Places To Visit in Kullu – Magnificent Kullu Temples
The Places to Visit in Kullu are its magnificent temples with ancient shrines, each carrying its own fabulous legend. Kullu is aptly known as the Valley of Gods or Dev Bhumi. Kullu Valley has more than 300 temples some dating back to the 10th century. The ancient temples display beautiful pagoda style architecture often blending with the local pahadi influence. A few of Kullu temples are mentioned below that one could visit while in Kullu:
Raghunath Temple (Sultanpur, Kullu) – This temple of Lord Raghunath (Lord Rama) was built by Raja Jagat Singh in the 17th century. As legend goes, the Raja, to atone for a sin he had committed sent a courtier and got the idol of Lord Raghunath from the Tretnath temple in Ayodhya. The idol is said to have been used by Lord Rama himself during the Ashwamegha Yagna. The Raja then used the holy water of the idol for 42 days and was absolved of all his sins.
The idol is greatly revered as the chief deity of Kullu and protector of the entire valley. Every year Dussehra festival is celebrated for a week in the honour of Lord Raghunath with hundreds of visiting deities from all over Kullu district. The visiting deities first visit the abode of Lord Raghunath at Sultanpur and pay their respects. The temple architecture is a beautiful blend of the pahari and pyramid styles. The shrine, located on a hill, offers a panoramic view of the majestic valley.
Mahadevi Tirth Temple (Vaishno Mata Mandir, near Dev Dham-Kullu) – Located 3kms from Dhalpur (Kullu) on the Kullu-Manali Highway. The foundation of this temple was laid by Swami Sewakdasji in 1964. The temple is built on multiple floors housing idols of various Gods. The idol of goddess Vaishno Devi is enshrined in a small cave. A temple of Lord Shiva is also present here. The temple is run by Sharda Seva Sangh. Daily free food and accommodation is provided for the pilgrims. The temple complex has a souvenir shop selling handicrafts and other items.
The river Beas flows in front of the temple across the road. Steps lead to a secured portion on the banks secured by chains for pilgrims. The Vaishno Mata Mandir is located 3kms from Dhalpur (Kullu) on the Kullu-Manali Highway. It is just 200 metres ahead once you get off the new Kullu by-pass bridge while driving towards Manali. The temple is easy to access as it is located right on the road. There is ample free parking area right opposite the temple on the other side of the road overlooking the Beas.
Bekhali (Jagannathi Devi) Temple – This 1500 years old temple is located in Bekhali at an altitude of 1833 metres, 9 kms from Kullu. There temple can also be accessed via a 4 km trek from Kullu. It takes about 90 minutes to reach the top. Bekhali temple offers breathtaking views. The temple is dedicated to Jagannathi Mata or Bhuwaneshwari, sister of Lord Narayana (Lord Vishnu). The temple is an excellent reflection of local art and architecture with paintings of Goddess Durga adorning its walls. A life sized stone lion adorns the front lawn.
This ancient shrine has a fabulous legend. As the folklore goes, a young shepherd from the Palsara family went to graze his cattle. As he played his flute, he saw two girls dancing to his music. It bewildered him to see that their feet did not touch the ground but seemed to be floating on air. He stopped one of the girls and discovered that she was goddess Bhuwaneshwari. The goddess then agreed to stay in his village at Baikhali. Lord Narayana is then said to have vacated the temple for his sister. Three fairs are held at the temple in the months April, June and on the first day of Dussehra. On Dussehra day, the ‘gur-khel’ is worth watching. The goddess is taken out in a chariot post sunset.
Directions to Bekhali Temple: To reach Bekhali temple, if you are coming by the akhada baazar road, take a left just below the new Kullu By-pass bridge. If you are driving down the new Kullu by pass highway, cross the overbridge and turn right towards kullu town. Take the right turn from below the bridge. Bekhali temple is 9 kms from here.
Bijli Mahadev Temple (Chansari Village) – The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located 14 kms from Kullu at an altitude of 2435 metres atop Mathan hill. Buses and other vehicles drive upto Chansari village and the last 3 kilometers have to be covered on foot. The trekking route traverses a beautiful pine forest and is very memorable. The 2 hours ascend to the top is rewarded with panoramic views of the Kullu valley.
The temple is famous for a divine phenomenon. The Shivalinga in the temple is shattered into pieces by lightning every year. The Lord himself is said to appear in the priest’s dream and guide him to each broken piece. The priest then reconstructs the Shivalinga with just butter. The temple derives its name from this strange but fascinating phenomenon. A special ceremony is performed during this time and the deity of Bijli Mahadev is taken out in a chariot procession. Villagers seek the Lords blessing for prosperity and peace. Devotees throng to the temple in July.
A visit to the temple takes at least half a day and is not recommended for the elderly or individuals unable to do the trek upto the temple.
Basheshwar Mahadev Temple, Bajaura – Famous for its intricate stone carvings, this ancient shrine of Lord Shiva is said to be built by Pandavas in the 9th century. The temple was rebuilt by Raja Shyam Sen of Mandi in 1673 AD. The temple is located 15 kms from Kullu in Hatta, 200 metres off the Kullu- Mandi highway. Constructed in the pyramidal style, the temple is of great architectural value. Five gods are worshiped here together. The temple enshrines a Shivalinga, idols of Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu, Goddess Durga and Lord Surya is placed top of the temple.