Manimahesh: The Abode of Lord Shiva


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September 27th 2007
Published: December 8th 2007
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One trip sows the seed for the next. A lazy afternoon at a hotel in Sanchi sparked our plan to go to Manimahesh. A travel documentary in TV was covering the temple complex in Bharmour, and the host left us longing for more by telling about the trek to Manimahesh. Thus it began - planning for Manimahesh. It is said that till the Lord calls, Manimahesh remains unreachable - it was a message conveyed through television for the two of us, Nilanjan and myself. Despite our best efforts to include quite a few others for the trip, everyone else dropped out in the end, some lacking in interest, others for reasons that can only be termed divine intervention; the message was definitely just for the two of us!!

The route is simple. An overnite train ride to Pathankot in Punjab. Pathankot is the gateway to the Himachal hills. From there, it is an estimated 6 hour drive to Bharmour via Chamba, which is the district capital. Bharmour is the town nearest to Manimahesh where you can find proper accommodation for the night. Don’t miss the ghee-soaked aaloo paratha breakfast at Pathankot before you leave for the long drive. The drive usually takes beyond estimate because of several slowdowns; you will often be stopped because a herd of sheep will be guided from one hill to the other by the shepherds. The local people here are called Gaddis, a shepherd community. But the uniqueness of the situation, along with the view along the route is splendid enough to keep you engrossed. However if you suffer from mountain drive sickness, like me, then you will have to keep yourself drugged, and might miss much of the scenery as you safely settle yourself in a forced slumber. After a nigh halt at Bharmour, it is advisable to start early next morning for Hadsar, an hours drive from Bharmour, to start the yatra on feet. For amateurs, like us the 13-km long trek was expected to last the whole day.

On our part, though we were aware of the early start advice, we still wanted to visit the temple complex at Bharmour, one that we had watched on TV. This is called the Chaurasi temple for the 84 shrines that are there in the perimeter. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, but there is also a temple for Dharmaraj (the Lord of Dharma). As the locals would tell you, this is the only temple dedicated to Dharmaraj anywhere in the world. Another deity quite widely worshipped in this part of India is Kartik (the son of Lord Durga). I have not seen a temple dedicated to Lord Kartik anywhere before. We hurried with our homage to the gods and goddesses, skipping quite a few shrines in the process.

Manimahesh
Manimahesh is a high altitude lake perched at a height of more than 4000 metre. There is a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is well-known to have picked up some of the most inaccessible spots up in the mountains as His abode. Every year in the month of September, around Krishna Janmastami devotees undertake this journey, known widely as the Manimahesh Yatra. The Himachal Government makes good arrangements for the pilgrims for about 14 days centered on this yatra by providing with tents at intermediate points in the trek, as well as at the final destination of Manimahesh. We reached couple of weeks after the Yatra. The downside of this was that we were getting mixed information about what type of accommodation, if at all, we might get up at Manimahesh; which meant we should carry tents from Bharmour. On the brighter side, we could avoid the crowd that usually spoils the serenity of such a place. To our surprise, there was hardly another soul throughout the entire trek, so much so, that there wasn’t a chance to take a snap of the two brave souls together. We took our chance on the assurance that we will find at least one person who stays up at Manimahesh till the end of October, and provides food and shelter to the unexpected visitors like us.

The walk began from Hadsar at a height of 2280 metre. Fresh legs and the promise of a view of the snow-clad peaks carried us forward quite briskly through the first half hour. But soon we could feel the strain of this journey. Nilanjan wisely picked up a stick lying on the path. It turned out to be useful as the gradient kept increasing. The pace reduced, the pauses to catch our breath back increased. The reward was as good as it gets when we caught the first sight of the Chamba Kailash, with a cloud standing still on its peak like a canopy. Even we
Passerby SheepPasserby SheepPasserby Sheep

Road doesnt belong to cars only in these parts
could spot the glaciers shimmering under the sunrays. From Manimahesh one gets a much more majestic view of this peak. Motivation enough to send a burst of fresh energy. Next couple of hours we trudged on enjoying the view on the way till we reached Dancho. Dancho is at an altitude of 3950 metre, and the only rest stop on the way. It has just a couple of shops where you can have warm maggi noodles and tea made of goat milk. Pappu-bhai, the chatty shop owner used to be a guide for treks before he settled in his current work, and fed us plenty of ideas for future treks.

