Culture of Manali – Music, Dance, Arts and Crafts

Home » Culture of Manali – Music, Dance, Arts and Crafts

Nestled away in the Himalayan hills of Himachal Pradesh Manali has a culture that is rooted in its ancient past. People have been living in Manali much before the British decided to make it their summer capital. It remained cut off from civilization and commercialization for a really long time which helped shape the cultural and traditional foundation of the people’s beliefs.

If you have a keen eye while traveling you will notice that the local people of Manali dress up differently, celebrate festivals and fairs distinctive to that area and even speak in their own dialect. The culture of Manali can be defined as a combination of rural and traditional. The enchanting slopes and mystical forest of Manali are not only home to the local inhabitants here but it coexists peacefully with the surrounding nature which is also depicted through their culture.

So the next time you are in Manali learning about their culture would make your holiday experience even more wholesome. Here is everything you need to know about the culture of Manali:


India is a colorful subcontinent with every state having its own musical culture which creates a beautiful combination of rhythms and harmony. In the same manner, Manali is also home to a unique culture of music and singing. They have specific songs for very specific occasions like marriage, festivals, fairs, devotional and party music! For example ‘Jhoori’ is a type of song that celebrates extramarital romance and as bizarre as it may sound to other people, for the hill people there is music for everything imaginable. Laman songs of Kullu Valley are also hugely popular with traditional Manali folks. During festivals, Samskara songs fill the air which is sung mainly by the local women. These types of songs are entirely based on ragas that are the compositions of Indian classical music.

The folk music of Manali also features some amazing musical instruments that include percussion, wind instruments, and strings. There are also many non-percussion instruments that add beauty to any song effortlessly like gongs, tongs, cymbals, and various bells. Shehnai, flute, twin flutes, and trumpets are also important in folk musical performances.


From worshipping the lord to welcoming a different season or during some special occasion, Manali has specific dances set for almost every specific event. The folk dance in the Kullu district is called Naati which is very popular across the state as well. It is performed on almost any special occasion like marriages but also as a way of worshipping the Lord. The dance is done by both male and female performers where the music is carried on with instruments like Dhol, Magara, Shehnai, Karnal, and Ranasinghe, most of which are used in many other dance performances.

While performing dance women wear traditional Kulluvi Woollen clothes which are called Pattu. This Pattu is secured using pins and silver chains on top of their traditional wear. They wear headgear as well and complete the look by wearing handmade footwear as well. Male dancers make sure to wear long Woollen coats, which are secured with smaller pieces of clothes called Doris. A woolen cap and hanging garland made of colorful pieces of clothes complete the look.

In order to entertain the tourist, the government of Himachal Pradesh organizes Naati dance and other local folk dance performances on mall road to entertain and educate the tourists about the rich culture of Manali. Did you know that in 2019, over 8,000 female dancers of Kullu valley danced together to create the world record of most number of female dancers doing Naati in one go?

Arts and Crafts

Visiting Manali is not just about the beautiful scenic views that you get experienced everywhere, it is further enhanced when you get to learn all about the traditional heritage and culture of Manali. It is not just a source of livelihood for the locals to make arts and crafts but it captures the true essence of the bygone era that has shaped the culture of Manali. Most of the raw materials for the arts and crafts in Manali are sourced from naturally occurring products in the vicinity. In order for the tourists to truly feel the Manali vibe, you can buy traditional souvenirs like excellent Jewellery pieces, wooden sculptures, embroidered shawls, leather clothing items, and gemstones, cute little Jewellery boxes. They also display an incredible collection of carpets and rugs with unique patterns, floral designs, and interesting ethnic drawings on them.

Way of Life

The culture and customs followed by the locals of Manali and other parts of Himachal Pradesh are very important to them. They have been following the same customs and traditions for a very long time now and intend on doing so for a very long time. The regular way of life in Manali is heavily influenced by the tribal rules, local cultures, and traditions which are mostly centered around respecting and offering prayer to the lord, nature, and the coexisting creations that they are surrounded by. They believe that if they offer their prayers and respect to the creators and nature then they will invite good luck into their lives and nature will be good to them.

The locals are mainly dependent on artisanal activities and agriculture for their livelihood. Other than that over time, tourism has also become one of the most important sources of income for the locals in Manali. The rich, preserved, and traditional past of Manali is resonated perfectly through their works of art, dance forms, and language.

Language and religion

Time and again we have learned that Manali is home to many different tribes and communities. So it goes without saying that there are many different types of languages spoken in Manali who also follow different religious practices, many of which remain unheard of. Some of the most iconic festivals celebrated in Manali are Dussehra, Hadimba Devi Temple fair and Losar festival, Doongri festival, and even the Tibetan new year. These festivals show that Pahari festivals and fairs depict the age-old culture of Manali.

The culture of Manali is all about color, vibrancy, harmony, and love. Everything about the people of Manali represents what they believe and stand for.

Suggested Tours

About Manali