SHIMLA - KANDAGHAT - MANALI - DHARAMSHALA[/b]
One week before leaving, and I’m super excited, really looking forward to a beautiful trip.
We are flying to Chandigarh and from there we have hired a car for the full journey, so we have the options of doing & taking things our way i.e., taking pictures on the way, being comfortable and drinking in the views.
We are going to stay in Club Mahindra all throughout the trip so we don’t have to spend on stay.
Hey! Himachal Pradesh here I come.
We land in Chandigarh and since it’s on the way we go to the Pinjore Gardens.
The Pinjore garden has beautiful fountains. On the day we go it also has colorful umbrellas for decoration.
As we enter the hills we see cottony clouds hanging on mountains. The temperatures start dropping, & it becomes cool & pleasant.
Since we are travelling in the monsoons there’s water and greenery everywhere. It’s not too hot or too cold, just pleasant!
We are welcomed at Club Mahindra, Mashobra in the evening.
Next day we start with a horse ride at Naldhehra. It’s my first time on a horse.
Here the guide shows us places where shootings have happened. Then we see the golf course and finally a point from where we can see the nearby village, its foggy otherwise apparently the china border can also be seen from that point.
Kufri-(did not like the horse ride though a sea of mud). We only see the nag temple. The nag temple is at a height.
Jakhoo Temple- the Jakhoo temple is on mall road. We walk it up, taking in the scenery. It is a long steep walk but totally worth it. There is a huge Hanuman Statue on the top. The hanuman temple itself is great. It has a garden with flowers, it’s clean and it has the most amazing view. You can see entire Shimla from there. You just feel in touch with god & nature. It is surrounded by tall trees on all side & Lots of mischievous monkeys playing around.
Kandaghat Mahindra resorts The Destination. It’s amongst the mountains.
We spend the evening in a garden where we hear the sounds of only the bird’s chirping.An apple Tree and complete Silence except for the birds. The day ends with a red sunset, & the fountain entertaining us.
The clear sky gives us a view of the innumerable stars. Since the resort is situated far away from anything like a city, once it become dark , its pitch dark- the night is lit with only the light of the stars and the resort lamps.
The resort has kept the nature intact.
On the way to Manali we travel along with the river Beas .We also see the prayag of parvati & beas.
In manali we see plenty of apple orchards with little green apples hanging on trees .Club Mahindra is surrounded by them.
We start early for the Rotang Pass. Every day it breaks down due to landslides and is remade again. Infact when we are travelling I do see work going on, on the road.
Rotang pass leads to leh ladakh.
The drive to Rotang pass is scary but once you go up you find a beautiful mountainous world. Rotang pass is about snow peaked mountains, Plenty of glaciers and wild flowers. We spotted cows; sheep’s & horses grazing (Also one yak) and a lone vulture flying in the sky. There are a few breathtaking waterfalls on the way .The waterfalls in terms of length are big. The waterfalls are actually streams or tributaries falling over cliffs or heights.
We spot the beas nala (it’s a waterfall) where apparently they sat and wrote the Mahabharat. I wonder how a story of so much loss and destruction is written in such serene a place.
The stones on rotang pass glitter and shine in the sun. I can almost imagine picking them up & making jewelry out of it.
In rotang pass we choose a glacier to play with the snow. You can also do skiing on the snow.
We also hear about a rani who came to attack the kulu raja but died when the glacier broke and her army died along with her.
After Rotang pass we go for a gondola ride in solang valley. The area also offers other adventure sports like zorbing, ATV, Paragliding etc.
We see the ancient Vashist temple, which is made out of wood & stone (definitely looks ancient!). It has kunds adjoining the temple. kunds are made of warm water springs. We also see a fish spa for the feet in a nearby area (though I don’t try it).
Next we see the hidimba temple which is surrounded by tall deodars. Hidimba is a rakshasha & wife of Bhim .They had a son - ghatotkatcha .
The way towards the temple has blue flowers.
The wooden hidimba temple is decorated with animal skulls. The deity is located in a cave sorts within the temple.
Near to the hidimba temple is a prayer place for ghatotkacha. It’s a tree with the deity under it (open air temple).
Once we come out of the temple there are women following us with lambs, yaks and rabbits. You can click a picture with them for money. Not to mention the people persuading us for photos in Kashmiri clothes. Ultimately I fall for the white lamb and a cute white rabbit. The rabbit I chose was cuter than a soft toy (really!!!).
