Kullu, along with Manali, are favourite hill stations with tourists especially honeymooners. Its scenic views, snow-clad mountains, towering Deodar jungles, rivers and apple orchards attracts Bollywood filmmakers too.
Kullu is also famous as a hotspot for adventure sports. Trekking, river rafting, mountaineering, paragliding and hiking over the Himalayan glaciers are some of the activities that Kullu offers. Angling is another activity enjoyed a lot by locals as well as tourists.
Kullu is perfect for mountaineering. For beginners, the Beas Kund region, Hanuman Tibba and Deo Tibba are the ideal places. Kullu serves as an excellent site for aero-sports lovers.
- Hire a local guide if planning to explore the beautiful mountains on foot.
- If planning to undertake adventure sports, don’t forget to get travel insurance that covers emergency helicopter evacuations.
Kullu was earlier known as Kulanthpitha, meaning 'the ending point of inhabitable world'. The beautiful valley is also mentioned in epics like Ramayana, Mahabarata and Vishnu Purana.
Chinese traveller Xuanzang or Huien Tsang visited Kullu in 634 or 635 AD and described it as a region completely surrounded by mountains. The place had a stupa built by Ashoka.
The stupa was taken away by Mughal king and installed in Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi. In days of yore, Kullu had several Buddhist monasteries. There were Hindu temples too and people of both faiths lived peacefully together. Both Buddhist and Hindus inhabited the caves near the mountain passes. The valley is said to have been rich with gold, silver, red copper, crystal and bell-metal.
The first motorable road in Kullu was built only after independence. Due to long years of isolation, the area has been able to retain a good measure of its traditional charm and beauty.
- Those looking for an adrenalin rush can enroll themselves at the Western Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering. The institute conducts beginner’s courses in rock climbing, ice climbing, snow craft, ice craft and river crossing.
- Trekking and climbing equipments can also be hired from the Institute.
Kullu valley is known for its old and finely carved temples and festivals. The major source of income here is tourism and agriculture.
Kullu is also famous for its traditional folk dances. The Bandhu or Ghost Dance (January) is performed and attended only by men and is meant to ward off evil spirits.
The Horn Dance, which is also performed in the cold nights of January, is performed by six people dressed as deer, clowns and women.
The Naggar Ganeh festival in January is celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil. Charasay-Tarasay is performed by married women in March or April. The interesting part is that the dance is performed only on songs without any music. The Banjar Fair at the Banjar Village is performed in May.
Kullu shawls, caps, Tibetan carpets, Buddhist paintings, woolens and mufflers, fruits like apples, pickles, jams, traditional jewelry are some of the items that can be bought here. Preferably, buy from reputed shops. Visit the Tibetan Bazaar and Sultanpur Market for best buys. You should also try the local home-made cheddar and yak cheese from The Himalayan Stores on theMall Road.
Where to stay
You can try to get a cottage on rent on the hills as they are quite cheap and also comfortable. You can enjoy beauty of the hills more closely. Most of the hotels in Kullu are located at the foothills. There are some luxury resorts too which would cost anywhere between Rs 2,500 to Rs 9,000 per day. The resorts provide very good facilities like steam baths, massages, 24 hour internet and TV.
Where to eat
The most enjoyable meals would be at the dhabas on highways and small restaurants around the bus depot area. Snacks like Pakoras, Chhole Bhature and Momos are popular here. You will easily find various cuisines in Kullu including Chinese, Continental and Indian as well as delicious sea food. The local wine made from barley and red rice, known as 'Chakti' and 'Lugri', will be found in most restaurants. You must try snacks and pastries at the German Bakery located near the Mall.
Best time to visit
Kullu has charming weather throughout the year. Best time to visit Kullu is from March to May.