Tourism in Manali:
Famous Hadimba Temple near
Sagar Resort, Manali One of the most important sites in Manali from the historic and archaeological point of view is the Hidimba Temple dedicated to the wife of Bhima, one of the five valorous Pandava brothers of the epic Mahabharat. Situated amidst a thick grove of deodar trees, the temple has a four-tiered Pagoda shaped roof and the doorway is carved with legendary figures and symbols. It’s about a fifteen minute walk from the main town market and 2.5 kms from the tourist office. Our hotel is situated very close to this temple, actually just at the bottom of it and it makes a very pleasant walk through the evergreen ancient pine trees. It is a pleasant experience to stroll in the temple complex which was built in 1533 A.D. A large festival is held here in May. Inside the shrine is the brass icon of the goddess, surprisingly tiny compared to the huge temple structure and the legendary prowess associated with her. The shrine is within a natural cave formation dominated by huge rocks. A set of enlarged footprints on the rocks is believed to be of Hidimba, herself.
See The Tale of Hidimba in Tales and Trivia for more information.
Manu Temple in Old Manali According to the popular belief it is here that Manu, the lawmaker lived around the 2nd centurrohtang BC. His ideas on Dharmashastra or the code of conduct has had a profound influence on Indian thinking. His treatise, the 'Manusmriti' is the foundation of Hindu law and of the rigid caste system based on Varna or profession. Although he is revered all over India, it is only in Manali that a temple is dedicated to him. In the centre of the village is the Manu Maharishi temple, a relatively new shrine dedicated to Manu. The manu temple is situated in Old Manali where one can see what the old town might have looked many millenniums ago. One sees the typical houses made from stone if one strolls a bit further away from the temple. This is also the place where most of the hippies hang out. A must visit is the “Shiva Café” on the way.
This 17th century temple was constructed by Raja Jagat Singh, who brought the statue of Lord Rama from Ayodhya. The statue was regally placed on a throne, so that the kings of Kullu regarded Lord Raghunathji to be the real ruler while they acted as his agents. The temple is one of the most vital ones in the valley and is located on a steep hillside overlooking the Sarvari River, a tributary of the Beas.
The most significant temples in Naggar are the temples of Tripura Sundari, the Murlidhar Mandir and the Gaurishankar Mandir. The pagoda-style three-tiered wooden temple of Tripura Sundari is dedicated to the mother goddess. Every year in mid-May there is a fair at the temple when deities from surrounding villages are brought here in procession.
The stone-carved Murlidhar Mandir is believed to be one of the oldest shrines in the area and is strictly out of bounds for non-Hindus. It is located at the top on a stone base with magnificent views of the surrounding valleys and snow peaks.
The temple was destroyed due to an earthquake in 1905, but has since been restored. The Gaurishankar Mandir near the bus stand has carved stone shikharas and a paved courtyard. This is also an ancient temple.
Bijli Mahadev Mandir:
Located 14 km from Kullu across the Beas river, this temple has an amazing view of the Parvati and the Kullu Valley. It can be reached by road from Naggar or Kullu but the last stretch has to be travelled on foot. Bijli Mahadev is a Shiva temple but interestingly has an unusual name for it is ‘blessed by lightening’ every year during rainstorms. This causes the Shiva linga to break but it is put together with butter by the devout priests. To the uninitiated this may appear to be a trifle strange but for the simple people who intertwine their lives with nature in its many moods, Bijli Mahadev is another manifestation of the power of the supreme.
Ancient Gayatri with five
heads temple 6 kms from Manali located on the left bank of Beas on the road to Naggar. This place is famous for very aged temples of Lord Shiva and Sandhya Gayatri in Shikhara style, which are definitely worth a visit. A visit to this temple can be combined with a visit to the Naggar Castle.
3) Buddhist Monasteries
Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa:
This was established in 1969. It has a prominent yellow colored pagoda roof and bright frescoes on the walls. Inside the brightly painted prayer hall is a statue of Shakyamuni (form of Buddha). Beside the main entrance is a roll of honor listing Tibetans killed in the late 80s during the many violent uprisings against the Chinese occupation in Tibet. Incidentally there is a fairly large Tibetan population in the Manali region. The monastery is maintained through donations and the sale of carpets woven by the lamas within the temple workshop. A smaller gompha near the market has a large gold-faced image of Buddha, which is best viewed from its first floor verandah. Monks can be seen printing prayer flags on the open terrace.
Himalayan Nyingamapa Gompa:
The smaller and more modern Himalayan Nyingamapa Gompa stands nearer the bazaar, in a garden blooming with sunflowers. Its main shrine lit by dozens of electric bulbs and fragrant with Tibetan incense, houses a colossal gold-faced Buddha, best viewed from the small room on the first floor.
4) Hot Water Springs
This temple is said to be 4000 years old and was supposed to be built by the legendary King, Janamejaya. Another legend links it to Lakshman, who is said to have created a spring by shooting an arrow into the earth, when he saw that his guru Vashistha had to travel a long distance to bathe. It is 3 kms from Manali and is famed for its hot sulphur springs. The village can be approached on foot or by road and offers a panoramic view of the valley.
