I Visited This Heritage Village Near Manali And Stayed With The Locals In A Kath-Kuni Style Home!

by Suchismita Pal 1776

Some picturesque places cannot be uncovered without taking a detour into the secluded lands. Naggar, known as the heritage village of Himachal, is that kind of hidden gem. Located around 13 miles away from Manali, Naggar can appeal to the traveller who seeks the offbeat, bereft of the hurly-burly. The quiet hamlet is home to the centuries-old Naggar Castle, now converted into a heritage hotel. Naggar offers a breathtaking view of the mountain valley with the turquoise waters of Beas meandering at a distance. The hamlet remains a witness to the snowy tips of the mountains beautifully merging with the foggy sky. Naggar is a piece of a fairytale dream you need to see to believe.

Reaching Naggar From Delhi

Christmas eve had arrived and it was my best excuse to escape to the hills. On December 23, we boarded a Volvo from Delhi’s R.K Ashram Metro Station and set off for the vacation. There are no direct buses from Delhi to Naggar, so we had to get down at Patilkuhl and take a cab. The total journey took around 11.5 hours. Also, allow me to tell you, despite being a bus journey, it was a comfortable one with all the basic amenities provided.

Himalayan Brothers Adventure: The Kath-kuni Style Home

At Naggar, we halted at a place named Himalayan Brothers Adventure ( HBA), locally known as Vrighu’s Home. Nested at a stone’s throw away from Naggar Castle, lies this pretty homestay carved using Himachal’s traditional Kath-kuni architecture. Kath-kuni is a special kind of Himachali architecture featuring long thick wooden logs and stone masonry.

Kath-kuni architecture is earthquake resistant and holds wooden logs, stones, doors and windows together without any mortar. The naturally temperature-controlled rooms at Kath-Kuni style homes stay warm during winters and cool during summers. The Naggar Castle too was constructed using this local technique.

 

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The HBA homestay lies in the residential compound of Vrighu and his family. Interestingly, the compound also houses the oldest residential home in the whole of Naggar, which had come into existence on the same day as the Naggar Castle. Also built in Kath-kuni style, this was the ancestral home to Vrighu’s past generations. This hidden slice of history is on the phase of renovation now, under the observation of design and architecture students.

 

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The rooms at the three-storey homestay have large windows that offer breathtaking views of the snow-clad peaks. On the top floor, there is a quaint hammock too, on which I unwinded for some time, enjoying the phenomenal mountain view. What’s more, the rippling of the stream will be the constant melody accompanying you here. HBA is popular among workcationers. Many corporates and creative minds had escaped here during the lockdown days to work from the mountains.

 

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With the heartwarming hospitality of Vrighu and his wife Akansha, you will feel like living in a home away from home at HBA. We had reached the homestay before our check-in time. Akansha welcomed us to their family house with piping-hot tea and breakfast. The place where the couple stay has a conspicuous tandoor that keeps the room warm.

Also Read: I Stayed At This Homestay In Lachung Perched At 12,000 Ft That Isn’t Traceable On The Internet

Places To Explore Around Naggar; Seeking Thrill On India’s Longest Zipline

Within 1 kilometre walk from the homestay, lie the Naggar Castle, the Roerich Museum and Art Gallery and Tripura Sundari Temple. HBA organises a plethora of treks and tours for adventure junkies. A day trek from here can include a visit to the Jogini Waterfalls, Rumsu Heritage Village, Krishna Temple and Snow Point at Hampta Pass. Or you can opt for overnight camping at the Bijli Mahadev Temple or Parasar Lake from here. Also, Manali is just 40 minutes away from the property. Thus, Rohtang Pass, Hadimba and Manu temple, Manikaran, Chandertal Lake too are only a few hours drive from here. What’s more, Naggar is home to the longest zipline in India.

Naggar is a holistic destination with oodles of options for every kind of tourist. Just communicate to Vrighu how you want your trip to be and he will arrange for the same. For enquiries, call up Vrighu on 9805461570. We stayed in a double-bed room at their Kath-kuni style building for two nights at ₹1600/night. Now that we’ve unveiled the deets about the property, let us tell y’all about our trip.

Day 1: Naggar Castle And Murlidhar Krishna Temple

We got down at Patilkuhl from the bus at around 8:30 in the morning. It took just 15 minutes for us to reach HBA, Naggar from Patilkuhl. No sooner did we reach the homestay, Vighu came to welcome us. His wife, Akansha made tea and breakfast for us, as we warmed ourselves by the tandoor. By 10 AM, our room was vacated and cleaned. We got a room on the ground floor that opens up to the idyllic mountains. This Kath-kuni home has been designed by adhering to sustainable measures. Thus, it has a solar-powered heater instead of a geyser, which saves electricity. However, they provided us with an electric kettle too for emergency needs.

