The NH21 continues north along the west side of the Beas. The older road to the east of the river goes through terraced rice fields and endless apple orchards, and is rougher and more circuitous but more interesting. Sections of both roads can be washed away during the monsoon.
Kullu to Katrain
As you wind out the centre of Kullu along the right bank you'll pass the
embedded in the conglomerate cliff and
, a grassy meadow favoured by trekkers.
, in the widest part of the Kullu Valley, mid-way between Kullu and Manali, is overlooked by
(3325 m). There are plenty of options for an overnight stay. Across the bridge at
, the road climbs through apple orchards to Naggar.
Naggar's (Nagar) interesting castle sits high above Katrain. Built in the early 16th century, it withstood the earthquake of 1905 and is a fine example of the timber-bonded building of West Himalaya. It was built around a courtyard with verandas, from where there are enchanting views over the valley. With a pleasant, unhurried atmosphere, it is a good place to stop a while. It is also an entry for treks to Malana.
, probably built by Raja Sidh Singh, was used as a royal residence and state headquarters until the 17th century when the capital was transferred to Sultanpur . It continued as a summer palace until the British arrived in 1846, when it was sold to Major Hay, the first assistant commissioner, who Europeanized part of it, fitting staircases, fireplaces and so on. Extensive renovations have produced fine results, especially in the intricately carved woodwork. In the first courtyard are several black
(sati stones) with primitive carvings. Beyond the courtyard and overlooking the valley the
houses a cracked stone slab measuring 2.5 m by 1.5 m by 2 m believed to be a piece of Deo Tibba, which represents the deity in 'the celestial seat of all the gods'. A priest visits the slab every day.
has some interesting exhibits, including examples of local
(women's dress and headdress) and
(folk dance costumes). There are also local implements for butter and tea making, and musical instruments like the
(broad bell horn) and
(long curled horn).
a 2-km climb from the castle, is Nicholas Roerich's old home in a peaceful garden with excellent views. The small museum downstairs has a collection of photos and his distinctive stylized paintings of the Himalaya using striking colours.
was set up in 1993. The
Himalayan Folk and Tribal Art Museum
is well presented, with contemporary art upstairs. One room upstairs is devoted to a charming collection of Russian traditional costumes, dolls and musical instruments.
There are a number of
around the castle including the 11th-century Gauri Shankar Siva near the bazaar, with some fine stone carving. Facing the castle is the Chaturbhuj to Vishnu. Higher up, the wooden Tripura Sundari with a multi-level pagoda roof in the Himachal style celebrates its fair around mid-May. Above that is the Murlidhar Krishna at Thawa, claimed as the oldest in the area which has a beautifully carved stone base. Damaged in the 1905 earthquake, it is now well restored. There are fine mountain views from here.
This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF