
  • The slope rises gradually as one move away from the river banks and these slopes are densely covered with apple orchards.
  • Most of the area of this region falls below 2,000 metres.
  • Beas river rises in the Pir Panjal range near Rohtang pass and it enters the region near Rohla from the north.
  • This river flows through the central part of the region towards southern direction upto Aut.
  • The Tirthan River, after meeting with the Koki and Sainj khads join Beas river from the south and then the combined course flows towards west.
  • A major tributary of the Beas river in this region is Parvati river which also receives the water of Malana Nalla and Tos Nalla and joins then Beas on its left Bank near Bhuntar town.
  • Other minor tributaries are Manalsu, Solang, Phojal, Debar, Sanjoin, Siriv Nalla and Sarwari Khad on the right side and Chaki, Pakhnoj, Duhangan, Aliaini and Hurla Nalls on the left side.
  • The climate of this valley is warm during summers and cool during winters.
  • Upper areas of this valley receive snowfall during the month of December and January. Snow clad peaks look very beautiful.
  • The geology of this region is mainly composed of middle Proterozoic formations.
  • The northern fringe of this region contains Granites (unclassified), while south-eastern part has shali-Deoban and Largi groups and Rampur-Banjar formations.
  • Soils of this region are mainly covered with orthents-ochrepts (58) while in the northern extreme; it contains Udalfs (20) type of soil.
  • Higher slopes of this region are covered with mixed vegetation mainly of Deodars.
  • This valley in the state, with its natural charm and grandeur is famous for the scenic beauty beyond expression.

2. Kullu Forests:

  • This region is formed by the area surrounding Kullu valley which spreads over parts of Manali, Kullu and Banjar tehsils and Sainj sub-tehsil.
  • The topography of the region is rugged and undulating with an altitude varying from 2,800 metres to 4,953 metres above the mean sea level.
  • It contains many Dhars and rivulets/streams originating from the higher reaches of the region and all of them ultimately merge with the Beas river from both sides.
  • The climate of this region is cool and dry. During winter the high reaches receive snowfall.
  • Geology of this region is mainly composed of Jutogh group/Vaikrita group and central gneiss and granites (unclassified) while in central and southern parts, geological formations of Nagthat, Mulh and Manikaran quartzites are also observed.
  • Soils of this region are mainly covered with orthents-ochrepts (58) type while Udalfs (20) and glaciers and Snowcap (103) types of soils occur in the northern and eastern parts of this region.
  • Except for few patches in the western part adjoining Kangra district, the whole area of this region is densely covered by forests.
  • The thickness of the forests is more on the higher altitude while it decreases with the lower altitude.
  • The forests contain species like Chir, Kail, Silver Fir, Walnut, Horse chestnut, Oak and Deodar.
  • These forests play an important role to improve the economy of the district as these forests provide valuable timber, medicinal herbs, resin and firewoods etc.
  • This region is formed by the area surrounding Kullu valley which spreads over parts of Manali, Kullu and Banjar tehsils and Sainj sub-tahsil.

3. Kullu Greater Himalaya:

  • This region comprises the crest of greater Himalaya which passes through north and eastern Kullu district.
  • It covers eastern parts of Kullu and Manali tehsils, the north-eastern tip of Sainj Sub-tehsil and northern, eastern and south-eastern parts of Banjar tahsil.
  • This region is surrounded by Lahaul & Spiti district from north to east, by Shimla district and Satluj basin from the south and by Kullu forests from the west.
  • Its a south-eastern boundary is formed by Kinnaur district.
  • This region is very rugged and mountainous and also has many Dhars.
  • Some of the important Dhars are Ali Ratni Dhar (5,269 metres), Ghodil Dhar (4,220 metres), Sirkhand Dhar (5,159 metres) and Dharing Dhar (4,183 metres).
  • Elevation in this region varies between 4,012 metres and 6,632 metres above the mean sea level.
  • Pin Parvati Pass (5,319 metres) is an important physical feature in this region and is situated on the boundary line between Kullu and Lahul & Spiti districts in the east.
  • The region contains many glaciers viz. Dudhon glacier, Parvati glacier, Tichu glacier, Sara Umga glacier and Dibi ka glacier on the north and north-eastern parts.
  • Parvati river which originates from the Parvati glacier is the major tributary of Beas river in this region.
  • Another tributary Tirthan river also takes birth in the region from Sirkhand Dhar.
  • The climate of this region is severe and dry.
  • The main geological structure of this region is Granites (unclassified), Haimanta group and Jutogh group and central gneiss.
  • The region is covered by udalfs (20), orthents-ochrepts (58) and glaciers and snow cap (103) types of soils. The region has no vegetation cover.
  • This region covers a huge unmeasured and uninhabited area due to its rugged terrain and unfavourable climatic conditions.

