This is a world, secluded from civilization, with a handmade culture of it’s own. Kinnaur, in Himachal Pradesh on the Indo-Tibetan border still has households, weaving one of the finest and most time-consuming weaves in wool but absolutely cut off from the rest of the world because of a variety of reasons: the inaccessibility of the area, topography, climate but most of all, because of their lack of trust in modern civilization. Their technique of weaving was stolen from them over a century ago and has been commercialized vastly. They refuse to sell their shawls. They refuse to commercialize their heritage.

Q What is the meaning of Kinnauri?

Kinnaur is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh and the Kinnaris have been weaving shawls for centuries.

Q Are Kinnauri shawls under the GI tag?

Yes, the Kinnauri Shawls are registered under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999 on 4 December 2008.

Q What is the typical feature of Kinnauri shawl?

The Kinnauri Shawl is a blend of two weaves: A basic weave for the ground and body fabric and extra-weft for the design.

Q Is Kinnauri shawl woven for commercial use?

The Kinnaris have been weaving shawls for centuries, with the sole purpose of intra-familial requirements. The shawls are not woven for commercial purposes, but to suffice the needs of the family members.

Rate us and Write a Review

Your Rating for this listing


Your review is recommended to be at least 140 characters long



The Kinnaris have been weaving shawls for centuries, with the sole purpose if intra-familial requirements. The shawls are not woven for commercial purposes, but to suffice the needs of the family members. To weave a pashmina wool shawl, they wait for two-three years to accumulate the wool and prepare it for weaving. They need just enough wool to weave shawls and coats for their own family members. They do not feel the need to sell the shawls. The basic twill weave shawls are for everyday use, whereas the ones bearing design are worn on special occasions such as weddings and festivals, and hence is passed on from one generation to the next. The intricately woven shawls are also made as offerings to Parvati and Shiva, Indian mythological Gods worshipped extensively in the area. The shawls are also used as basis to judge the boy and his family by the girl’s family when the two get together for wedlock. The more abundance of shawls and the precision of work define a boy’s patience and manhood and hence, are very important in their socio-cultural norms.

Today, the usage of these shawls has not changed much. A few households in the administrative headquarters of Kinnaur, Reckong-peo, have little shops where they sell them locally but most of the households still weave them for their own requirements.


Each Kinnauri family keeps a small quantity of wool to meet its own requirements. After sheep is sheared, its wool is washed and dried. Combing is done with wooden combs. During leisure, especially in winter when there is no agricultural work, families spin wool on ‘takli’, a local spindle which later banuras or julahas weave on traditional looms. The Kinnaris have immense respect and love for their art form and have strived through the years to retain its beauty, exclusivity and honour. The intricately designed Kinnari shawl is supposed to be an article of festivals and auspicious occasions. When a baby is born in the house, he/she is first wrapped in a soft pashmina shawl. The kids of the house start helping their fathers out in weaving shawls from when they are toddlers and slowly they too grasp the knowledge and become skilled weavers by the time they reach their teens. The boys weave shawls and fabrics till marital age with much care and precision, because these are shown to the girl’s family as a basis to judge the boy’s character and also given as dowry to the girl’s family. Shawls are gifted to the girl for her wedding by her parents, woven by the father usually. These shawls are worn on special occasions and the family makes sure that every member own one of them at least.

Myths & Legends:

Hinduism houses the cult ‘Shaivism’, worship of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva’s abode is said to be the Kailash Mountain. One peak, visible from all of Kinnaur, is the Kinnar Kailash and this is supposed to be where Shiva lives. For years, Shivaratri has been celebrated with much dedication in Kinnaur. However, Buddhism has had a major influence on the culture of the religion. There is a particular tale which exists in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology, which is said to have given Kinnaur its existence:

“In Buddhist mythology and Hindu mythology, a kinnara is a paradigmatic lover, a celestial musician, half-human and half-horse (India) or half-bird (south-east Asia). Their character is clarified in the Adi parva of the Mahabharata, where they say: ‘we are everlasting lover and beloved. We never separate. We are eternally husband and wife; never do we become mother and father. No offspring is seen in our lap. We are lover and beloved ever embracing. In between us we do not permit any third creature demanding affection. Our life is a life of perpetual pleasure.

They are also featured in a number of Buddhist texts, including the Lotus Sutra. An ancient Indian string instrument is known as the Kinnari Veena. In Southeast Asian mythology, Kinnaris, the female counterpart of Kinnaras, are depicted as half-bird, half-woman creatures. One of the many creatures that inhabit the mythical Himavanta, giving birth to a land called Kinnaur. Kinnaris have the head, torso, and arms of a woman and the wings, tail and feet of a swan. She is renowned for her dance, song and poetry, and is a traditional symbol of feminine beauty, grace and accomplishment.


Kinnaur remains cut-off from surrounding valleys during its long snowy winters. So the hazards of severe cold weather and long distances to remote, almost inaccessible, villages nestling in its mountains have made Kinnaris develop a largely self-supporting economy. Weaving is a way of life with Kinnaris.

Although the “Silk Road”‘ is by far the most famous network of trade routes connecting China, Central Asia, and India, there are other significant, ancient trade routes between these regions of which many may not be aware. One such trade route, known informally as the “wool road”, connected the plains of the Punjab in India to Tibet, Central Asia and China. This route, and several others, passed through the Kullu and Kinnaur regions of the northern Indian state known as Himachal Pradesh. The “wool road”, which was really merely a donkey trail, was the traditional main trade route in the region, and was so important that it was later widened to motor able width to boost trade in the region and came to be known as the Hindus tan-Tibet road”. Two groups of artisans that can be found along this important route are the weavers of Kullu and Kinnaur. Their strategic location on these routes caused their weaving to be greatly influenced by the ancient trade and traffic along it. Their weaving traditions have a long and intertwined history and their shawls are quite famous throughout India; however, their distinct and skillful weaving is nearly unknown to the outside world. With the existence of the wool road, there has been a virtual extensive interaction of various cultures, religions and people. This is where the interesting twist to Kinnaur’s folk history lies. Hinduism evolved there a few hundred years before Buddhism. Kinnari language, their style of clothing, their homes and lifestyle have an aura of Buddhism to it and this has, over the years, shone in their weaves, through their motifs.

There is a blend of Hindu and Buddhist culture that is largely visible. The Temples in Kinnaur have architecture similar to those of monasteries and the royal palace of Kinnaur too has a very Tibetan feel to it, though the king’s lineage has primarily been Hindu. Today, most of the population is Hindu, owing to an urge to be related to the main religion of the country they belong to, during the years of Independence and constant pushes from the new Government of the Republic, just born. Kinnaris are not villagers, they have always considered themselves to be a tribe and find a mutual sense of belonging there. For years, they have maintained a certain lifestyle and they are content in it. They believe they have their own identity and that is, what they want to preserve, for as long as they can; their art form being the prime of that.


The Kinnauri Shawl is of a very typical kind. It is a blend of two weaves: A basic weave for the ground and body fabric and extra-weft for the design. The basic weave for the body and ground is twill. Twill is used in all its forms: Basic twill, pointed twill, herringbone twill and basket weaves. All designs are done on four shafts. In Kinnauri shawls, it is believed that the finer and the heavier the design, the wealthier and better, the family background. When a boy is to be married, the girl’s family shows the entire range of shawls, the family has woven. It is a criterion by which the marriage is finalized. The extra-weft is done just for the design, where knotting and changing lifting orders do every part of it singularly. The design happens on both the ends and goes on till half a metre towards the main body. The ground fabric is usually naturally coloured wool and includes the basic colours- black, white, cream, grey, brown or a mix of any two. The shawl is usually made of the size: 3 metres in length and 1 metre in breadth. 

