Kullu Dussehra: A Globally Celebrated Festival of Tradition

Welcome to the vibrant world of Kullu Dussehra, a cultural extravaganza that encapsulates the rich heritage and traditions of Himachal Pradesh. 

"Dussehra, a beloved festival celebrated throughout India, carries a powerful message of good conquering evil. It's a time when we come together to symbolize the victory of Lord Shri Ram by setting fire to the towering effigy of Ravana. However, in the enchanting Dussehra festival of Kullu, a captivating twist awaits. Here, Ravana's effigy remains untouched by flames, and his tales are veiled in mystery, inviting us to explore the intriguing traditions that make Kullu's Dussehra celebration truly unique."

The Kullu Valley, also known as the 'Valley of Gods' or 'Kulanthapitha,' is famous for its annual event - the Kullu Dussehra celebration. This celebration has gained worldwide recognition and attracts numerous tourists every year. Its roots can be traced back to the 16th century and are intertwined with the story of King Jagat Singh of Kullu.

Origins and Legacy:

Legend of Raja Jagat Singh:

Raja Jagat Singh ruled over the wealthy and beautiful kingdom of Kullu. As the ruler, he heard about a brahmin named Durgadatta who supposedly had some beautiful pearls. The Raja wanted these pearls, even though Durgadatta only possessed knowledge. Driven by greed, the Raja ordered Durgadatta to give up his pearls or face hanging. Knowing his fate, Durgadatta ended his life in the fire and cursed the king, saying, "Your rice will turn into worms, and water into blood when you eat."Desperate to lift the curse, the Raja sought advice from Krishnadas Payahari, a Ramanandi saint from the Dahima/Dadhich Brahmin family. Krishnadas told him that to break the curse, he must bring the deity of Ragunath from Ram's kingdom. The king sent a Brahmin to Ayodhya, who took the deity and journeyed back to Kullu. People in Ayodhya discovered the missing deity and pursued the Kullu Brahmin. They found him near the Saryu River and asked why he took Raghunath ji. The Brahmin explained the king's story. When they tried to take Ragunath back to Ayodhya, the deity became heavy, but it became light when heading to Kullu.

Upon reaching Kullu, Ragunath was made the kingdom's deity. After drinking the Charan-Amrit of the deity, the curse on the Raja was lifted, and he became Lord Raghunath's regent. This legend is linked to Kullu's Dussehra celebration, which began in 1660 and continues today. During Dussehra, all the deities from the Kullu region congregate in Kullu to pay homage to their chief deity, Lord Raghunath.

The Myth of Maharishi Jamdagni:

Another captivating legend tells the story of Maharishi Jamdagni, who, while returning from Kailash, carried a basket containing images of eighteen distinct Gods. During his journey across the Chanderkhani pass, a fierce storm erupted, scattering these divine images across the expanse of the Kullu valley. Astonishingly, the scattered images miraculously transformed into forms of Gods. This extraordinary event led to the christening of Kullu Valley as the "Valley of Gods." Kullu Dussehra, a grand and vibrant celebration, serves as an occasion to venerate these divine manifestations with great pomp and grandeur.

These legends and the rich history they encapsulate have contributed to the enduring cultural and religious significance of the Kullu Dussehra festival, making it a cherished tradition that continues to be celebrated with zeal and reverence.

Understanding the Distinction

Kullu Dussehra, unlike the Dussehra celebrated across India after Navratri, follows its own rhythm. While the rest of the country concludes the nine-day Navratri festival, Kullu gears up for its own grand celebration. This temporal distinction adds a layer of uniqueness to the festival, making it a standout event.

The Duration and Festive Spirit

Seven days of celebration: Imagine a festival that lasts for a glorious seven days, filled with unmatched pomp and fervor. Kullu Dussehra is precisely that. It's a traditional annual festival of Kullu, nestled in the breathtakingly beautiful Himachal Pradesh, and it ranks among the most popular festivals in the region.

Significance of Kullu Dussehra

Kullu Dussehra is an event that holds great cultural significance for the people of Himachal Pradesh. This festival brings the small hill town of Kullu to life with nature, traditions, and heritage. It offers a wonderful opportunity to experience the beauty of the Valley of Gods and participate in ancient customs that have been passed down through generations. Despite its extended duration and unique timing, Kullu Dussehra remains an important celebration for the people of Himachal Pradesh.

A Worldwide Phenomenon: Kullu Dussehra, once a well-kept secret of the Indian subcontinent, has now gained international acclaim. Tourists from various corners of the globe flock to this scenic hill station to witness the cultural extravaganza firsthand. But what exactly has propelled this festival to global recognition?

Cultural Diversity: One of the key factors behind the festival's international allure is its ability to embrace and showcase the rich cultural diversity of India. Kullu Dussehra is a kaleidoscope of traditions, rituals, and art forms. From the colorful attire of the locals to the enchanting melodies of traditional music, it's a cultural spectacle like no other.

Cultural Exchange: Kullu Dussehra isn't just a one-way experience for international tourists. It's also an opportunity for cultural exchange. Travelers get to immerse themselves in the local customs and traditions, and the locals, in turn, learn about the world through their interactions with visitors.

