Cultural trails within Kullu & Lahaul

Region: Manali, Kullu, Banjar, Shoja, Prashar Lake, Manikaran Lahaul, Jispa Udaypur and Triloknath.
Season: Mid July to end of October.
Max. altitude: Rohtang Pass (3970mt.)
No. of days: 12 days.
High passes: ‘Over Rohtang Pass.
Transport: Jeep will provide sumo and qualis.

Gradient: In the beginning it's all the way down to Banjar and then drives up to Shoja and Jalori Pass and one gets acclimatized easily generally easy tour. Difficulties are not there, of course jerk and jolts.

Grading: A reasonable degree of physical fitness is needed for this Himalayan Culture tour.

Special interest: Excellent view for photographers, ideal place for nature lovers, best spot for adventure lovers, rich
Himalayan Hinduism culture and Buddhist art and culture.

Kullu, the Land of Gods
The Kulanthpith, ‘the end of habitable world' of the Mahabharata times is the abode of gods and goddesses. They are well over 350 in number, spread in every village of the beautiful Kullu Valley. Every sage who meditated here was eulogized into a god- for they gave the Indian philosophy and Hindu way of life a direction. This is where sage Beas penned the epic Mahabharata down! And this is where sage Manu gave to the Hindu Code-of-Law. The sage Bhrigu of Bhrigusamhita fame also resided in the valley. Rishi Vashisht, Lord Rama's tutor has a temple and a village dedicated after him! The Kullu Dushehra, during the month of October-November, is where you see all these gods and goddesses being brought in palanquins. This procession of un-dying and un-ending belief will bewilder your imaginations!!!

Naggar, the old capital of erstwhile Kullu kingdom, became the home for Nicholas Roerich, the famous Russian artist after the Russian revolution. There is a museum of his collections, old castle that withstood the Kangra earthquake of 1905, Shiva and Krishna temples. The young and budding aboriginal artists who have mastered the rock/stone paintings have their regular exhibitions within the Roerich complex. Naggar is also the gateway to Malana, over the Chanderkhani Pass. Malana, a small village nestled in the high Pir Panjal, is thought to be the oldest democracy in the world. The soldiers of Alexander the Great escaped during his Indian sojourn to evolve a unique culture that remained untouched until the recent decades. Alas! the modern world has made inroads into the ancient culture!

Lahaul, Amalgamation of Hinduism and Buddhism
The land of high mountains, glaciers, cataracts and rapids, Lahaul is a paradise for the adventure lovers. There are awe-inspiring peaks and ever-inviting cultural wonders! Nowhere else one can see two regions so intertwined as it is in Lahaul. The Buddhist monasteries are as sacred to the Hindu as it is to the Buddhists. The Trilokinath, temple dedicated to Shiva for Hindus, is the Avlokiteshwara for the Buddhist!! The Buddhism reached here via Tibet, through Guru Padamasambhava in the 8th Century AD. He established the Guru Gantal monastery just above the confluence of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers at Tandi. Shashur and Kardang are the two other famous monasteries. The Bajrayana sect of Buddhism is unique and practiced only in Lahaul.

Indian culture is the oldest culture of the world and is coming down through ages and civilization unbroken. It has absorbed the good points of all cultures which came to India with invaders, traders and the rulers from outside the country and it is an example of unity in diversity. Simultaneously different groups living in Indian society are maintaining their individual customs and culture.

Indian is the home of Hindu Dharm. Some of the world's greatest religious such as Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism flourished here. Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism are the offshoot of Hindu heritage.

India has rightly been called the land of festivals. The various festivals, national or religious, add more colours to the already colourful national and cultural heritage. The Hindu festivals follow the solar calendars, while the Muslim festivals follow the lunar calendar. The date of Christian festivals is already fixed.

