We, the citizens of all big and crowded cities of the second most populous country of the world, India, are very much familiar with traffic jams. But do you know there is a small town where the traffic jam means two cars behind a tractor. Can you guess the name ??? Through this post of mine I’ll be taking you to that little wonderland.
We were in Manali in December 2018 where I encountered with a very unusual incident. To read about that, click here. On the third day of our stay, our cab driver asked us if we were interested in visiting some offbeat locations. We hurriedly nodded in affirmation as we always look for such destinations. He suggested us the sleepy small hamlet Naggar.
Crossing the bridge on Beas river near The Mall and taking the right turn on the narrow alleys of Manali, passing through apple orchards and some times very dense forestations, alongside Beas river, the route from Manali to Naggar presents breathtaking vistas.
The former capital of Kullu, Naggar lies on the left bank of River Beas almost 21 kilometres from Manali. At an altitude of 1,800 meters, this town was founded by Raja Visudhpal and remained the political centre until the capital was shifted to Sultanpur in 1460 AD. Major attraction of Naggar is it’s beautiful castle, which has now been converted into a heritage hotel operated by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC). This beautiful fort-cum-mansion was once the residence of the rulers of Kullu, and is an excellent example of local Himalayan architecture called Kathkooni (Combination of stones and wooden beams). It is mainly made of wood and stone, and has eye-catching carvings on doors and windows. There is a small museum, a temple and a nice restaurant within the premises. Fireplaces, fitting staircases, and magnificent stone and wood works grace the castle’s interiors.
This unique Jagat Patti temple shown in the above picture has alternate slabs of deodar timber which makes it an earthquake resistant structure. It is also revered as the judgement seat of Kullu Gods.
This castle was sold to the British commissioner in 1846, the building later converted in 1976, a hotel. On 9th August, 2012, it has been declared a National Heritage Property by the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India.
This castle has been witness to many film shoots of Hindi, Punjabi and Telgu movies like Machis, Roja, Jab We Met, Noori, Barsat, Geet etc. Cost of entry ticket to this wonderful castle is mere Rs. 30/- and the timings are from 9 AM to 6 PM.
At a distance of 1 km from Naggar Castle, there is another tourist attraction of Naggar which is the International Roerich Memorial Trust. This fascinating complex was the former home of Russian painter, writer and Inner Asian explorer Nicholas Roerich and his wife Helena Roerich, a philosopher, writer, theosophist and public figure. They settled here in 1928 and stayed until Nicholas’s death in 1947, thereafter Helena shifted to Kalimpong in West Bengal.
The museum here is small but well-maintained. The lower floor of the house displays paintings by Nicholas (mainly Himalayan mountain scenes) and his son Svyatoslav. On the upper floor you can see through glassed window, some of the family’s preserved private rooms. A studio in the lower garden focuses on Svyatoslav and his wife, Indian film star Devika Rani.
Near to this trust, 100 m. uphill, across the road, is the Urusvati Himalayan Research Institute. It displays an excellent collection of local folk art, weapons, costumes from the Kullu heritage. It also displays a collection of Himachali handicrafts and an exhibition on the Roerich Pact, an international agreement on cultural protection which led Nicholas to be nominated for the 1929 Nobel Peace Prize.
How to Reach:
Naggar is around 21 km away from Manali. It can be reached via Manali by taking a cab or public transport.
Where to Stay:
Although most people visit Naggar as one day trip, but if one wants to stay here, HPTDC operates very good heritage hotel at Naggar Castle itself. Since, it has very limited accommodations, hence making reservations in advance is recommended.