Saturday, 27 October 2012

Lord Rama’s chariot rolls out, weeklong Kullu Dussehra begins

KULLU: With ending of Dussehra festival across the country on Vijayadashmi after burning effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnath, a weeklong historic Dussehra has begun in Kullu with rolling out of the chariot of Raghunath (lord Rama) to the Dhalpur Dussehra ground on Wednesday. All other deities paid their obeisance to lord Raghunath who is the presiding deity of the festivity.
Kullu Dussehra
Palanquins of over 225 deities along with their thousands of followers are taking part in the festivity. Lakhs of people including tourists flocked to pull the chariot as they have an immense belief that pulling or just touching the holy ropes brings them prosperity and blessings. Police had a tough time negotiating with the devotees imbued with devotion. According to the tradition, palanquin of Goddess Hadimba and Bijli Mahadev scattered the crowd and made way for chariot. Chariot would rest in the lower ground till the seventh day when it would be again wheeled to the bank of river Beas where some shrubs would be burnt as symbol of burning of the Lanka. But unlike other places, no effigies are burnt here.
Thousands of domestic and international tourists throng Kullu Dussehra to witness the unique blend of culture, tradition and devotion. A group of students from England had reached here for research and capture the Dussehra. The group leader, Chadwick, said, “We are staying in Shimla but we reached here to see the Dussehra. Our experience is unexplainable. Students have got lots to explore and understand the Indian culture.”
Ramanuj Rai, another tourist from Karnataka said he had never seen so many deities together ever in his life. “People here have strong faith in their own deity but respect the others. The modernization has no effect on the cultural faith of hill people. Most of the palanquins are identical but I’m trying to capture as much as I can in my camera,” he added.
Royal family of Kullu
Royal family of Kullu -- Maheshwar Singh and family -- was dressed in their traditional royal attire to perform the rituals associated with the Dussehra. Every year, palanquins of hundreds of deities are brought from different parts of state and they stay in camp around the festival place for seven days which remains the attraction for devotees and tourists.
Also, the cultural programs started at Lal Chand Prarthi Kala Kendra of Kullu where several artists from various countries would perform for seven days. For its uniqueness, Kullu Dussehra was declared an international festival in 1972. Dussehra festival, which conveys the message of victory of good over evil, is marked by gathering of deities, their prayers, processions and cultural programs, not by burning effigies.
Dussehra celebrations in Kullu started in the year of 1661 during the reign of the then ruler Raja Jagat Singh. Since then, idols of hundreds of deities from different parts of Kullu gather here and celebrate for a week. Dussehra is an important event for local residents as they do lots of shopping to tackle the winters.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

October brings tourist crowd to Manali

MANALI: With all parking spaces of Manali jam packed with tourist vehicles, hotel occupancy risen to 70% and all tourist spots crowded with tourists, October has brought with it smiles on faces of hoteliers and thousands of locals linked to the tourism industry.

Tourists at Solang valley (Solangnala), Manali

Thousands of newlyweds and students from school colleges have thronged Manali. According to data from green tax barrier, the gateway to Manali, number of tourist vehicles entering Manali has doubled only in last three days. The similar crowd of tourists is expected to remain till Diwali festival while preparations are on to host even more tourists during Dussehra festivity week starting from October 24 when occupancy rate is likely to reach 100%.
Solang, Rohtang, Naggar, Manikaran, Hadimba temple, Vashisht and Old Manali, tourists have thronged all tourist spots of the district. Tourists are having hard time while finding space to park their car. “We had planned to visit Manali for its pleasant weather and calm environment. But, we were welcomed by huge crowd,” visitor from Allahabad, Manish Tiwari, said. He said he had planned his tour in October after learning that it would be the off-season in Himachal.
Tourists are facing unexpected traffic jams on way to Rohtang, Hadimba temple and Vashisht which is spoiling their fun. Searching for a space for parking is another challenge for tourists visiting Manali in their own cars. Long queues of tourists are being witnessed at rafting and paragliding booking counters.
Many hotels in Manali are fully occupied and tourists are not getting room in hotel of their choice. Harish and his wife Madhuri from New Delhi were told by their travel agent that this is off-season in Manali and they would easily get hotel of their choice but reality was quite different. “The hotel we wanted to stay in was booked for many days and we had to book another one,” Harish said.
Thousands of children from various schools and colleges of the country have reached Manali on their educational tours while many more are on their way. Most of the students are staying in camps outside the town. Shopkeepers too are cheering the crowded markets.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

River Beas gets crowded with rafting enthusiasts

MANALI: With colourful rafts making beeline on white waters of river Beas, the adventure of rafting in cold waters is attracting thousands of tourists every day to Kullu.
Tourists have thronged Babeli and Pirdi, the river rafting points of Kullu, to enjoy taste the fun of this thrilling game. Over 150 local youths are providing rafting services to tourists and all of them are busy. A long dry spell and pleasant sunny days have provided an opportunity for both tourists and service providers to cash the moment.
River rafting in river Beas in Kullu Manali
Owner of Evergreen Adventure, Thakur Chand, said that hundreds of tourists are landing at Babeli to enjoy the rafting. “Most of our customers are students from various states who are on their educational tours to Manali. Also, number of couples is increasing gradually,” he said.
The water level in river Beas has decreased and tourists of all age groups are enjoying rafting without any fear. A sudden rise in number of adventure enthusiasts have cheered the local youths. “Beas is crowded with rafts after three months. All the registered rafts are doing brisk business,” Biru, another raft owner said.
Though high peaks have little snow but skiing slopes of Rohtang have no snow for skiing. Adventure loving tourists are heading to Manali for paragliding and river rafting.