|Coordinates (Kullu): Coordinates:|
|Tehsils||Kullu, Nirmand, Banjar, Manali|
|• Total||5,503 km2 (2,125 sq mi)|
|• Density||80/km2 (210/sq mi)|
|• Sex ratio||105%|
|Time zone||UTC+05:30 (IST)|
Kullu is a district in Himachal Pradesh, India. It borders Rampur district to the south, Mandi and Kangra districts to the west, and the Lahaul and Spiti district to the north and east. The largest valley in this mountainous district is the Kullu Valley, which falls between the Pir Panjal Himalayas and the northern border of the Dhauladhar range. The Kullu valley follows the course of the Beas River, and ranges from an elevation of 833m above sea level at Aut to 3330m above sea level at the Atal Tunnel South Portal, below the Rohtang Pass. The town of Kullu, or simply Kullu, located on the right side of the Beas River, serves as the administrative headquarters of the Kullu district. The economy of the district relies mainly on horticulture, tourism, and traditional handicrafts.
The ancient seat of the kings of the kingdom of Kullu was the Naggar Castle, about 12 km north of the present-day town of Kullu, and was thought to have been built in the late 15th century. Raja Jagat Singh (who ruled Kullu between 1637–72) moved the capital in the middle of the 17th century from Naggar to Sultapur, within today's Kullu town.
Kullu ended being an independent kingdom upon the invasion by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839. Following, in turn, the takeover of the Sikh Empire by the British Empire, Kullu was ceded by the Sikhs to the British in 1846, whereupon it became a tehsil of the British-administered Kangra district (in turn a part of the Punjab Province, British India). The head of Kullu's royal family had been granted the Waziri Rupi by the Sikh emperor along with the title 'Rai', and this continued throughout the British period. Naggar Castle was exchanged by Raja Gyan Singh of Kullu for a rifle with Major Hay, the first Assistant Commissioner of the then-newly acquired British territory of Kullu. The Rupi Palace in Sultanpur is still used as home by the descendants of Kullu's royal family.
Upon the Independence of India, until 1960, Lahaul and Spiti continued being parts of the Kullu tehsil, as had also been the case during the British rule. In 1960, Lahaul and Spiti became a separate district. Kullu became a district of Punjab in 1963, and on November 1,1966, it became a district of Himachal Pradesh, through the Punjab Reorganisation Act of 1966.
Since the British times, the various government offices and other government institutions built around the Dhalpur grounds, in the heart of the Kullu town, have formed the nerve centre of the district administration in Kullu district.
According to the 2011 census, the district had a population of 437,903.: 24 At this census, 44% of the population in the district declared Kullui as their first language, 23% opted for Pahari, 10% chose the Siraji, 7.8% – Hindi, 3.2% – Mandeali, 2.5% – Nepali, 2.3% – Lahauli, 0.92% – Punjabi, 0.87% – Kangri, 0.84% – Kinnauri, and 0.41% – Tibetan.
The Kullu district has the following administrative divisions:
- Sub divisions in Kullu: Kullu, Anni, Banjar and Manali.
- Development Blocks: Kullu, Naggar, Banjar, Anni, and Nirmand.
- Tehsils in Kullu: Kullu, Nirmand, Banjar, Manali, Bhuntar and Anni.
- Sub-Tehsils in Kullu: Sainj and Nithar
- Gram Panchayats: 70 in Kullu tehsil, 40 in Naggar tehsil, 36 in Banjar tehsil, 32 in Anni tehsil, 26 in Nirmand tehsil.
- Zila Parishad: 1 (Kullu)
- Nagar Parishad: 2 (Kullu and Manali)
Electorally, at the State level, Kullu contains four of the 68 assembly constituencies of the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly, namely Manali, Kullu, Banjar, and Anni. At the Central level, Kullu is a part of the Mandi Lok Sabha Constituency, one of the four such constituencies that represent the state of Himachal Pradesh in the Lok Sabha.
|22||Manali||Govind Singh Thakur||Bhartiya Janata Party||Education Minister|
|23||Kullu||Sunder Singh Thakur||Indian National Congress|
|24||Banjar||Surender Shourie||Bhartiya Janata Party|
|25||Anni (SC)||Kishori Lal||Bhartiya Janata Party|
The main highway running through the Kullu district is the National Highway 3, formerly known as National Highway 21. The segment of this highway through the Kullu district begins at Aut and ends at the Atal Tunnel. This highway runs in a roughly south-north direction. To evade the usually heavy traffic between Kullu and Manali, one can take the road along the left bank of the Beas River at Kullu, so as to arrive in Manali via Naggar.
The Kullu district is not connected through railways.
Institutions for Himalayan knowledge
[This section does not cover the schools, colleges, and universities of Kullu district.]
The Kullu district is rich in both ecological wealth and cultural and historical heritage. At the same time, Kullu is not far from regions such as the Trans-Himalayas and Tibet, and lies on an important historic trade route from Punjab to Ladakh and Central Asia. In modern times, these features of the Kullu valley have drawn many researchers, scientists, artists, and seekers of other kinds to it.
