Kullu Dussehra - Guide
International Kullu Dussehra Festival
Kullu Dussehra - A lovely blend of rich culture, history and ritual.
Dussehra is the major festival in Kullu that is celebrated with much fanfare and gusto. Kullu Dussehra starts on Vijaya Dashmi and lasts for seven days in the month of September or October. It is a lovely blend of rich culture, history and ritual. This festival is only held to celebrate the success of good over evil. People from all the parts of Kullu Valley and different parts of India gather on the first day of celebration to pay respect to Lord Raghunathji (Lord Rama) who is the presiding deity of Kullu Valley. The idol of Lord Raghunath Ji was brought from his mythical birthplace in Ayodhya by the Raja Jagat Singh of Kullu in 17th Century.
More than 300 Gods and Goddesses from the different villages of Mandi, Manali, Banjar & Kullu Valley come to Dhalpur Maidan to pay obeisance to Lord Raghunathji. Curiously enough, Jamlu, the god from Malana, does not take part in the festivities and remains on the opposite bank of the river.
Seven Days of Dussehra Celebrations
The first day of Kullu Dussehra starts with huge celebration and the statue of Lord Raghunathji is installed on a beautifully designed chariot and brought to Dhalpur Maidan from Rupi Palace Sultanpur.As the procession, led by Raghunathji, reaches the Dhalpur Maidan, the royal family and the priests circumambulate it.After that the idol of Raghunathji is carried in a special 6-wheeled wooden rath, pulled by devotees from the Dhalpur Maidan to a specific point.
According to tradition, celebrations begin only after arrival of the idol of goddess Hadimba from Dunghri temple near Manali. Seated in a carved wooden rath (carriage) the idol is swathed in colourful silk and decorated with flowers. After the pujas (prayers), festivities begin with dancers moving with music and loud drumbeats. The festival looks like any typical Indian fair with food stalls, amusements for children, snake charmers, and sadhus joining in the revelry that lasts for six days.
The following days are celebrated with great devotion, and many an individual takes participate in singing and dancing during the festival. The fair is fulfilled with the burning of the Lanka. On the last day of the festival, the chariot is brought by the banks of Beas River where a mass of wood grass is burnt, signifying the burning of Lanka.The high point of the festival is the ritual sacrifice of a buffalo. Celebrations end with the departure of Hadimba back to her abode in Dunghri.
Legend of Kullu Dussehra
According to the legend, in the 16th century Raja of Kullu Jagat Singh got to know that a farmer in Manikaran Valley named Durgadutt had very charming pearls. Jagat Singh tried his best to have the pearls. Durgadutt told the Raja that the information was not correct and all his requests were hopeless. Jagat Singh offered him the last chance of giving the pearls but he did not and as a result Durgadutt set himself and his own family on fire and cursed the Raja Jagat Singh for his brutality. After that Raja felt guilty and took advice from a Brahmin. The Brahmin asked him to get the statue of Lord Raghunath Ji from the kingdom of Lord Ram- Ayodhya. Jagat Singh sent some Brahmins from Kullu to Ayodhya.
One day, they stole the statue and started their way back to Kullu. When the locals of Ayodhya came to know that the idol of Lord Raghunath was missing, they left in search of the Brahmins. The people found the Brahmin with Raghunath ji on the banks of Saryu River. Then the Brahmins narrated them the story of the king. When the people picked up the idol while heading towards Ayodhya it was heavy, but to their amazement the idol became light as they moved to Kullu. When the Brahmin reached Kullu, the idol of Raghunath ji was installed. Subsequently, the king had a sip of the Charan-Amrit of the statue of the Raghunath ji and the curse was repealed.
Bhuntar airport is the nearest airfield just 10 kms, with regular flights arriving from Delhi. You can find taxi from the airport, there are regular buses to Kullu.
The closest narrow gauge railhead is at Jogindernagar, 95 kms from Kullu. The nearest broadgauge railhead with best train connections is at Chandigarh, 272 kms away. From there, regular buses connect to Kullu.
You can drive to Kullu from Shimla, Delhi,Chandigarh or other nearby places. The drive to Kullu from Delhi takes about 12 hours.
Kullu has regular bus connections from Delhi, Shimla, Pathankot, Palampur and Ambala. The main bus stand is in the Sarvari Bazaar. Buses stopping at Dhalpur Maidan are closer to most of the hotels, the tourist office and the District Commissioner’s office.
Getting Around Kullu
Kullu is a small town and can be covered on foot. This is also the best way to be able to get off the main road onto interesting trails and remote villages. For trips out of Kullu, you can either take buses from the Akhara Bazaar bus stand or private taxis at fixed rates available near the Tourist office. Rented cars are chauffeur driven.
Best Place to Eat
Eating out in Kullu is all about trying some lip smacking local cuisines, Indian and Chinese food, pizzas and Tibetan momos.
Planet Food and Hotel Shobhla in Dhalpur are the two well-known multi-cuisine restaurants in Kullu; the restaurants also offer delicious fast food including pizzas and burgers. Hot Stuff in Dhalpur serve pizzas and burgers, ideal for a quick bite. Hotel Sheetal and Restaurant is ideal for people looking for serene environs and quality dining experience.
Some of the must-try vegetarian dishes are Siddu, kaddu ka khatta, guchhi matter and sepu vadi. Non-vegetarians can try Kullu trout, chicken anardana and grilled fish. Kodra (cereal), Patrodu, Sattu and Salyana are the other local dishes that tourists can try in Kullu.
Lunch/dinner without sweet dish remains incomplete and traditional sweet dishes Mittha and Nasasta are the two must-try sweet dishes here.
There are lots of restaurants and cafes on the Mall Road offering local cuisines as well as Indian, Continental and Chinese food. The Spice House restaurant at Himalayan Hamlet and Shobla International at Dusshera Ground, Kullu, offers a host of local cuisines that are worth trying. Tourists fond of wine can try the homemade wines like Chakti and Lugri.
What to Pack
Kullu is pleasant in summers, with day temperatures hovering around 27 degrees centigrade. Nights do get cold however, and it is good to have light woollens packed in. Winters are cold, making heavy woollens a must. If you are planning to go for hikes or take a shot at one of the adventure sports, keep extra pairs of shoes ready. The organisers provide most other gear.
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