Visit Kotgarh – Best of Kotgarh, Himachal Pradesh Travel 2020
Kotgarh is known as the apple bowl of India. It is situated at an 7000ft on the old Hindustan-Tibet road and is 82km far from Shimla City. Kotgarh is famous for Apples and massive orchards. Kotgarh is 16km from the National Highway. Kotgarh was once a richest village of Asia.
The region was run by Gurkhas but in 1815 Britishers defeated Gurkhas and thus making Kotgarh a British Territory. The missionary work was encouraged in Kotgarh making it a mission station along with Kangra, Dharamshala and Simla (now Shimla). The apple cultivation in Kotgarh began in the early 1900s. Once Kotgarh was an unproductive area but now it is considered as one of the wealthiest regions in Himachal Pradesh.
In 1916, Samuel Stokes came to Kotgarh as a Missionary Worker. Samuel Stokes was a social worker from Philadelphia, USA. Stokes was involved with the spreading of Christian Religion. Samuel Stokes was attracted to the beauty and the culture of Kotgarh and eventually settled here. He married a local Rajput Christian Teenager named Agnes Benjamin. Even though the sole purpose of Samuel Stokes was to promote Christianity in India, he converted from Christian to Hindu. Samuel Stokes changed his name to Satyanand Stokes. He set up a Apple Farm and cultivated delicious variety of apples. The apples planted by him continued to reap a rich harvest even 100 years later. The Starking Delicious apple orchard planted by him can still be seen.
Kotgarh is a picturesque location and offers marvellous walks through pine forests and Apple Orchards. The scenic terraced fields with apple trees and bungalows is like a painted landscape.
Kotgarh has deep cultural roots from way of dressing to celebration of life. This place is endowed with a slew of rich and diverse cultures including societal mores, music, languages and architecture.
The Traditional dress of women compromises of the following
• Rezta – Long Dress
• Dhatu – Head Scarf
• Saluka – Waist Coat
During the winter season ( Generally November to March ) the women wear a woolen garment called Phakti.
The men wear a Kurta, a pyjama and a Saluka
Kotgarh has traditional Pahari Baja – A set of musical instruments that graces all festive occasions like marriages and fairs known as Jatar. The Baja belongs to the Gods (Local Devtas). The Baja is highly respected and honoured.
The Pahari Baja consists of:
• Two Large Dhols
• Nagaras or Half Drums
• Bhana or Metal Plate
• Shehnai ( Sarnai ) – for playing melodies notes
• Kawari – long instrument that makes low frequency sound
• Two pairs of Karnals ( low frequency horns)
• Narsingha ( S shaped Frequency Horns)
The Pahari Baja is used for Jatars (local fairs) for accompanying the Devtas ( local Gods ). The Baja is also used during the social functions and marriages.
The local dance is known as NATI which is played on a local Baja. The combination of the Baja (music) and the Nati (dance) around is one of the most enjoyable festival activity in Kotgarh. Nati is a four-beat dance rythm, every beat is unevenly matched which makes it sound different from any other four-beat rhythm. Nati is perfomed in an open area. There is an other form of dance performed in Indoors which is called “Bhitru Nach”, in which the songs are oftenly related to mythology. Dholki, Khangri and Tahli are used in Bhitru Nach.
The old songs here are related to religion, love stories, heroic tales and wars.
Fairs of Kotgarh and Nearby Areas
There are many festivals and fairs are celebrated in the valley to welcome different seasons. The local deities are invited to these amazing festivals along with the local Pahari Baja. The Nati is performed on every celebration by forming a semi-circle.
The main Fairs include:
• Mela Faag (March)- Devtas are invited by the king of Bushar on the occasion of Holi Festival.
• Dhada Thirshu (April)- Fair of the year which marks the setting of Apple crop.
• Krangla ka Bishu- April
• Bhutti Jagra.- May
• Shraugh Jatar -16th June
• Dudh Bali -26th June
• Tani Jubbar- 30th June
• Lavi mela (Rampur) – 11th November
• Tharu ka Thirshu- last mela (Toward the end of year)
There are a lot of dishes which are prepared in a traditional way, the most popular dishes are:
• Pakain – Wheat flour stuffed fried bread
• Siddu – Steamed Leavened bread with stuffing of
• Baturu – Bread made out of fermented flour on griddle
• Indra – Made out of kulth dal and Deshard Allo (Arbi)
• Dhindra – A combination of Basin flour and Arbi leaves
•Baahdi – A combination of wheat, sugar or salt, ghee and water
• Khatta – Curd and Whey cooked with spices
• Laphi – Made with a grind of corn like porridge
• Lauta – Pancake of wheat flour
• Delle ki chutney- Chutney made of apricot kernel
• Brunj – Sweetened fried rice in ghee
• Sera – Sweet dish cooked in ghee from the extract of wheat grain.
• Red rice – Special rice grown in himalayan glaciated-water-fed farms
• Kodha roti – Indian flat bread made from Kodha
• Makki roti –Corn flour Indian flat bread served with fresh white butter
These are some eatables which are gathered from the forests
• Kungshi- Nettle leaves, which are used as stuffings.
• Raichi – Wild Mushrooms
• Lingude – A fiddle head fern rich in Iron
• Gucchi – Wild mushroom that grows post lightening
• Braltu- Fresh green vegetable
This place is a must visit. Did you liked the post? Let us know in the comments