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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.
Importance of Bijli Mahadev
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.
How to reach there:
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.