KULLU and MANALI
This land is known as the Valley of the Gods. This beautiful valley is located in the Beas river basin and is bestowed with a rich and vibrant culture.This is a favorite hill stations with traveler from all over the world, because of the amazing landscapes and escapades. Scenic meadows and snow-clad mountains, towering Deodar jungles, rivers and apple orchards have attracted several feature filmmakers too. Most of the trekking trails and great road journies are start beyond the Rohtang Pass in the valleys of Spiti, Lahaul, Zanskar and Ladakh. The hospitality of its people, their distinctive lifestyle and rich culture have enthralled travelers for aeons. The pleasent weather during the summer months, and the ambience provided by the glacial melting waters of the Beas makes it a perfect summer sojourn in the Himalayas.The Dev Sanskriti of the valley blends faith, mythology and history to create and sustain a unique bond between the mundane and the divine.
The weather is cold in winters and you have have definite snow in December. The months of January and Februrary are cold. The temperature sets to warm up by spring. Spring is a welcome sight here becuase of the flowers in the numerous Apple orchards in the valley. Summers are warm and pleasant. In late June the monsoons set in and by late august you again have a pleasant climate here. the Autums are pleasant during the day but the evening go cold. Its always handy to keep a warm garment ready, you never know when yu need it.
Almost all cell phones funtion in the main Valley. Across the Rohtang pass only BSNL functions that too in major stations. In the Parvati valley its also all BSNL.
Please don’t venture into the high mountains or go on a trekking route without a proper guide. Don’t go near the rivers or streams for photographs. Alway hire a guide who has been certified by the mountaineering institute.
The passes and permits for going across the Rohtang pass are available at the S.D.M office at Manali. Foreign Nationals visiting the protected areas of Spiti Valley and Lahaul areas are required to get the inner line permits or ILP. Indians need a permit to go across Rohtang Pass. The permit is valid for a period of 2 weeks. After you get the permits, make 5-6 copies of it as you will be required to submit them at various police checkposts .
Manali has a few Petrol pumps, and the next pump is at Tandi after crossing the Rohtang pass which is 120 Kms away.
The Road till Manali is open though out the year. Beyond Manali The Road across the Rohtang pass is closed for traffic after October till June. Presently as on 28th April 2016, Rohtang is closed for vehicular traffic.
KULLU TOWN ( 1279 m)
The town of Kullu is located on the Right bank of the river Beas. It is the district Head Quarters for the District, which makes It is the commercial and cultural centre of the area. It is 263 km from Chandigarh and 235 km from Shimla. Kullu is famous for its handicrafts especially Shawls and Woollens. Kullu gains international importance during the days of Dussehra, as this festival is celebrated here bigger then any where else. Around 350 deites gather here on the Dussehra ground to take part in this huge festival.
Raghunath temple was built in 1650, and is dedicated to lord Raghunath. This temple comes into focus during the world famous Dussera festival of Kullu. The chariot of lord Raghunath is taken out amid hundreds of local deities.The chief deity of Kullu is Raghunath Ji. Dussehra festival is held in its name. The idol is same which was used by Lord Rama himself at the time of Ashwamegh Yagya and was brought from Tretnath temple of Ayodhya. The temple was constructed i with a mixed look of Pahari and Pyramidal style. Everyday puja (aarti) is held for five times. Round the year, 45 festivals are held.
BIJLI MAHADEV TEMPLE (2450 m)
Bijli Mahadev temple is located near the town of kullu at a hilltop, above the town. It is 3 kms walk, amid a forest of pine and cedar. The temple is located at an elevation of 2450 m. The name of the hill where Bijli Mahadev temple is situated is called Mathan and is surrounded by Parbati, Garsa, Bhunter and Kullu valleys. There is a small village just down below the temple, and the name of the village is also called Bijli Mahadev. People in this village take care of the maintenance aspects of the temple. The temple is dedicated to lord Shiva. Legend has it, that the linga in the temple was broken up into pieces when lightning struck it. The priest joins all the peices together again. According to locals this phenomenon occurs once every year.The Shiva ling (Mahadev) will be joined together and installed in a special occasion using a locally made adhesive using butter etc. One can witness the charred part (especially on the walls) inside the temple which is due to the flames resulted during lightning. Devotees can give offerings in the Hundi only kept inside the temple. view from the top is breathtaking. In winters, the surrounding slopes are used for snowboarding and skiing.