The part after Dancho gets even steeper. The trail just spirals up testing the lower limbs bitterly. With the calories replenished at Dancho, we started off quite well. The trail was getting more and more desolate, with only some sheep grazing on the mountain side for company. This period of a trek is always the hardest; you start feeling the strain of the walk, but still know that there is quite a bit to cover. This is the time when you see some trekkers coming from the other direction,
Chamba KailashChamba KailashChamba Kailash

From a distance
you cannot resist asking how far is it, and mostly get the encouragement that it is not that far. Finally, we saw a red speck in the blue sky -- a red flag marking the temple at Gauri Kund, 1 km from Manimahesh. But what looked dreadful was that the trail going towards it simply vanished after hitting a mountain wall. Soon enough we reached the point and one of the most grueling parts of the trek began. These are like natural stairs carved out of boulders. We started climbing the rocky stairway to heaven. The light was fading, and the wind chill had increased considerably by the time we reached Gauri Kund. But we could not have reached Gauri Kund at any better moment, as we were greeted with a magnificent display of light and shade. We stood spellbound staring in silence at Nature’s own canvas. This is what makes it worth enduring the pain.

Finally, when we reached Manimahesh, it was already dark. The most welcome sight was the shelter of Khemraj-ji relieving us of all our anticipations. The rajma-chawal brought us back to life, and then his tent, which was big enough for 8 people was to be our resting place. Khemraj-ji is one soul whose way of life is as close to a yogi I would ever see. He spends 6 months, starting from April to October each year at Manimahesh. He is probably the first one to reach there when the snow melts, and the last one to leave. He takes care of the pilgrims, specially the odd ones like us, who reach there after the yatra season is over. There was also Baba-ji, who also spends a similar amount of time at Manimahesh. Post dinner we gathered around the dhuni-fire Baba-ji had set up. The night became mystical with Baba-ji’s anecdotes and puffs of holy smoke. Gradually everyone went quiet and we were left to marvel at the inexplicable nocturnal beauty. The crystal clear sky formed a canopy dotted with stars, and in the backdrop we could see the silhouette of the Chamba Kailash, the glacier on it glistening under the soft rays of the moon.

The tired body was begging for some rest. In the middle of night, I woke up shivering. The wind outside the tent was howling, and I was wondering whether the tent can withstand this. It somehow did. The next morning we woke up early with a plan set off on our return trek. But the night time flurries had spread a nice white cover, which is impossible to tread on especially on the steep slopes. Next couple of hours we walked around the Manimahesh lake. There are no shrines per se; the holy flags denoting the sacred site, and the most important ritual for the devout is to take a dip in the icy cold water of the lake. A touch of the water was enough to turn us into atheists.

The trek downhill was no less arduous compared to the previous day. However, we carried on quite well in our slow and steady pace. It took its toll on our limbs. At some points I was not able to feel my knees, or ankles. I had also picked up a walking stick and it often provided the support when the legs gave in. We took a pit-stop at Pappu-bhai’s rest area, and bid adieu to him with the promise to be back for yet another trek next year.


Dalhousie and Khajjiar
From Hadsar we headed for Dalhousie, and most of this drive
The trail after DanchoThe trail after DanchoThe trail after Dancho

You can see the rest area at Dancho down below
is lost in my memory because I was too busy tending to my aching legs. Dalhousie is a well-known tourist spot.
But with Manimahesh fresh in our mind, any view of the hills pales before it. We did the usual tourist site-seeing. A notable getaway spot here is Khajjiar, 24 km from Dalhousie. It is a nice place to chill out for a day. We certainly enjoyed relaxing at Khajjiar before we had to head back to the plains.

