Location: Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh
Climate: Pleasant in summers and chilly in winters
Places to See: Raghunath Temple, Great Himalayan National Park & more.
Best Time to Visit: All round the year (except monsoons)
At an average elevation of 1,278 meters, Kullu is a beautiful broad open valley formed by the Beas River between Manali and Largi; it is also the headquarters of the Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh, India. Kullu valley is located amidst the Pir Panjal, Lower Himalayan, and Great Himalayan Ranges. This picturesque valley is known for its natural beauty, temples, and its lofty hills covered with pine and deodar forests, and apple orchards.
Also called the “Valley of the Gods”, Kullu has many pilgrimage sites for Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs. Kullu Dussehra is an international event where seven days of festivities are planned in Kullu, to celebrate Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana. Other than its holy shrines, Kullu is famous for its Kullu shawls that are made of many natural fibers including pashmina, sheep-wool and angora. It also houses an International Angora Breeding Farm, recognized to be the first farm in Asia to have a cruelty free environment, where Angora rabbit’s hair are cut in a painless manner. This farm happened to be the world’s largest rabbit farm in 1976.
Kullu is regarded as a sister town to Manali and generally, travelers cover both the hill-stations in one trip. Here, one can indulge in various adventurous activities like trekking mountaineering, fishing, river rafting, etc. Kullu is also celebrated for its rich biodiversity and houses some of the rarest of animals like Himalayan Tahr, Western Tragopan, Monal and Himalayan Brown Bear. The famous Great Himalayan National Park is located in its periphery.
Climate in Kullu
Kullu, more or less, has a pleasant climate. The summer season here extends from March till June, with temperature reaching to the maximum of 34°C. However, nights are generally cold. Summers offer an ideal time to visit the place as you can enjoy sightseeing as well as the adventurous activities during this period. Monsoon begins in July and lasts till mid-September. Due to its proximity with hills, unpredictable landslides generally occur. It is not recommended to visit Kullu during monsoons. Here, winters start in November and lasts till February. During winters, Kullu gets extremely cold and minimum temperature can go down below 0°C, followed by heavy snowfall. People, who want to enjoy the snow, can visit the valley during this season.
Tourist Attractions in Kullu
Apart from its picturesque landscape, Kullu has a number of places to see in and around the valley. Raghunath Temple is believed to be oldest temple in the valley, and is highly revered by the Hindus. Its architecture is influenced by the Pahari and Pyramidal styles. It becomes a center of color and festivity during Dussehra. Said to be built 1500 years ago, Jagannathi Devi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Bhuwaneshwari, who is considered to be the sister of Lord Vishnu. The temple’s architecture is influenced by the Pahari style and its walls are crafted with the images of Goddess Durga.
Bijli Mahadev Temple is another temple where spirituality meets with the surreal surroundings to leave a lasting impact. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and houses a Shivalinga which is said to be broken into pieces by lightning. As the legend says, it was brought back to its original form by the temple priest using butter. The temple can be reached by a 3-kms trek going through a path dotted with pine trees. It offers an amazing view of the surroundings.
Established in 1984, the Great Himalayan National Park is a major national park spread over an area of 452 sq mi which lies between altitudes of 1,500 and 6,000 meters in the Kullu region. This park has recently acquired the status of being a World Heritage Site by UNESCO considering the fact that it has a diversity of flora and fauna of the Himalayan region. It consists of four valleys namely, Sainj Valley, Tirthan Valley, Jiwa Nal Valley and Parvati Valley.
Excursions from Kullu
Pandoh Dam is a man-made marvel that offers a picture perfect view of the valleys and hills around. At an elevation of 3,660 meters, Chandrakhani Pass is a popular destination among trekkers. Located in the Kullu District, this pass forms a way between Rumsu and Pulag villages to the famous village of Malana – ultimately making a trekking route from Naggar to Malana. It makes an amazing place for people looking for some adventure amidst lofty hills and beautiful surroundings. According to a legend, Jamlu – the local deity of Malana – was carrying a basket of all Gods of Kullu, and as soon as, he reached the top of the pass, a strong wind blew and all the Gods got scattered over the Kully Valley. Probably, that is why all the nearby mountain peaks of Indrasan, Deo Tibba, Pir Pinjal and Parbati Range are regarded sacred and are clearly visible from the pass. And ever since, Kullu is called the Valley of Gods.
Apart from trekking, River rafting, mountaineering, paragliding, hiking, fishing and angling are some of the popular activities among tourists. Mountaineering beginners can trek around the Beas Kund region, Hanuman Tibba and Deo Tibba. The River Beas in Kullu, is well-known for rafting of all grades of rapids, for amateurs, tourists as well as trained and professional rafters. The best time for rafting in Kullu is from April to June and from September to October. Kullu is often used as the base town to reach Manikaran, Kasol, Malana, Bhunter, Manali and Rohtang Pass.
Accommodation – Hotels/Resorts in Kullu
Kullu, being a major tourist hotspot, has a number of hotels varying from budget, mediocre to luxury ones. It also has both private cottages and HPTDC cottages that offer great privacy in serene surroundings. Apart from hotels and cottages, there are many luxury resorts which provide world-class amenities to their guests. Almost all the hotels and resorts have in-house restaurants that serve amazing dishes from different cuisines. Apart from them, there are numerous restaurants and dhabas that dole out Indian delicacies as well as Continental dishes.
How to Reach Kullu
Kullu-Manali Airport, located at Bhuntar, is about 10 kms from Kullu. It is connected to Delhi and Chandigarh via regular flights. Besides this, Chandigarh Airport is the nearest international airport at a distance of 263 kms from Kullu. Once you reach the airports, taxis can be hired to reach the hill-station.
Kullu is not best accessible by train. The nearest broad gauge railheads are at Una (200 kms) and Kiratpur Sahib (200 kms). The other railway stations are at Kalka (240 kms), Pathankot (275 kms), and Chandigarh (280 kms). The nearest narrow gauge railhead is at Joginder Nagar (100 kms). From all the stations, buses can be boarded or taxis can be hired to reach Kullu.
Kullu is best accessible by road via NH1 up to Chandigarh and then via NH21 that passes through the towns of Bilaspur, Sundernagar and Mandi. HPTC runs regular buses from Delhi to Kullu on regular basis. Apart from Delhi, regular private and state owned buses run from Chandigah, Shimla, Kalka and other major towns for Kullu. One can also hire a cab to reach the desired destination for better privacy and comfort.