Kullu district offers many attractions to the tourists. It has rich art and cultural heritage, lush green deep meadows, dazzling rivers, white-capped snowy peaks and high mountains. The district has incomparable Beas and its sub-valleys which are full of natural charm and grandeur. Though Kullu does not have the rich historical, archaeological or epigraphical antiquities like Chamba but still has some ancient remains of antiquities like Nirmand in outer-Seraj and Hat at Bajaura. Not only the district is famous for its scenic beauty but also as a paradise for the trekkers and mountaineers. It is worthwhile to discuss some of the important places here.
Kullu: Kullu, the headquarters of the district, is situated at an altitude of 1,200 metres on the confluence of Sarvari rivulet and Beas river. Though, it is somewhat warm during June and early July, but for the rest of the year provides a delightful and healthy climate. The annual rainfall is about 40″, of which a little less than a half occurs during the winter months from October to March. There is not much snowfall during the winters but snow-clad peaks look very beautiful. Kullu town has made its name on the international tourist map for its famous Dussehra festival. The town is a seat of the chief deity of the valley i.e. Raghunathjee. During Dussehra, the visiting deities from all over the district first pay their obeisance by visiting the abode of Raghunathjee at Sultanpur. The town of Kullu can accommodate a large number of visitors with all facilities of boarding and lodging required by them.
Bijli Mahadev: This temple is situated at a distance of 11 kms. from Kullu, standing majestically atop a hilllock (2,435 Mtrs.) where a 20 mtrs. tall staff (dwaj) is supposed to attract special blessings from the sky in the shape of lightning and it is said that with the flash of lightening Shivlinga shattered into pieces. These pieces are put together by the Priest with butter and sattu and covered with kilta. Then the Shivlinga comes to its original shape. It offers a charming view of Kullu and Parvati Valley. One can pay a visit to this temple and return to Kullu in one day. Now a jeepable road paves through the forest with magnificent views and links to Bijli Mahadev temple.
Bajaura: A place of special interest between Aut and Kullu is Bajaura. It is famous for its temple Bisheshar Mahadev, 15 kms. away from Kullu on the Kullu-Mandi main road. The temple is famous for its stone carvings and sculptural decorations. This temple is believed to have been built in mid 10th century.
Nagar: Nagar, on the left bank of Beas river and about 300 metres above the river, is delightfully situated on a wooded slope and commands extensive views, especially of the north and west of the valley. It is 27 kms. from Kullu and 5 kms. from Patli Kuhl. There is a bridge across Beas river connecting Patli Kuhl and Nagar. Nagar succeeded Jagatsukh the older name of which was Nast as the capital of Kullu. It was founded by Visudh Pal and continued as the headquarters of the state until the capital was transferred to Kullu (Sultanpur) by Raja Jagat Singh. A massive castle belonging to the Rajas of Kullu still exists here. The castle now converted into a tourist lodge is built on a steep eminence overlooking the valley and dominates the village and surrounding countryside. It is supposed to have been built during the reign of Raja Sidh Singh with stones brought from Baragarh fort on the opposite of the valley. At the foot of the small bazar, below the castle is the Gauri Shankar temple of Lord Shiva-a charming example of the architecture and carving. It is presumed that the temple which is a protected monument is eight hundred years old. A little higher is the Vishnu temple of Chatturbhuj. Higher still in the upper part of the village, is Pagoda shaped-temple of ‘Tripura Sundri Devi’. Highest of all on a small ridge above Nagar, is the Krishna temple of Murli Dhar.
This temple is perhaps the oldest of its type in this part of Kullu. Above the castle, a road leads to Hall less than one kilometre on the ridge overlooking the Chhaki nalla. The beautiful house which gives its name to the estate was built by Late Colonel Rennick but is now in the possession of the Roerich family. The late Professor Nicholas Roerich (died in December 1947) was an illustrious artist of international repute had selected Nagar as his residence when he came to India in 1929 along with the other members of his family. One of his sons Svetoslav Roerich was also a renowned painter.
About Naggar Castle:
- The castle was built about 500 years ago is now under Himachal Tourism Department.
- Near the castle is located a beautiful cottage and estate of the late Russian painter Nicholas Roerich.
- He visited India first time in 1923.
