Village melas (festivals) occur year-round. They are colorful, multi-day affairs where gods from different villages are brought together. One can watch the human spokesperson for each god (gur) go into a trance and tell stories, give advice, and answer questions for local villagers. Local songs and dances are also performed, and villagers dress in the best traditional costumes.
Respectful observation by outsiders is welcomed. A partial list of local melas is included below.
|April||Tinder, Bhatad, Chipni|
In several villages near the edge of the park (Pekri, Nahi, Tinder, and Phredi) there is a special festival for four days in February called Phagli. This is a secular festival with masked dances and lots of merry-making. A yearly fishing competition, sponsored by the Department of Fisheries, is also held along the Tirthan River in the fall. The famous Dushera Festival, held in the town of Kullu during October, is a major event for the whole region.
A wide assortment of Hindu temples, tree shrines, and sacred grounds are found throughout the Tirthan valley. Each village also has a local god known as devta. These deities have a fascinating history and play an important role in village affairs.
There are at least three important pilgrimage spots in or near GHNP: Raktisar, at the headwaters of the Sainj River; Hanskund, at the headwaters of the Tirthan, and Sirikund Mahadev, a lake just outside the southern border of the park. The latter is part of a famous pilgrimage circuit that includes Kinnaur Kailash and Mt. Kailash in Tibet. All three sites are regularly visited by locals and non-locals alike, particularly men, and are only accessible in the summer and fall months. Hindu custom dictates that no leather articles are allowed anywhere in the immediate vicinity of the deity, hence precaution should be taken by tourists.
Read more about the culture of Tirthan Valley on our blogpost - Unique Festivals of Tirthan Valley