Media Attention: The global media has played a crucial role in shining a spotlight on Kullu Dussehra. The world has become more aware of the festival's grandeur through documentaries, travel shows, and social media. As a result, curiosity has grown, drawing even more visitors each year.

The Divine Saga of Lord Raghunath

Kullu Dussehra, a festival that unfolds its grandeur against the backdrop of Himachal Pradesh's majestic landscapes, is intrinsically intertwined with the divine saga of Lord Raghunath. 

The Idol of Lord Raghunath

Central to the celebrations of Kullu Dussehra is the veneration of Lord Raghunath, also known as Raghunathji. The presiding deity of the festival, Lord Raghunath is enshrined in the historic Raghunath temple located in the heart of Kullu. This idol, carved from a single block of cedarwood, is an embodiment of divine grace and devotion.

The Rath Yatra: A Divine Journey

One of the most spectacular events during Kullu Dussehra is the Rath Yatra, where the idol of Lord Raghunath is taken on a divine journey in a beautifully adorned chariot. This procession, accompanied by religious chants and fervent devotees, is a sight to behold. The chariot makes its way through the streets of Kullu, and people from far and wide gather to witness this sacred event.

The Spiritual Essence

Lord Raghunath, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, symbolizes righteousness, virtue, and dharma (duty). His presence during Kullu Dussehra infuses the festival with a profound spiritual essence. Devotees believe that seeking his blessings during this time brings peace, harmony, and prosperity into their lives.

The Enigmatic Deity Devi Hadimba

Amidst the majestic grandeur of Kullu Dussehra, there exists an enigmatic deity, Devi Hadimba, who holds a significant place in the hearts of the locals and the festivities. During Kullu Dussehra, the idol of Devi Hadimba is carried in a palanquin adorned with flowers and taken in a grand procession. Devotees and visitors alike gather to witness this spectacle and seek the blessings of the goddess.

Overview of Kullu Dussehra Events

A Festival of Many Facets: Kullu Dussehra is not a single event but a series of festivities that unfold over several days. The main attraction is the procession of deities, but there's much more to explore. Here's a glimpse of what you can expect:

The Colorful Parade of Deities

Divine Procession: The centerpiece of Kullu Dussehra is the Rath Yatra, a grand procession of local deities carried in elaborately decorated chariots. These deities are brought from various temples across the valley to pay homage to Lord Raghunath. The sight of these deities in their resplendent attire is a visual treat.

Lalhri Natti: A Cultural Extravaganza

A Dance of Devotion: Lalhri Natti is a traditional dance performed by local women as an offering to the gods. With graceful moves and colorful attire, it's a beautiful expression of devotion. Tourists are often invited to join in, making it a memorable cultural exchange.

Muhalla: A Night of Celebration

Community Gatherings: Muhalla is when the local communities come together for nightlong celebrations. Music, dance, and feasting create an electrifying atmosphere. It's an excellent opportunity for tourists to immerse themselves in the local culture.

The Jaleb Ceremony

A Royal Tradition: The Jaleb ceremony involves the symbolic arrival of Lord Raghunath in Kullu. On this day at 4:00 am a procession is taken out which is called Narsingari Jaleb.  For the last 400 years, the procession reaches the ground of Dhalpur which is 2 km away from the temple. It's a grand event attended by the locals in their finest attire. 

Bali: The Animal Sacrifice

Ancient Ritual: Bali is an age-old tradition where a buffalo is sacrificed as an offering to the gods. While this practice may not be for the faint-hearted, it's a significant part of the festival's religious rituals.

Lanka: The Return Home

A Spectacular Finale: On the seventh day it is taken to the banks of the Beas River where Lanka is symbolically burnt.  After this the chariot is brought back and Lord Raghunath is reinstated.  

Kullu Dussehra: A Journey to International Recognition

1660s - Commencement: 

In the 1660s, the vibrant Kullu Dussehra Festival came to life in the enchanting Kullu Valley.

1972 - International Recognition:

In 1972, Kullu Dussehra achieved international acclaim, marking a significant milestone in its history.

2016 - Guinness World Record:

Fast forward to 2016, Kullu Dussehra made history once again, securing a coveted spot in the Guinness World Records. It accomplished this feat by organizing the world's largest voluntary folk dance performance, featuring an astounding 9,892 dancers.

A Unique Status:

While Dussehra is celebrated in various parts of India, Nepal, and Malaysia, it is only in the picturesque Kullu Valley that it holds the esteemed status of an international festival.


In summary, Kullu Dussehra is a rich tapestry of tradition, spirituality, and culture. From its ancient origins to the vibrant processions, unique rituals, and exquisite art and cuisine, this festival offers an unforgettable experience. Whether you're a first-time visitor or returning, Kullu Dussehra promises enduring memories and a deep connection to the heritage of Himachal Pradesh. Come and immerse yourself in this grand celebration, where history and spirituality unite in a spectacle like no other.

STAY TUNED. Happy Exploring!!

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