The entire trip took us 4 days, starting from Delhi on Friday night and returning on Wednesday morning.



Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 27


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The sheepThe sheep
The sheep

They were the only company along the trek
The morainesThe moraines
The moraines

This gets covered by snow in winter. The glacier extends here.


1st July 2009

jai bhole baba
so good collection of mani mahesh i also wish to go baba dham but when i donot know
10th July 2009

bham bhole
om boom shankar
14th July 2009

amazing
i m speechless
15th July 2009

Beautifully described supported with nice photographs, which helps to give a knowhow about the trip, if someone going first time. Great ! JAI BHOLE SHANKAR !
25th July 2009

jai shiv shankar
its so beautiful.
29th July 2009

bam bam bole ki jai ho
babam-babam bam bole ki jai ho .. i love my bola . do you love him . yar it is very beautiful,lovly,. it take yours all sorrows and give u a lt lot lot of happiness ...
1st August 2009

Helicopter Yatra
A beautiful description and the photos are lovely. Sadly, I think it might be too tough for a 60 plus man like me. I understand there is a yatra by helicopter these days. Can anyone who has done this throw some more light on this?
5th August 2009

Thank you for the Revisit.
I went there in 1987 or 88. Started alone from home and joined the Yatra. Joined thousands of people. Stayed a night at each location. Hot food and accommodation at the Langars. There was no pucca road to Hadsar. Only jeeps could go. Your description and photos have brought back many memories. Thanks very much. @ Mr. Waraich, Ponies were available then. Should be available now. If you don't have high altitude problems, no reason why you can not go. Jai Bhole Shankar!
11th August 2009

THANKS FOR GOD FOR GIVING ME THAT TYPE OF PLEASURE IN MY LIFE
LAST TWO YEARS I AM POSTPONED MY YATRA DUE TO SOME EXAMS AND MUCH MORE SO I CANT VISIT MANI MAHESH ,, BUT THIS YEAR SHIV SHANKAR GIVE ME THAT TYPE OF HAPPINESS WHICH ,,,, I CANT EXPLAIN ???????????
14th August 2009

Nice ro Hear
wow!.......these photographs are just awesome.......... i would love to reach to such a nice pious place.....whenevr get chance this information is sufficient to make a plan to visit and have fun in life....with friends Har Har Mahadev....
19th August 2009

incredible!!
i was all tears when i saw the sparkling mani.......and was really not able to believe my eyes. experienced shiva so closely for the first time and must say the moment was incredible.
23rd October 2009

om namh shivaye
very intrestng yatra of mani mahesh baba ji sabh ki manokamna poori kare
26th February 2010

Jai manimahesh
25TH FEB: Mahesh from chamba; Nice to see the blog on manimahesh and chamba.Visit to the lake gives peace n calm to the soul. I have gone to dal lake (manimahesh)7 times by the blessing of lord shiva.Hope i will go this year too.
16th March 2010

jai shanker ki
its really a good place ur every wish complete in this place last 8 year i be going to this place mani mahesh kato kalesh bholay nath sabke sath our lunger comatey working this place shiv shakti sewa sang sangrur punjab if u want more information about this beautiful place u mail me
30th May 2010

dream to visit there
I m living in australia. Its 4.46 am here , i have nothing much to do on my job so I search that place at google and spent some time read out all stuff. I believe in lord shiva I like to visit these kind of places but I never thought to visit. I read out everything and I wish to visit there on my next trip to india. God will give me a chance to visit there. I LOVE MY GOD SHIVA
12th July 2010

darshan karke man khush ho gaya
25th July 2010

I want to visit Mani Mahesh please let me know the day i should start from delhi, the route i should take, the temples which can be visited on the way to Mani Mahesh. I shall be grateful if one can help in having darshans of Lord Shiva.
26th July 2010

july 6th 2009 Jai manimahesh,Bham Bham Bhole
so good collection of Manimahesh i also wish to go Manimahesh yatra Himalaya parvat ki god main our next tour to shri Manimahesh yatra dt.27 august 2010. 09815661919
5th August 2010

m speechless b/coz , "amaging place that is"
5th August 2010

"jannat" that place is
9th August 2010

jai bhole ki
manimahesh yatra mean bhole k sakshat darshan
20th August 2010

shiv
hi i,m intrastreted
29th August 2010

ok
please send aboue
30th August 2010

Bam Bam Bhole
I want to go manimahesh yatra but no trip is made so far...
1st September 2010
Manimahesh lake -- classic view