 

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After having breakfast, we freshened up quickly and strolled through a narrow lane to the magnificent Naggar Castle. It is a medieval-era castle which Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu had built in around 1460 AD. The castle, constructed in Kath-kuni style, overlooks the breathtaking Kullu valley. The old-world charm of the castle makes it a paradise for history buffs.

 

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Inside the castle, there is also a restaurant that offers a wide array of local, Indian and global cuisines, along with beverages like tea and coffee. We had ordered tea and chicken sizzler. Having the smokey sizzler in the stone-cold weather while treating eyes to the views of the splendid valley was a profoundly surreal feeling!

 

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From Naggar Castle, we trekked up through the lush green pine forest to reach the Murlidhar Krishna Mandir in Thava. It would take around 5 minutes from Naggar to reach the shrine by car. But by foot, it took roughly around 45 minutes as we had to walk carefully through the cragged jungle paths.

 

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As we finally reached the top, we were spellbound by the view. The snowy mountain seemed to be at our level and it merged magically with the mist and the green valley below. The Murlidhar Krishna Mandir sits by the valley and houses deities of Lord Krishna, Devi Radha, Lord Garuda and Laxminarayan. The locals celebrate Dussehra in a grandiose manner at this temple.

 

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Day 2: Soyal, Off-Roading To Kais Wildlife Sanctuary And Bonfire

On December 25, we had first decided to go to Sissu via Manali and Atal Tunnel but then scraped off the idea anticipating heavy traffic. Instead, Vrighu took out his Isuzu and drove us to some hidden gems which had no tourists at all. Starting off from HBD at 11:30 AM, we first visited Soyal. Reaching Soyal from Naggar involves a 20-minute drive followed by a 15-minute trek through a pebble-flanked road. The moment I reached Soyal, I was simply dumbfounded by its serenity. The whistling woods, the tall trees, the sprawling green field and the crystal clear stream gurgling through the valley tickled the deepest chords of my heart. The calmness of the place enraptured me to such an extent that I did not feel like coming back.

 

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From Soyal, we proceeded towards Kais Sanctuary. On the way, we halted at Jana Waterfall to relish authentic Himachali thali at Mani Ram Dhaba. The thali comprised Himachali red rice, Himachali rajma, Himachali curry, bajre ki roti, sarson ka saag and Siddu served with ghee and shakkar. As we devoured the lunch, the cool breeze of the waterfall caressed our senses. Opposite to the waterfall, there is a ziplining facility too.

 

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Post lunch at the dhaba, a different kind of adventure was waiting for us. The road ahead of the dhaba leads to the sanctuary and it literally is deprived of the slightest of the human crowd. Our Isuzu was the only vehicle crossing the path. From here, we did not sit inside the car anymore. As Vrighu drove the Isuzu, we stood at the back of it immersing in the views. The car passing through the bumpy, narrow road was giving us major adrenaline rushes. I gave a huge shoutout to the emptiness, as I knew nobody was listening to me.

 

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Several stretches of the sanctuary were blanketed in snow with some green branches peeping out from above. We spotted a couple of monals, which is the state bird of Himachal Pradesh. Beyond the Kais Sanctuary, lies the Bijli Mahadev temple. We couldn’t drive up to the shrine due to unfavourable weather conditions.

 

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At night, we came back to the homestay and had a bonfire as one of the locals named Rakesh, played some soulful tunes on his guitar. We enjoyed the melodies with some good drinks and snacks.

Also Read: I Stayed By The Ganges At This Stunning Mountain Resort Just 5 Hours Away From Delhi

Day 3: Manali Mall Road And Return To Delhi

On the third day, our hearts were a bit heavy as the trip was coming to its end. Assuring that we would return soon, we left Vrighu’s home in the afternoon and headed towards Manali. In Manali, we had an English-style lunch with pizza, cheese omlette, hot chocolate and coffee from Dana Coffee House and German Bakery. We also enjoyed 8-in-1 ice-creams and candy floss from roadside kiosks.

 

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Our Volvo left Manali at around 6:45 PM. At around 8:45 AM, he got down at Delhi’s Majnu Ka Tilla. After having a sumptuous breakfast at the nearby Tibetan colony, we headed out for our daily routines.