Weavers across the globe have been calculating the design of their weaves on cross- hatched paper for centuries. Today, it is called graph Paper. It ensures that you know the exact number of wefts per repeat and plays a very essential role in the determination of the smoothest drafting and lifting orders. But in Kinnaur, there is no such definite rule the locals follow to weave the shawls. Since there is no commercialization, they don’t find the need to form new varieties of designs. In every household, the children grow up seeing their parents weave and pick up on the designs hence. The kinds of designs in Kinnauri weaving are limited, but they are used in a variety of way and in a variety of forms. The design is made using the extra-weft technique of weaving. In most handlooms, the extra-weft can be woven along with the ground fabric. In the Kinnauri shawls, every single part of the design is woven using the knotting method where the weft is inserted by hand and to lock the design, the lifting pattern is formed. The Kinnauri design is so fine that it takes over six months to make a shawl with heavy work-. The weavers spend the entire winters inside their houses, weaving these shawls. The room where the design bearing shawls are woven is kept under lock and key for their belief that-it is the wealth they possess. This method of extra-weft weaving is not practiced anywhere else except Kinnaur and Kullu.


1)   Kinnaur is the largest producer and exporter of hydroelectric power in Asia. There are 58 hydroelectric projects and dams lined up on the River Sutlej from Tapri in Kinnaur and it carries on till Lahaul. These hydroelectric power projects by the Jaypee Group of Industries are worth billions of dollars every month and to create them, it required large -scale displacement of the locals living along the Sutlej. In the year 2001, there were groups of men who went to every settlement along the Sutlej and negotiated with the locals to take money for their land and in some rare cases, gave them land elsewhere along with money. They were promised that no matter where they settle in Kinnaur, their electric power-cuts would be taken care of. Before the power plants were set up, Kinnaur experienced power cuts, which lasted for a day or two, especially during bad weather. The locals happily obliged. Once the power plants were set up, they realized they were tricked heavily. They experienced power cuts everyday for six to seven hours and every fortnight they experience power-cuts that continue for days. The longest they have experienced is in 2008, for five months in a row. This was a blow to the Kinnaris and they gave up all their faith in modern civilization. This disbelief and mistrust shield them from sharing their crafts and lives with outsiders, making stagnation but it are a good thing, in a way.

2) The elevation in Kinnaur ranges from 9,000 feet above sea level to a whopping 22,000 feet. It experiences snow cover as deep as 20-feet for over six months a year. It lies on the Indo- Tibetan border and 50 per cent of it falls under restricted cantonment area. There are no airports or railway stations. All there is are two highways. One entering Kinnaur through the Shipki-La Pass in Lahaul and the other entering through Tapri. The former highway is shut for over six months a year, leaving just one narrow snaked road through the Greater Himalaya, the only way to enter and exit Kinnaur. Kinnaur’s climate falls on the extreme cold. When it’s not snowing, it is either foggy or rainy. If it is rainy, there are landslides and if there are landslides, the highway breaks from the middle and falls into the Sutlej, blocking Kinnaur for days till the Municipal Corporation arrives and rebuilds the highway. Locals are used to these disturbances and very easily cross landslides with sacks of cereal and other goods. Local deaths by road accidents are plenty and a very usual part of their lives. This inaccessibility to Kinnaur results in minimal tourism and lack of communication with the outside world. It is still unexplored to the core. The craft of Kinnari Shawls hence has vastly remained in the local circuit with hardly any word of it outside

3) The very famous Kullu Shawls, woven in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. They are very similarly done, as the Kinnari Shawls. Well, they were picked up from Kinnaur over a century ago and their technique was used to create a wider variety of designs and shawls for the commercial market. These shawls are also made by hand and are done by artisans and not power looms. But the Kinnaris are deeply affected by it. They are skeptical about talking about it because they feel that their culture and an integral part of their lives has been stolen from them and passed out to the world in exchange for a couple of paper notes. They believe that one winter night, over a hundred years ago, people from Kullu entered Kinnaur and raved it of its wealth. Lore goes, that they broke into homes of innocent people and took whatever they could find. That is when they saw their looms. They found the shawls and learnt their technique of weaving. They left after a couple of days and within a span of a few months, they were wearing and selling filthy commercial versions of the Kinnari Shawls. Soon, the Kullus began to believe it is their pride and began wearing the designs on their caps and socks. For the Kinnaris, this was disrespecting their auspicious beliefs. That is when they decided to guard their heritage and keep the world away from the actual traditional Kinnari Shawls. They today refuse to sell these shawls to any outsider because they feel their culture will be misused again. They say their heart breaks when some tourist sees the Kinnari Shawls and asks them whether they bought it in Kullu. They refuse to share their knowledge with any person they don’t have faith in and hence have become very introvert about their lives.

