A day in Naggar
All too often we find ourselves close to either Kullu or Manali. It may be because we’re about to begin a trek that starts from somewhere in the area. It could be because we’re heading to Ladakh via the Manali-Leh Highway. Sometimes we’re getting back from Spiti via Lahaul and we naturally end up in Manali. At other times we’re just kicking-back and taking a vacay around the area.
All too often, a trip to the mountains, be it a trek, a road-trip or a laid-back vacation, starts with an acclimatisation trip to this area of Himachal Pradesh.
And hence, the lack of ‘Things to do’.
So next time you’re in the area, make it a point to visit this charming little ex-capital of the ‘Kingdom of Kullu’, #Naggar, a very short drive away from our old friends, Kullu or Manali.
East of Kullu, a little higher, Naggar charms with the variety of activities it offers, despite of how small the village is.
Here’s how to spend one awesome day in sleepy Naggar :
First things first, go pick a bottle of organic fruit wine that is specially fermented in the mountains to keep you feeling warm and lovely all day. Right opposite Ragini Guesthouse, this wine shop has a surprisingly decent variety of wine in subtle fruity flavours and colours. For 13% alcohol, beautiful bottles, and a buzz that lasts all day, this wine is not just easily accessible but also quite affordable!
Breakfast at Ragini
Beeaking fast before or after the wine is a decision that is solely yours to make. Either way, head to Ragini’s rooftop cafe for some yum breakfast and an awesome view. Whether the sun shines bright on you that morning or clouds raid the valley in front of you, the food, the staff and the view will keep you content and wanting to come back. The menu has a lot to offer, so you can probably head here for lunch or dinner as well!
Overlooking the best of Kullu Valley and Beas, Naggar Castle was built in the sixteenth century by Raja Sidh Singh. The architecture is (medieval) Western Himalayan, giving the castle an old-world look and a foundation that has withstood serious earthquakes. The stone work, the wood carvings, the fireplaces, the temples and the weeping willow make for quite a raw and earthy feel that takes you back to a simpler time.
Lunch at Naggar Castle
Post exploring the Castle, you can head for lunch at their restaurant, that serves some fine Indian, Continental and Chinese food and a mind-blowing view of the valley!
Roerich Art Gallery
After chilling at the Castle for a while, head to what we’d probably vote the most interesting space in Naggar. It is an estate that belonged to a Russian painter, writer and archaeologist (among other noteworthy titles), Nicholas Roerich and his wife Elena. Perceived by some in Russia as an ‘enlightener’, and bearing the title ‘Master of the Himalayas’, artistically Roerich was the most brilliant Russian painter of his time. After travelling in India and around extensively, he settled in Naggar in 1928 in this beautiful estate overlooking the valley. The estate reflects Russian architecture and interiors and houses his hypnotic paintings of the landscapes, majorly in the Himalayas. The upper floor preserves his private rooms. There’s also a little shop next to the museum that sells prints and postcards.
There are many street kitchens around Naggar that aren’t exactly commercial. No menus, no seating areas and no official billing. Explore a little and you’ll come across these places selling fresh cooked dinner with chapatis/rice to locals. They usually don’t expect tourists to buy from them, but if you do head to one such kitchen, they’ll greet you warmly and willingly cook extra for you. The one we encountered served dry, spicy chicken with fresh chapatis and we spent our night watching Breaking Bad and hogging on this lovely meal with our strawberry wine!
These are minutes of a day well-spent in Naggar. But if you’re up for a longer stay, Naggar does have some comfortable guesthouses and hotels to stay in. You may also stay here for a couple of days and then head to Rumsu village, a short and wonderful hike uphill from Naggar. Rumsu is a quiet, pleasing village, perfect for a chilled-out vacation in the mountains.
But that story is for another blog!