State: Himachal Pradesh
Location: Located on an elevation of 2,047 ft in the district of Kullu, Naggar is the middle point between Kullu and Manali; 28 km N of Kullu; 21 km S of Manali
Distance: 520 km NE of Delhi
When to go: Mid-April to June, September to mid-November
Tourist Office: HPTDC, Hotel Castle, Naggar
STD code: 01902
Air: Nearest airport: Bhuntar (38 km/1 hr).
Rail: nearest railhead Chandigarh (301 km/8 hrs).
Road: Naggar is just 5 km off the Chandigarh-Manali NH21. From Delhi, drive to Chandigarh via Karnal and Ambala. From Chandigarh, take the NH21 till Patlikuhal via Bilaspur, Sundernagar, Mandi, Pandoh, Kullu, Raison and Katrain. At Patlikuhal, turn right across the Beas to Naggar (5 km).
Ever since Naggar Castle was featured in the hit Bollywood movie Jab We Met, this sleepy, pretty little town ended up on everyone's list of must-visit places. And its popularity is growing. Naggar offers magnificent views of the River Beas far below, and the snow-topped mountains in the distance. Nights at Naggar present the exquisite sight of the mountains silhouetted against the blue-black night sky and twinkling lights of the villages and moving cars far below.
Things to see and do
This simple town will surprise you at every turn. It has something in store for everyone: trout fishing for angling enthusiasts, trekking for adventure lovers, and it is a paradise for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts. If none of these meet your requirements, then you could laze around, visit an orchard or simply spend some time reading on a sun-dappled, grassy patch by a babbling brook.
The nucleus of this small town is the 15th-century Naggar Castle, located on a small clearing that offers stunning views of the valley below. Currently a heritage hotel managed by HPTDC, half of the castle has rooms on offer, although the other half is also open to visitors. This stone-and-wood castle has magnificent rooms with high ceilings and grand fireplaces, which lead to the verandah at the rear overlooking a small garden and the valley far below. One of the two stone courtyards that divide the castle has a weeping willow tree that sways overhead in the slightest breeze. This courtyard, however, is inside the confines of the hotel and is accessible only to the guests of the hotel.
The other courtyard, also called the upper courtyard, houses the small Jagatipatt Temple. Made of wood, it contains a slab of stone said to have been brought by honeybees from a place near Vashisht.
Roerich Art Gallery
Nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) was a Russian painter, philosopher, writer and a public figure. Having travelled and lived in many places, he died in this wooden house in the small town of Naggar. His son, Svetoslav Roerich, married Rabindranath Tagore’s grandniece and Hindi cinema star Devika Rani, who retired at the peak of her career and moved here with her painter husband. After Svetoslav’s death, she converted this house into an art gallery. It now houses Roerich’s paintings, prints and family memorabilia and is jointly managed by the governments of Russia and Himachal Pradesh.
Barely 15 km from town, these perennial falls, gushing from a cluster of rocks, accumulate in a clearing and then flow downstream again. You can climb the rocks and see the water splash down from a better vantage point. There is also a small wooden bridge, which provides the best view of the falls. Move down the bridge towards the small clearing below. There are food stalls here serving authentic Himachali dishes, tea and the usual fare of packaged chips and biscuits. Set amid deodar and pine trees and apple orchards, this small waterfall is a favoured picnic spot. Take the road from the falls that goes uphill, which will lead you to another fall. The clearing on this fall is better spread out. If you want to take a walk, continue on the same road past more pine forests, solitary houses and apple orchards. Further down, there is a pristine stream, by which you can sit and bask in the warm sun.
Tripura Sundari Temple
This three-storeyed temple has been constructed in the traditional, Himachali architectural style. Tripura Sundari is the patron goddess of the locals, who believe that she protects them and their town. It is said that the temple was made by the goddess herself, and that the goddess turned into a spider after she made the temple, which is why the structure resembles a web. The temple houses idols of Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Lakshmi, as well as a small idol of a demon – Tripura Rakshasa – along with the congregation of gods.
Walks and Treks
At the end of the day though, there isn’t that much else to do in Naggar per se, and a trek is the best way of enjoying that natural beauty the town has to offer. There are many agents in town who will arrange treks according to your level of expertise. Contact Poonam Mountain Lodge (Tel: 01902-248248; Cell: 09418149827) or Soham’s Chateau de Naggar (Cell: 09805545408).
You could trek to Malana through the Chanderkhani Pass or to Sarahan over Pin Parvati. One option is to take the main road, in front of the Tripura Sundari Temple that disappears in the forest after a few steps. If you are willing to walk alone in the wilderness, then follow the road and it will take you through the forest, past solitary houses and orchards till you reach a Krishna temple at the top.
For something longer and more arduous, trek to the village of Rumsu, 5 km away via the main road through Naggar. Alternatively, there is a shorter route of only 3 km, but this entails a treacherous climb over rocks. A colourful little village, Rumsu can be walked around in half an hour. You could also take the Nishala Walk. The 3-km walk follows an almost level road lined with dense forest. Perched on a slope, facing lush rice and mustard fields, Nishala is a village typical of Kullu.
Where to stay and eat
HPTDC runs the Hotel Castle (Tel: 01902-248316; Tariff: INR 1,400-4,300; hptdc.nic.in), which has a charming location. Ragini Guest House (Tel: 248185; Tariff: INR 1,000-1,400; www.naggarragini.com) has lovely rooms and a rooftop restaurant. Sheetal Guest House (Tel: 248250, Cell: 09218073211; Tariff: INR 900-3,000; www.hotelsheetalnaggar.com) has rooms overlooking the valley. Soham’s Chateau de Naggar (Cell: 09805545408; Tariff: INR 1,000-2,000; www.chateaudenaggar.com) has spacious rooms with good views. The in-house restaurant serves excellent food. Span Resort & Spa (Tel: 240538; Cell: 09805540842; Tariff: INR 12,000-18,100; www.spanresorts.com) is located on the Kullu-Manali Highway and has excellent dining options, a spa, and a swimming pool.
Purnima Guest House (Tel: 248219; Cell: 09816003795; Tariff: INR 1,000-1,500), near the Naggar Castle, overlooks the valley below, and has clean rooms and a lovely garden. They have no restaurant.
There are quite a lot of food options in Naggar. Try the restaurant in Hotel Naggar Castle. There is a German Bakery, which serves great cakes and cookies, while Under the Parachute has excellent pizzas in. There are a lot of bakeries and restaurants in town. Trout fish and local food is highly recommended.