- He liked Naggar so much that he returned in 1929 (stayed at Hall Estate).
- He resided there till death 1947.
- Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru along with his daughter visited Nicholas Roerich in 1942.
- The first lady of Indian screen Devika Rani and her husband Svetoslav Roerich often lived in estate too.
- Devika Rani gave the Hall estate to the International Roerich Memorial Trust.
- Devika Rani Passed away in 1994.
- Roerich Art Gallery was established at Naggar.
Manali: Situated near the end of the valley, Manali is one of the most attractive tourist spot not only of Himachal Pradesh but of International fame also. Manali is synonymous with streams and birdsong, forests and orchards and granduse of snow-capped mountains. Manali is the real starting point of an ancient trade route which crosses the Rohtang and Baralacha passes and runs via Lahaul and Ladakh to Kashmir while divergent road connects it with Spiti. Now the motor link has been provided upto Leh in Jammu & Kashmir, Pangi valley in Chamba district and Kaza of Lahul & Spiti district. There are regular bus services to these places from Manali during the summer season. It is situated at a distance of 45 kms. from Kullu.
There is an interesting legend about Manali which goes to say that Manu, the author of ‘Manu Samhita’, after the great deluge first stepped on the earth from the celestial boat at a place in this land. The particular spot where he established his abode was the present Manali which is regarded as the changed name of ‘Manu-Alaya’, the abode of Manu. It was from here that the human race came into being after the deluge. The temple dedicated to Manu still exists in the Manali village.
In past, Manali was known as Dana Aghe.
Hadimba: In addition to its scenic beauty and grandeur, which is far excellence, Manali has many attractions but the chief attraction of interest, historically and archaeologically, is undoubtedly the Dhungri temple dedicated to Goddess Hadimba (or Hirma Devi), the wife of Bhima of Mahabharta fame, which is situated within a walkable distance from the Manali town. According to an inscription on the doorway at the east side of the temple, it was founded in S.29 (corresponding to 1553 AD) by Raja Bahadur Singh, son of Raja Sidh Singh. Hadimba temple at Dhungri has a pagoda-shaped roof of thick deodar shingles. The square roofs are in tiers of diminishing size above which is a kind of circular wooden cave, which is again surrounded by a brass ball and trident. Verandahs occupy three sides of the temple. The doorway faces the east and is extremely decorated by carved woodwork depicting elephants, tigers, birds etc. Hadimba is held in great veneration throughout and even beyond Kullu valley. She is still being worshipped by the local people by offering the occasional sacrifice of animals, chiefly as a propitiatory measure for the amelioration of ailments and natural calamities.
Rohtang Pass: Numerous mountain passes lead in and out of Kullu, but one of the most popular with trekking parties is the Rohtang, about 3,978 metres above mean sea level. It is the most convenient route from Manali and throughout the whole distance provides a charming variety of scenery. The length of the pass is about one km. and has served as the route for many centuries in Central Asia. The road from Manali to Keylong passes over this pass which is 51 kms. long and the crest of the Rohtang Pass presents a wide-spread panorama of mountain scenery. The Beas river rises near the crest of Rohtang springing into existence from block of mica-schist. To the left of the pass five or six hundred feet higher is the little lake of ‘Sar Kund’ (also called Dashair). On 20th Bhadon (about the 4th September) each year, this small glacier lake is visited by a number of people from Kullu and other adjoining districts with a belief that a bath in the cold water at daybreak on this particular day will cure all bodily ailments. In early summer and late autumn after about 11.00 A.M. or mid-day, the crest of the pass is occasionally subject to severe blizzards and snowstorms, accompanied by a deadly cold breeze. Daily Bus service is available at Manali for a trip to Rohtang Pass. The reservations for this trip can be done with the assistance of Tourism Development Officer at Manali.
Malana: Nestled between Jari and Khiksa thatch lies the village Malana. Here one can still see the oldest democracy of the world where all inhabitants of the village participate in village administration. They have their own pattern of parliament i.e. Upper House (Jaostang) and Lower House (Kanishtang or Core). Jaostang has its own Executive and it works like Judiciary. If no solution comes out in both houses, then the case is put forward to Jamalu Rishi (Devta) and then Devta decides the case through its ‘Gur’ and its decision is final and binding to all inhabitants of this village. The inhabitants of Malana speak a peculiar language of their own, called Kanashi, which is entirely different from the Pahari of Kullu and is a mixture of aboriginal Mundari and Tibetan.