The first institution in the Kullu region, dedicated to research on various sciences and mysticism in the Himalayas, was the Urusvati Himalayan Research Institute, established by the Roerich family. They established this centre in 1928 at Naggar, upon their return from the Central-Asian Expedition. By World War II, the institute had become defunct. Nonetheless, the site of the former institute, a part of the Roerich estate in Naggar, continues to operate a library and some exhibitions.
At present, there are three institutions in Kullu that are active in generating and preserving Himalaya-specific knowledges.
- Himalayan Regional Centre of the GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development - This institution is based in Mohal, about 6 km south of Kullu. It was established in Kullu in 1992, and shifted to Mohal in 1993. This government institution conducts research and informs policy on various issues related to climate change, mountain ecology, traditional ecological knowledge, and rural livelihoods.
- Himachal Pradesh Craftsmanship and Design Innovation Institute NORTH - This institute is based in Naggar, 22 km north of Kullu. It was established in 2017. This institution works to preserve Kullu's traditional kathkuni architectural style.
- Himalayan Institute of Cultural and Heritage Studies (HICHS) - This institute is based in village Katrain, 30 km north of Kullu. It was established in early 2020. This institution offers curated heritage walks in the Kullu valley; conducts courses related to Himalayan cultures, religions, iconography, and architecture, and hosts weekly online talks by renowned scholars and artists from India and around the world whose work features the Himalayas.
Particularly since the onset of the unrest in Kashmir in the 1980s, Manali and the Kullu Valley in general, have gained more significance as tourist destinations. The Kullu valley is known as the "Valley of the Gods" or "Dev Bhumi" because almost every village in the valley has a local deity and annual festivities around them. The Kullu valley is known for its open valley meadows and scenic views of the Himalayan mountain range. The Kullu area is known for Kullu shawl, made of wools such as pashmina, sheep-wool and angora.
Places of interest
- Basheshwar Mahadev Temple - This Shiva temple at Bajaura is made completely out of stone in the Shikhara style, and is renowned for its intricate sculpture art. Archeologically, the temple is dated to around the early 9th century A.D. In local belief, this temple is believed to have been built by the Pandavas.
- Bhuti Weavers Co-operative Society - This society is a leading name in the famous Kullu shawl industry. It was set up in 1944. Its main office and showroom are located at the Bhutti Colony in Shamshi, about 8 km south of Kullu.
- Bijli Mahadev Temple - It is located at 2,435 meters from sea level and is about 10 km (6.2 mi) from Kullu. The staff of the temple is 60 feet high and can be seen from the Kullu valley too. It is the highest point around Kullu from where there are views of the whole town.
- Chaini Kothi - A 35 meters-high tower built in the Kathkuni style, built originally as a defensive structure and from later on used as a temple for a Jogini. It dates to the 17th century. It is located in the Tirthan valley near Banjar.
- Dagpo Shedrup Ling monastery - This Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Gelug school is located in village Kais, 8 km north from Kullu. It was inaugurated in 2005 by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. This monastery is a continuation of the Dagpo Dratsang monastery in southeastern Tibet, which was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. 
- Dechen Choekhor monastery - This Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Drukpa Kagyu school is located in village Sarabhai, 13km south from Kullu. Its construction was started in 2000 and completed in 2017. It is a continuation of a monastery of the same name in Tibet, which was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
- Fungni Mata Temple - This small temple stands in a scenic meadow called Mathasaur at the top of the Lug valley. It is dedicated to the female deity Fungni Mata, and has certain taboos around entry, as do most other temples in the Kullu region. One has to hike to reach the meadow and the temple.
- Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) - This national parks is spread over 700 km (430 mi) between the Kullu & Spiti regions of Himachal Pradesh. The park is drained by the Sainj, Tirthan, Jiwa Nala, and Parvati rivers. It is home to many different and often rare kinds of birds, mammals, insects, and vegetation. The park is abundant in scenic beauty. It was created in 1984 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014.
- Hadimba Temple - This pagoda-style temple is located in the Dungri forest above Manali. It houses the footsteps of Hadimba Devi on a rock inside. It was built by Raja Bahadur Singh in 1553 A.D.
- Kais Dhar - A place with grass meadows and densely forested mountains. It is a part of trekking route and is not connected through road, hence the natural environment is preserved. This place has a British-era forest rest house.
- Kasol - A village in the Parvati valley that is popular among backpackers; also known as 'Little Israel' for being very popular among young Israeli tourists.
- Khanag - This village in Anni tehsil has an old rest house with a memorial to the English travel writer Penelope Chetwode, who died in a remote part of the Kullu district in April 1986. Chetwode loved the Kullu valley, and is known for her book Kulu: the End of the Habitable World.
- Khokhan - A pagoda-style temple of Adi Brahma, dating to the 14th century A.D., is located in village Khokhan, about 10km south of Kullu town. The village also boasts open views of the confluence of the Parvati and Beas rivers, and of the Kullu airport.
