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Editor's Note Kullu Manali  
Kullu-Manali

Decades have gone by, but Manali's charm as the perfect honeymoon spot has only increased. It is such a refreshing change from the dust of the cities! And Manali is probably the best place for people looking for their first contact with snow. True, it is forever crowded with tourists, but the Kullu-Manali Valley remain among the best places in the Himalayan region. The Beas River rushing past, high trees weighed down by bright apples and plums and the gleaming sight of perpetual snow on the Himalayas. There must be definitely more to this place than snow, so get ready to discover more than what meets the eye…

Climate
Summer Summer
April - June, Cool & pleasant
Temperatures - 12°C-25°C
Monsoon Monsoons
July - September, Heavy rainfall, occasional landslides
Annual rainfall - 1780 mm
Winter Winter
October - February, Extremely cold and foggy and snowfall is common
Temperatures - 0°C - 10°C
Local Languages: Pahari, Hindi & English
Best Time to Visit: May-October, Adventure enthusiasts can plan a trip in winter when the snow offers great skiing options
Clothing: Cottons and light woolens during summers & heavy woolens during winters. Scarves and gloves are must if traveling in winter
Moving Around:

Kullu-Manali is best explored on a motorbike, which can be hired at reasonable charges. Try this only if you know your way around. Taxis and local buses are also available. Carry a map of the area in any case.

Tourist Offices: HPTDC
Mall Road, Manali
Tel : 01902-252175

HPTDC
Chandralok Building
36 Janpath, New Delhi
Tel : 011-23325320
Kullu-Manali

Temples of Kullu Valley : Basheshwar Mahadev Temple is believed to be the largest and most spectacularly built. Built in typical Pahari style, Bijli Mahadev Temple is one of the toughest to reach. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and derives its name from the fact that the shivling inside has, time and again, been shattered by lightening. The priests put together the shivling with ghee. Similar in style to the Bijli Mahadev temple, the Bhuvneshwari Temple is also built in Pahari style. The temple walls are adorned with Kangra-style paintings of Durga and the stone lion placed in the courtyard is built beautifully. Vaishno Devi Temple is a relatively new temple and is located on the National Highway near Kullu. Dedicated to the patron deity of Kullu, Raghunath Temple is the site of the famous Kullu Dusshera celebrations. Legends have it that Lord Rama performed the Ashwamedha Yajna before this very idol.

Temples of Manali : One of the most important temples in Manali is the Manu Rishi Temple, which is a five-storey pagoda-like structure with a brass kalasa crowning the top. This temple is dedicated to Manu, who is said to be the first human ever. Vashishtha Temple is dedicated to sage Vashishtha and built in true Pahadi-style. The patron deity inside is a stone idol clad in dhoti, cap and a white shawl. Hadimba Devi Temple is the most important and prayed at temple here. The temple is four-storeyed, pagoda-shaped and showcases intricate carvings of dancers at the entrance. The temple contains an idol of Goddess Hadimba seated on a rock. The Left Bank in Manali is home to the Gauri Shankar Temple built in pyramid style and housing idols of Parvati and Shiva. Close to it is the Sandhya Devi Temple built in pahari style with a sloping roof and square base. Along with a stone image of Goddess Sandhya, an idol of Lord Ganesha can also be found inside. The Dashal Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is a beautiful masterpiece. Intricate carvings adorn the walls of this temple.

Temples of Banjar : The main temple of the Banjar Valley is Shringa Rishi Temple dedicated to Shringa Rishi, the patron god of Banjar. The temple is a combination of a pagoda and pahari-style of architecture. Made of wood, the temple also has four roofs and an idol made of stone and brass, who is kept in his chariot all the time. Built like a fort, the Parshuram Temple houses a three-headed statue of Parshuram, which the third eye fitted with a diamond. The Ambika Temple was believed to have been built by Parshuram for his mother. It houses an idol of Ambika and a pair of lions placed before it. Carvings of fighting animals also adorn the walls.

Temples of Manikaran : Manikaran is the site of the natural hot water springs believed to have medicinal powers. The Rama Temple here is built in pyramidal style and is dedicated to Lord Rama. The temple complex sports three halls and forty rooms where devotees stay and a free meal or langar is also served to them. Manikaran is also home to the Gurudwara of Shri Narayan Hari, who built it almost 60 years back. Today it provides the daily langar service (free meal) to over 4000 people.

