Kullu and Manali has several outlets selling the valley’s famous Kullu shawls. Woollen goods are the town’s real forte, particularly the beautifuly woven shawls for which the Kullu Valley is famous. Genuine pure-wool handloom Kullu Shawls with embroidered borders start at around ₹600, but those made from finest pashmina cost several thousand rupees. The local name for Kullu is the “Valley of the Gods”, but it might be better described as the "Valley of Shawls". Kullu is the gathering place for approximately 290 gods from different temples in the region. Kullu in Himachal Pradesh is famous for the Dussehra festival.
The majestic Kullu Valley is surrounded by the Pir Panjal Range to the north, the Parvati Range to the east, and the Barabhangal Range to the west. Kullu Valley, watered by the Beas river, has long been a place of human habitation. This is heavenly Himachal Pradesh, with beautiful mountain villages, roaring rivers, thick pine forests and snow covered ridges.
In spite of the several changes in recent times, the Kullu Valley's way of life is still maintained in countless timber and stone villages. Known as paharis (“hill people”), the locals still use to wear the special Kullu topi (cap). The women, on the other hand, wear colorful headscarves, kullu shawls and puttoos fastened with silver pins and chains. Walk into the lush grasslands above the tree lines and you’ll easily find nomadic Gaddi shepherds with their sheep and the goats.
Shopping for Kullu Shawls
From Bhuntar to Manali the highway is lined with a number of shops selling traditional Kullu Shawls. These shwals are woven on wooden handlooms using wool from sheep, pashmina goats or angora rabbits. Handloom is one of the main industries in the Kullu Valley. Hence it provides an income for thousands of locals, many of whom have organised themselves into shawl-weaving cooperatives. For high quality, head to the nearest branch of Bhuttico (www.bhutticoshawls.com), the Bhutti Weavers Cooperative. Established in 1944 by a group of village women.
Kullu Shawl Price Range
Bhuttico charges fixed prices and has outlets in most major towns. Expect to pay upwards of Rs 300 for lambswool, from Rs 1000 for angora, from Rs 3000 for pashmina and Rs 6500 for the exquisitely embroidered shawls worn by village women.
Kullu Shawls in Manali
Manali is packed with souvenir shops selling souvenirs from Himachal, Tibet and Ladakh. Shop around and check out the fixed-price factory shops to get an idea of what’s available. Kullu Shawls are sold all over Manali. A good place to start with is the cooperative Bhuttico (Telephone: 01902-260079; The Mall), which charges fair, fixed prices. The Bodh Shawl factory shop just off The Mall south of the bus stand and The Great Hadimba Shop next to the Manu Temple in Old Manali are recommended. Several other cooperatives have shops around The Mall, innumerable stalls are stacked with handwoven goods.
Furthermore, Manali’s other specialties are Tibetan goods such as prayer wheels, amulets, dorjee/dorji (thunderbolts), masks and thangkas (Tibetan Buddhist painting on cloth). Few of the items are hawked as antiques are genuine but it takes an expert eye to spot a fake. The same applies to silver jewellery inlaid with turquoise and coral, which can nonetheless be attractive and relatively inexpensive.
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