Its time, that as torch bearers of this generation that we take the onus upon us that the faith of the Kinnari weavers in the world outside will be restored and that they will believe that there are people out there who respect their work and will help them preserve it. If they do not want the weaves to be treated as a commodity. it wont be so. – They are very humane and require a spark of humanity from the vast world outside Kinnaur. They too are waiting for a miracle, just like us. Its time that we make sure that the craft doesn’t die among the snow laden mountains of the Greater Himalayas just like it was born there and has survived for so long.

Introduction Process:

Raw Materials:

Owing to globalization, today’s markets are flooded with machine-spun and synthetic wool which are easily affordable and cut down majorly on production costs. These come in handy to meet demands in the growing markets all over the world. Kinnari weaving, fortunately, has not been commercialized, owing to the lack of trust that locals here have in the modern world and inaccessibility to the area. Kinnaris live in fifteen feet of snow for eight months a year. Every family has their own flock of sheep, which they rear as part of their family. It is these sheep that they still derive their wool from. Majorly, the mountain sheep gives them coarse merino wool whereas the handful of pashminas that some families own, is not enough to suffice for weaving even a single shawl in a whole year. They spin yarn to make heedles using cotton, which they get from the local markets and merino wool. For the shuttle, they use a kind of fruit, which looks like a baton and is hollow from inside. They cut it in half and fill the weft yarns inside which when thrown from one end of the loom to the other acts as a shuttle. All the raw material they use is derived naturally for solely home purposes.

Tools & Tech:

The loom: The first looms made by mankind were Pit-looms. The earliest traces of the pit-loom dates back to the Egyptian Civilization, over 5,000 years ago. With the silk-route forte, handlooms were designed and then only in the late eighteenth century, during the Industrialization Period, did power-looms arrive. Handlooms are time seeking looms but they are pretty fast when compared to the pit-loom. In Kinnaur, they refer to a pit-loom as a ‘Rachh’ and use nothing but that. They believe handlooms are an easy way out of things and are nothing less than power-looms. Hence, with that thought, they still work on pit-looms where every single step is done by hand. The pit-loom has one end of the warp beam tied on top to a diagonal spot on the wall or the roof of the room it is used in while the yarns at the other end were pulled down and tied in front of the weaver. The wood used in the making of the loom is that of fir and deodar and is made by the local wood artisan. The weaver himself ties the heedles of the loom one at a time using yarn. The reed is made by slicing bamboo into small thin strips of 2mm thickness and then nailed to two wooden planks on both ends, closely spaced to get a comb-like structure. The loom, being on the ground is very wobbly and the weave turns out to be a very course, spaced one which in turns traps more air in the empty spaces keeping the wearer of the shawl toasty warm.

Takli (the spindle): Each Kinnauri family keeps a small quantity of wool to meet its own requirements. After sheep is sheared, its wool is washed and dried. Combing is done with wooden combs. During leisure, especially in winter when there is no agricultural work, families spin wool on ‘takli’, a local spindle which is broader and more rugged than the usual spindle, changing the count of the yarn and resulting in a coarse final weave which provides more insulation and warmth to the fabric bearer.

Yarn (Cots wool): The shafts and heedles of the pit-loom are made tying handspun cots-wool yarn in loops, unlike the handlooms and power-looms, where they are made of metal.