Jagatsukh: Jagatsukh, the original name of which was ‘Nast’ was the ancient capital of Kullu state. Here the earliest Rajas ruled for twelve generations till, in the reign of Visudh Pal, and then the capital was transferred to Nagar. It lies on the left bank of the Beas and the road from Nagar to Manali runs through the village. It is about twelve kilometres from Nagar and six kilometres from Manali. Before reaching Jagatsukh a place Shooru, near the entrance to Hamta Nalla, is passed at which is located the ancient and historical temple of Devi Sharvali. In Jagatsukh some ancient temples are still in existence. The most important being the Shiva temple in the Shikhara style. It has a very chaste sculptured decoration. The temple of Gayatri Devi is also located near this temple.
Vashist: A little village located on the left bank of the Beas, but well above the river and about 3 kilometres beyond Manali and is renowned for its hot sulphur springs named as Bashisht or Vashist. There is a regular walled bathing pool with stone floors. Turkish styled shower fitted bathrooms; separate for ladies and gents have been built closely where the hot and cold water is separately piped, maintaining the regular temperature for bathing at nominal charges. There is a cafeteria. Flanking the pool there is a stone and a wooden temple dedicated to Vashishta Muni from whom the village gets its name. The hot sulphur springs at Vashist are famous for their great healing powers.
Arjun Guffa: A cave, which is about five kilometres from Manali and known as Arjun Gufa, is situated a little up from the left bank road near the village Prini. According to a legend, Arjuna under the advice of Vyasa rishi practised austerities in a cave in order to get the powerful ‘Pashupata astra’ from Indra.
Nehru Kund: A spring of clear cold water named after the late Prime Minister, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, is about 6 kms. from Manali on Manali-Keylong road.
Solang Valley: It is a splendid valley between Manali and Kothi and offers the views of glaciers and snow caped mountains and peaks. The nearest glacier from Manali is in this valley. It is about thirteen kilometres from Manali and one can go there either by jeep or by bus upto Palchan village from where jeepable road branches off to the left. Good skiing slopes are also available here which are famous for summer skiing.
Manikaran: Nestling among sylvan surroundings in Parvati valley, Manikaran is famous for its hot springs. Manikaranat an altitude of 1,829 metres and 40 kms. from Kullu has the finest hot water springs. Probably the most important and most useful is the one on the river bank at the entrance to the village which is always in great activity and is said to rise and fall with the increase and decline of river water. Rocks surrounding the spring are uncomfortably hot, while the temperature of the water is above boiling point. Rice can be cooked if placed in a muslin bag or tied up in cloth and thrown into the hot water pool. The water of the springs is said to be radioactive. It is supposed to be beneficial to sufferers from rheumatism and similar ailments. Besides Raghunathjee and Shiva temples, Manikaran is a favourite resort of pilgrims. According to an ancient legend, Manikaran is also connected with Lord Shiva and his divine consort Parvati.
Mountaineering and Allied Sports: Kullu terrain is almost mountainous. To popularize the mountaineering and allied sports the Mountaineering Institute second of its kind in the country was established at Chadhiari near the hot springs of Vashist village in September, 1961. The first training course conducted by the Institute was held in November-December, 1961 and the Institute was known as Western Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (WHMI). With the coming of its own complex in the year 1976, the Institute was shifted to present location (Aleo Bihal Manali) and since then it is known as the Department of Mountaineering and Allied Sports. Training in snow skiing was started in early 1970 at Solang Nala Ski-slopes. High Altitude Trekking was also started in 1970 and thereafter, in order to conduct adventure and rock-climbing, specific courses were introduced. The Institute also imparts mountaineering and rescue training to the people living in tribal areas. For this purpose two mountaineering sub-centres were established at Jispa in Lahul & Spiti district and Brahmaur in Chamba district in the year 1979. In order to help people to cross over Rohtang Pass to Lahul & Spiti or Manali during winter months, the Directorate sets-up rescue posts at Marhi and Koksar from 15th November to 31st December and Ist March to 15th May.