We proceed to mall road:
1) Tibetan temple - Like all other Tibetan temples it is colorful and clean. A monk was chanting prayers inside. We circle the temple turning the prayer wheels. Outside the temple I have yummy veg momos.
2) We shop on mall road for salwar suits and fruit barfi.
The next day we head to manikaran. Before that we go to nagar castle. This happens to be an old castle with a brief history. Many movies including jab we met have been shot here. It has a small temple inside. But the best part of this place is the restaurant. The view makes the delicious food more delicious. Since the castle / place is situated at a height the view is unbeatable. Since a few tables are put up in the balcony, these give an open air feel though there is a roof.
Enroute to manikaran the driver talks about magic, herbs, trees, babas etc.
He tells us about a plant which bears bluish color flowers which he says can never be plucked. A person who manages to pluck it will become immensely wealthy. He says he tried once when he spotted the flower, but when he climbed the tree it had vanished.
We go into the hot cave first. As I remove my sandal to get into it, I wear it again immediately. The floor even outside the cave is hot.
As I go in, I start perspiring because it’s hot. There are three caves and the outermost cave has rocks. I see people leaning on them.im told since they are hot they cure joint pains / bone pains. We pray at the gurudwara. The bath is closed so we head for shiv temple.
The history of this temple goes that the goddess parvati lost her earring i.e., chintamani. The mother earth could not hold this jewel and it landed in patal lok with sheshnaag. Since it could not be found, lord shiva opened his third eye. sheshnaag sent back the jewel with a hiss along with many other jewels. It is believed the water made jewels appear till the earthquake of 1905.
The shiv temple has two hot springs, shallow well sorts, with hot water bubbling out. Just a touch of a second and your hand burns. There is a vendor selling rice n chana which you can put into it and make Prasad yourself. I buy a can and fill up the hot spring water which smells like sulphur.
We pray in the temple. The river parvati, full of rapids, is flowing in the backside of the shiv temple.
Next we go to the ram temple. The kund there is open. I wash my arms, feet and face with the warm water. I feel fresh immediately. Lastly we pray there.
We buy various types of fruits. The fruit seller has apples, plums & many fruits in the family of plum (one of them he calls rasmalai), almonds, pears, small peaches, cherries, mangoes.
We stay at mandi .The only non-club Mahindra night to cut down on travelling.
We go to Dharamshala.
On the way we see Baijnath temple. It’s an old stone temple of shiv with carvings all over. This temple is one of the jyotirlingas in the country.
Next day we go to Bhagsunath temple. The temple has a waterfall about 2 km away from it. The waterfall has clear water. The walk to the waterfall is like a mini trek.
We see himachal’s own small dal lake.
Then Mcleodganj, the place where DalaiLama resides (we are not lucky enough to see him). It has a monastery. It is an area of Tibetan’s (thousands of Tibetan’s moved out of Tibet with the DalaiLama), so around the temple you will find a market with Tibetan cuisine and Tibetan jewelry sellers. I pick up a Tibetan book from the Tibetan bookstore at the monastery which is about their local folk tales.
Dharamshala Cricket stadium - We were allowed inside to have a look & though I’m not a cricket fan I find the stadium superb and impressive. Wow!! Cricket in a place like this? (hmmm. I have to watch a match played at dharamshala).
Chamundadevi temple: I mainly go there because it is a shaktipeeth. A shaktipeeth is where the organs of the goddess sati fell. They are scattered all over asia. Lord shiv’s consort sati went to the yajna organized by her father against the willingness of lord shiv. Then her father insulted lord shiv which she was unable to bear and jumped into the yajna. Lord shiv ran through the three worlds carrying her on his shoulders, and wherever her organ fell a shaktipeeth arose. Parvati is the incarnation of sati/shakti. The goddess kali is worshipped here. There is a small lake / kund where boating is possible.
Dharamshala club Mahindra is probably smaller but offers a unique experience. We go to the restaurant, meet the chef personally, who even makes us a dish which is not on the menu, on request.
It is located in the middle, in terms of sightseeing places.
On our last night there we even experience an earthquake of the magnitude 5.1.
Our last sightseeing is the Jwalamukhi temple .It is another shaktipeeth.it is here that goddess sati’s burning tongue fell. But the wonder of this place is the natural blue flames coming out at various places inside the temple (thus the temple is jwalamukhi).
On the way to the airport we see the nangal dam of the bhakra nangaldams .Its canals carry turquoise colored waters of the river Sutlej.
My trip ends with a wish for the next one to be just as good.
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