To go to Bijli Mahadev, from kullu, you first have to reach Ramshilla, which is very nearby (approx. 1Kms) and cross the bridge which is for crossing Beas river to go towards Bhunter or Manikaran. Just after crossing the bridge, One road goes towards Bhuntar and you have to take the road to the left (instead of going straight which goes towards Bhuntar) and then you will find a walking trail which climbs up the hill. There is also from Ramshilla a motorable road is which goes till about 20 Kms till Chansari village. . From this place 3-4 Kms trekking to be done to reach Bijli Mahadev.
RAFTING AT BEAS RIVER
There is something for sending your adreniline rushing up your spine. The River Beas offers one of the best basic level rafting. Veas does not have very big rapids, but you can be sure that this place is safe. The best spot for rafting is Bawali. Bawali is 8 km from Kullu. The best stretch is the 8 kms between Bawali and Kullu. The blue gushing waters of the Beas, and the enchanting green valley view make a wonderful combination as you venture down the river.
NAGGAR ( 1851 m)
Nagar is situated on the left bank of river Beas at an altitude of 1851m, Naggar – an ancient town commands extensive views, especially to the North West of the valley. Naggar was the former capital of Kullu. It was founded by Raja Visudhpal and continued as a headquarters of the State until the capital was transferred to Sultanpur (Kullu) by Jagat Singh in 1460 A.D. Today this ancient and beautiful Palace is a popular tourist spot. There is also an Art gallery here which was home to a Russian artist Roerich.
No other place givesyou such a long clear view of the Beas valley. The road to Naggar bifurcates from Patlikhul. The road goes curving through a lush green coniferous forest. Naggar is 35 km from Bhuntar, 25 km from Kullu, and 20 km from Manali.
ROERICH ART GALLERY
The reputed Russian artist Nicholas Roerich decided to make Naggar his home, after he came to India. The house he resided in, is now transformed into a museum to showcase his art work. There are many rare paintings and works of art here. The house has a magnificent view of the Kullu valley. It is open to visitors.
This medieval castle is now converted into a HPTDC Hotel. The castle overlooks the Kullu valley. The castle is made in the western Himalayas pahari style. It is a unique stone and wood mansion, which was once the abode of the Raja of Kullu.
GREAT HIMALAYAN NATIONAL PARK
Looking at the increasing importance of bio-diversity conservation across the globe and due to presence of a rich biodiversity in these parts of the Himalayas the GHNP, which has been accredited with the status of the prestigious, UNESCOs World Heritage Site has an area of 1200 sq km, and altitude ranging from 1500 m to 6000 m, the Great Himalayan National Park lies in the Kullu region. The area comprising the watershed areas of Tirthan, Jiwa and Sainj makes the GHNP. The area is characterized by high alpine peaks, alpine meadows and riverine forests. The park includes the upper mountain glacial and snow meltwater sources of several rivers, and the catchments of water supplies that are vital to millions of downstream users. The GHNP protects the monsoon-affected forests and alpine meadows of the Himalayan front ranges. It is part of the Himalaya biodiversity hotspot and includes twenty-five forest types along with a rich assemblage of fauna species, several of which are threatened. This gives the park outstanding significance for biodiversity conservation. coniferous forests, emerald meadows, strewn with exotic fauna, soaring snow peaks, and pristine glaciers, make up the great park.
This park is home to about 215 species of birds with pheasants like the Western Tragopan, Cheer, Monal, Koklash and Kaleej along with other birds like the white throated tit & the Lammergeyer. GHNP is home to the elusive snow leopard along with other mammals like the Himalayan brown & black bears, Common Leopard, blue sheep, musk and barking deer, ghoral , serrow & the omnipresent red fox. It’s also a repository of rare medicinal herb like Jatamansi, Kadoo, Patish and the recently found Nag Chatri along with hundreds more which continue to be the main source of income for local population.
MANALI ( 2050 M)
It has become of of the most popular holiday destinations in the Himalayas. Manali is a beautiful town located on the banks of river Beas. The greenish blue waters of the river, the valley dotted with apple and deodar trees with snow covered mountain tops at the backdrop makes this a wonderful sight to behold. This place offers great escapades into the mountains, and is the gateway to the valleys of Lahaul, Spiti and Ladakh. Due to this it has become a backpackers delight. There are so many trekking routes from here. Many peaks climbing expeditions are flagged of from here. All those going across the Rohtang into Lahaul Spiti or Ladakh, gather here, for logistic support. Bike riders come over from all parts of the country to take the enduring Road route from Manali to Leh. The town has its own charm and it keeps giving your amazing vibes. even if you are not a great adventure seeker there is so much for you here. you can just spend the day lazing around in a cafe of take a short walk around the town.