The shuttle: The shuttle is made using a locally available fruit. It is hollowed and it is cylindrical, shaped like a one-ended pipe. The wool is looped into it and then used as a shuttle.

Repair tool kit: Every weaver has a repair tool kit consisting of hammers, nails, saws and drills of various kinds (all manual) to fix anything on the loom if it goes wrong. Unlike handlooms and power-looms, these weavers are very much capable of fix that they or their forefathers had built without any exterior help.


The shawl or shawls that were to be woven in the winter months had an auspicious purpose attached for the following year. So, with the fall of the first snow, the weaver would weave a small sample of the shawl and go to pay homage to the local Shiva-Parvati temple for blessings and for the shawl to be made perfect for all the good work it is supposed to do.


Kinnari shawls do not have a motive of greed or money behind their execution, rather a social and cultural outlook in a non-patriarchal society. It is a piece of fabric, carrying generations of hard work, culture, religion, faiths and beliefs in it.Once they spin the wool procured from their sheep, they need to dye it for the shawls with designs. They do not dye the wool for weaving daily use shawls.

To dye the wool, they follow a very estranged process. To give the naturally dull colours a bright tint, they use a juice from the bile of sheep, which they cook in homemade butter for over three months and add it to the natural dyes. The reaction causes the colours to brighten. Bright colours are considered auspicious in their land, which is white for most part of the year and a stale brown for the rest.
The weaving of one Kinnari shawl takes up their entire winter of six-seven months. Weaving is slow and laborious on the pit-loom. For their loom, they use wood from the fir trees downhill and each loom lasts them for about sixty to hundred years.
First the loom is set up, which in itself is the job of about a fortnight. The drafting and denting is done carefully and instead of a reed hook, weavers use their hands to pull the threads through because unlike the metal heedles, the heedles on the pit-loom are made of hand spun cots-wool yarns.
Once the warp is set, the other end is tied to a hook behind the weaver to maintain proper tension. The weft yarns by then are compiled in loops and put inside a hollow pipe shaped fruit found in the region, which is used as the shaft to pass the weft threads through the warp yarns.
The body of the shawls are a simple twill weave. The time consuming part of the weave is the extra-weft weaving that has to be done to make the intricate designs. Each warp and weft end has to be counted to form the designs and unlike other weavers, they do not have graph sheets where they make their designs and set their mathematical counts. They have the designs and all the calculations in mind and they can very easily execute them without much physical calculation.


This craft, from the raw material to the finished product has no wastage of raw materials, fabric, yarn, electricity or any other added costs. Everything is well devised within the family and well accounted for it. The weaver is aware of the amount of the yarn that would be required for a season and sheds the exact amount of wool off the sheep. This results in no wastage or harming of the environment.

Cluster Name: ReckongPeo-Kinnaur


The most beautiful places on earth are either uninhabited or are unadulterated by civilization. Kinnaur is definitely one of these places. The region falls on the Indo-Tibetan border and is one of the highest places of the country. Kinnaur is known to be the Land of the Gods not only because it houses Kinnaur Kailas, which according to Indian Mythology is home to Lord Shiva but also because of its heavenly beauty.

District / State
ReckongPeo-Kinnaur / Himachal Pradesh

Pahari, Kalgi, Tibetan, Hindi, English
Best time to visit
Stay at
Local hotels or stay with locals
How to reach
Shimla-ReckongPeo, Manali/Kullu-ReckongPeo
Local travel
Bus, Taxi, Jeep, Mountain horses
Must eat
Pahari thali, Pahari-Tibetan fusion food


In the absence of authentic historical record, the early history of Kinnaur region is obscure and the reference of the 'Kinnaura' and their land is by and large confined to legends and mythological accounts. It would be worthwhile to look at the region of Kinnaur along with general conditions of northern India particularly the hilly regions of Himalayas during the period from 6th century B.C. India was divided in to sixteen great janpadas and several smaller ones. Among them Gandhara, Kamboja, Kuru, Koshal, Mull, Vajji, Panchal, Sakya were either in the southern Himalayas ranges or had territories extended up to Himalayans ranges. Among the states that were flourishing in the sixth century B.C, the kingdom of Magadha was the first to make a successful bid for supremacy under Bimbisara.

