Kullu isn’t called the land of the gods (Dev Bhumi) for nothing. It’s simplistic way of life and scenic beauty is sure to draw you in. What makes the Himachali town even more special is its rich cultural tapestry.
Travellers can witness Kullu’s age-old traditions through the artistic manifestations of its dance, music, and crafts. Here’s what you can look forward to:
Kullvi Dance & Music
Kullvi orchestra is a part of all major events – from family functions to festivals and weddings. The ensemble consists of unique musical instruments such as shehnai (pipe), bhana (a round bronze disk stuck with a bronze pipe), algoja (twin flutes), or the kanaal, narsinghe. The piper is called ‘hesi’.
The wind instruments are accompanied by a set of drums comprising of dhol, nobit, nagara and dhauns. Don’t miss the folk songs like Laman and Bhouran, which touch upon feelings of love, joy, separation, and sorrow.
Coming to the dance, try and catch a naati performance, wherein the dancers dressed in elaborate traditional attires hold hands in horizontal formations, and dance to the beats of traditional drums. Kullvi festivals are incomplete without the naati.
The International Roerich Memorial Trust Art College at Naggar and Sutradhar Kala Sangam are two cultural institutes where you can witness Kullvi dance and music. Or, attend the Winter Carnival at Manali.
Kullvi Arts & Crafts
Kullu’s local handicrafts and handloom items make for a great souvenir to take home. Kullu shawls are famous throughout the world. Apart from shawls, woollen jackets, socks, mufflers and caps are also woven. You could also pick up a pattoo – a warm tweed that helps the locals survive the extreme winters.
Then there are popular handloom products such as the conical baskets, pullas (footwear), straw carpets, and mattresses. Did you know they’re made of fully organic materials?
You could shop for these traditional organic products at small shops strewn across town. Check out the Bhuttico shawls in Shamshi and Himbukar at Bhuntar.
Fairs & Festivals
Planning a trip around the local fairs and festivals will give you a chance to experience Kullvi culture in its full glory.
The idea behind the local fests is to celebrate the fruits of nature and civilisation.
Kullu Dussehra is the most important festival of the year — it is vividly different from the Dussehra celebrated in other parts of India. It starts with the procession of Lord Ram in a wooden chariot, called the Rath Yatra, along with approximately 400 other deities from all parts of the district.
The chariot is pulled by the devotees to a nearby camp, where the idols of Ram, Sita, Laxman, and Hanuman are carefully placed. The festivities go on for seven days with musical performances from international dancers and singers. Of course, there are yummy Kullu delicacies to savour through the day.
Dussehra usually takes place in October, which is also a good time to explore the nearby regions of the valley.
If you want to visit Kullu in summer, plan your trip around Holi. Here, it is celebrated several days in advance as compared to the rest of India.
While the country celebrates ‘Krishna Holi’, Kullu does a ‘Ram Holi’ that begins with celebrating basant (the spring season) — they take out a procession of the local deity, and in the days that follow, paint the town with a splash of colours.
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