There are two old stone temples with elaborate wood carvings facing each other on the main square. One is dedicated to Rama (incarnation of Vishnu) and the other to sage Vashisht, who was Rama’s teacher. The Himachal Tourism runs a hot bath complex offering 30-minute sessions with piped water running into tiled tubs. After a dip in the healing waters, you can relax with a glass of fresh apple juice or any other soft drink on the open terrace.
Within the temple complex, there are free communal baths with separate sections for men and women. Besides the hot springs, other attractions at Vashisht include the Pyramid centre run by an Italian couple and the Nembutsu centre above the village. The Pyramid Centre has an art gallery, a café and a centre for massage and Reiki. The Nembutsu Centre offers courses in meditation.
Cooking food in hot water
springs in Manikaran The hot springs at Manikaran is a popular destination. According to local lore, the married couples who bathe at this spot ensure a loving liaison for ever. The hot sulphur springs are also renowned to be medicinal and healing. There is a mythological saga allied to this spot. According to folklore, Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva lost one of her earrings or Manikarna while bathing in the river. The earring was recovered by Sheshnaga, the divine serpent who lives under water. When confronted by Shiva, the serpent spat it out in rage, thus giving rise to the frothing hot water springs. Some imaginative people claim that jewels used to be thrown up by the water till a hundred years ago.
The springs are reputed to be the hottest in the world and men and women bathe in separate areas to experience the springs’ healing powers. The village also has two shrines devoted to Rama and Shiva. The Gurudwara of the Sikhs, with an onion-shaped dome, has an underground pool where the pious bathe before listening to recitals of the holy Guru Granth Sahib.
The Museum of Traditional Himachal Culture:
The Museum of Traditional Himachal Culture, near the Hidimba temple, is worth a visit, which houses artifacts of folk art of the entire Kullu valley. It is a small privately funded museum and displays artifacts depicting the traditions of the area.
Nicholas Roerich Museum:
One of the pleasant surprises in the Kullu valley is this lovely museum that houses paintings by Roerich. Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) was a famous Russian painter, writer and archaeologist, settled in India in the 1920s to study Indian and Tibetan culture. He was known for his dynamic community work to protect cultural monuments. A cozy cottage nestled inside a garden filled with blossoming trees; this museum is a delight to visit, displaying paintings and photographs of the famous Russian painter. Born in 1874, Roerich travelled extensively through the Himalayas and is recognized for his paintings of the majestic mountains. In 1929, Roerich returned to settle in Naggar where his family established the Uruswati Himalayan Folk Art Museum. He died in 1947, but the Institute continues with a display of local folk art, costumes, Roerich’s paintings and even Russian folk art. There is a library of rare books, an herb garden and a counter selling postcards and books. Top
6) Forest Reserves and Sanctuaries Great Himalayan National Park
This is spread over 765 sq km in the Kullu region. It is the natural habitat of several species like the snow leopard, black bear, Western Himalayan tragopan, monal, cheer, kalij, koklas and snow cocks. The closest town is Shamshi. There are numerous hot springs within the park. Winter and early spring is the best time for viewing the wildlife.
Kais: Musk deer, bears, tragopan and ghoral are the major animal attractions. Rest houses are positioned at Martin, Thatch and Kullu, which is also the adjoining town.
Khokhan: Black bear, musk deer, snow partridge, monal and koklas. Closest town is Bhuntar (airport).
Tirthan: Snow leopard, musk deer and koklas. The closest town is Banjar.
Sainj: Leopard, black bear, kalij, snow cock and ibex.
Kanawar: Thar, brown bear, musk deer, snow leopard and monal.
Manali : Black bear, musk deer, ghoral and monal.
7) Day Visits From Manali
A great location for picnics is this meadow nestled among tall deodar trees. The Kullu valley is an ultimate spot for trout fishing, white water rafting and hiking.
For anglers, this is the ideal place. 20 kms down the road to Manali as it has a trout farm and hatchery and the Himachal Tourism hotel to stopover at. There are several locations in the Kullu valley for trout fishing. Along the Tartan river is Larji (34kms) and Banjar (58kms), which offer excellent locations for trout fishing. Shoja, 69kms away at 2,692m is a good place to view the Kullu valley from. All around are swift flowing rivers, dense forests and meadows with majestic peaks forming an awesome backdrop.
Lying 23kms north of Kullu, this was the ancient capital of the kingdom before it was shifted to Kullu in the mid-18th century. The 16th century castle built in the traditional Pahari style with alternating stone and timber managed to survive a severe earthquake in 1905. After the capital was shifted, the castle was used as the summer residence of the rulers. Later it was sold to a British officer in 1846 and tailored to be used as the seat of the Circuit Judge. The building surrounds a central patio, with the first floor verandahs providing splendid views of the gorge. The Jagti Pat temple within the castle has a triangular stone slab icon which is said to have been brought from the summit of Deo Tibba, the celestial seat of all the deities. A small museum within the fort displays traditional dresses, costumes of folk dancers and musical instruments. There is also a hotel now run by the Himachal Tourism Department which has a comfortable coffee shop with pleasant mountain views.