Manali gets its name from the great sage Manu. The original name of Manali was Manualya, the abode of the sage Manu. There is a temple in Manali dedicated to the great sage. Manali is 270 km from Shimla, and 308 km from Chandigarh.
HADIMBA MATA TEMPLE
This is an ancient cave temple dedicated to Hadimbi devi, sister of Hadimba. The structurewas built in the year 1553. The temple is surrounded by a thick and beautiful cedar forest.An enormous rock occupies the inside of the temple. The image which represents the Goddess Hadimba is 3 inches tall. The doors of the temple are wooden and wonderfully carved. Just a while away from the temple is the shrine dedicated to Lord Ghatothkach, who was born, when goddess Hadimba married Bhima.
At about 3 km from the main bazar in old Manali lies the temple of Manu Rishi. It is believed that it is the only temple dedicated to the great sage. Manu is believed to be the creator of mankind, the law maker to the world. There is a stone path to the temple, from old Manali. This is the place where God Manu is believed to have meditated after stepping on the Earth.
Vashisht temple is 6 km from Manali by road. If you walk through short paths, it is a half hour walk from Manali. Vashist is a town of mixed cultures. You will find the most modern day cafes, alongside with ancient houses with a verandahs and cows tied outside. One can see interesting traditional wood and stone houses with amazing carvings in the village. The temple complex has hot water springs. There is also an enclosed hot water bath near the temple.
Vashisht village is a slightly quieter and more compact version of Old Manali and a popular travellers’ hang-out. There are mainly two reasons for an Indian tourists coming to Vashisht, one is to bathe in the hot springs and secondly seeking the blessings in the various the temples, while foreign travellers largely come for the cheap accommodation, chilled atmosphere and Joints. Vashisth also has some amazing trails into the forests.
This is nearly 3 KM trek from Vashisht temple. The trek route passes through narrow lanes by the side of the temple and you have to cross apple orchards, majestic pine trees and numerous water streams to reach there. On the way few local cafes and guest houses are also available.
A gentle walk will take 30 minutes to reach the base of the waterfall. While travelling you can see the Beas river and also view the snow clad peaks of Rohtang at your left side. Jogini mata temple is at the base of the waterfall. You can even climb up and reach the top point of the waterfall. The stiff climb will take 20 minutes more to reach at top. If you don’t want to climb up then you can reach the base of the waterfall towards your right side through a narrow path. Here there is small pool formed by the falling water and here you can take a dip in the cold waters and spend some time just playing around. The best thing is sit near temple and watch the waterfall. Walking along this trail is the best way to enjoy local scenic beauty and vibrant Manali Village culture.
You can cover Vashisht temple ( hot spring bath ) and Jogini water fall in a half day program. Take your packed lunch and enjoy the food at the base of the water fall.
Afternoon is better for photography as sunlight directly falls on the water droplets.
Solang valley is 14 km from Manali by road. This is like one fairy tale ride which takes you to a place which provides you with umpteem escapades. If you want to go by the less travel route, there is a trekking trail along the left bank of the River Beas, which takes 2 hours to reach Solang. Solang valley is place from where the mighty mountains start. This is the road head point for many expeditions and treks. Rohtang slopes are used for skiing in the winters. In the summers skiing is replaced by zorbing, paragliding and horse riding.
Close to the river Beas, surrounded by tall pine trees is the Van Vihar. It is kind of a magical place, you can hear the sound of the river below and the birds humming in the trees above you. There are plenty of swings for children here. There are plenty of solitary places around having wooden benches, where one can enjoy quite/peaceful moments. There is also a small pool where one can go boating.
One of the three prominent mountaineering institutes in India, the mountaineering institute in Manali is spread over 20 acres of land. It has wonderful campus, which is nestled between a huge cedar forests. It has a huge hostel, a museum, a huge auditorium and an exotic lodge. The institute’s alumni comprise of many great mountaineers like Dicky Dolma,Rajeev Sharma, Col. Prem Chand, Radha Sharma, and many more.
This small village is located on the opposite bank of Manali, 6 kms towards Kullu. Jagatsukh is more popularly known as the start of trekking points for peaks of Indrasan and Deo Tibba. There is a very famous Shiva temple here. There are many nice spots around Jagatsukh where one can spend time in solitude.
The club house is run by the Himachal tourism department. It is situated at the banks of a stream. There is a nominal entry fee. There are several indoor and outdoor games like, billiards, table tennis, roller skating etc that one can enjoy here. There is also a library here. The main building houses a bar and a restaurant.