Kullu-Manali

Temples of Naggar : The Murlidhar Temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna, Radha, Garuda and Laxminarayana has a striking spire on top. It is also the site of the annual Dusshera Festival. The Tripura Sundri Temple is one of the most well-known temples made in wood and sporting three-storeys. It looks similar to the Hadimba Devi Temple with a kalasa crowning the topmost storey. The temple has stone idols of Ganesha, Vishnu, Brahma, Laxmi Narayan, Shiva and Parvati. Jagati Patt Temple is a wooden temple, whose highlight is a slab believed to have been brought here by the gods from the Bhrigu Tung Peak. Similar to Manali, there is a Gauri-Shankar Temple, dedicated to Parvati and Shiva. The main sanctum has engraved figures of Lord Ganesha, floral patterns and musical instruments.

Naggar Castle : Today converted into a heritage hotel, the Naggar Castle was built almost 600 years ago as home to the Raja of Kullu. It offers spectacular views of the Naggar Valley and houses the wooden Jagati Patt Temple in its complex. It is also home to the Roerich Art Gallery that houses paintings of Russian artist Nicholas Roerich. The gallery has also preserved original creations of the Himalayas done by Roerich, his quotations and notes left by his visitors.
Open from: 10.00 am-5.00 pm (Monday closed)

Urusvati Himalayan Folk Art Museum : Also located in Naggar, this folk art museum was once the research centre of the Himalayan region, and Indian and Tibetan medicine systems, started by Nicholas Roerich. This museum houses a fine collection of embroideries and folk art objects. Russian art, musical instruments, dolls and utensils are other popular displays. Paintings done by Roerich and other Indian and Russian artists also adorn the walls. Don’t miss the stone carvings of gods, pieces of crystal and wood, and the traditional garb of Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti, Tibet and Ladakh.

Dechen Choekhor Monastery : Located in Manali, this newly-built monastery owes its origin to the one in Tibet. It houses monks and lamas, who are trained in Buddhism. The monastery also manages a Thangka School of Arts and a carpet-weaving centre – both aiming at preserving the Tibetan Art. The interiors are full of paintings depicting scenes from Buddha’s life and a Kalachakra (wheel of life), which depicts the circle of life.

Gadhan Thekchoking Gompa : Located near the Mall, this gompa is particularly noted for its bright frescoes and a medium-sized Buddhist statue.

Wildlife Sanctuaries : The Kullu Valley is home to five wildlife sanctuaries, namely Great Himalayan National Park, Khokhan Sanctuary, Kais Sanctuary, Manali Sanctuary and Kanawar Sanctuary. Here you’d find some of the most endangered species including Musk Deer, Brown Bear, Snow Leopard and Cheer Pheasant. It is estimated that the largest number of the Himalayan Tahr are found in the Kanawar Sanctuary. Visit these sanctuaries in the summer months or early winters when traveling to these heights are relatively easy.

Waterfalls : Rahla Fall almost 27 km from Manali is spectacular with the Beas River gushing down 50 mts. Similarly, the Palani Fall is located near the Bijli Mahadev Temple and cascades down 150 mts. Both these falls are popular picnic spots. In addition, the falls are also the site of the annual fair held in March attended by a large number of people from across the country.

Hot Water Springs : Kullu has several hot water springs dotting its landscape, believed to have curative powers. Among the most visited is the Kheerganga at Manikaran. These hot water springs seem to emerge from the rocks and are whitish in colour. A dip here is believed to cure gastric problems and rheumatic pains. For skin diseases, a dip in the hot water springs at Kalath, Manali is a must. Vashishtha Springs are also famous for the Turkish baths built by the Tourism Department.

Rafting : The Beas River is a well known spot for white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking. Several events and competitions are organized by the clubs here. The equipments for your adventure sessions are also provided by the clubs.

Solang Valley : This is one of the most popular treks undertaken from Manali to Solang Valley and the Beas Kund below Hanuman Tibba. Set amidst pine and deodar trees, the Solan Valley’s slopes are also the site of the State and National Winter Sports.

Snow Point or Rohtang Pass: Catch beautiful glimpses of the majestic Himalayas from here. Rohtang Pass is the highest point on the National Highway and is especially popular for skiing since it experiences heavy snowfall. The Dassaur Lake close by is the source of the River Beas.