4. Satluj Basin:

  • This region embraces the southern part of Kullu district including entire Ani and Nirmand tahsils.
  • It is bounded by Kullu forests and Kullu Greater Himalaya in the north, Mandi district in the west while Shimla district encloses it from south to east.
  • The region is hilly and also has two important Dhars, Jalori Dhar and Sirkhand Dhar which run along the northern boundary of Ani and Nermand from west to north-east direction.
  • Altitude of this region varies between 1,059 metres and 5,148 metres above the mean sea level.
  • Slope rises in this region from the bed of Satluj river and its tributaries.
  • Maximum height of 5,148 metres is attained at the boundary line between Nirmand and Banjar tahsils in the extreme north of the region.
  • Satluj river, the second main river of the district enters the region at Kindla in the north-east and runs along the southern boundary of the region and separates it from Shimla district.
  • It leaves the region at Behna in the south-west.
  • The whole water is drained by the rivulets/streams viz. Ani, Khuddi, Beha and Kurpan Khads etc., which originate from these two Dhars and flow from north to south direction and ultimately merge in Satluj river in this region.
  • The climate is hot in summers and cool in winters. Maximum rainfall is received during monsoon.
  • Higher reaches receive snowfall during winter.
  • Geologically speaking western parts of this region are mainly formed by Jutogh group/vaikrita group and central Gneiss formations while in eastern part, the geological structure is formed by Nagthat, Muth and Manikaran formations.
  • Udalfs-ochrepts (24) types of soils are found in the western part of this region while Orthents-Ochrepts (58) type of soils cover the south and eastern parts.
  • In this region, upper areas are covered with densely mixed jungles mainly chir, kail, oak and deodar.

5. Pir Panjal:

  • This region is situated in the extreme northern and north-western parts of the district and occupying only a small part of Manali tahsil.
  • It makes its boundary with Kangra district in the west, Lahul & Spiti district in the north and east and Kullu forests in the south while Kullu Greater Himalaya touches it from the south-east direction.
  • The region is characterized by high snow-covered mountains, glaciers and passes.
  • The altitude of this region varies between 3,685 metres and 5,932 metres above the mean sea level.
  • Maximum height of 5,932 metres in this region is attained by Hanuman Tibba which is situated on the boundary line between Kullu and Kangra districts in the west.
  • Rohtang pass (3,978 metres) is situated in the northern part, is one of the major Physical feature of this region besides other passes viz., Thanod, Taintu Ka Jot (4,996 metres) and Hamta Jot (4,268 metres).
  • This region contains many Dhars. Some of these are Beas Kund Dhar, Shiti Dhar, Kara Dhar, Rohan Dhar and Satbehui Dhar.
  • Western part of this region is comparatively higher in elevation than the eastern part.
  • Beas river which is the main river of Kullu district originates in the Pir Panjal range from Beas Rishi spring near Rohtang pass and flows towards the south.
  • The geological structure of this region is mainly formed by granites (unclassified) formations and it has Udalfs (20) type of soil cover which is high base status of humid regions.
  • The region is without vegetation cover.
  • This region covers a very small unmeasured area of the district and is un-inhabited due to its tough and rugged terrain and climatic conditions.
  • The only motorable road is border road which connects this.

Drainage-(River System) in District Kullu

River Beas: 

  • Beas is the principal river of the district.
  • The Beas river originates from the Beas Kund a small spring of Pir Panjal Ranges at Rohtang Pass at a height of 3,900 metres approximately and flows southwards for about 120 kms., till it reaches Larjee.
  • In this area, tributaries are on the east bank spread out in the shape of a fan-based on the length of the river between Bhuin and Larjee.
  • On the right of the west bank of the main affluent are Solang, Manalsu, Sujoin and Fozal nallas and the Sarvari at Kullu.

River Parvati: 

  • Parvati river also receives the water of the Malana nalla at Jari and other tributaries of the Parvati are also on its right bank.
  • Parvati river after flowing in the northwesterly direction takes a south-westerly course before merging with Beas.
  • Between its basin and that of the Sainj nalla lies the Hurlagad which rises from a glaciated area.
  • It joins the Beas opposite Bajaura.

Sainj Khad: 

  • Sainj khad originates from Supa Kuni a high peak located on the boundary of Spiti and after running through the Sainj valley, it merges with Beas river at Larjee.

River Tirthan:  

  • Tirthan stream joins the Sainj khad a little above the junction of the latter with Beas river.

River Satluj: 

  • Satluj river, however, touches the fringes of the district boundary in the Nirmand and Ani tehsils and the entire drainage of the district is received by these two rivers.
  • Satluj river which forms the southern boundary of the district and separating it from Shimla district rises from Mansarover and touches the district in Nirmand tahsil opposite to Rampur tehsil of Shimla district.
  • Its main tributaries from Kullu district are Kurpan and Ani khad which originate from Bashleo and Jalori Peaks.
  • These rivers and their tributaries are the lifelines of the district and these are useful for the generation of electric power and raising fishery activities.

Read also: History of District Kullu

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