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Local Culture

On days when you come in early or we are unable to ski, the surrounding countryside provides ample opportunities for shopping, walking, photography, exploring the local culture or just relaxing. Many guests have commented that they would have arranged their itinerary to include more time in the Kullu valley had they known of the variety of activities that are available there.

The lower reaches of the Himalaya have been inhabited by the local Pahari folk for eons. No one knows when they first came to the area. Many of the local temples are revered as sacred spots by people throughout India. In the summer months it is common to meet pilgrims who have travelled from all over India. In winter the locals have less agricultural work and spend much of their time finishing household chores such as spinning wool and weaving (the valley is renowned for woollen handicrafts). In addition to completing domestic chores, the winter provides an opportunity for the fulfilment of religious obligations. As a result, many religious celebrations are performed throughout the winter months.

Village life in the valley is little changed from that of many centuries ago. Greater education and exposure to outside ideas have not altered the outward appearance of life in the villages. Outside opportunities have not led to an exodus from the valley, and few who have been born in the valley ever leave it permanently. HHA employs a “cultural interpreter” to accompany the guests on tours to villages and to explain the sights. These activities are what set HHA aside from other heli-skiing operations. We would like to show our guests the charm of a different pace of life, and hopefully explain some of the underlying philosophies.

Nikolai Roerich, a Russia émigré artist and explorer, lived in the valley in the 1920s. When Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space) was asked what the earth looked like from space, he said “I feel like I am looking at a Roerich painting”. One of the largest collections of Roerich paintings is housed at a place called Naggar, where Roerich established a small artistic community. Viewing the paintings in Naggar, where some were painted, puts the images in a different perspective as opposed to viewing them in a museum or private collection.

Hot springs, temples, art galleries, the local ski field (very small), bootleggers, Tibetan monasteries, the Manali bazaar and many other exotic sights await you. The Himalaya is not just a ski experience but a complete cultural experience. This means that any non-skiing days will not be wasted idling in the lodge.