By the beginning of the fourteenth century the entire area of Kinnaur was divided in seven parts, locally called sat-khand. There was further splitting up and the area came to be covered with many small hegemonies, which were constantly warring against, or allying with, each other as conditions required. The neighboring Bhots also found time to jump into the fray and did not desist from creating trouble. There are various forts like labrang, Morang, and Kamru, which tell the story of that age.
In the medieval period, though some of the hill states such as Kangra, Chamba and Sirmaur were attacked and made tributary to the Mughal emperor at Delhi, Bushahr state could not be reached by any adventurer of that time. The consolidation and addition of territories of the Bushahr state continued during this period also. The Thakoorais of Dulaitoo, Kurungoloo and Kuaitro were annexed in about 1611. Raja Chatar Singh who brought the whole area of the erstwhile Bushahr State under his control. He was considered the most virtuous ruler during his reign. Nothing in particular is known about his successor Kalyan Singh. The successor of Kalyan Singh according to genealogy was Raja Kehri Singh. He is known to be the highest skilled warrior of the time. Kehri Singh's successors were not of the same battle. Besides it is mentioned in the genealogy of Bushahr State, nothing is known about Vijay Singh and Udai Singh. It is said that one Raja Ram Singh made Rampur his capital in place of Sarahan and Kamru. During his reign a series of contests began with the Raja of Kullu and Bushahr had lost the territory of Seraj. It seems that the territories, which were annexed by Raja Kehri Singh, became free during the weak rule of Raja Rudra Singh. But his successor Ugar Singh took them over by force of arms.

According to Punjab states Gazetteer-Shimla hill States from 1803 to 1815 the erstwhile states of Bushahr faced the menace of Gurkha invasions. Immediately after the death of Raja Kehri Singh, the Gurkhas made massive attack on Bushahr. The minor ruler and his mother who could not withstand the attack fled away to Namru leaving behind a rich treasury at Sarahan. The Gurkhas looted the treasury and completely destroyed the records of the state. Keeping Gurkhas of Nepal had extended their dominions greatly during the end of the eighteenth century. Amar Singh Thapa, the Gurkha leader went up to Kangra valley. The superior forces of Ranjit Singh and those of Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra drew him from the valley. The tract between the Sutlej and Yamuna came under British protection by the treaty of 1809 between Ranjit Singh and the British Govt. Thus the British Government took a positive step to expel the Gurkhas and after a long and desperate struggle, completely defeated Amar Singh Thapa on 15th April 1815. On the conclusion of the Gurkha war Raja Mahendra Singh was granted a sanad on 6th November 1815. From the foregoing account it would appear that during the princely days Kinnaur valley acted as a bulwark to the Bushahr state. However with the lapse of the paramount, the Kinnaur then known as Chini tehsil was merged to form a part of then Mahasu district. Since 1947 it was a tehsil of the then Mahasu district. By 1960 the importance of reorganizing border area was realized and consequently in view of ethnic and cultural considerations the areas, which were partly in Rampur tehsil were reorganized into a separate District forming the present Kinnaur district.


Kinnaur is one of the twelve administrative districts of Himachal Pradesh. The district is divided into three administrative areas- Pooh, Kalpa and Nichar. The administrative headquarter of the Kinnaur district is Reckong-peo. As of the 2011, it is the least populous district of Himachal Pradesh, out of twelve, followed by Lahaul and Spiti. The district has three mountain ranges, the Zanskar, Himalayas and Dhauladhar that enclose valleys of Sutlej, Spiti and their tributaries. The region experiences three seasons. Winter spans from October to February. The summer months in Himachal are from March to June. By July, the rain begins and they end in September. In the winter months, the higher parts experience heavy snow- fall from December to March. The days and nights during this part of the year becomes very cold. Average snowfall at elevation above 3000 metres is perpetual snow. The main season of spring is from mid-February to March-April. The air is cool and fresh and colorful flowers adorn the valleys, forest slopes and meadows. In the hill stations, the climate is pleasant and comfortable.