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Himachal Pradesh:
Himachal Pradesh is an abode of gods and goddesses, land of fairs and festivals, snow- covered mountains, holy lakes, hot water springs, pilgrimages, picturesque beauty and a virtual paradise for trekkers, skiers, heli- skiers and hang- gliding/ Paragliding adventures. Others attractions are golfing, water sports, mountain climbing, Jeep Safari, hunting, old culture, tribal people, beautiful valleys and flora & fauna of the hills. In short, one cannot explain the beauty, charm and landscape of this lovely state through explanation and showing few pictures. These things have to be realized and felt by the individual tourist, trekker, camper, climber and adventure sportsman himself.

Kullu Valley:
It is full of temples rather every village has a local temple. Hadimba Devi, Manu Rishi, Vashisht temples in Manali, Gayatri temple in Jagatsukh, Tripua Sundari in Naggar, Bijli Mahadev, Ragunath ji, Shiva and Ram temples in Manikaran and Parshu Ram and Ambika Devi at Nirmand are very old and famous. It is also known as the valley of Gods.

Lahaul Valley:
Lahaul is also a fascinated area for Buddhist art and culture. The Monasteries of Lahaul are rich repositories of ancient murals, thankas, woodcarvings and golden images of the Padmasambhava. The people are charming, friendly and hospitable with their own traditional dances, folk tales and legends. There is no monsoon in Lahaul and enjoy a long and unbroken season in perpetual sunshine and dry crisp air of Lahaul and explore the wilderness and grandeur of the inner Himalayas.

Day to day description:
Day 01: Manali - Banjar Chaini Kothi means Building and Shoja 6 hrs. Drive. Start early in the morning through Kullu, Aut, Larji to Banjar. It is 111 km. from Manali at an altitude of 1534mt. Banjar is famous for its scenic beauty and trout fishing in river Tirthan. And same day trek or drive up to Chaini Kothi to look its old architecture, which is having nine stories building with old wooden carving. At Chaini Kothi the surrounding and the nearby village's houses and landscape of that particular location is having very fetching nature beauty.

Shoja is an excellent place to have a panoramic view of snow ranges, peaks and meadows. It is almost 12 km. from Banjar at an altitude of 2692mt. Raghupur Fort and Dugha Tach (a grassy blank) are most charming places very close to Shoja. Little ahead of Shoja is Jalori Pass, which offers a striking panorama at its best. At Dusk, the lights of Shimla can be seen from this spot. After having look upon it back journey via Banjar to Prashar Rishi, which is almost 90 km. drive. Stay overnight in the old architect rest house built by the British Rulers.

Day 02: Shoja - Prashar Rishi Temple 5hrs. Today's back journey via Banjar to Prashar Rishi, which is almost 122 km.

Prashar Rishi Temple & Lake (2730mt.): With deep blue waters, this beautiful lake is held sacred to the sage Prashar. A three-tiered Pagoda-like temple dedicated to the sage lies by the lake- and he is regarded to have meditated here. Its remarkable setting is enhanced by a frame of snow-draped peaks, and visible from the lake's edge, the waters of the river Sutlej flow due south. The lakeside and the nearby villages are sites of various festivals held at different times of the year. Stay overnight in the camp at Prashar Rishi Temple.

Day 03: Prashar Rishi Temple & Lake (2730mt.): - Manikaran and back Kullu 6hrs drive. Today's drive will be through the Bajaura, Bhunter via Parvati valley to Manikaran.

Manikaran: Where the hottest non-sumptuous water springs of the world are situated, is the most popular place to visit and stay? Most of the trekking trails commence from the Manikaran motor head. Thousand of pilgrims have their dip in the hot waters. It is believed to be radioactive and good for such diseases as rheumatism, gout, bronchitis, pneumonia and muscular pains. Manikaran has very old temple God Ramachadraji. And same day back to Kullu and stay overnight in the hotel at Kullu.

Day 04: Kullu - Bijli Mahadev Temple (2438mt.) and Naggar Castle 6hrs. Today's driven to just below the Bijli Mahadev temple right up to the road head. From their three km. trek through thick jungles to Bijli Mahadev is situated at an altitude of 2438mt. From the temple site, a panoramic view of Kullu and Parvati valleys is available. A sixty feet high staff of Bijli Mahadev Temple glistens like a silver needle in the sun. This is visible even from vine blessing in the form of lightening, it is said. With every flash of the lightening, coming down the staff, the Shiva Ling is shattered into pieces. These are put together by the priest and covered with sattu (Tsampa) and butter. The image is restored to its original oneness till another similar flash repeats the miracle. The cycle goes on. After having looked at Bijli Mahadev descend down to the road ahead and get in the transport via Naggar to Naggar Castle, which is 35 km. drive along the upper Kullu valley.

