Legend has it that Parvati and Shiva once came down from their abode on Mount Kailash to this region in the lower Himalayas for a visit. All the local gods and goddesses ran to pay homage, bearing gifts of flowers and fruits. They were so adoring and respectful that Parvati was overwhelmed and decided to take them back with her to Mount Kailash. She placed all of them carefully in a large casket while she flew with Shiva towards Mount Kailash. En route, they stopped to rest for a while on a mountain peak overlooking Kullu valley. Just as Parvati put down the casket on a rock there was a sudden gust of wind. The casket’s lid flipped open. Lo and Behold, down fell all the gods and goddesses scattering onto the land in various places over the Kullu valley. Till this day, every little town and hamlet in Kullu has its own residing gods and goddesses and the valley is a veritable abode of the divine beings.
2) The Lohri Tale
The goddess Brajeshwari is linked to the two sisters Sundri and Mundri, who’s poor Brahmin father could not afford to arrange for their wedding, but also feared that they would be taken away by the cruel Subedar. Once when he received a message from the Subedar to send his daughters, he rushed to their in laws and asked that they should accept the girls without ceremony or money. But he was unsuccessful in convincing them. He turned to the dacoit Dulla Bhatti, who was living in the deep forest, for help. Dulla Bhatti not only organized the ceremony and expenses but also convinced the villagers to be a part of it. The wedding of the sisters were celebrated with pomp and festivity. The Lohri song narrates the tale of Sundri Mundri and Dulla Bhatti and is sung till today every January on the 13th. Children go from house to house singing the song and collecting goodies for Lohri. This is also the time when the sun begins its journey northward and is celebrated as Makar Sankranti.
3) Who is hidimba ?
According to the epic Mahabharata, 'Hidimb Rakshas' ruled some of the sub-mountainous tracts of the Himalayas. His sister was Hadimba/ Hidimba. In their wanderings the five Pandava brothers, along with their mother, after escaping from the wax house unhurt came to the territory of Hidimb.
Hidimbi's brother, Hidimb, had sent her to bring him human flesh, but when she saw the handsome prince Bhima sitting in the glade she fell in love with him and could not bring herself to kill him. She magically turned herself into tall, dark, lovely, lissom lass and approached him. When Hidimbi was late, Hidimb came to kill Bhima himself. He tried to attack Hidimbi but she was protected by Bhima, who killed Hidimb after a fight.
Hidimbi then asked Bhima to marry her, and although he was reluctant initially he finally agreed. He agreed to spend the time from dawn to dusk with her on the condition that during the dark hours he would remain with his brothers, and this would continue till they had a son. Bhima could marry her only after killing the brother. They lived in the valley for about a year after which Bhima joined his brothers and mother. Hidimbi gave birth to a son who was named 'Ghatotkachh'. Till Ghatotkachh was a minor, Hidimbi looked after her country. She retired to the hills, at Dhungri, for meditation, when her son Ghatotkachh, a great warrior, took over the country. Ghatotkachh was a good administrator. A temple of Hidimba in 'pagoda' style was raised at Dhungri and she became Devi Hidimba.
Hidimbi then asked Bhima to marry her, and although he was reluctant initially but finally agreed. He agreed to spend the time from dawn to dusk with her on the condition that during the dark hours he would remain with his brothers, and this would continue till they had a son. Bhima could marry her only after killing the brother. They lived in the valley for about a year after which Bhima joined his brothers and mother.
Hidimbi gave birth to a son who was named 'Ghatotkachh'. Till Ghatotkachh was a minor, Hadimbi looked after her country. She retired to the hills, at Dhungri, for meditation, when her son Ghatotkachh, a great warrior, took over the country. Ghatotkachh was a good administrator. A temple of Hadimba in 'pagoda' style was raised at Dhungri and she became Devi Hadimba.
It is said that Hidimba had supernatural powers owing to intense meditation and was kind to her people. It is interesting to note that although in most versions of the Mahabharata, Hidimbi has a small role to play as the wife of Bhima and mother of Ghatotkacha, took an active part in the Mahabharata battle. However in the Kullu valley, Hidimba is revered as the kul devi, deity of the royal family and the coronation of the Raja of Kullu had to be done only with her permission.
4) Who was Roerich ?
Nicholas Roerich was born in Petersburg in 1874. He arrived at Kullu in 1928 after his tough expedition to central Asia with his wife Elena Ivanovna Roerich and his two sons Yuri and Svyatoslav. The serene beauty of Kullu valley deeply touched him and he decided to make it his home. He bought a piece of land named 'Hall Estate' at Naggar from the king of Mandi and formed his residence. He was a great admirer of ancient Indian Vedic culture and wisdom. He founded the Himalayan Research Institute 'Urusvati' together with his son Yuri (George) to study the spirit of the Himalayas, history and culture of the region and the traditional Indian and Tibetan medicines. He authored a great number of books, including 'Altai- Himalayas', 'Shambala', and 'Himalaya- The Abode of Light'. The beauty of the Himalayas and the mysticism of its civilizations and culture occupy a prominent place in the vision and works of this Russian orientalist. Through his paintings he reflects the unmatched grandeur of sunlit Himalayan mountains which he experienced during his scientific expeditions to the central Asian regions that are reflected as images in his sublime paintings. Nicholas Roerich died in 1947 in Naggar. He was cremated according to Indian culture and his ashes are preserved in a 'Samadhi' near his residence. The ground floor of the residence has been converted in to an art gallery where his paintings of Himalayas are displayed. This art gallery was founded in 1962 by Svyetoslav Roerich. It is now run by International Roerich Trust as a Roerich Heritage Museum. The paintings displayed at this gallery form a small portion of his creations. A great number of his works are preserved in museums all over the world. Svetoslav was also an artist of repute who lived for many years in India where Jawaharlal Nehru awarded him the International Award and the Padma Bhushan. His paintings of Nehru and Indira Gandhi adorn the historic Central Parliament Hall in New Delhi. He was married to an Indian movie star Devika Rani, widow of producer Himanshu Rai and known as "The First Lady of the Indian Screen”.