- Lug valley - Another important valley in the district is the Lug valley, where forest contractors have been extracting timber from the forests for the last 150 years and continue to do so today.
- Maha Devi Tirth Temple - Shri Mahadevi Tirth, popularly known as Vaishno Devi Mandir (by locals), is a relatively new (built in 1966) yet popular temple situated about two kilometers North from Kullu on the Kullu-Manali highway. The foundation of this temple was laid by Swami Sewak Das Ji.
- Malana- Known as one of the oldest democracies in the world. People only worship one deity, the Jamlu rishi (sage). They have their own judiciary system as well. The village is governed by a bicameral parliament.
- Manali - Perhaps the most famous tourist destination of the Kullu valley. This town includes a Mall Road, the Hadimba Temple, a Tibetan market, and Old Manali, besides hundreds of hotels, resorts, and restaurants. Near Manali are sites like the Solang valley (popular site for adventure and winter sports), the hot springs at Vashisht, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, and the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment.
- Manikaran - A pilgrimage centre for Hindus and Sikhs in the Parvati valley, with famous hot springs.
- Naggar - Naggar was the old capital of Kullu. Its 15th century castle, built in the Kathkuni style, is now a hotel run by Himachal Tourism. Naggar also has the Roerich's Memorial House, and the Nicholas Roerich and Svetsolav Roerich Art Gallery. The famous Russian scholar, artist, and mystic Nicholas Roerich lived at this site from the late 1920s till his death here in 1947. Naggar also has several old temples, built in the shikhara and pagoda styles.
- Nirmand - One of the largest villages of Himachal Pradesh. Recorded in the Nirmand Copper Plate (7th century A.D.), and famous for its ancient temples, including one dedicated to Parshurama.
- Raghunath Temple - In the 17th century, Raja Jagat Singh of Kullu committed a great mistake. To atone for the sin, he sent a senior courtier to Ayodhya for a statue of Lord Raghunath - Lord Ram. This temple was built in 1651 A.D. by Raja Jagat Singh to house the image, which continues to be greatly revered. Every year, the international fair Dussehra is celebrated with local deities in honour of Lord Raghunath.
- Rohtang Pass - The Kullu valley connects with the Lahul and Spiti district via Rohtang Pass, situated at 3,978 m (13,051 ft) 51 km (32 mi) from Manali city. In 2020, the Atal Tunnel was inaugurated, which bypasses the Pass and dramatically reduces the distance and effort required in getting from the Kullu valley to the Lahaul valley.
- Rupi Palace - Located in Sultanpur, Kullu, this palace was originally built in 1660 A.D. by Raja Jagat Singh. It was badly damaged in the Kangra earthquake of 1905, and was subsequently rebuilt. It is the residence of the descendants of Kullu's royal family.
- Shoja - At 2368m, Shoja presents a vantage point for panoramic views of Himalayan ranges. Places of interest near Shoja include the Jalori Pass (3,140m), Jibhi, Serolsar Lake, Raghupur fort, and the Tirthan valley.
- Shringi Rishi Temple - Shringi Rishi Temple is located in the Banjar valley, about 60 km from Kullu. Shringi Rishi is the ruling deity of Banjar valley. Shringi rishi is one among the "Atthara kardoo" (eighteen chief deities) of the Kullu valley.
- Kullu Dussehra - The Kullu region is known for its unique celebration of the Dussehra festival in the Dhalpur grounds. The origins of Kullu's version of Dussehra lie in the mid-seventeenth century. It typically takes place in the month of October, which overlaps with the traditional period of the white lunar half of the month of Ashvin. It includes a rath yatra, a week-long congregation of deities from near and distant parts of the Kullu valley, a series of cultural performances, and a large fair that lasts several weeks.
- Pipal Jatar - This is a spring festival celebrated towards the end of April every year, with a large fair held in Kullu's Dhalpur ground.
- Angling/Fishing - The Kullu valley has numerous places for trout fishing. These include Katrain, Raison, Kasol and Naggar, then along the river Tirthan near Larji, in the Sainj Valley and in the Hurla khud.
- Mountaineering - People interested in mountaineering can take basic to instructor-level training at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports. The district has several peaks popular with mountaineers, such as Hanuman Tibba, Papsura, and Indrasan.
- Paragliding - Paragliding is offered at certain sites in the Kullu valley, such as Dobhi and Solang valley. However, there have been several fatal accidents in this sport in Kullu valley.
- Rafting - White water rafting is popular on the Beas river.
- Rock climbing and bouldering - In recent years, several places near Manali have emerged as popular rock climbing and bouldering sites.
- Trekking - The district is the nucleus of several trek routes. Some major ones are over the Chanderkhani Pass to Malana, over the Jalori Pass or Bashleo Pass to Shimla, and over the Pin Parvati Pass to Sarahan. The Great Himalayan National Park also has several moderate to strenuous trekking routes.
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