Naggar Castle: Naggar is situated at an altitude of 1768mt. Nestling on a wooded slope; it commands a splendid and extensive view of the valley. Naggar was the capital of Kullu Rajas (king) for about 1400years. A Kullu Rani (queen), it is said, flung herself from one of its balconies to dispel the suspicion that she had a lover in hiding. She is said to have proved her innocence by the amazing fact that as soon as her body touched the ground, it turned into a figure of stone.

Roerich art Gallery: The paintings of the late Nicholas Roerich can be seen at the Roerich Museum of paintings in a white- washed villa set in a jewel-like garden. Naggar Castle, a huge beautiful building that serves as Castle Hotel is of great attraction. This Castle was constructed during the reign of Raja (king) Sidh Singh. Stones used were brought from fort, situated on the other side of Naggar.

Naggar has a number of famous temples, the important ones being Gaurishankar temple of Tripura Sundri Devi, Vishnu Temple and the Krishna temple of Murlidhar. In addition, there are small temples of Mushare, Jhiri and Bhutani.
It is believed that there was a tunnel (destroyed in 1905 earthquake) right from Jhiri Temple upto the Parvati valley through the Mountain ranges via Manikaran. Stay overnight in the Naggar Castle Hotel.

Day 05: Naggar Castle - Manali via Jagat Sukh Temple, Sahrvani Temple, Hidimba Temple, Manali Buddhist Monetary, and Vashisht Temple& Hot sulpher water Vashisht and Manu Rishi Temple. 5 hrs. Today's drive via all these temples of Manali valley gives great and rich culture of Manali region. Drive from Naggar Castle to Jagat Sukh it is one of the biggest villages in Kullu district. Jagat Sukh is on the left bank of the Beas and the road from Naggar to Manali runs through the villages. Jagatsukh is 12 km. from Naggar and six km. from Manali.The place is famous for old temples, in the village, particularly the Shiva Temple in Shikara style and nearby old and interesting Devi Gyatiri Temple. Originally known as Nast, it remained the ancient capital of Kullu for about ten generations. It is popular belief that the first paddy sapling in the valley was introduced from here and even how various operations of paddy cultivations are celebrated from here. On the way Manali visit Sharvani Temple is known one of the strongest Goddess among other in the Kullu valley.

Vashisht Rishi Temple and hot Sulpher Spring: Vashisht is situated at an altitude of 1982mt., just above the Manali- Keylong road and down below the temples are the hot sulpher spring, named as Vashisht, endowed with great healing powers. Nearby is the pyramidal stone temple dedicated to Vashista Muni.

Hadimba Temple: This temple constructed in pagoda style displays the finest example of woodcarvings on it. Its sanctuary is built over a rocky crevice covered by a large rock that is worshipped as a manifestation of Durga, and image of the goddess is also enshrined here. The divinity is popularly worshipped throughout the region during the festivals and the Goddess is transported to Kullu to visit the Lord Raghunathji during Dussehra festival.

Manu Temple: It is located in the old Manali village. The name Manali is derived from the world ‘Manualaya'meaning ‘Home of Manu' (The power giver), the saint who gave the world the written laws for the first time.

Tibetan Monastery: It is new and colourful and located in the heart of Manali town. A pleasant place to visit. It is famous for carpet weaving.

Manali: Stay overnight in the hotel at Manali and local culture folk dance will be performed / presented.