This is a natural spring that derives its name from the very first prime minister of India. Located on the National Highway to Leh, this refreshing cold lucid source of water was associated with Jawaharlal Nehru who is said to have drunk the water during his stay in Manali. This spring is believed to originate from the Bhrigu Lake sited high up in the mountains. The water here is full of natural mountain minerals and one feels incredibly hungry after drinking water from here. This kund is on the way to rohtang Pass and is a must stop for a refreshing drink.
This is an astounding valley sandwiched between Solang village and Beas Kund, which offers an extravagant view of glaciers and snow capped mountains and peaks. It has enormous ski slopes, as well as training centers’ for learning skiing. The Mountaineering Institute has installed a ski lift for training purposes and a festival of winter sports is held here every year. It is close to Manali compared to rohtang and is about a ½ hour drive. One can also do the short paragliding here. The travel desk at Sagar Resort organizes it.
Situated on the way to Rohtang pass, a picturesque spot, Kothi is 12kms from Manali. A PWD rest house is situated on a crest overlooking a slender vale with a very good view of mountains and valleys. Sagar Resort has a beautiful land near Kothi with a fantastic view. If you want to have a picnic here the hotel can arrange it for you along with an entire picnic basket with all the goodies.
Rahala Water Fall:
16 km far, on the way to Rohtang pass, if one goes to Marhi on foot from Kothi from the old road, the sight of the falls is fascinating. It is a good picnic spot as well.
Milestone at rohtang Pass Rohtang Pass at 3979 m is 51kms from Manali on the highway to Keylong/Leh. It offers a panorama and a spectacular mountain view. It is open from June to October each year although trekkers can cross it earlier as well. It is a gateway to Lahaul Spiti, Pangi and Leh valley just as Zojila pass is a gateway to Ladakh. There are beautiful glaciers, peaks and the Chandra River flows down in the Lahaul valley. Slightly to the left are the twin peaks of the Geypan. During summer (mid June to October) regular buses ply between Manali-Keylong/Darcha, Udaipur, Spiti and Leh. rohtang is one of the utmost motorable roads in the world and there is always snow here throughout the year. It only opens up end of June till around September or October – the rest of the year it is closed due to heavy snowfall. Please take warm clothing for your vacation here along with a small bottle of brandy/whiskey (if you drink only – and if you don’t – we don’t mean to offend you) in case you need to warm up a bit it can be a life saver!
4kms from Manali towards Naggar, the grotto is sited close to Prini village, 1km above the road where Arjun had meditated. This is a good 1/2 day excursion with charming views of the gleaming mountains.
Malana is located at 32.4° N 77.16° E. It has an average elevation of 3029 meters (9940 feet). Malana has a distinct and glorious history and it goes back to Jamlu rishi (sage) who dwelled in this place and made rules and regulations. It is one of the oldest democracies of the world with a well organized parliamentary system. All this is guided by their devta (deity) jamblo rishi.
The populace of Malana speak Kanashi/Raksh (supposedly the dialect of evils who resided there long ago), which is understood only by the villagers. The residents of Malana consider themselves the descendant of Rajputs (The caste which used to fight and protect people). Malana is considered to be one of the first democracies in the world. They acquired their independence during the Mughal reign when Emperor Akbar had walked into 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.
Culture and lifestyle:
The village administration is democratic and is believed to be the oldest republic of the world. The peculiar social structure of Malana in fact rests on the villagers' unshaken faith in their powerful deity, Jamblu 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 Jamblu who govern the village in his name. His decision is ultimate in any dispute and any outsider authority is never required.
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-Malanis to be inferior and therefore 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 to 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.
Despite of being a part of the Kullu valley, the Malanis have very distinct physical features, and a dialect which is different from the rest of the valley. There are various legends about their origin. According to one of them, it is believed that they are the descendants of Greek soldiers of Alexander's army. As the legend goes, some soldiers took refuge in this remote land after Alexander left the country and later settled there permanently. This myth is however disputed because there are those who claim that it is the valley of Kailash, in Pakistan that is actually the area in which Alexander the Greats soldiers took refuge. This second thesis tends to be more convincing if we look at the distinct features of the Kalashi who are often blond and blue eyed in a region which does not usually count many blond and blue eyed inhabitants.
Malana was also once recognized for producing some of the best quality hashish (cannabis resin) in the world, known as "Malana Cream", which sells for 1,200-1,800 rupees per tola (= 10 grams). Today however this reputation has led to an influx of Nepali cannabis traders who sell Nepali charas under the Malana name. Due to heightened police concentration which is aimed at the area and a general increase in antagonism from the locals towards disrespectful Ganja tourists, Malana is no longer the idyllic place it once was to visit. Recently there was a major fire that burned the entire village down to ashes. It is very unfortunate but a few homes were saved. The government is helping in the rehabilitation process.