Jallori Pass : Located between the Ani and Banjar Valley, the pass offers spectacular views of the mountains and valleys. The pass is closed during winter for vehicles because of heavy snowfall.

Skiing: Manali is known as one of the best skiing spots. Especially important are Solang Nullah, Patalsu, Kothi, Marhi and Rohtang slopes. For summer skiing, head out to Patalsu and Rohtang slopes. You can also enjoy the National Skiing Competition organized at Solang Nullah.

Paragliding : Solang Nullah is also a popular paragliding spot and there are clubs that offer packages in paragliding. You can hire equipments from private clubs in and around Manali.

Angling : The Beas River is an angler’s delight and the Himachal Pradesh Fisheries Department allows tourists to enjoy a session of trout angling. Among the known fishing spots are Kalath, Katrain, Raison, Seo Bagh, River Parbati and Tirthan Stream. During winters, trout fishing is not allowed and in season, you need to have a permit from the tourist information centres or the fisheries office.
Note – One permit would allow you 6 fishes

The Western Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering : Adventure seekers can enroll themselves at the Mountaineering Institute, which runs courses in techniques of rock climbing, ice climbing, snow craft, ice craft and river crossing. You can also hire trekking and climbing equipments from here.

Kullu-Manali

Loads of eateries and cuisine-types, so you’ll have a range to choose from. The best bet would be to try some Tibetan food at Little Tibet. But everyone swear by the German Bakery located near the Mall. Its carrot cake, banana chocolate cake, cookies, brownies, croissants and homemade cheddar and yak cheese are simply wow! And you can even buy some to carry home. The Green Forest Café and Manu Café are located near the Manu Temple and offer moderately priced food, including a range of sandwiches. Café Manalsu is known more for the view it provides over the Manalsu River and the Copacabana Bar and Restaurant is a hot-favourite for its open-air ambience. Mount View, across the Mall is known for its Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese dishes, especially their spring rolls. Chopsticks on the Mall is known for its Chinese and Japanese fares and Hotel Mayur, one of the oldest here, serves great Indian. The Johnson’s Café has their in-house specialty – grilled trout – absolutely heavenly! For South Indian cuisine and filter coffee, Swamiji’s Madras Café is popular and the Himalayan Dhaba on the Mall is known for its delectable aloo parathas!

Kullu-Manali

Manali is known for its splendid bargains that you can pick up. The region is best known for its woolen shawls and Tibetan carpets, fur caps and mufflers, Tibetan arts and jewellery made of silver and turquoise - all available at the Tibetan Bazaar. Don’t miss out on the Kashmir Handicraft Co-operation located near the Bus Stand where you can find an excellent variety of Pashmina shawls and Kashmiri souvenirs. Visit Bhuttico and Himbunkar in Kullu for some handicrafts typical to the region, including Kinnauri shawls. A good number of shops in Vashshit deal in idols of gods and goddesses and antiques. Sultanpur Market in Kullu is where you find the traditional jewellery. The Himalayan Stores on the Mall has a range of home-made cheddar and yak cheese. For local-made fresh fruit jellies, jams and pickles, the HPMC Store is the best. Exotic vegetables like lingr (a wild asparagus) and the yellow chilli can also be bought here.

Kullu-Manali

Festivities and celebrations in Kullu-Manali last almost the entire year, with some event or the other taking place every month. The year commences with the Bandhu or Ghost Dance, which takes place in January in the wee hours of the morning. This dance is performed and attended only by men and is meant to ward off evil spirits. The Horn Dance is the traditional dance of Kullu, which is also performed in the cold nights of January. This dance is performed by six people dressed as deer, clowns and women. The Naggar Ganeh festival in January also marks the victory of good over evil. During this, a person dresses up as a sheep and is carried around town in a procession. Games and competitions are also held and attended by all natives. The Winter Carnival is undoubtedly the most awaited event in the valley. Held in Manu Kala Kendra in Manali, it is attended by students of various colleges across India. This 5-day festival includes cultural competitions like Indian classical music, folk songs, dances, plays and Personality competitions.

