Himachal Pradesh is endowed with amazing natural beauty with high mountains, rugged valleys and human settlements dotted on the lush scenic hillsides, surrounded by lofty peaks, rivulets and verdant forests. Manali, at the northern end of the Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh, is a hill station situated at a height of 2050 m (6398 ft) in the Himalayas. Situated on the Beas river (and near its source), is a popular tourist spot for Indians and foreigners throughout the year with a cooler weather to run to in the summer and a magical snow-covered place in winter.
It is a staging point for a number of treks such as Beas Kund, Chandrakhani Pass etc and for sports such as white-water rafting, skiing, trekking and mountaineering.
According to some versions, Manali can be identified from ancient Sanskrit texts like Vishnu Purana, Mahabharata and Ramayana. It is also mentioned in Kalhana’s Rajataringini, the record of the royal kingdoms of Kashmir, as a separate state.
Kullu is said to derive its name from Kulantpitha, the end of the habitable world. In more recent times, the state of Kullu is said to have been founded by Behangamani Pal, who was succeeded by Pachch Pal, Bihang Pal, Hin Pal and Svarg Pal. Later the area was ruled by the Singh dynasty.
Origin of Name
Manali derives its name from the ancient Hindu law maker called Manu who is equivalent to “Noah” in Western History/Mythology. Manu temple has been named after the great legend Manu himself. Manu was the first man on earth to have docked his ship along with one kind of each species in this area. Hence the name “Ali” – to come – became Manali.
The valley is inhabited by an interesting mix of descendants of the aboriginal tribes as well as various invaders who came from Central Asia and northwest. Their houses are made of wood but temples are crafted out of stone often with beautiful rich decorations.
The staple diet of people in Himachal Pradesh is mainly maize, wheat and rice. In upper areas, gucchi (mushroom) Chulli, (wild apricot) baimi (wild peach), grapes, almonds, peach, plum, walnut and chilgoza (Pine nuts) are important products. Mutton and chicken is consumed but beef is mostly taboo.
Smoking is fairly common in rural areas and a hookah which is the traditional smoking device is popular and found in every household. It’s known that sharing the same hookah is a sign of friendship.
The most common attire is a coarse cotton shirt called chulu for men with churidar and Pyjama, over which a loose chola of white wool is worn, held by a gachi tied around the waist. A chequered woollen blanket or pattu is slung over the chola. Men wear few ornaments besides the murkis or earrings. Women wear a choli over which the chequered blanket is worn with a pair of metal pins.
Tourist dressing up in traditional clothes for
The local tribes have a distinct identity by way of their clothes and the Gaddi, Kinnara and Pangwala and Gujjar have retained their traditional dress pattern. For instance the dress of the Kinnar men is Thepang, Chamu Kurti Baskot Gachhang and Suthan. The Thepang is a woollen cap with a velvet band of green, yellow, red crimson, blue and purple and is a popular souvenir purchased by tourists. There are various local traditions of the marriage ceremony. This includes a makpa arrangement where the son in law stays in the bride’s house. In Kinnaur a marriage by elopement is called Darosh Dub Dub where the bride is whisked away. There is also marzi biyah which is love marriage and batta satta or exchange marriages in Himachal Pradesh.
Among the folk traditions of Himachal Pradesh is the remarkable aspect of village gods. The deities here are personified and humanized to such an extent that they are not merely idols or statues but they control the destiny of the local folks, listen to their woes, and arrange good fortune for them. The deities are placed in every village and area as they’re a strong dominating force. They have metal masks known as mukhra in the regional language. These are taken around in decorated palanquins during festive occasions. The Kullu valley is said to be dev bhumi, an abode of gods and goddesses, who have a vibrant life in that they sleep, awake, sing, dance and respond to changes around them in an endearingly human way. In fact in winter the gods are said to go to Indrapuri or heaven to arrange good fortune for their devotees. See Tales and Trivia for more information.