Day 06: Manali - Keylong (3340mt.) 7 hrs. Drive through Rohtang pass (3970m.) is situated about 51km. from Manali on the high way to Keylong and Leh. At the start of the climb to Rohtang Pass, are the beautiful Rahla water falls. Here one sees the majesty of the mountains at its height and splendid. At the top of the Pass the air seems to glitter against the snow as you look down over herringboned ridges into the Lahaul valley. A few kilometers away from the Pass is Sonapani glacier: slightly to the left are the twin peaks of the Gepan jagged pyramid of rock and snow crowned. And slowly descend down to over the Pass to the Lahaul valley at Grampoo it divides the valley into Lahaul &Spiti. And turns right hand side at Grampoo towards Spiti and left hand side to the Leh. On the way visit Gondla castle of the King Lahaul and see the Himalayan villages. Finally reaches Keylong, stay overnight in the hotel and Lahaul cultural/ folk dance will perform.

Day 07: Keylong - Kardong Monestery 4 hrs. Proceed to Kardang Gompa opposite Keylong. Today's walk will be steep right up to Monastery in a zigzag way. After having look on it and explore the village in the surrounding vicinity and same day back to Keylong. Stay overnight in the hotel and local folk dance will be performed.

Day 08: Keylong - Jispa & Darcha 4 hrs. Drive through the byas valley is having lush green pastures and villages are really enchanting with their reach culture. The valley shows that one should have desire to have birth in this tranquil place. On the way visit Gamur Monastery, Jispa and in the evening visit Darcha Gompa. Keeping in view time in hand and explore the area of Jispa. Stay overnight in the camp.

Day 09: Jispa & Darcha - Udaypur 6 hrs. Drive back to Keylong and after that at Tandi bifurcate the road is one leads to Manali and second one to Pattan valley. Pattan valley is very rich in economically and one of the longest valley in Lahaul. Today's drive will be exploration of the valley and visit temple on the way to Udaypur. Stay overnight in the camp.

Day 10: A day at leisure at Udaypur and visit Triloknath Temple. Stay overnight at Triloknath.

Udaypur: In ancient time Udaypur was known as Markhula and so the name of the local goddess is Markhula Dive. It is unique and very famous for wooden carving on its roof and ceiling. Raja Uday Singh of Chamba changed its name.

Trilokinath Temple: One of the most ancient temples in Lahaul, it was originally a Hindu temple and late converted to Buddhism, by installing statue of Phagpa Chrinzik. It is said that Guru Padma Sambhava also visited the temple. Originally, it is dedicated to the Pandvas as legend says that Pandvas spent few days over here during their 14-year exile. It is very sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists, and visited every year by pilgrims from all over India.

Day 11: Udaypur - Manali 7hrs. It is 166 km. drive back journey over Rohtang Pass to Manali. The villages are skirted with fields of Potato, Barley, and Kuth (Buck Wheat). The trees along the road are mainly poplar and willow. The landscape changes dramatically, as the barren hillsides are replaced by the lush green hillsides of the Kullu valley. At the top of the Rohtang pass one can have a luminous vale of the Manali valley all the way down to Manali. Culture activities concluded. Stay overnight in the hotel and dine and dance will be performed.

Day 12: A day at leisure at their own way at Manali. Stay overnight in the hotel.

Day 13: Departure - Delhi by bus or Air.

Cultural Treks
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6 days -Kangra, Chamba - 5200m

5 days -Kangra, Chamba - 3850m

7 days -Kangra, Chamba - 3713m

Dharamsala-Baijnath-Thamsar-Bara Bhangal
9 days -Kangra, Chambai - 4710m

Herbal Lake trek: Manali-Dhundi-Shagara Duga-Dashauhar-Brigu-Manali
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Moon Lake trek: Sethan-Bhaludera-Chhatru-Chhota Dara-Batal-Chandertal-Baralacha-la
11 days - Manali, Spiti - 4320m

Malana Tribal village trek: Naggar-Chanderkhani-Malana-Jari
5 days - Manali, Manikaran - 3600m

Manikaran-Pin Parvati trek
14 days - Manikaran, Spiti - 5300m

22 days - Leh, Ladakh - 4805m

Cultural trails within Kullu & Lahaul
12 days - Manali, Lahauli - 3978m

Himalayan Jeep Safari
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Manali - Tso-Moriri Lake - Leh Jeep Safari
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