The Spring Festival is celebrated in April and is marked by great celebrations, dances and songs. Especially vibrant are the cultural programs that take place at night at Kala Kendra. Charasay-Tarasay is performed in March and April by married women. A highlight of this festival is that the dance is performed only on songs without any music. The Banjar Fair at the Banjar Village is performed in May and dedicated to their main deity. One day prior to this festival, the idol of Shringa Rishi is carried in a palanquin to his original abode and carried back to Banjar the next day. The main highlight of this festival is the Seraji Natti dance performed by the rural people. Another popular form of dance is Natti, which is performed by 12 or 16 dancers dressed in traditional attire and dancing in a circle.

An especially popular festival is Basant Panchami, which is celebrated across the several temples of Manali. People gather at the temples and the idols of Saligram, Hanumana and Garuda are carried in a palanquin decorated with bright cloth and flowers. One of the main attractions of this festival is the enactment of Hanuman, performed by a person who covers himself in saffron color and dons a conical cap and tail and carries on various activities. Sharhi Jatra is another famous fair of Kullu held for 3 days before the ancient Tripura Sundri Temple in May. Folk dances, sports and various competitions mark the festival. Stalls selling clothes, cosmetics and sweets are also set up. The Hadimba Devi Fair is celebrated in the Hadimba Devi Temple Complex and attended by people from across the country.

October heralds the much awaited Dussera Festival, celebrated by the entire valley. The festival begins by Goddess Hadimba’s idol being brought to Kullu to visit the royal family. The idol of Lord Raghunathji is placed next to Goddess Hadimba in a beautifully adorned chariot and pulled up the hill. At the same time almost hundreds of gods and goddesses are placed on colourful palanquins and taken around in a procession. On the sixth day the gods get together for the Devta Darbar and vibrant celebrations take place. The royal procession reaches the Beas River on the ninth day and a pile of thorn bushes are set afire to depict the burning of Lanka. Finally, the palanquin reaches its original spot and this signifies the culmination of Dussera.

Quite a range of hotels and resorts to choose from, mostly centred around the Mall. For a four-star resort at a moderate rate, Royal Park Resort is a good option. It comes with great views of the hills and an in-house multi-cuisine restaurant. A popular option is the Quality Inn River Country Resort, which, true to its name, overlooks the Beas River. Hotel Snowcrest Manor overlooks the Manalsu River and located beyond the Log Huts. For honeymooners and couples looking for a romantic getaway, Ram Regency Honeymoon Inn at the Mall overlooks the spectacular mountains. Highland Park near the Beas River comes with a range of pre-packaged holidays that include every possible inclusion you might require. Another popular hotel is the
Apple Country Resorts located in the Log Huts area and offering a multi-cuisine vege restaurant.
Shingar Regency at Hadimba Road is an ideal base to explore the Hadimba Temple closeby. Hotel Trishul and Hotel Manali Castle are also located near the Beas River and offer simple and comfortable rooms. An expensive but extremely favourite is the WelcomHeritage Solang Valley Resort located at a great height with the Beas River flowing by. You may also try Manali Heights in the Log Huts area and
Snow Valley Resorts close to it, which come with comfortable rooms and great dining options.

Air: Air Bhuntar at over 50 kms is the closest airport. Cabs and taxis can be hired to reach the main city.
Rail: Railway Jogindar Station, 166 kms, is the closest railway station connected to Delhi and Chandigarh. Take a bus or hire a taxi to main Manali.
Road: Roadways It is located extremely far from Delhi but is a good and comfortable ride. Buses depart from Janpath in Delhi and National Highways link it to Chandigarh. Private tourist buses would be a better option. However, be careful if traveling in winter, since snow and fogs can disrupt services.
Kullu-Manali

The most popular festival, Kullu Dusshera owes its origin to an interesting tale: When Raja Jagat Singh was the ruler of the valley, he came to know about a peasant Durga Dutt of Tipri who owned beautiful pearls. On being asked by the king, Durga Dutt tried to convince him that the information was wrong and that he owned no pearls. However, the king's persistence scared Durga Dutt so much, that he burnt down his own family and house and he put a curse of leprosy on the king. The remorseful king consulted his guru, Kishan Das, who advised him to install the idol of Lord Raghunathji to get rid of the curse. The idol was brought from the Tret Nath Temple in Ayodhya and the king offered his prayers to it. Thereafter, he drank the holy charnamrit of the idol for several days and was cured. Since then, Dussera has been celebrated with great splendor in Manali.