Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Kullu Dussehra Festival: Triumph of Good Over Evil

Kullu is a beautiful hilly town in India’s northern state Himachal Pradesh. People in this cool land are as cool as the surroundings. They live life and celebrate it to the core. One of such celebrations that symbolize triumph of good over evil is Kullu Dussehra Festival. It is one of the most popular events of Himachal and a derivative of the far spread Navratri Festival.

Kullu Dussehra is a grand manifestation of victory over immorality, which is festooned with huge pomp and show throughout the town. People immersed in exhilaration take out a colorful procession of gold and silver idols of Hindu deities. These idols are prepared well in advance in the remote villages of Kullu by the locales, especially for the occasion. Massively garlanded and placed in overtly decorated vehicle, the deities are paraded on the streets of Kullu form one corner to another. Music, colors, folk singing and local dances accompany the procession till the end.

Kullu, lying peacefully in the foothills of Himalayas, is often referred to as the Valley of Gods. Its original name was Kulanthapitha, which means “end of habitable world”. Kullu’s ancient history dates back to as old as 1st century AD. Travelling form one century to another the capital of the region shifted three times, from Jagatsukh to Naggar and then again relocated to Kullu during the reign of Britishers in Himachal.

Kullu Dussehra showcases a history dating back to 17th century when the local king of the district Jaganand established an idol of Lord Rama, popularly known as Raghunath in those days, on his seating throne which symbolized his penance towards the lord. After that day, the Raghunath idol was considered the ruling deity of the Kullu valley. From that day onwards, during the festival, approximately 250-300 Raghunatha idols made by the locales from all across the valley and the adjoining Mandi district, join the grand procession to pay obeisance to Lord Rama, who is considered to be the presiding deity of Kullu Dussehra. Locales that carry these idols during the procession are paid good incentives by the State Government which varies from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 70,000.

Image courtesy : www.phototravelings.blogspot.com

The gorgeous Kullu Valley, and to a relatively smaller extent Parvati Valley, which runs parallel to it, have been popular for  decades, among travelers who are keen to get a taste of India’s prehistoric culture and enjoy the stunning mountain panorama. This is the reason that in 1972 the Kullu Dussehra festival was declared an international event and since then its popularity has grown hugely. These days, many cultural troupes from various countries also take part and perform during the festivities.

On the first day when the Dussehra fair begins, the idol of Raghunth ji( Lord Rama) bejeweled in a gaily attired Rath is pulled from its fixed place in Dhalpur Maidan, to another spot across the ground by big ropes held by the local people. The village gods who more than a hundred in number mounted in colorful palanquins attend this fair. The week-long celebrations also comprise of generous drinking and crazy dancing. At night Dhalpur Kala Kender buzzes with activity when an international dance festival is held to commemorate the festival. This dance festival lends a stage to great local and international cultural activities. Thousands of people witness the show in the mesmerizing open theater.

On the 6th day, the assembly of Devtas takes place. All the village gods attending the fair with their followers and band of musicians participate in the assembly. It is an outstandingly impressive and rare scene to witness. Devtas sitting together in colorful attires around the camp of Raghunathji, make a spectacular sight to watch.  Conclusion to the festival is brought together on the last day with a series of sacrificial ceremonies that culminate in the assassination of a buffalo, a rooster, a lamb, a fish and a crab. At the same time a huge bonfire is set alight in a pile of thorn bushes, symbolizing the burning of Lanka, the island fortress capital of legendary King Ravana, which comes from a mythological story featuring in the great Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Then finally the Rath is brought back in a procession to its original place. Raghunathji is carried back to his temple at Sultanpur. The attending gods return to their abodes and so do the exhausted but satiated people.

Kullu Dussehra is full of grandeur and festivities. It is a well-organized fair that provides entertainment business opportunities, fun and frolics to all.


  1. Kullu Dussehra is one of the best festival which is being celebrated here. I like this place too much, this is because the climate of this place is much more favorable for the tourists. Thanks for the lovely post.

  2. Visitors who are taking Shimla holiday tour packages in the months of December and January, can head to Kufri also. A lot of tourists come here from Trivandrum also.

  3. National Express also offers business travellers a Heathrow hotel transfer service to and from the airport, known as the Heathrow Hoppa. day trips from london