A mountainous area, ranging in altitude from 2,320 metres to 6816 metres, Kinnaur is one of the smallest districts in India by population Most of Kinnaur enjoys a snow-rain driven climate for most of the year, due to its high elevation with long winters of thick snow from October to May. The lower parts of the Sutlej and Baspa Valley are more temperate and receive quite an amount of rainfall. The upper parts fall in the rain shadow area and these are arid areas having a climate similar to that of Tibet. Portions of Kinnaur are situated high in the Himalaya, where vegetation is sparse and consists primarily of hardy grasses. Alpine species such as juniper, pine, fir, cypress, and rhododendron can be found at elevations between 3,500 and 5,000 metres, primarily in Middle Kinnaur. At lower altitudes, temperate-climate trees are found, including oak, chestnut, maple, birch, alder, magnolia, apple, and apricot. Local farmers in the higher areas rear yaks and dzos. Scattered populations of the Himalayan black bear and small ponies may also be found.


Kinnaur lies way behind civilization when it comes to electricity and proper roads. One of the most hazardous terrains of the world, Kinnaur experiences high landslides because of constant rain and snow throughout the year. Many accidents claim lives. But Kinnaur is a heavy cantonment area, owing the which the roads and highways get mended and rebuilt with a day or two, opening passage for the army, locals and tourists alike. Every small village in Kinnaur that falls on the NH-8 is connected well to Manali, Kullu and Shimla by regular local buses.

Reckong-Peo, the district headquarter of Kinnaur has a medical facility, good but narrow roads, grocery shops, small 'dhabas', a big market place and a bus stand. It has two hotels next to the bus stand. Electricity is absent for more than half of every month, because of which water supplies dwindle if it does not rain. There is no dearth of food, and the medical facility is well equipped for the army and because of regular accidents and casualties. However, the villages above Reckong-peo have poor medical facilities and even worse electricity issues.


Among architectural marvels in Kinnaur, the Kamru Fort is one that strikes out from the innumerable Shiva and Parvati temples. The Kamru Fort looks similar to a tower, which has been made with the help of stuffing stones on the top of one another. The fort appears like a dignified architectural piece and is known to be quite a remarkable structure. All the temples in Kinnaur have a very Buddhist architectural style with pointed and curled spokes, extended corners from various floors, pointed tops and largely made of stone.

The houses in the area are two storeyed with a basement. The cattle are kept underground because they stay warmer when the outsides are covered in snow. The ground floor is where the looms are kept and the weaving is done. The first floor is where the families live. The houses are made of wood and metal and are centrally heated from basement to top with a piping system connected to a furnace on the ground floor. They have a food storage space for their cattle in the basement and for the family in upper floors for the six winter months when they cannot step out of their houses or take their cattle for grazing because of many feet of snow.


The people of lower Kinnaur are largely Hindu. Their most important gods and goddess are Durga (Chandi), Bhairon, Usha (Ukha), Narayan, Vishnu, Badrinath and Bhimakali. The Blacksmiths and Carpenters have their favorite deities such as Nag Devta. In addition, each village has its presiding deity. The inhabitants of middle Kinnaur are Buddhist as well as Hindu. The important Hindu deities of middle Kinnaur include Chandi, Gauri Shankar, Kansa and Narayanjee. Dabla, the local god of Kanam village, has certain features traditionally associated with the Bon religion. The image of Dabla is installed along with those of Buddha and Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) in one of the monasteries at Kanam. The religion of upper Kinnaur is mostly Tibetan Buddhist. Almost every village has a monastery with monks recruited from amongst the (Kanet).

