Celebrated in the hill town of Kullu, Kullu Dussehra is one of the biggest and grandest Dussehra celebrations in the world. The legends associated with this festival and the large gathering of devotees that it witnesses are both, purely incredible. Do you know that Kullu Dussehra is attended by approximately 4-5 lakh people on an annual basis? Well, this actually is a true fact.
The festival is celebrated in the Dhaulpur Maidan where everything starts on the tenth day of the rising moon and then continues for a period of seven days. The history of this festival dates back to the period between the 16th and 17th centuries when a king established the deity of Raghunath in one of the temples as a mark of his penance.
As per the legends, after returning from one of his pilgrimages Maharishi Jamdagni straightaway went to his hermitage which was in Malana. It is said, that during this time he was carrying a basket on his head in which there were about 15 images of different Gods and Goddesses. And while heading to Malana, he had to cross Chanderkhani's pass where he encountered a storm.
While dealing with the storm, he lost his balance and all the images along with the basket fell from his head and got scattering in the sky.
After this, the locals over there saw those images and started worshipping them. And legend has it that the place where the first worshipping began was Kullu, hence Kullu Dussehra came into being. Kullu Mela is among the famous festivals of Himachal Pradesh.
There is another legend about this festival. It was in the 16th century when Raja Jagat Singh used to rule the kingdom of Kullu. Once on a beautiful day, he came to know that there lived a man in his kingdom, a peasant named Durgadatta who was known for possessing some of the most beautiful pearls in the entire world. Hearing this the king thought that he should be the one possessing such beautiful pearls, after all, he was the king.
In his greed, he summoned and ordered the peasant to hand over the pearls or otherwise be hanged. Now, knowing his inevitable fate, the peasant ended his life by jumping in the fire and cursed the king. 'Whenever you eat, your rice would appear like worms and the water will appear as blood to you.'
Fearing the curse, the King went to a revered Brahmin seeking his advice. The Brahmin told him that in order to eradicate the curse he will have to get the diety of Raghunath from Ram’s kingdom, Ayodhya. The king was successful in this act of stealing as he had sent a Brahim over there for getting the deity. Now the people of Ayodhya, seeing the missing deity went in search of the thief who was the Brahmin from Kullu.
After much looking, they found him on the banks of the Sarayu river. On being asked the reason to steal the deity, the Brahmin told them the story of their king. However, to their surprise, they found that while they tried to lift the deity and take it in Ayodhya’s direction the idol became very heavy and while taking in the direction of the King’s kingdom it became immensely light. Thus, it was decided that the idol would be taken to the king’s kingdom.
Once the idol was installed in the temple. The king drank the Charanamrit from the deity’s feet and as soon as he drank the holy water, the curse was lifted. During Dussehra, this deity is taken to the celebrations in a Ratha with great fervor.
The first day of the festival is celebrated with great pomp and show. On this day, the statue of Lord Raghunath is taken out on procession and is pulled using the ropes by the locals as well as devotees.
On the last day of this festival, the chariot is brought near the banks of the river Beas. It is here that a mass of wood grass is burnt which signifies symbolically, the burning of Lanka.
On the sixth day, a procession of village Devtas is carried out and on the last day, many sacrifices are made like that of a fish, crab, rooster, buffalo, or a lamb.
Apart from this, the festival has many other attractions as well, like the stalls, fairs, performances, dance, and music to mark the celebration of this amazing festival. It is observed for seven days after Navratri and is one of the biggest crowd-puller events.
Kullu in Himachal Pradesh is truly a magnificent place to explore and experience. It is located at an approximate distance of 499, 1,944, 2,676, 2.013 from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata respectively. Let's discuss, how you can reach there via the following routes.
If you are planning a trip to Kullu via airways then your best option would be Kullu-Manali Airport (KUU) in Bhuntar. This airport is located at a distance of around 11 km from Kullu.
It is situated on the banks of river Beas and is also considered a challenging landing spot for pilots. This is majorly due to its single runway setup. After deboarding at the airport, you will need to cover the remaining distance to your destination via some means of public transportation like a cab.
You can travel to Kullu via road as well. Here's how you can get there from different cities near Kullu.
Apart from traveling in your own vehicle, you can also rely on interstate bus services. There are many buses available from the HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation) which travel to and fro connecting nearby cities.
The nearest railway station is the Joginder Nagar Railway Station. It is located at a distance of approximately 100 km from Kullu. However, as there is no direct connectivity to Joginder Nagar station from Indian cities like Delhi, Amritsar, etc, hence it is best advised to either take a flight or traverse the road via your own vehicle or some sort of public transport.
Still, if you want to travel by train, then, firstly, you will have to take a train to Chandigarh and then cover the remaining distance via cab or some other means of public transportation.