Malana is an ancient village to the north-east of Kullu Valley. This solitary village in the Malana Nala, a side valley of the Parvati Valley, is isolated from the rest of the world. The majestic peaks of Chandrakhani and Deotibba shadow the village. It is situated on a remote plateau by the side of torrential Malana river at a height of 3029 m above the sea level. Unaffected by the modern civilization, Malana has its own lifestyle and social structure. People are strict in following their customs. Malana has been the subject of various documentaries including, Malana: Globalization of a Himalayan Village, and Malana, A Lost Identity.
Malana has a history and it goes back to Jamlu rishi (sage) who inhabited this place and made rules and regulations. It is one of the oldest democracies of the world with a well organized parliamentary system. All of this is guided by the their devta (deity) Jamlu rishi. Although Jamlu is currently identified with a sage from the Puranas, this is a relatively recent development. Jamlu is believed to have been worshiped in pre-Aryan times.
Malana is considered to be one of the first democracies in the world. According to tradition, the residents of Malana are the descendant of Aryans, and they acquired their independence during the Mughal reign when the Emperor Akbar walked to the village in order to cure an ailment that he was afflicted with; after having been successfully cured he put out an edict stating that all the inhabitants of the valley would never be required to pay tax. An alternative tradition suggests that Malana was founded by remnants of Alexander the Great's Army.
The village administration is democratic and is believed to be the oldest republic of the world. The social structure of Malana in fact rests on villagers' unshaken faith in their powerful deity, Jamlu Devta. The entire administration of the village is controlled by him through a village council. This council has eleven members and they are believed as delegates of Jamlu who govern the village in his name. His decision is ultimate in any dispute and any outsider authority is never required. It is although a real fact that Malanis through this council perform a political system of direct democracy very similar to that of ancient Greece. Thus Malana has been named the Athens of Himalayas.
Malanis (the inhabitants of Malana) admire their culture, customs and religious beliefs. They generally do not like to change though some traces of modernization are visible.
People in Malana consider all non-Malani to be inferior and consequently untouchable. Visitors to Malana town must pay particular attention to stick to the prescribed paths and not to touch any of the walls, houses or people there. If this does occur, visitors are expected to pay a forfeit sum, that will cover the sacrificial slaughter of a lamb in order purify the object that has been made impure. Malani people may touch impure people or houses as long as they follow the prescribed purification ritual before they enter their house or before they eat. Malanis may never accept food cooked by a non-Malani person, unless they are out of the valley (in which case their Devt can't see them). Malanis may offer visitors food but all utensils will have to undergo a strict purification ritual before they can be used again.
Approximate Distances from:
Kullu-Manali Airport at Bhuntar: 40 km by road + 3 km on foot
Kullu town: 50 km by road + 3 km on foot
Manali town: 90 km by road + 3 km on foot