HIMALAYAN NOMADS – FINDING THE ROOTS OF THE MYSTERIOUS UNEXPLORED HIMALAYAS.
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The scenic Chamba Valley is a splendidly isolated valley system, separated from the Kangra Valley by the Dhauladhar Range and from Lahaul and Kashmir by the Pir Panjal. This area was ruled for centuries as the princely state of Chamba, one of the most ancient states in North India. It’s great for temple buffs, trekkers and scenery addicts but well off most tourists’ radars.
The scenic Chamba Valley is a splendidly isolated valley system, separated from the Kangra Valley by the Dhauladhar Range and from Lahaul and Kashmir by the Pir Panjal. This area was ruled for centuries as the princely state of Chamba, one of the most ancient states in North India. It’s great for temple buffs, trekkers and scenery addicts but well off most tourists’ radars.Chamba Valley, in the lower Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh, is home to the Nature and peace lovers , along which gushes the mighty Ravi River. Chamba valley, valley of milk and honey, is also the land of Lord Shiva and it is famous for its exquisite natural beauty, picturesque valley, full of diverse flora and fauna, antique Temples, sublime paintings, primeval streams and crystal lakes. Chamba Valley conjures up picture of distant land known for enchanting folklore unspoiled life style and cultural heritage, at once, unique and abundant. The landscape with its rugged beauty beckons the restless spirit. Chamba Valley is bounded on north-west by Jammu and Kashmir, on the north-east and east by Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir state and Lahaul and Bara-Bangal area of Himachal Pradesh, on the south-east and south by the District Kangra of Himachal Pradesh. Chamba Valley has Dalhousie, Khajjiar, Chamba Town, Pangi and Bharamour as main destinations to watch out for. There are five lakes, five wild life sanctuaries and countless numbers of temples. The roads curl and wind through the valley , but every time I look out of the window, the deodars and pine trees are there to travel with me. With every turns on the road in the valley, there is a twist of nature’s beauty which will keep your mouth open.
Chamba district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, in northern India. According to the 2001 Indian census the town is situated on the banks of the Ravi River (a major tributary of the Trans-Himalayan Indus River), at its confluence with the Sal River. Chambial were the Rulers of Chamba State . Chambials use suffix Varmans.
Though historical records date the history of the Chamba region to the Kolian tribes in the 2nd century BC, the area was formally ruled by the Maru dynasty, starting with the Raju Maru from around 500 AD, ruling from the ancient capital of Bharmour, which is located 65 kilometres (40 mi) from the town of Chamba.In 920, Raja Sahil Varman (or Raja Sahil Verma) shifted the capital of the kingdom to Chamba, following the specific request of his daughter Champavati , Who Further Adopted a Kid Named Pt.Shiv Kumar Upmanyu. (Chamba was named after her). From the time of Raju Maru, 67 Rajas of this dynasty ruled over Chamba until it finally merged with the Indian Union in April 1948, although Chamba was under British suzerainty from 1846 to this time.
The town has numerous temples and palaces, and hosts two popular jatras (fairs), the “Suhi Mata Mela” and the “Minjar Mela”, which last for several days of music and dancing. Chamba is also well noted for its arts and crafts, particularly its Pahari paintings, which originated in the Hill Kingdoms of North India between the 17th and 19th century, and its handicrafts and textiles.
LAXMI NARAYAN TEMPLE-The Lakshmi Narayan temples complex, devoted to the Vaishnavite sect, includes the main Lakshmi Narayan temple, built in the 10th century by Raja Sahil Verman. It has been built to suit the local climatic conditions with wooden chatries and has a shikara, and a sanctum sanctorum (Garbhagriha), with an antarala and a mantapa. A metallic image of Garuda, the vahana (mount) of Vishnu is installed on the dwajastamba pillar at the main gate of the temple. In 1678, Raja Chhatra Singh adorned the temple roof with gold plated pinnacles, as a riposte to Auranagzeb, who had ordered demolition of this temple.
In and around Chamba:
The Lakshmi Narayan temple complex, devoted to the Vaishnavite sect, includes the main Lakshmi Narayan temple, built in the 10th century by Raja Sahil Verman.
The Chaugan (a Sanskrit word meaning: “four sided”) is the nucleus of all activity in Chamba, surrounded by impressive administrative buildings and a shopping arcade built during the British period, with the old Akhand Chandi palace standing nearby.
Bhuri Singh Museum: Named after Raja Bhuri Singh of Chamba, this is a treasure house of Chamba’s rich past. The exhibits include copper plates, murals, doorways, costumes, paintings and stone carvings.
Evening is the right time for shopping; you can buy Chamba Slippers, ‘Rumals’ and Shawls at Chamba town.
This place is a great getaway from the burning heat of the northern India plains. Khajjiar has a unique topography and it is a beautiful amalgamation of forest, lake and grassland, which gives it the name “Switzerland of India”. There are a number of options to stay nearby if you wish to. Either with friends or family, you can spend a day here either playing cricket/football or just lying down.
The hill station of Dalhousie is named after the 19th century British Governor General, Lord Dalhousie. Dalhousie has charming colonial architecture, including some beautiful churches. There are four beautiful churches in Dalhousie. These are St. Andrew’s Church and St. Patrick’s Church at Balun, St. Francis church at Subhash Chowk and St. John’s Church at Gandhi Chowk.
The Kalatop wildlife sanctuary is a home for the Himalayan black bear and just 10 Km from Dalhousie. Do check the details regarding the visit with the Forest Department.
The temple gets its name Bijli Mahadev, owing to the remarkable fact that when lightning strikes, the Linga shatters into several pieces, which has to be rejoined by the priest by using butter as an adhesive! Bijli meaning lightning lends its name, thus highlighting this marvelous occurrence. Mahadev is another name for Lord Shiva.
There are number of wonderful temples of Lord Shiva in India. The one is found in the Kullu in Himachal Pradesh It is present on a high mountain near the confluence of Beas and Parvati river in Kullu city. The complete history of temple is connected to Mahadev.The most secret or mysterious thing about this temple is-
It is believed that this valley is a form of giant snake in entire Kullu Valley. This snake was slaughtered by Lord Shiva. At the place where the temple is, there is a terrible celestial power falling in every twelve years on Shivaling.
Shivaling of temple broken by falling of electricity (Bijli). Here ,another secret is that the Lord Shiva come in dream of Priest and tell him about where the fragments of Shivaling fall. After dream, they collects the pieces of broken Shivaling . Here the Priest collect pieces of fragment Shivaling and joined them with butter. After few months , the Shivling again transforms to solid form. The inner side of temple where Shivling present is totally black due to the fall of electricity after every twelve years.
There is a fair fate in the month of Badhon.
Bijli-Mahadev temple is a ‘Kash’ style temple that has a “Shiva-Lingam”. Bijli Mahadev temple is situated is called Mathan and is surrounded by Parbati, Garsa, Bhunter and Kullu valleys, 14 KM from Kullu. There is a Shiva temple on top of the hill. There is a small village just down below the temple and the name of the village is also called Bijli Mahadev. People in this village take care of the maintenance aspects of the temple. This place got its name after the great miracle that occurs occasionally. The ‘Shiva-Lingam’ is struck by lightning and it breaks into pieces, then the priest of the temple collects all the pieces and joins them together with the help of butter acting as an adhesive. During ‘Shivaratri’ every year, great rush of devotees gather here to pay homage to Lord-Shiva.
This place is full of mystery and miracles. The name comes from the fact that, the lightening (Bijli) strikes the Shiva linga inside the temple and breaks into pieces. The Shiva ling (Mahadev) will be joined together and installed in a special occasion using a locally made adhesive. One can witness the charred part (especially on the walls) inside the temple which is due to the flames resulted during lightning. Devotees can give offerings in the Hundi only kept inside the temple. Some puja articles are available inside the temple without any additional cost. Photography is not restricted anywhere in the place.
Opposite to the temple there are small stone statues situated and one can perform pooja there too. A 20mtr tall pole is installed which has got some interesting story. The pole is made of Deodar tree in a nearby forest area. Once in a while during special occasions the pole will be replaced by another one made from the tallest Deodar tree found in the forest. The local villagers and people from surrounding places come together to replace the pole and is a festival celebration for all of them. The tree is carved in the square shape and fixed firm in the place. People feel that this is an opportunity for getting blessing from Lord Shiva and consider this activity as serving God.
The place is too scenic due to the location of the temple which is at the top most end of the Mathan hill. There are mobile towers beside the temple (downside) towards Parvati valley. BSNL and Airtel connections were working very well (as on May 2010). A newly constructed building is meant for accommodation (rest rooms) for the visitors just beside the temple. There is no fixed price (rate not available) for the accommodation. 10 people can stay at a time in the building. Free Tea is served for all the visitors.
One can reach Kullu first and then get a bus from the bus stand for Bijli Mahadev which goes up to the nearby ‘Chansari’ village. Otherwise one can book a private cab from the Kullu taxi stand near bus stand and go. One has to climb stairs from ‘Chansari’, the distance being about 3 km uphill. The road is now extended to more than 5 km which lessen the stairs climbing to one half. By personal vehicle or the booked vehicle one can now approach to village ‘Halleni’.
If you are in good health, you can even trek all the way from Kullu to Bijli Mahadev. The trek is beautiful with jungles, orchids and small villages on the way. By the time you reach the top, your lungs will definitely ask you for rest but you will find it irresistible to admire the beauty that you see.
You get to see a panoramic view of Parvati and Kullu valley from this peak. When you turn around, there are no higher peaks to block your view in the close proximity. Carry your own camping equipment if you plan to stay there for more than one day. There are a few locals running the shops but you need to arrange for your accommodation.
Small shops are available for cool drinks and refreshments during trekking. Initial walking is through a rough climbing and later good steps with normal height and plane areas are constructed. After climbing the steps, a plane area is available where localities have set up some private canteens. Good Chinese food, Momo is available here. There is a tank nearby which is the water source for the temple area.
People who cannot trek, there is one more motorable road to reach Bijli Mahadev from Naggar side via Jana Waterfall. One has to reach Naggar from Kullu or Manali. From this route, people will reach the temple directly. Motor cycles preferred for transportation in this route but small motor vehicles too can travel safely.
This trek will introduce you to the less traveled trails of the beautiful and peaceful valley in the Himalayas. Magic Valley as the name suggests is known for its mesmerizing beauty that it offers throughout its trail. The view is truly fascinating and the purity of the environment will keep you awestruck throughout your journey.
Hidden deep within the foot hills of the Himalayas lies a small village by the name of Rasol which is at an altitude of around 10,000 feet above sea level (3048 m) and has not more than 75 houses. Rasol is located in the Parvati Valley which is in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
The only option to reach the village of Rasol is to hike from the town of Kasol. The hike takes around three to four hours to reach with a hand full of steep climbs which are very much do able for even a rookie hiker. While hiking backpackers will reach the village of Chalal which is around 20 minutes from Kasol.
Chalal is a good place to stop and have some breakfast or brunch since provisions for anything else to eat along the hike is very less. Chalal is also a good option to make base before the hike to Rasol.
While on the hike, one thing that everyone will spot is plenty of magic Rasol sign boards on rocks and tree barks pointing in the correct direction of the village. Magic Rasol is in reference to the hasish that is sold in this village. The hasish from Rasol is supposed to be one of the finest and many consider it to be on power with the stuff from Malana. It’s important to keep in mind that possession of such stuff is not only banned but can also lead to imprisonment.
Rasol can be spotted from around 70% of the hike and the first thing one will notice is the village temple sign board. Which states that entering the temple premises will lead to a heavy fine of Rs 2000. The temple is of Jamdagni Rishi a form of Lord Shiva. Inside the temple compound is a small stadium kind of a arrangement which has steps for villagers to sit on.
During the day time men from the village can be seen playing a very unique game called Panjee which is only played here in Rasol and in the village of Malana. This game Punjee is supposed to be similar to chess but upto four can play the game at a time and players have to throw a bunch of half cut bamboo sticks to determine how many places their coins move. The game attracts a lot of local crowd.
Wandering through the lanes of the village and you will see nearly every second person from the village spinning wool or asking you to buy hasish. The kids are always busy playing among themselves. Most of the villagers from Rasol have never ventured outside the valley with the town of Bhuntur being their furthest.
Accommodation at Rasol is limited to backpacker guest houses which have common washrooms and rooms with noting more than just a bed. The rooms in Rasol are spacious and can easily accommodate around four to five people in a room. Eating options in Rasol are not too bad either with all guest houses having a restaurant attached which serve really tasty food. The food is priced a bit steep since porters have to physically carry all the supplies from Kasol.
Rasol is a good place to visit all year round. The weather is generally always good other than during the winter months from end of November to mid February. Good hiking shoes and a bottle of water along with a wooden stick to aid you in the hiking is a must for all.
The village of Rasol is a must visit for all those backpackers who want to experience the magic from the Rasol cream or super cream. For others the hike and the guest house view make this village worth visiting while in Parvati Valley.
Weichin is a village approximately 4 kms above Malana. The village’s population is very low because of its location. There are no motorable roads that go to Weichin. The only way to reach is the one mentioned above. In winters even the villagers shift down to Jari because it is impossible to survive there. Most of the spices that they use in their food are grown there only. Best time to visit this village is the month of September.
This trek is amongst the difficult ones so be well equipped:-
There are 2-3 camp sites in Weichin. We stayed in the first one. The rates are quite reasonable varying from 800-1200INR/Person. This includes your breakfast, lunch and dinner. These tents are very comfortable making the experience completely satisfying. The only source to charge your devices is a solar panel. It will take a lot of time to completely charge your devices and it totally depends on the amount of sun Weichin is getting on that particular day.
There are no cafes in Weichin which is one of the things that separates it from Malana and Kasol . The food that you will get there is prepared on the spot. You just need to tell your camp guy what you want to eat and he will cook it. You can also cook for yourself. The view from the camp site will keep you charged all day and at night when the moon comes out the whole area looks very pretty. You can just sit out side your camp ask for a bonfire and gel up with the people you meet there.
Malana – The ancient village :-
Malana , you call it a little greece , or a stoned village , or the Trekker’s paradise , or anything you like.. there are lot of other names been given by the lovers of this beautiful hidden valley which is a 10000 feet high and is a recently discovered(1977) ancient civilization that has its own democracy. People of Malana did not go the cities till recent and had contained themselves in this beautiful village , a remote primitive village in the Parvati valley which is situated aside Malana River . As one of the story goes, they are supposedly descendants of Alexander. Some men from his army chose to remain here forever in this village and spend their lives. lot many other stories like this are prevalent. whatever the case is , this place has an addictive effect without any doubt, such is the beauty and calmness.
Whole of the Parvati valley is known as a place for seekers of peace and positive vibrations. Malana is one of the most known destinations in the recent times in this valley for many different reasons.