In the last week of December 2014, my zeal to bypass main tourist destination and passion to explore lesser known led me to another picturesque location in Himachal – Naggar.
Naggar is a wonderfully located hill town on the east bank or left bank of the Beas River famous for Nagar Castle and Roerich Art Gallery. Though Naggar was the capital of the Kullu kings for centuries, today Naggar is one of those quiet hamlets overshadowed by it’s more famous but crowded nearby cousins Kullu-Manali.
After having explored Kasauli, Sarahan, Sangle and Chhitkul in 2014, the charm of witnessing snow laden Kullu Valley with Beas penetrating amidst the giant backdrop of the snow capped Himalaya from Naggar was all that we wanted from this self drive road tripping. Further, truly, we wanted to end 2014 with one last road tripping to Himachal while embracing the magical feelings originating from the whiteness of the snow, and Naggar came as a perfect choice to us.
Due to its proximity to Manali, Naggar is, indeed, not a tourist starved place, however, due to its left bank location, it’s not on the radar of many as travelers prefer right bank road to Manali from Kullu. Mostly people ignore this place or at best cover it on the way to or from Manali. Today I believe, the true beauty of Naggar can be appreciated only when one stays here.
So aiming to spend a day in Naggar, we left Delhi early in the morning and reached Naggar by evening. Bang on Time! As we could witness the Snow Laden peaks of Himalaya as soon as we took the left bank of the Beas from Kullu towards Naggar. We already had enjoyed the 600KM Journey in last 15 hours and after that the expanse of Kullu Valley right in front of us was all refreshing and rejuvenating. Overlooking Kullu Valley, Naggar offered some of the best and extensive views of the valley and also the distant Rohtang Peak.
We found this place very charming with its own tinge of rural & probably medieval era. It has something for every traveler. For us, the road trip aficionado, entire drive from Delhi to Naggar and especially after Mandi along Beas River was very fulfilling and when we took the detour to Naggar on Left Bank of Beas it was an absolute delight.
My list of must things to do in Naggar:
Must stay only at Naggar Castle: Naggar castle Situated on the left bank of river Beas at an altitude of 1851m, was built by Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu in 1460 AD, The Castle is one of the finest example of Himalayan Architecture based on Local architectural technique “Kathkooni” which means a combination of stones and wooden beams. This shock bearing construction technique made it withstood the destructive wrath of tremors in the year 1905. In 1978, the “Naggar Castle” was handed over to HPDC and since then it’s a premium Heritage Hotel offering best and most extensive view to the Kullu valley and Fozal Peak.
This place has a Bollywood trivia too attached to it. Many movies have been filmed here however the most talked about Bollywood association is the song from Jab We Met which has been shot on the courtyard of this hotel. The song is “Yeh ishq hai” from the 2007 blockbuster Jab We Met, which featured Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kap0or on lead roles, has been shot here.
Must relish you morning tea from the wooden balcony of the Castle: The Balcony and courtyard of this timber bonded Castle gives a feeling as if one is inside a kaleidoscope and on each turn it extends a more mesmerizing view of Kullu Valley. The view from balcony is awe inspiring.
Roerich Art Gallery: About 2km above the castle is the Roerich Gallery , the former home of eccentric Russian painter, spiritualist, Inner Asian explorer and an legend Nikolai Roerich, who settled in the Kullu Valley in the Hymalayas in January 1929 when he bought Hall Estate from Rajah of Mandi. Roerich was the brains behind the Roerich Pact, a treaty signed by more than 60 countries guaranteeing the preservation of cultural monuments around the world also during time of wars. For his cultural activism, he earned several nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. On his paintings, he captured Spiti/Ladakh extensively in mid 20th century making him probably the first few to introduce the magical beauty of the Spiti to the world.
Gallery Compound has some of the best points to take photographs of the Kullu valley and its gorgeous expanse from Naggar. Better perspective than the Naggar Castle.
From Roerich House, i tried to capture Kullu Valley in Monochrom. Have a look,
Don’t miss the 1930 Dodge car hidden around the side.
Jagpathi temple inside Naggar Castle: Now this is the legend ofNaggar and part of the folklore. According to folklore, gods and goddess transformed themselves into honey bees and cut a slab of stone from theBhrigu Tung Peak and brought it to the temple in order to makeNaggar a divine place. Locals also believe that the deities gather here every year to protect the people from calamities.
Other than this intriguing folklore, I was, specially, fascinated by the architecture of this small temple. The temple with beautiful carvings is square shaped; enshrining the stone slab revered as the “Jagatipatt: the stone that represent the world in itself” measuring 5’x8’x6″. The wooden structure of the temple exclusively represents the architectural style of Himachal Pradesh with heavy use of wooden.
Every morning doors are opened for morning rituals and this is the only time when one can pay reverence to god and goddess. One must ensure to experience this ancient ways of worship.
Few more Temples could be visited such as Krishna Temple, Gauri Shankar Temple, Tripura Sundri Temple etc.
Golden Hour photography: Drive through picaresque left bank of Beas River extends wonderful photography points. Further, uphill drive to Naggar opens a wide perspective to capture snow-capped Himalaya and flow of Beas adds sanctity to each frame.
Morning also brings with it splendid view of Kullu Valley and distant Rohtang Peak. We missed golden hours in the morning due to certain miscommunication which has but left an itch in my feet to visit one Naggar one more time to capture gorgeous snow peaks in the morning hours also.
Maggi at water fall restaurant: Each time as soon as we enterHimachal Pradesh, innumerable stalls offering Maggi as street food put me in spot. This is aHimachal specific phenomenon and I am sure travelers bound toLadakh andSpiti have contributed significantly in spreading the reach of Maggi in Himalayan hinterland. To the phenomenon leading to Evolution of Culture, travelers plays very significant role and it could be a point of perspective for Marketing guys. Maggi isHimachal could be a great marketing case study.
Let me shrug off my marketing avatar, come back to topic.
We have had our Maggi Moments in places like Kufri, Chhitkul, Kasauli etc but this time Maggi in Water fall Restaurant 5 KM from Nagger towards Kullu was all together different experience. Owner has created a standard restaurant set up next to water fall which is too inviting to miss.
They say they offer local Himachal dishes, but we preferred to one up our Maggi moments and had a nicely prepared Maggi next to the water fall.
I would like to dedicate this Posts to one of the most revered and early traveler to Spiti, Ladakh and Himalaya, The Great Painter and The Greater Philosopher and The Greatest traveler and explorer Mr. Nicholas Roerich whose one line from his book titled Altai-Himalaya is the guiding essence to any traveler and explorer:
“I always repeat that if you want to see a beautiful spot, ask the inhabitants of a town to point out the most ancient site, these people of times immemorial knew how to select the most beautiful places.”
Few more shots from this self drive road trip:
Other then the above listed must things, anggar has more to offer. Naggar is home to a number of trek trails as well as base to a lot of treks.Travellers may aim for trekking over the Chanderkhani Pass to Malana village, over the Jalori Pass to Shimla, and over the Pin Parvati Pass to Sarahan.
Water sport enthusiasts may also opt for Water Rafting in Beas River. At the same time, one can find a few locations in Naggar for Trout Fishing.