ROHTANG PASS (3990 m )
The main element of any journey you take across the 3990 metres high Rohtang is the element of contrast the landscapes offer you. From the greens of the Beas Valley to the desolate barren mountains of Lahaul and Spiti, it is a journey of great experiences. The land beyond is a vast canvas of inhabited mountain chains with a few small distant villages. Rohtang Pass is 51 km by road from Manali. Rohtang pass is the first of the many passes on the Manali-Leh Highway. Rohtang means “bed of corpses”, as many people have perished trying to cross it in yesteryears. Now a days the road is better and the B.R.O has been doing a great job in maintaining the road.
There is a temple dedicated to the great sage Beas here. One of the streams which meets the river Beas originates here. While climbing up to Rohtang, Mahri is the last village and while descending toward keylong, Koksar is the first village. Rohtang is open for a brief period from May to November, rest of the time it is covered in snow.
Spread out along the lovely Parvati River and with mountain views to the northeast, Kasol is the main traveler hang-out in the valley. It’s a small village, but overrun with reggae bars, bakeries, internet cafes and cheap guesthouses catering to a largely hippie/Israeli crowd. You’ll either love it or just feel the vibes getting you the hang of this place It’s an easy base which is well connected with road, from which to explore the forested valley or just chill out. The village is divided into Old Kasol on the Bhuntar side of the bridge, and new Kasol towards Manikaran.
The best thing to do here is take a walk along the side of the Parvati river. With the river on one side and majestic pine trees on the other and smooth grey boulders separate the lush green grass from the gushing blue-green water of the river. Every bend in the river opens up to an exciting vista of pine trees, cliffs and waterfalls. All this is framed with snow capped peaks piercing the happy blue sky at the horizon. Please dont try to cross the river by getting into it. the Flow is faster than it looks. The water is gushing and cold. There is an old bridge, by which you can go on the opposite bank. The memories of spending a few days here in this tranquil atmosphere will remain in your hearts till eternity.
Manikaran is located about 4 km from Kasol, and 45 km from the town of Kullu, on the banks of the Parvati river at an altitude of 1760 m. The town is famous for its hot sulphur springs. The place is sacred to both Hindus and the Sikhs. There is a Gurudwara and many temples here. The Gurudwara is run privately by some family. Manikaran also acts as a halt for trekkers who climb the Pin Parvati pass or trek into the mountains further up.
TOSH (2400 m)
Tosh Village in Kasol is quite popular with travellers who are looking for a peaceful escape, and want to feel the pure inner feeling which you do not get in crowded hill towns. The travelers who come to Tosh are inbound from europe especially from Germany, UK and italy. You will see a lot of Isrealies here. These people are ones who do not interfere in other peoples business and for them traveling is a way of life. Its about just being in a place, and letting in the natural vibes the palce has to offer. A lot of domestic travelers have staring venturing into this valley. some of them get exited and land up doing stupid things. But things are changing and getting better.
When you enter the village there is a beautiful wooden bridge. A walk through the village is a pleasant trail through apple fields and green pastures. Since, Tosh is fast becoming a hub for backpackers, lot of camps are opening deep inside the woods. There have been talks of trance and psychedelic parties being organised here, but they are totally personal affairs, so dont expect to be a part of one just by reaching here. Yes there is a sniff of marijauna in the air, but I as a traveler never recommend this. You do not need to have this to attain trance. I know only one addiction is the best, that is Traveling and Adventure, and here at Tosh there are ample opputunities for this. Trekking uphill through the forest is a shorter route to reach this place. you can get a cab till here, but then you miss the lovely uphill walk.The village is located on a hillside overlooking the river and a waterfall. It is ideal to undertake long walks into the forest and explore the area.
KHEERGANGA (2960 m)
The trek to Kheer Ganga is a nine kilometer from Barshaini, four hour steep climb on narrow and tricky trails. The village of Pulga falls on this route at 3 kilometres from Barshaini. Some distance from here is the Temple of Rudranaag, which is located at a very beautiful place. This trek can get challenging at times, but it not so tough. Kheerganga is a lush green meadow with a few wooden houses. It is more famous for its geo-thermal hot water springs. The hot water spring has separate bathing areas for males and females. A hot water bath in these springs will give you relaxation from the fatigue after the trek.The place is surrounded by majestic mountains and the climate is pleasant in the summer months. There is lush green landscape all around. Pay a visit to the nearby temple for customary blessings from the local deity there. This place is important as as it is part of the camps for the world famous Pin Parvati Trek.