Jewel
Dear Pradipta, I wish I could connect with you. Alas, there is no link with you. I do also trek many places, especially the religious ones in the Himalayas.
3rd September 2010

jai bhole baba
............... SHIV POWER 24 HOUR JAI BHOLE .............................. EK BAAR JARUR MANIMAHESH JA KAR DEKHNA JO ABHI TAK GAYA NAHI HAI. SUCH A NICE HOLY PLACE IN CHAMBA.HIMACHAL PRADESH. THE YATRA STARTED ON AUGUST END AND MAY BE HALF OF AUGUST. AND THE MAHA PARV ON RADHA ASTAMI....................... JAI BABA JI JAI BHOLE NATH
4th September 2010
Manimahesh lake -- classic view

temple
send me temple photo
11th September 2010
Manimahesh lake -- classic view

LAKE
NICE GOOD WOW
26th October 2010

ja bole nath
tnx of lot nice e beautyfull bole nath sab bakto ke saath hai jai bole nath ki
28th November 2010
The final sunset in the hills

wow maja aa gaya thanks for lovely
photographs
24th December 2010

jai bhole
Very good collection about lord manimahesh kalash.pls. continue to spread this message & we are offering free night stay& food at gorikund langer plot no. 25,manimahesh
12th January 2011
Manimahesh lake -- classic view

wonderfull
i like this scene very much. and i want to come this place some day.
12th January 2011
Manimahesh lake -- classic view

wonderfull
i like this place very much and i want to come there in future.
10th March 2011

BHOLE BABA KI JAI HO
BHAGWAN SHIV MUJKO SADA HI HAR YEAR MANIMAHESH APNE PASS BULATE RAHE OR MAI JINDGI BAR UNKE PAIRON MAI PADA RAHU
16th November 2011

Himalay k jamai ki jay ho......!!!
in2012 , i m comminng baba bhole ...........
21st December 2011

Mani Mahesh of Lord Shiva
Many times I've planned but i miss it every time, but next year I will be come to Mani Mahesh, this's great post thanks
23rd April 2012
Manimahesh lake -- classic view

though i am born & brought up in chamba itself but never got the opportunity to visit this place......really sad.....
23rd May 2012

Hi, Please contact us for stay at Bharmour for Manimahesh Yatra. Hotel Bharmour View www.bharmourview.in Phone Number: +919816454001 Email: bharmourview@gmail.com Thanking you Amit Thakur
2nd June 2012

send me al/l detils for manimashesh yara in helicopter 2012 started ? which date ? all package tour if yes ?
26th July 2012

Jai Bhole Baba
Bum Bum Bhole, Bhole Baba sab ki manokamna puri kare. I have to go to Yatra in Aug 12
1st August 2012

Book your Rooms in advance to avoid any botheration during Yatra.
During Manimahesh Yatra (August/September) there is heavy rush of pilgrims at Bharmour so its better to plan your trip now and book the hotel rooms in advance. It is adviced to book the hotel in advance for complete duration of stay for Manimahesh Yatra as rooms may not be available for extension at that time. Extension of hotel booking during Manimahesh Yatra will depend on the availability of Rooms in the hotel.
9th November 2012

jai bhole baba
nice pics of mani mahesh... i really want to go there....jai bhole baba ....jai bhole
20th July 2016

Very Nice Information Manimahesh yatra
Very Nice information in this article. Get more complete information about Manimahesh yatra here on http://www.manimaheshyatra.co.in/

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