Buddhism is the main religions in the district followed by Tibetan Buddhism, Bon is not practiced but some are mistakenly or bought by money. These three religions have undergone religious mixing, along with some indigenous shamanistic practices. One can see some Buddhist influences on the Hindu religion in Lower Kinnaur, the mixing of Buddhist and Hindu beliefs in varying degrees in Middle Kinnaur, and even the influence of Hinduism on Buddhism in Pooh of Upper Kinnaur. However, Buddhist Hangrang remains largely untouched by Hindu influence.
One can see Hindu gods being worshipped side by side with Buddhist deities in Buddhist and Hindu temples, especially in Middle Kinnaur. Dabla, one of the major Bon deities, is greatly revered by the Kinnaris in the area. Folk Hindu gods are also worshipped in Middle and Lower Kinnaur. These include the Durga (locally known as Chandi, Narayan, Vishnu) and many other folk Hindu' animist gods. Folk deities play a major role in the daily life of the Kinnaris.
Superstitions concerning animist ghosts such as Banchir, Rakshas, and Khunkch also play an important role in the belief system of the Kinnaris. Pujas and horns of domestic animals are used to ward off the evil spirits, in order to bring good luck.

Buddhist lamas play an important role in the daily life of the Kinnaris, and young monks of Upper and Middle Kinnaur are trained from a young age in conducting religious ceremonies, devoting their lives to Lamaism and learning to read Tibetan scriptures and Buddhist doctrines. When they become Lamas(male monks) and Chomos (female nuns), they are given religious duties, which include presiding over the religious and secular affairs of the Kinnaris. They are generally divided into two groups, namely, the celibate Gyolang, who shave their heads, and the non-celibate Durpu, who do not shave their heads.
The Kinnaur Kailash is the most sacred mountain for most Kinnaris. Every year it is visited by thousands of locals on religious pilgrimages known as Yatra, Hindu and Buddhist alike.


The present day Kinnaris do not constitute a homogenous group and display significant territorial and ethnic diversity. The people of lower Kinnaur are not very different from those in the Shimla district. They are mostly Hindus though through the years, there has been some Buddhist influence.

The people of middle Kinnaur are of mixed racial strain. Some have marked Mongoloid and others marked Mediterranean features. The predominant physical type of upper Kinnaur is Mongoloids who follow the Mahayana Buddhism. The Kinnaur society is divided into two broad occupational groups- peasants and the artisans possibly of diverse ethnic origin.
Generally Kinnaur houses have storerooms for keeping grain and dried fruits. Traditionally Kinnaris use utensils made mainly of brass and bronze. Clothes are mainly of wool. The thepang, a grey woolen cap is worn with a green velvet flap. The Tibetan chhuba, a long woolen coat, which resembles an achkan, is worn as well, with a sleeveless woolen jacket.
The staple food is wheat, Olga, phaphra and barley, which are local produce. The principle pulses produced are peas, black peas, mash and raj mash. The main vegetables include cabbage, turnips, peas, beans, pumpkin, and tomato apart from the already available green vegetable leaves. They are non-vegetarians and enjoy goat and ram meat, mainly owing to the heat it produces in the body during cold days. 'Taking a salted drink called cha in the morning and evening is very popular among the Kinnaris, which is usually taken with sattu made of parched barley flour.

Famous For:

Kinnaur has been famous as one of the most beautiful hideouts in the Greater Himalayas with the Sutlej flowing in full strength through the landscape. It has been well known as a major cantonment area on the Indo-Tibetan border, specked with army men, bases and equipment. It is one of the major reasons that though Kinnaur has the harshest climate with the most amounts of landslides, roads are remade within a matter of days and is perpetually a very safe region. In recent years, it has become the largest supplier of hydroelectric power in South-East Asia with the Jaypee group of Industries lining up dams and hydroelectric power plants every few kilometres on the Sutlej. In the world of travel, it is widespread amount avid travellers for major trek routes and unparalleled beauty. Kinnaur is one of the major suppliers of apricots and apples, most of which are exported. The Kamru fort, the Kinnar Kailash Shiva Temple and Rupin pass are must visits.


List of craftsmen.

Documentation by:

Process Reference:

Cluster Reference: